5 Best Places to Learn Surfing in Costa Rica
Why learn Surfing in Costa Rica? Because the surfing on both coasts of Costa Rica is world renowned, an extraordinary fact considering how small the country is. And, Costa Ricans are countrymen and women as tranquil as you’ll find on Earth. Also, because the majority of the surfing locale options in Costa Rica are gorgeous. Most importantly, because the surf breaks for beginners are ideal.
So, if you don’t want to get chucked off your board head first onto coral reef the first time you luck out and get up on a surfboard, learn to surf in Costa Rica. The Rich Coast has more soft-sand beach breaks than Australia has man-eating sharks!
Don’t want some teenage hipster or middle-aged yippy calling you a quimby and yelling at you to get of his “f-ing” wave? Then Costa Rica is the place to learn to surf. Tico surfers don’t entertain the “locals only bra!” douchery.
Enjoy learning to surf in Costa Rica, safely!
In a Nutshell, the 5 Best Beaches to Learn Surfing in Costa Rica
- Playa Tamarindo (Pacific, Nicoya Peninsula)
- Nosara’s Playa Guiones
- Playa Samara (Pacific, Nicoya Peninsula)
- Espadilla Beach (Pacific, Quepos/Manuel Antonio)
- Punta Uva (Caribbean, Puerto Viejo/Manzanillo)
Beginner Surf Beaches in Costa Rica: Pacific Coast
There are beginner surf beaches up and down the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. And, fortunately for those on a family vacation in Costa Rica, many of the best beginner surf beaches are near some of the best resort and beach towns! According to Culture Trip’s Jenn Parker, there are six ideal beaches for beginning surfers in Costa Rica.
1. Learning to Surf in Playa Tamarindo
The waves at Playa Tamarindo are small and break softly. The ocean floor at Playa Tamarindo develop is sand, so a fall off a surfboard has a soft landing as well.
Furthermore, the waves in Playa Tamarindo begin a fair distance away from shore. So, there is an opportunity for a long ride. Most importantly for beginner surfers, there is very little riptide at Playa Tamarindo.
The best part about learning to surf at Playa Tamarindo — in addition to the fact that there are a large number of surfing schools — is the town itself.
Tamarindo is one of the most beautiful resort/beach town in Costa Rica.
It is certainly one of the most affluent.
2. Beginner Surf in Playa Guiones (Nosara)
A giant beach defines Nosara’s Playa Guiones. It is huge. But, like the waves in Tamarindo, those at Playa Guiones are small — at least near the beach.
Farther out, the waves at Playa Guiones grow larger. Because the waves offshore are larger than those that hit the beach, Playa Guiones offers both beginner and intermediate surfing. So, unlike other beginner beaches, Playa Guiones remains challenging for those people who learn surfing in Costa Rica quickly.
In addition to offering great surf for beginners, Nosara is also a yoga central. Expatriates from the United States moved to the area in the 1970s and 80s and began what has developed into rich yoga tradition. There are dozens of yoga retreat sites and yoga resorts in Nosara.
A word of caution, however.
Nosara is on the Nicoya Peninsula. That means getting there requires a good deal of car travel. So, if you’re going to make the trip to Nosara, plan on staying for a few days — or more — at Playa Guiones.
3. Playa Samara for Beginning Surfers
Playa Samara is the best place on the Pacific Coast for people who’ve never surfed to learn. Samara beach only has waves at high tide. Any other time of the day and the ocean at Playa Samara is flat and calm.
Even at high tide, the waves are small. But, the waves begin a long way offshore. So, that means rides on a surfboard can be long.
As one would expect, the waves become progressively larger as the tide moves in. Then, they become progressively smaller as the tide moves out. So, if you are looking for really small waves — for a child to learn surfing in Costa Rica, for example, — Samara is the perfect setting.
The town of Samara is much like its beach, very quiet and peaceful.
But, there are great little cafes and restaurants in Samara. There are also fun little bars and the nightlife is happening, but it’s tranquil as well.
Samara is on the Nicoya Peninsula, a half an hours drive from Nosara. It is at the junction of Highways 150 and 160. It’s the farthest south it is possible to travel south on either of these roads. In other words, getting there means a long drive. So, it’s best to combine a few days in Samara with a few days in Nosara.
4. Espadilla Beach (Quepos/Manuel Antonio)
The waves and lack of riptide make Espadalla beach excellent for beginner surfers. Even though it is in a cove, Espadilla Beach can generate waves that are four or five feet high at certain times of the day. But there is zero riptide and the entire beach is sand, save the two ends.
So, even if you struggle to catch the waves because they are a touch big, Espadilla beach is generally safe for learning to surf in Costa Rica.
With respect to beach and resort towns in Costa Rica, you can’t beat Quepos. It might be the coolest town in Costa Rica for the middle-class traveler. It has neither the beach bum town feel (Dominical) nor is it ridiculously expensive (Mal Pais and Punta Arenas). In Quepos, there are plenty of good-quality hotels that are reasonably priced. And, a majority of the restaurants in Quepos are owned by expatriates, so it is easy to find the food your palate appreciates.
And with respect to vistas and scenery, Quepos is at or near the top of all Pacific Beach Towns. The road through Quepos/Manuel Antonio is high above the coastline, so the views are spectacular.
Of all the beach towns south of the Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific Coast, Quepos is one of the few can’t-miss destinations.
In addition to the four Costa Rica beaches ideal for beginners listed above, there are dozens of others on the Pacific Coast. The Caribbean Coast, however, is different. There are only a handful of good beaches for beginner surfers on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica.
Beginner Surfing in Costa Rica: Caribbean Coast
There are other beaches on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast that have the right size waves and conditions for beginner surfers. But, Punta Uva is the most popular. The reason being, there are surf schools at Punta Uva. Most of the other beaches on the Caribbean Coast that are appropriate for beginners are very isolated.
There are far more beaches, on a ratio scale, for intermediate and experienced surfers on the Caribbean than there are for beginners.
5. Learning to Surf at Punta Uva
Punta Uva is just south of the town of Puerto Viejo. Unlike the harsh breaks that characterize the majority of Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast, Punta Uva has well-formed waves that roll up gently and break softly. Punta Uva is an ideal surf spot for beginners.
As great as the surfing for beginners at Punta Uva is, the local of Punta Uva is even more impressive. Punta Uva is between Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo, the two most beautiful beach towns on the Caribbean. So, if you are going to the Caribbean and you want to see the best parts and you want to learn to surf, Punta Uva is the place to be.
Again, there are many other great places to learn to surf in Costa Rica, but these five are the most popular. Anyone going on a surfing vacation in Costa Rica is going to make surfing their priority. But, it is equally important to consider the beauty of the place you’ll be learning and the life of the beach towns around it!