5 Best Surf Spots in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a popular destination for travelers who seek adventure, natural beauty and sustainable tourism. Known for its biodiversity and commitment to conservation, Costa Rica offers many opportunities for surfing enthusiasts to enjoy the waves, while appreciating the local environment. In this guide to Costa Rica waves, we’ll explore some of the best surf spots in Costa Rica, each with its own unique characteristics and charm.


Getting to Costa Rica

Getting to Costa Rica is relatively easy, with several international airlines offering direct flights to the country’s two major airports: Juan Santamaria International Airport in San Jose and Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia. From North America, it takes around 5-7 hours to reach Costa Rica, while flights from Europe take around 12-14 hours with a layover.



Once you arrive in Costa Rica, there are several options for getting around, including taxis, buses, and rental cars. However, it’s important to note that driving in Costa Rica can be challenging due to narrow, winding roads and unpredictable driving conditions. It’s recommended that visitors rely on a professional driver or guided tours to explore the country. One trip in particular that we’d recommend a driver for is traveling from Manuel Antonio to San Jose, where you have a number of options to choose from depending on your budget and preferred method of transport.


Playa Grande

Playa Grande is a world-renowned surf spot located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. With its consistently good waves and warm water temperatures, it is a must-visit destination for surfers from all around the globe. The beach is known for its long, peeling waves, making it an ideal spot for intermediate to advanced surfers. The best time to surf here is from December to April, when the waves are at their peak, and the water is crystal clear. The beach is lined with palm trees and tropical vegetation, adding to its natural beauty.

Aside from surfing, Playa Grande is also a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts. The beach is part of the Las Baulas National Marine Park, which is home to nesting leatherback turtles. From October to February, visitors can witness these magnificent creatures laying their eggs on the beach. The park also has a variety of other wildlife, such as howler monkeys, iguanas, and various species of birds.

In terms of amenities, Playa Grande has a laid-back, surf town vibe with a variety of beachfront restaurants and shops. There are also several surf schools and rental shops, making it easy for beginners to try out the sport. Playa Grande is an excellent choice for surfers and nature lovers alike, offering the perfect balance of adventure and relaxation.




Pavones is a legendary surf spot located on the southern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, known for its incredibly long left-hand wave that can provide rides of over a minute long. The wave is consistent, powerful, and requires a certain level of skill to ride, making it a favorite spot among experienced surfers. However, the beach also offers smaller waves suitable for beginners and intermediate surfers.

The remote location of Pavones means that it is less crowded than other popular surf spots in Costa Rica, allowing for a more intimate and authentic surfing experience. The town itself is small, with a few restaurants, bars, and surf shops, but the chill atmosphere and stunning natural surroundings make it a true paradise.

Beyond surfing, Pavones is also an ideal destination for those looking to immerse themselves in nature. The beach is situated near the Golfo Dulce, a tropical fjord that is home to a rich array of marine life. Visitors can go fishing, kayaking, or take a boat tour to see dolphins, whales, and sea turtles.



Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is a charming surf town located on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. It is a popular destination for surfers of all levels, with great waves and warm water temperatures year-round. The beach is known for its long, sandy stretches and a variety of surf breaks, making it a versatile spot for all types of surfers. The best time to surf here is from May to November, when the waves are at their peak and the surf breaks are most consistent.

As well as surfing, Santa Teresa offers a range of activities. Like Playa Grande, the town has that iconic Costa Rican, laid-back vibe with a number of beachfront restaurants, bars, and shops. There are also several yoga studios and wellness centers, making it a popular destination for those looking to unwind and connect with nature. The surrounding area is home to several national parks and reserves, offering opportunities for some amazing Costa Rica hiking, wildlife watching and exploring waterfalls.

In terms of accommodations, Santa Teresa has a wide range of options, from backpacker friendly hostels to luxury villas. Many of the accommodations are eco-friendly, reflecting the town’s commitment to sustainability and responsible tourism.



Salsa Brava

Salsa Brava is a renowned surf spot located on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, known for its powerful and hollow waves that can reach heights of up to 18 feet. The beach is not for the faint of heart, with its challenging and often dangerous conditions, making it a favorite spot among expert surfers seeking a thrill. The wave is notoriously fickle, with its best conditions occurring during the months of November through February when the offshore winds are strongest.

The town of Puerto Viejo, located near Salsa Brava, offers a unique blend of Caribbean and Latin American culture, with its colorful architecture, lively reggae music and fusion cuisine. The area is also home to several wildlife reserves, where visitors can see exotic animals such as sloths, monkeys, and toucans.

