6 Best Intermediate Surfing Beaches in Costa Rica
Intermediate surfing in Costa Rica is more plentiful than beginner and expert surfing. Costa Rica has soft and sandy beaches on the Pacific side for beginners who want to learn surfing in Costa Rica. But, it has more intermediate surfing than beginner surf of the Pacific.
One the Caribbean side, there are hard-breaking, hard-bottom swells for expert surfers. But, the best surfing on the Caribbean side, too, is for intermediates.
Whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or expert surfer, there is a perfect break in Costa Rica for you. It’s the country’s most popular outdoor recreation. But, if you are an intermediate surfer, Costa Rica is world-class.
In fact, the intermediate surfing in Costa Rica is the class of the world. It’s not even close. Costa Rica has the best intermediate surfing in the world. Primarily, because of one wave.
The longest left-breaking wave in the world is in Costa Rica!
Its name? Pavones.
Pavones is too big for beginners. It doesn’t spook experts. But, it’s perfect porage for intermediate surfers! Read more about Pavones on the Osa Peninsula below.
Not only are there different sizes and kinds of breaks up and down the Pacific Coast, surfing in Costa Rica is year around. Even the surf snobs in California can’t make that claim.
So, not only is the intermediate surfing in Costa Rica the best, there is more of it on each calendar year!
In a Nutshell, the 6 Best Intermediate Surfing Beaches in Costa Rica
- Playa Grande (Pacific, Nicoya Peninsula)
- Manzanillo Beach (Pacific, Nicoya Peninsula)
- Playa Hermosa (Pacific, Jaco)
- Pavones (Pacific, Osa Peninsula)
- Playa Negra (Caribbean, Cajuita)
- El Barco (Caribbean, Puerto Viejo)
Intermediate Surfing in Costa Rica: Pacific
Surfers who know what they’re doing — can’t recognize break types, riptides, and hard and soft breaking waves — Costa Rica has dozens of solid surf beaches. They are scattered up and down both coasts. Costa Rica is a Paradise for people learning to surf.
But, if you’re not a quimby trying to get up for the first time, there is even more fun to be had in Costa Rica for you!
The following four beaches on the Pacific Coast have solid intermediate waves and are in close proximity to towns and cities — aid.
Playa Grande Intermediate Level Surfing at (Nicoya Peninsula)
The next beach up (north) from Playa Tamarindo, Playa Grande is an entirely different scene than the aforementioned. The two beaches are merely separated by an estuary — the Playa Grande Estuary, — but are in two different categories.
Tamarindo is for beginners. Playa Grande is not.
Because of the estuary, getting from Playa Tamarindo to Playa Grande is more difficult than simply walking, biking, or driving up the coast. The estuary covers the entire southern and eastern sides of Playa Grande.
That means Playa Grande is a peninsula on the mainland surrounded by the ocean on one side and the estuary on two.
But, if you’re an intermediate surfer, making the drive to Playa Grande from Tamarindo is well worth the effort.
Playa Grande — Big Beach — has a very appropriate name. It is several kilometers long and several hundred meters in depth, even at high tide. And, without a doubt, Playa Grande is for intermediate surfers.
For one, the waves that spill up on Playa Grande are moving at a fair clip. For two, Playa Grande is isolated.
But, that isn’t to say Playa Grande can’t be for beginners. Many young and/or athletic want-to-be surfers prefer learning on intermediate-level waves. There are two surf schools in Playa Grande.
So, if you are interested in jumping into the deep end for your surfing lessons, Playa Grande is a must-see destination on a surfing vacation in Costa Rica.
Playa Manzanillo Intermediate Surf Nicoya Peninsula
Playa Manzanillo is like Playa Grande in that it is big, has moderate-sized waves, and is isolated.
North of the uber-affluent resort town, Mal Pais, Playa Manzanillo is akin to its namesake beach on the Caribbean Coast. It is strikingly beautiful. For those on a holiday vacation in Costa Rica who want to learn to surf in a private setting, there are plenty of surf schools in the towns around Playa Manzanillo.
Playa Manzanillo (Pacific) is located on the southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula. So, if you plan to make the trip, it would be wise to spend several days, even a week, around the area. While there are beach and resort towns all over the Nicoya Peninsula, it is separated from the mainland by long traveling distances.
That does not mean, however, that the Nicoya Peninsula is not worth the effort. It is unique both geographically and culturally from the rest of Costa Rica.
There are probably as many expatriates living on the Nicoya Peninsula as there are Ticos!
Intermediate Surfing at Playa Hermosa (Jaco)
Unlike Playa Grande and Playa Manzanillo, Playa Hermosa is not isolated. Though it is not right in front of Jaco, it is close enough. It’s just south. Playa Hermosa’s waves are size enough to make it advenced-beginner level.
It is the reef break at Playa Hermosa that maan kes it intermediate level.
The waves can be a touch daunting for beginners a few hours before high tide, so the crowds tend to thin out a touch around then. If you’re a solid intermediate, that the best time to surf Playa Hermosa.
One of its best features, Playa Hermosa is not a stand-stand alone break. There are breaks up and down the coast within a few miles of Playa Hermosa.
Additionally, for those people on an adventure vacation in Costa Rica who want to make certain they’re around entertainment at night, Playa Hermosa has a great location. Jaco is one of the most popular destinations in the country. Day or night, there is always something to do in Jaco.
Intermediate-Level Surging on World’s Longes Wave: Pavones, Costa Rica
For surfers with a bucket list, Pavones must be on it. Pavones is the longest left in the world. To find comparable waves anywhere else in the world, you must travel to places like Namibia, Peru, South Africa, and Indonesia.
Of all the long waves in the world, Pavones is the easiest to get to logistically. But, Pavones is not only a long, long ride on a surfboard, but it also takes a long ride in a car to get to. Pavones is in Gulfo Dulce at the southern end of Costa Rica. It is south of the Osa Peninsula, just north of the Costa Rica/Panama border.
With respect to other waves in Costa Rica, Pavones is difficult to get to. In relation to the other longest waves in the world, however, it’s a snap.
Intermediate Surfing in Costa Rica: Caribbean
The Caribbean Coast is better known for its expert-only surfing breaks like the world-renowned Salsa Brava — Hot Sauce — and Punta Uva. But, there are two beaches on the Caribbean Coast that are both close to beach towns and have ideal intermediate surfing beaches. They are Playa Negra near Cahuita and El Barco in Puerto Viejo.
Playa Negra’s Intermediate-Level Surf
So beautiful is Playa Negra, that the great surfing there is secondary. As the name implies, the sand is black at Playa Negra. There are few places in Costa Rica that compare to Playa Negra aesthetically.
The surf at Playa Negra is intermediate, but it is important to be careful on the south end. The coral reef at the southern end of the break is particularly sharp. But, if you stay in the middle of the break or toward the north side, Playa Negra is one of the best breaks for intermediate surfing in Costa Rica.
El Barco (Puerto Viejo) Intermediate Surfing
While Puerto Viejo is better known for Salsa Bravo, there are also a few beaches around the festive little town that offer beginner and intermediate surfing. The most popular is the beach called “El Barco.” Meaning The Ship, El Barco is where beginners and intermediate level-surfers go in the Puerto Viejo area to enjoy the waves. The beach gets its name from a ship that ran aground and remains today.
If you have any questions about the intermediate surfing in Costa Rica, feel free to contact Costa Rica Vacations!