Best surf beaches in Costa Rica

First time surfing in Costa Rica and you are looking for useful information of where to go and if it’s suitable for your level? Let us give you a hand!

We could brake the information down into best surfing beaches of North Pacific, Central Pacific, South Pacific and Caribbean side. Yes, already four sections for a country that is as small as 51.000 km², which by the way it is NOT an island as a lot of people think!

You must know first of all that there are waves all year round in this country. The conditions of the ocean in our Pacific Coast change every 6 hours drastically from low tide to high tide. Also the height of the waves can change from one day to the other depending on the season, swell height, storms, moon, tides, etc.                                                                                                                                      When you visit a location you must make sure to check the swell forecast and the tides.  A lot of spots work with very different conditions for example Dominical beach is good for beginners between low to mid tide and it’s good for advance surfers between mid to high tide. If you are a beginner you don’t want to surf a rough beach in the wrong time because most likely you gonna end up getting hurt or toast around by the waves.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Other information that you need to know is that if you are in a surf spot that is too big due to a strong swell you can always look for an alternative spot that will be smaller and safer. Same if it’s too small you can always look for bigger waves at a different location. For example Dominical has Dominicalito, Playa Grande has Tamarindo, Playa Hermosa has Jaco. There is always an alternative if you don’t feel like surfing rough waves during a high swell day.

We have two main international airports in Costa Rica, (SJO) Juan Santa Maria Airport is located in the Central Valley and it’s the best option if you are looking into visiting the Central and South Pacific Coast or the Caribbean Coast.  Liberia Airport (LIR) is located up in the North side, it’s the best option if you are looking to go surfing Nicaragua or the North Pacific Coast of Costa Rica.

What’s the difference between North, South and Caribbean side… to be honest with you everything! Again, we live in such a small country that has dramatically different landscaping every 200km apart. The north has beautiful white sand beaches and amazing waves but it’s a bit dry, it misses the green of the south. The Central and South has exotic tropical scenery,  many attractions and exhilarating activities but the airport is a bit further (about 3hrs), reason why it’s still a green jewel and a surfers paradise. The Caribbean side it’s like visiting another country, it has picturesque landscapes and vibes of reggae music that can be found in every corner, they have both white and black sand beaches but unfortunately they’re waves are not as consistent as the Pacific side.

So now you know the ups and downs of each side. My recommendation if you have time (2-3 weeks) visit as much as you can because this country will not stop surprising you with it’s waves, flora and fauna. If you have limited time pick a location in which you can surf, explore, and enjoy the most of it without going too far from your hotel… which we think Dominical is the best option if you are an adventurer.

Here are some popular surf beaches and points around the country:

North Pacific:

Beginners spots: Tamarindo, Samara, Nosara, Santa Teresa.

Intermediate to Advance: Playa Grande, Marbella, Playa Negra, Little Hawaii.

South Pacific:

Beginners spots: Dominicalito, Playa Hermosa (de Osa), Chaman, Pavones (right side).

Intermediate to Advance:  Dominical, La punta, Pavones.

Central Pacific:

Beginners spots: Jaco, Esterillos, Manuel Antonio.

Intermediate to Advance: Esterillos Centro, Bejuco, Playa Hermosa (Jaco).

Caribbean Side:  Doesn’t have waves all year round, it has very flat periods and very strong periods.

Some surfing beaches are Cocles, Gandoca, Puerto Viejo.

dominical costa rica






This is Dominicalito Beach, Costa Rica.







Here are a couple of link where you can check the tides and the swell predictions:


Feel free to contact us if you need any help planning your SURF VACATION IN COSTA RICA. We can happily set you up for surfing lessons or surf camp packages mostly in Dominical beach but also anywhere around Costa Rica.


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