Despite its challenging waves, Salsa Brava’s surrounding beauty is undeniable, with its pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush tropical vegetation. The surf spot’s remote location provides a secluded and peaceful environment, where visitors can truly disconnect and immerse themselves in nature. Salsa Brava is an exhilarating and rewarding surf spot for expert surfers, offering a unique and unforgettable experience in a stunning and serene setting.




Tamarindo is a surf spot located on the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, offering a unique blend of adventure and relaxation. The beach is famous for its long, gentle waves and ideal conditions for surfing, making it a favorite destination among surfers of all levels. Tamarindo has a laid-back vibe with a range of accommodation options and a variety of restaurants and shops that reflect the town’s bohemian charm.

In addition to surfing, Tamarindo offers a range of land-based activities and attractions, making it an excellent choice for travelers looking to mix things up. The town is surrounded by natural beauty, including lush tropical forests, pristine beaches, and a variety of wildlife reserves. Visitors can go horseback riding, take a sunset cruise or explore the area’s vibrant arts and culture scene.

Tamarindo is a unique and exciting destination that offers the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation. It’s a place where travelers can unwind and connect with nature, while also experiencing the vibrant culture and energy of a bustling surf town. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a first-timer, Tamarindo has something to offer for everyone.

4 Best Costa Rica Hikes You Can’t Miss

This sponsored post was written in collaboration with World Expeditions. As always, all opinions are our own and we would never promote a company, brand or service that we did not fully support or use ourselves.

Although small in size, Costa Rica is teeming with incredible opportunities for outdoor lovers. From the gorgeous Caribbean beaches to lush rainforest, the landscape of Costa Rica is diverse and unparalleled. Costa Rica famously got rid of their army 70 years ago, allowing for part of their defence budget to be transferred to environmental protection. Over 95% of its electricity is now generated from green energy sources.

All of this makes Costa Rica a sustainable travelers paradise and one of our favorite countries! The lush jungle interior is pristine and the beaches are clean, especially when compared to some of those in other Central American countries. On top of all this, it’s also very easy to get around in Costa Rica, which makes traveling to all these beautiful locations even easier.



Because of this, there are a variety of amazing treks available for travelers. If you’re looking for an experienced, reliable tour company, we recommend World Expeditions for your Costa Rica hiking tours. With their team of professional guides, World Expeditions has tours for each of these treks.

Here are our four best Costa Rica hikes and their corresponding tours:


Central Highlands Trek – Costa Rica Traverse

Adventure lovers should be excited to trek Costa Rica’s Central Highlands. Located in the heartland of the country, this area is characterized by its scenic mountain landscape dotted with local farming villages.

Starting in the town of Esquipulas you can begin your trek into the rainforest covered Central Highlands. This incredible tour features adventuring across the highlands region by hiking, biking, rafting and kayaking.



Talk about mixing it up! You’ll also get a taste of the Costa Rican culture by visiting local indigenous villages and coffee plantations. But be warned, this trek is not for the faint of heart. River crossings and steep, slippery trails will get any traveler’s blood pumping. But those that are up to the challenge will be rewarded with incredible views of the Pacific and Caribbean oceans (sometimes at the same time!)


Arenal Volcano – Costa Rican Adventure

You can’t hike Costa Rica without paying a visit to one of the country’s most famous sights, Arenal Volcano. An active volcano, Arenal was sputtering hot lava up until very recently – 2010! While you can’t climb the volcano itself (you never know when it could erupt!), there are plenty of treks you can take around the volcano in Arenal Volcano National Park.



The park has four trails of varying difficulty where you can see views of Lake Arenal and lava flows from previous eruptions. If you’re not scared of heights, we highly recommend checking out the Arenal Hanging Bridges, a 2 mile series of suspension bridges with views of the lake and volcano.

Up on the bridges you not only feel encompassed by the lush flora of the park, but you have a better chance of spotting local animals that make the treetops their home like sloths, toucans and monkeys. After a long day of hiking, you’ll be happy to know that the park is also home to natural hot springs you can relax your muscles in.



Monteverde Cloud Forest – Best of Costa Rica

Another well known natural attraction you can’t miss if you’re hiking Costa Rica is the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Monteverde is known as one of the most dramatic cloud forests in the world. The forest is almost constantly shrouded in cloud cover (I say almost because when we visited, it was actually sunny!).

Because of this, an incredibly wide variety of plants and animals are able to thrive in this habitat. Over 100 species of mammals call the park home, including sloths, tapir, deer and howler monkeys, infamous for their dinosaur-like roars. Lucky travelers can even spot endangered animals like jaguars, pumas and ocelots.



