Where to Surf in Costa Rica

Costa Rica may be a country renowned for world-class wildlife holidays and adventure activities, but its position on the epic Pacific coast means it’s also a top destination for a surfing holiday.

Throw in the addictive Pura Vida lifestyle, warm and friendly locals and magical little coastal towns, and the only question left to ask is where the best spot to surf is in Costa Rica.

That’s why we’ve put together a selection of our favourite surfing towns and beaches in the country, to provide a little inspiration for those of you on the hunt for a surfing holiday that is a little further afield.

Best Surf Towns in Costa Rica

When it comes to surfing in Costa Rica, it’s not just about the waves; it’s also about the unique surf towns that dot the coastline, each offering its own distinct charm. Jungle-backed and bursting with character, you’ll find amazing spots where by day you can feel the thrill of surfing on the swell of the Pacific, and by evening, drink in the deep red sunset with a cold beer as you catch up with fellow surfers. From the southern reaches to northern Nicoya, here are some of the best surfing towns in Costa Rica:

1. Tamarindo – A Surfer’s Paradise

Located on the northern Pacific coast, Tamarindo is synonymous with surfing in Costa Rica. This bustling town boasts consistent waves, warm waters, and a vibrant surf culture. Whether you’re a beginner looking to catch your first wave or an advanced surfer seeking challenging breaks, Tamarindo has it all. The nearby Playa Langosta is a favourite among experienced surfers.

man with a surf board on holiday in costa rica

And of course with its salt-water estuary and surrounding jungle, this little gem in the Guanacaste Region is also a beautiful destination for a wildlife holiday in Costa Rica.

2. Nosara – A Hidden Gem

Nestled on the Nicoya Peninsula, Nosara is a hidden gem cherished for its laid-back atmosphere and world-class surf breaks. Playa Guiones is the star attraction, with long, mellow waves perfect for both beginners and experts.

What makes Nosara truly special is its commitment to sustainability and eco-tourism, which although this shines through in every travel experience throughout the country, is a particular focus at this Costa Rican surf mecca.

3. Dominical – Wild Surf and Untamed Beauty

Dominical, on the southern Pacific coast, offers a more rugged and less crowded surf experience. Playa Dominical is famous for its powerful beach break waves, drawing advanced surfers in search of a challenge. Nearby breaks like Playa Hermosa and Pavones offer additional options for those seeking adventure.

For those on the hunt for a little more of an offbeat adventure in Costa Rica, Dominical is exactly where to surf and find like-minded, free-spirited travellers.

4. Santa Teresa – A Bohemian Surf Haven

Santa Teresa, located on the Nicoya Peninsula’s western coast, is a haven for surfers and free spirits alike. With sandy roads, a laid-back vibe, and consistent waves at Playa Santa Teresa and Playa Carmen, it’s the perfect destination for those seeking both surf and relaxation.

beach in santa teresa costa rica

And with fishing, snorkeling and kite surfing also on offer at this booming Pacific coastal town, you can mix up your surf holiday with any number of activities to get the pulse racing, all whilst drinking in beautiful views of jungle-backed, golden-sand beach.

5. Jacó – A Convenient Escape from San José

Just a short drive from the capital city of San José, Jacó is a popular destination for its convenience and accessibility. Jacó Beach offers a consistent beach break suitable for all skill levels, while nearby Playa Hermosa caters to more experienced surfers with larger, more challenging waves.

Jacó also comes with the added bonus of Manuel Antonio National Park, one of Costa Rica’s most diverse, yet most accessible areas for spotting wildlife including sloths, Capuchin monkeys, dear, snakes and more.

Surfing Holidays in Costa Rica

Puntarenas Province

Surfing & GoPro Course

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Costa Rica’s coastline is blessed with a plethora of surf-worthy beaches, each with its unique characteristics and allure. Here are some of the best beaches for surfing in Costa Rica:

1. Playa Guiones, Nosara – Surfing Paradise

Playa Guiones is known for its long, gentle waves that are perfect for beginners and longboarders. The consistent swell and sandy bottom make it an ideal place to learn to surf or improve your skills.

person with a surfboard in costa rica

2. Playa Tamarindo – Iconic Surf Destination

Tamarindo’s main beach, Playa Tamarindo, offers consistent waves suitable for all levels of surfers. It’s a great place to take lessons or rent equipment, with surf schools and shops aplenty.

3. Playa Dominical – Power and Challenge

Playa Dominical is famous for its powerful beach break waves, attracting experienced surfers seeking a thrill. It’s a place to test your skills and ride some of the more challenging waves in Costa Rica.

beach in puntarenas costa rica

4. Playa Santa Teresa – Bohemian Vibes and Fun Waves

Santa Teresa’s beaches, including Playa Santa Teresa and Playa Carmen, offer fun waves and a laid-back atmosphere. It’s an excellent spot to soak in the Pura Vida spirit while riding the waves.

5. Playa Hermosa – Surf’s Up for Experts

Playa Hermosa is a haven for experienced surfers, thanks to its large and consistent waves. Located near Jacó, it’s a must-visit if you’re looking for a surf challenge.

These are just a few of the many incredible surfing towns and beaches in Costa Rica. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, there’s a wave waiting for you in this surfer’s paradise. It’s always worth remembering however, that surfing makes the most of a pristine natural environment. Despite the country’s impeccable reputation as a leader in ecotourism, it is always vitally important t to respect the environment and local surf culture as you ride the waves and explore the coastal towns of Costa Rica.

Here at Not In The Guidebooks, we are always on the hunt for unique, authentic experiences that get our travellers to the heart of the destination they are visiting. We aim to get our customers in touch with the people who know a country, town, or region more intimately than anyone else – the locals.

That means that whether you choose a wildlife holiday in Costa Rica, a family Lapland holiday, or a cooking holiday in Italy, you can be sure that with Not In The Guidebooks you don’t simply see the world, you experience it like a local.

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