Tips for surfing in Costa Rica on a budget
Last Updated: 16 August 2019
Whether you’re a thrifty backpacker, cash strapped university student or just aren’t willing to fork out thousands for a Mentawais boat trip, we’ve got the perfect holiday for cash-conscious surfers – a budget surf trip to Costa Rica.
Known within the surfing community as one of the best value for money countries in the world, Costa Rica has sunshine, warm water, great food and a laidback vibe. It also boasts a wide variety of surf breaks to choose from. With beaches such as Playa Avellanas and Tamarindo, for example, providing surfers of all skill levels with plenty of opportunities to hone their technique.
In terms of affordability, it’s true Costa Rica has a higher cost of living than its neighbors to the north and the south. In fact, don’t be surprised if other travelers tell you it’s expensive, overpriced or too touristy to visit. The truth is that most of the people who peddle this information probably haven’t visited Costa Rica for themselves anyway, so it’s best to ignore it.
That being said, you still need to be a little bit savvy if you want to surf your brains out in Costa Rica on the cheap. And the smartest thing you can do if you want to save a few shekels is to book an all-inclusive surf holiday with Rapture Surfcamps… in addition to checking out some of the tips in the following guide.
There’s not much you need to bring when booking a surf camp in Costa Rica. A book, some swimmers, a few casual outfits plus the usual coastal accouchements such as sunscreen and sunglasses should do the trick. It’s not like you’re packing for a wide range of climates after all. And chances are it’s going to be either hot and wet or hot and dry. In short, you can afford to pack light.
In addition to making the packing process infinitely easier, packing light will also save your bank account and your back. There’s no fear of your bag being overweight, and you can cart it around with ease between airports and public transport. You don’t need a lot for an epic surf trip in Central America after all. As long as you have a board, bathers and some fun little waves, you’re good to go.
Book all-inclusive accommodation
Rapture Surfcamps is the ultimate surf camp to book for those of you who want to travel Costa Rica on a budget. Not only do we take the hassle out of arranging your first surf trip, but we also offer great value for money rates with pretty much everything you could possibly need included in the price. Wi-Fi, delicious meals plus a video analysis of your surfing are all part of our surf camp package. As are beach transfers and surf theory sessions for anyone looking to improve their knowledge of surfing.
This all adds up to a highly convenient and affordable surf travel experience. Free from worry and without the added stress that comes with sorting every little aspect of your trip. The fact that practically everything is paid up when you arrive is also a bonus. Ensuring you can spend your cash on activities, tours and otherwise experiencing all this beautiful country has to offer.
Avoid guided tours
Not a fan of organized activities or prearranged tours? Then consider casting them aside and making your own fun. It’s honestly one of the best ways to do Costa Rica on a budget and you can actually peel back the country’s touristic façade.
Things like asking around for a local who can take you fishing, surfing your brains out on an uncrowded peak or hiking into one of the many waterfalls found throughout Costa Rica are just some incredibly awesome and super affordable adventures you can go on.
You can even talk to the Rapture Surfcamps team if you book a surf camp in Costa Rica and hit them up with questions on what to do and see. They know the ropes and can point you in the right direction… which more often than not will be towards the beach.
Fly with a budget airline
We’re a bit on the fence with this one considering budget airlines are notoriously stingy. And as such your experience flying with them will most likely be… well… terrible. Like practically everyone though, the team here at Rapture Surfcamps can’t say no to a good deal. So if you want to surf Costa Rica on a budget, keep your eyes firmly fixed on budget airlines that fly to San José.
Liberia flies direct from Madrid to San José if you’re in Europe, while American Airlines flies from the States and Avianca direct from South America. By keeping tabs on these budget airlines you can put yourself first in line when cheap tickets become available. Just remember to double-check their luggage requirements if you intend on bringing a surfboard. The downside to those cheap as chips tickets is often higher than average fees on additional baggage.
Eat where the locals eat
You can either do Costa Rica on a budget or you can eat out every day and night. Unfortunately, you can’t do both. Luckily for you, we offer breakfast and dinner most days except for the weekends. So if you’ve booked a surf camp in Costa Rica with Rapture Surfcamps, we’ve got you covered.
If you intend on surfing in other areas of Costa Rica, you’ll want to do most of your eating at the small family eateries found throughout the country. Called sodas, these local restaurants are the cheapest option when it comes to dining out and are a bargain when compared to establishments that cater strictly to tourists.
As a rule of thumb, you can order a gigantic plate of typical Costa Rican cuisine for as little as 5USD – 8USD. Consisting of countrywide stapes such as rice and beans plus some extra like beef, plantains or yuca. It may taste a bit the same after your fifth straight day eating at a soda, but just think of all the money you’re saving than can be put towards another surf trip… one that hopefully takes place at our surf camp in Nicaragua.
Plan an off-season trip
Costa Rica doesn’t really have an off-season when it comes to waves. There’s swell all year round and you can always find a spot to surf, even when it’s small or maxing out at other beaches. For many, this is one of the main reasons for booking a Rapture surf camp in Costa Rica. However, it’s true that many things also become cheaper during the rainy season.
September is pretty much the quietest time to fly to Costa Rica, but if you come here between the middle of May and the beginning of December, you’ll no doubt find other bargains. Another good thing about visiting outside of peak season is that you can avoid the loco crowds that congregate at some of the more iconic waves.
Of course, our experienced surf guides know how to find an uncrowded peak no matter what time of the year it is. It’s good to know though that if you want to catch a decent swell and surf yourself silly, you’ll be coming during a period with fewer people to contend with.
Take local transport or travel in a group
Public transport isn’t luxurious no matter where you are. As far as traveling Costa Rica on a budget goes though, it’s most definitely the best option. Expect to pay anywhere around 3USD for a short drive in a local taxi or up to 20USD for a bus across the country. With shuttles between towns charging 40USD – 80USD depending on the distance covered.
At Rapture Surfcamps, we actually offer a couple of shuttle services to get you where you need to go. These run to and from Liberia Airport and even Tamarindo if you’re looking to cut some rug and do a bit of partying. We also have another bus to take you to some of the best surf breaks in the local area for free.
You could also consider renting a car if you’re traveling with a crew. Depending on how many of you there are and the type of car you rent, this might work out to be much better value for money. Especially if you plan on surfing a lot of out of the way spots that require a vehicle to get to.
Truth be told, you can definitely still find world-class waves without a car. If you do what one though, you’ll be looking at roughly 300USD – 500USD per week.
Note that local airlines such as NatureAir and Sansa also offer relatively inexpensive flights for domestic destinations. With some seats starting at 30USD – 50USD if you manage to book in advance.
Book a surf camp with us in Playa Avellanas today! Surf, chill and enjoy life
Planning a surf trip to Costa Rica that doesn’t break the bank?
At our surf camp we have accommodations to suit all needs: from 6-bed bunk-rooms to double rooms for couples with private balcony. Locally-sourced home-made breakfast and dinner are prepared in the kitchen by our camp chefs. Besides surfing, we also offer daily yoga sessions, which you can enjoy on our pool deck surrounded by lush jungle trees.BOOK NOW