Unfortunately, the Monteverde Cloud Forest could come under threat by climate change in the coming years. Studies suggest that a reduction in cloud cover could make the temperatures rise, disrupting the hydrological cycle that make the forest so unique. This is just another example of why it’s so important to travel sustainably so we can protect these destinations for future generations.


Playa Gemelas Hike in Manuel Antonio Park – Costa Rican Adventure

Last, but certainly not least, you can’t visit Costa Rica without hitting up the beach. Manuel Antonio National Park has some of the best beaches in the country. Located on the Pacific coast, the park is known for its white sand beaches that trail off onto Costa Rica’s iconic lush forest.



There’s plenty to do in the park, whether you’re interested in hiking to waterfalls or just relaxing by the ocean. A variety of trails can lead you to different viewpoints and beaches. Most visitors stay on the Playa Manuel Antonio beach, so if you’re up for something more secluded, don’t miss Playa Gemelas.

Just a half hour walk from the main entrance on the Playa Gemelas trail, this quiet beach is perfect for an afternoon picnic. Just watch out for the local monkeys who may want a nibble of your food! The rock formations can make swimming a bit difficult here, so be extra careful.

Top 5 Reasons to Backpack Costa Rica

This weeks Top 5 Reasons to Backpack Costa Rica is brought to you by our friends Samantha and Yeison from the amazing travel blog Mytanfeet. Although both of us have traveled to Costa Rica, we couldn’t go past these two experts when it comes to Costa Rica backpacking! Enjoy!

It’s no surprise that when backpackers start planning their trip around Central America, Costa Rica is high on their list. As someone who has lived there for over 2 years, I can guarantee you that the longer you stay in Costa Rica, the more you’ll want to move there. Adventure seekers, outdoor lovers and wildlife enthusiasts, read on to have your wanderlust for Costa Rica jump through the roof! Check out our top 5 reasons to backpack Costa Rica and book your ticket today!

An Abundance of Wildlife

Did you know Costa Rica contains 5% of the biodiversity in the world? For a country that’s only 51,000 square kilometers, that’s a lot! With 26 national parks and more refuges, reserves and protected zones, wildlife simply thrives in Costa Rica’s protected land and waters, especially since they banned recreational hunting in 2012. You can spot over 800 species of birds, 4,000 species of insects and hundreds of mammals, reptiles and amphibians who call Costa Rica home. Some favorites are monkeys, toucans, whales, dolphins, turtles, sloths and crocodiles.

Adventure in Every Corner

Want to dive with bull sharks or rappel down a 200 foot waterfall or zipline across the top of a cloud forest? How about ATV on a beach with howler monkeys next to you? You can do all of that in Costa Rica! Adventure is never a hard thing to find and Costa Rica offers some of the best thrills and excitement all throughout the country. It doesn’t matter if you just want to go for a short hike through the virgin rainforest or go beach-hopping, every activity is bound to be an adventure on its own.

Fit in a Lot in Little Time

Because Costa Rica is a fairly small country, you can do and see more in less time. One day you can be lying on a beach in the Caribbean watching the sunset and two days later you can be hiking up a volcano crater in a rainstorm. With over 20 microclimates in the country it is impossible not to enjoy a range of different activities, climates and scenery. You’ll be able to get the best of everything!

Explore and Experience Nature at its Best

Everywhere you go in the country you’ll be able to experience nature to the fullest. Costa Rica has tons of waterfalls, beaches, volcanoes, mountains, rivers and forests all with unique characteristics waiting to be explored. Take a drive through the Central Valley and you’ll be amazed at the incredibly lush jungle laying just a few kilometers outside the city. Visit different beaches in the Guanacaste province and you’ll be shocked at all the types of beautiful beaches you can find. Venture a bit off the beaten path and you might find a little oasis all to yourself.

Learn How to Live Slower and Appreciate Life

There is a saying in Costa Rica: pura vida. In Spanish it translates to “pure life.” They use this to say thank you, hello, good bye, see you later or anything positive. Costa Ricans are a people who appreciate the little things in life and are grateful for what they have, understanding that the most important thing is to live a happy life. Pura vida is their way to reaffirm this belief and it is the country’s motto. Once you visit Costa Rica, you will experience pura vida. Everyone who goes there comes back with a new perspective and appreciation for life. That is the lasting impact Costa Rica leaves on their visitors.

About the Authors

   We are Yeison and Samantha, an adventurous couple whose home base is Costa Rica. We’re on a quest to take  our tan feet around the world while enjoying as many beaches and sunsets as possible. You can follow our  adventure through our Facebook, Twitter or Google+

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