Costa Rica

Surfing in Costa Rica

Surfing in Costa Rica

Pura Vida is Costa Rica’s signature slogan, roughly translating to ‘simple life’, as well as conveying a sense of happiness and optimism. Much more than a catchphrase, it also embodies the country’s way of life, which surfing is an integral part of. Releasing feel-good endorphins and reducing stress levels, the water sport is renowned for its mood-boosting benefits (making it well-suited to the pura vida lifestyle). The Central American nation boasts world-famous surf breaks and ubiquitous surf beaches that can cater to both eager beginners and seasoned surfers. With coastlines on the Caribbean and the Pacific, there are twice as many chances to catch a wave; from point and beach breaks, to reefs and river mouths, surfing in Costa Rica is a varied affair. Luckily, our travel experts are in the know when it comes to the most coveted destinations on the surf map, so embrace the pura vida, grab a board and visit one of the best surf spots in Costa Rica.

  1. Nosara
  2. Tamarindo
  3. Witch’s Rock
  4. Playa Grande
  5. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca



Declared by National Geographic as one of the best surf towns in the world, Nosara is situated on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula. Its stunning beaches are some of the Pacific coastline’s standouts, while the town is also known for its yoga-centric culture (an excellent way of stretching out muscles after an active day on the water). Playa Nosara, Playa Pelada and Playa Guiones are the town’s trifecta of surf beaches, each with their own distinct personality. Playa Nosara is characterised by black sand and great beach breaks, with a shallow reef and large southern swell. Playa Pelada is often the pick for family gatherings, offering swimming, surfing and spectacular sunsets in equal measure, while Playa Guiones is the region’s most developed beach, with plenty of peaks and waves for both novices and knowledgeable surfers.

Surfing in Nosara



Undoubtedly one of the most popular spots for surfing in Costa Rica, this Pacific Coast town has reached cult classic status among wave riders. Playa Tamarindo and Playa Langosta are known for their strong surf, each possessing lengthy expanses of sand and long waves as a result. The waves at Playa Tamarindo are famously consistent, allowing first-time surfers to get to grips with the basics, while Langosta offers a quieter alternative for experienced surfers, with fast left and right point breaks near the mouth of an estuary. Away from the ocean, the town plays host to great local eateries, vibrant nightlife and eco-tours of the surrounding area.

Surfer in Costa Rica


Witch’s Rock

Located in the Santa Rosa National Park in Costa Rica’s Guanacaste region, Witch’s Rock (or Roca Bruja in Spanish) is an iconic destination within the surfing community. Only accessible via boat (or a difficult drive), the beach is named for the rocky formation that sits just off the coastline (once inhabited by a witch, according to legend). When the conditions are right – with the correct swell direction, size and wind conditions – Witch’s Rock produces some brilliant barrels, although surfing here isn’t for the faint-hearted and you’ll want to have a good grasp of the sport before venturing into its waves.


Playa Grande

Another much frequented place for surfing in Costa Rica, Playa Grande is blessed with reliable year-round swells and regular offshore winds, representing the country’s quintessential surfing. The fast rising and falling tide creates impressive waves, which are enhanced by south-easterly winds and can tower as tall as ten feet. Despite its fairly remote location north of Tamarindo, the quality of its waves draw in numerous visitors and the beach does get crowded at times. However, an upside of the reliable conditions is that you can surf here at any time of the year; pick the right month and you’ll be able to avoid the hordes of tourists.

Costa Rica Surfing


Puerto Viejo de Talamanca

Floating over to the Caribbean coast, the Limón province is another place for surfing pros, with Puerto Viejo de Talamanca taking pride of place on its list of surf towns. Typified by ‘hollow’ low tide waves, many surfers visit for the legendary Salsa Brava, which is considered to be the country’s most intense wave (as well as the heaviest and best). A predominantly right reef break, it happens over a shallow coral reef, so shouldn’t be attempted unless you’re well-versed in the waves. It’s also worth noting that the surf season is shorter on the Caribbean coast than the Pacific, with December to March touted as the best months to visit Puerto Viejo for stellar swells.

Written by Luisa Watts