5 of the best beginner surf beaches in Costa Rica
Last Updated: 30 April 2019 CHECK OUR SURF SCHOOL
Discover 5 of the best beginner surf beaches in Costa Rica and book a trip to this wave rich Latin America destination with Rapture Surfcamps today.
Costa Rica has long been a popular destination for traveling surfers of all skill levels. With Californians first exploring its Pacific coastline back in the 60s and 70s. Only to return to the States with stories of long lefthand pointbreaks and empty beaches with almost endless peaks.
Costa Rica: the most popular surf destinations in Central America
Since these early days, Costa Rica’s surf tourism industry has exploded. Recent reports estimate that adventurous surfers from around the world represent nearly a quarter of all tourists entering the country every year. This means that over the course of 12 months, Costa Rica welcomes nearly half a million wave riding hopefuls. All of whom gravitate towards the country’s Pacific coastline for a chance to surf such venerated locales as Playa Avellanas, Santa Teresa and Playa Hermosa to name a few.
Instead of feeling like the surfing equivalent of the Wild West though, this forward-thinking Central American nation still exudes an air of exotic remoteness. Where one can simply grab a board, hit the beach and find their own version of the perfect wave breaking day in, day out. This is thanks in part to a combination of sustainable government policies and an emphasis on grassroots environmental preservation. Both of which ensure that any surfing adventure is undertaken against a backdrop of unspoiled beaches, lush rainforests and friendly smiles.
For learner surfers, there’s always a wave to surf and numerous opportunities for flat day fun. So if you want to improve your confidence on a board and enjoy the trip of a lifetime, we’ve got the perfect solution. Simply check out our list of the best beginner surf beaches in Costa Rica below and book your next surf camp with Rapture. For an unforgettable learn to surf experience where good coffee, warm water and great waves are all but guaranteed.
1. Playa Santa Teresa
Where is this beach located
On the Nicoya Peninsula in the Puntarenas Province, about 150 km west of San José. Closest town is Santa Teresa.
How to get to Santa Teresa
Shuttle buses and regular buses run from San José to Santa Teresa multiple times per week. Can also be accessed from beaches in the north via shuttle bus or private transport.
There’s definitely a laidback surfing vibe at Playa Santa Teresa. But with a number of high-end restaurants and luxury accommodation options, you might spy a few Gucci loafers amongst the flip-flop wearers. Great for couples but equally as fun if you’re with a group of friends. Plenty of board hire options for learner surfers and a great local community.
Types of Waves
A sand bottom beach break that stretches for over 1 km with multiple peaks. Can handle larger swells but works best when it is between 2 – 4 ft. Given its consistency, Playa Santa Teresa is regarded as being one of the best beginner surf beaches in Costa Rica. Because of its reputation though you can expect crowds when the sun is out and the waves are firing. Not especially hazardous but you should still keep an eye out for rocks at the south end of the beach and rip currents that can form with the change in tide.
What’s the best season to surf in Playa Teresa
Playa Santa Teresa, like many destinations in Costa Rica, receives the most swell during the green season. This runs from May through to December. You’ll still find waves outside of this season, however, it won’t be as consistent. If you want to rack up a solid wave count, plan on making a visit during these months.
2. Playa Avellanas
Situated on the Guanacaste Province’s Golden Coast. Approximately 20 minutes south of Tamarindo and 30 minutes west of Santa Cruz. Location of our Costa Rica surf camp.
Fly into Liberia Airport and arrange an affordable private shuttle with our team or take a taxi from Tamarindo.
Quieter than Tamarindo, the coastal party capital of Costa Rica, but still full of life. Offers the perfect balance between surfing, socializing and relaxing. With plenty of activities and tours for those rare days when the waves are flat. This ensures there’s literally something for everyone in Playa Avellanas, whether you’re only new to surfing or learned to stand up on a board before you could walk.
Type of waves
A veritable surfers paradise, Playa Avellanas is one of the best surf beaches in Costa Rica due to the fact it’s home to five different breaks. With a wave known as Little Hawaii well-known circles for its quality. If Little Hawaii isn’t so little, it’s worth checking out the waves of River Mouth, Palo Seco, Lola’s and La Purruja. Because of the wide range of surf spots, crowds are thinned out. This means you can practically always find a place to surf with just you and your friends sharing the lineup.
