It’s no secret that surfing in Costa Rica is pretty awesome. Which brings the advantage that it’s very easy to find equipment pretty much everywhere, be it to rent or buy. And the disadvantage that you’ll usually be sharing your waves with lots of other people and the fact that bus drivers figured out it’s a good business for them as well and you’ll always be paying extra to bring along your board.
It’s the Caribbean and you just never know what you’ll get. We surfed the beach break at Playa Cocles, but it was no fun. The swell was too big and it wouldn’t hold well. On smaller days, this surely is a great beach to play around. It’s beautiful, too! Puerto Viejos most famous spot certainly is Salsa Brava, a rightand reefbreak. While we were there, we only saw one surfer out there. It was definetely out of our league. If you’re only just beginning to surf, the black-sand beach Playa Negra on the other side of town might be an option. It’s very protected, but a small fun wave sometimes runs past the shipwreck. You can also take a bus (or a bicycle) and head to Playa Punta Uva. It’s a very pretty beach with a right-hand pointbreak.
Pavones is legendary! In this town, it’s all about surfing and there really is nothing else to do. We surfed the famous lefthand pointbreak only twice. When the massive swell hit, we were happy just watching. You’ve probably heard enough stories about this wave, so I’ll spare you too much information. Let’s just say – if this wave gets going, you’ll have the longest ride of your life! If the main break is too big for you, there’s another lefthand pointbreak further into the bay. You can walk to Sawmills (about 20 minutes). It’s quite a bit smaller, but still offers some nice long rides. The bottom is rocky, as in Pavones. If you don’t surf, hopefully you like to watch surfers. It’s quite a spectacle and when a big swell hits, the beach will be filled with onlookers and photographers.
In town, you’ll find places to rent boards, as well as two quite big supermarkets for your grocery shopping.
On the other side of the Golfo Dulce is the fishing village of Puerto Jiménez. It’s not a surfer town. Tourists usually come here for whale watching or to head to the Corcovado National Park. But from here, you can head to some pretty awesome surfspots. Especially if you’ve had enough of the lefthanders. Here, it’s all about righthanders. It’s much easier if you have your own car, as the spots are quite a bit away from town. There is a bus leaving for Carate twice a day, it can drop you off on the way. One of our all-time favorites is Playa Pan Dulce. First of all, it must be the most picturesque bay we’ve ever seen, with scarlet macaws flying over our heads and monkeys howling (and supposedly the ocassional shark). And then there’s this perfect wave! It’s a right-hand pointbreak and we had it all to ourselves in the early morning. But don’t make the same mistake as us and forget all about time. We missed the bus home and had to walk quite a bit, until we could hitch a ride. There’s also Matapalo beach further along the coast, which is supposed to be very good. But we didn’t surf it.
This one is a nice stop along the coast on your way up north. It has a fun beach break where we always had a peak almost to ourselves. That might be only true for rainy season, we don’t know. It is a pretty powerful wave and does get really difficult with bigger swells. If you want an easier wave, you can walk (or take a taxi) to neighbouring Dominicalito. It’s much more beginner-friendly.
There’s lots of board rentals and the occasional surf shop in Dominical.
Everyone knows (and loves) Santa Teresa. It’s developed a lot over the years and there’s a sheer endless variety of hotels and restaurants to choose from. It’s also become a bit of a party hotspot. But that doesn’t change the fact that you will have a great beach break right out front. We were glad we were here during low season and enjoyed a pretty uncrowded line-up most days. We were staying at ‘Cuesta Arriba’ (which we can totally recommend, by the way) and always surfed at this end of the beach. The wave there is a bit more challenging and faster than in town, but it’s doable if you’re not a beginner. The wave closes out with swells bigger than 6ft. Needless to say that it’s super easy to buy, sell and rent surfboards and other equipment here.