What’s the best season to surf in Playa Avellanas
The waves at Playa Avellanas are perfect all year round, with swells arriving from both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. For small and playful bluebird days, visit from December to April. For the opportunity to surf bigger waves, try visiting from March to November.
3. Playa Guiones
On the Nicoya Peninsula in Guanacaste Province. The closest town is Nosara which is about 15 minutes by quad bike, taxi or tuk-tuk.
The closest international airport is in Liberia, which is 2.5 hours away. Hire a car here and drive or organize a private shuttle with your accommodation provider.
Nosara is the yoga and surf retreat capital of Costa Rica, which explains why the area exudes such a peaceful and relaxing ambiance. You won’t find many nightclubs, but there are still plenty of entertainment and dining options. Regardless, it feels like a go to bed early, wake up late kind of place. Tourism is alive and well but the locals have done well to ensure it isn’t out of control. Perfect for a holiday that’s more surfing, less partying.
Type of waves
Playa Guiones is a sand and volcanic rock beach that runs for 7 km. It can hold a fairly big swell but works best when it’s 4 ft and under. Learners consider this one of the best beginner surf beaches in Costa Rica because of the forgiving sand bottom and stunning scenery. Not to mention the waves are pretty gentle no matter whether it’s low or high tide. Playa Guiones has also been called a swell magnet. This means that it has a tendency to channel even the smallest swells and deliver rideable waves when everywhere else is flat. For this reason, you can almost always rely on it for a surf.
What’s the best season to surf in Playa Guiones
You can surf here in both the dry and wet season, however, the drier months offer up consistent offshore winds and cleaner swell that’s perfect for beginner surfers. While April to November sees larger surf and more wind that can prove challenging if you’re just starting out.
4. Playa Hermosa
5 km south of Jaco in the North Puntarenas Province and approximately 1.5 hours from San José.
Buses, shuttles and private taxis can all be organized from San José International Airport.
The beach of Playa Hermosa is super mellow, with not much else on offer except for sun, sand and quality waves. The vibe in Jaco to the north, however, is much livelier. With a thriving party scene plus plenty of expat and Costa Rican owned bars and restaurants to while away the night in. You also have the option to visit any one of the many rainforests, volcanoes, waterfalls, lagoons and rivers around the local are when you’re all surfed or partied out.
Type of waves
Playa Hermosa works on all tides and is exposed to just about every swell direction, too. This means you can find waves here on when the swell is coming from the northwest, west and the southwest. Regarded as an intermediate surf spot, we’ve included it as one of the best beginner surf beaches in Costa Rica purely for the reason that it is great for practicing steeper takeoffs in hollower waves. Without having to worry about hitting a reef or rocks. As a testament to just how good it gets, Playa Hermosa once hosted the International Surfing Association World Games in 2009.
What’s the best season to surf in Playa Hermosa
Great from May to October if you’re chasing bigger waves, but just as perfect during the dry season if you crave picture-perfect surf conditions and sunny days. Just don’t forget to pack your surf trip essentials.
5. Playa Dominical
Approximately 45 minutes south of Quepos in the Bahía Ballena de Osa District in Puntarenas Province. Dominical is the nearby town.
Easily accessed from San José via private transport, shuttle or bus, although it will take about 4.5 hours. A faster option is to take a 20 minutes domestic flight from San José to Quepos. Then rent a car and drive the 30 minutes south to Dominical.
The town of Dominical may seem like a sleepy little village but dig a little deeper and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover it’s a happening community. Kick back and enjoy its quintessential coastal vibe or mingle with the eclectic crew of people who call it home. This is one town that’s easy to love and impossible to leave… but there’s no doubt it’s becoming busier and busier every year.
Type of waves
With a great variety of waves plus surfboard rental shacks galore, Playa Dominical is one of the best beginner surf beaches in all of Costa Rica. Like Playa Hermosa to the north, Playa Dominical is a sand bottom break that’s also very exposed to swells. For this reason, the waves can get world-class. For those who are just learning the ropes, try surfing here on a high tide when it’s between 2 – 4 ft. Then spend the afternoon reflecting on a great day at one of the many beach bars that line the shore.
What’s the best season to surf in Playa Dominical
Playa Dominical has fun surf all year round. However, if you really want to score it then arranging a surf trip anytime from December to April should be on the cards.
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