Surfing - A Summary of Where and When to Go
Surfing started here in the 70's when pioneers from California, Australia, and Europe found empty beachbreaks, points, and reef breaks. They told their friends, set up camp, taught the locals to surf and make boards, and the rest is history.
There are four major areas for surfing- North Pacific, Central Pacific, South Pacific, and Caribbean Coast. The seasons in the Pacific are rainy (from May until November) and dry (from December to April) while the Caribbean can have rainstorms all year. The tides are strongest just after a new or full moon.
In the North Pacific, there are boat trips to Ollie's Point, a fast right breaking into a pristine bay. Witches' Rock has miles of long white sand beachbreak with a nearby rivermouth. Farther south is Playa Grande, another beachbreak, and Tamarindo - with a fast tubing section at the rivermouth. Then just south is Langosta, Avellanas, Playa Negra (a favorite and at times very crowded right, barreling over a shallow rock shelf). Some surfers choose Playa Nosara, another hour south, with tropical beachfront with empty lineups. There are hidden beaches farther north and south for the adventurous.
The Papagayo winds blow offshore in this region between January and April. You have to time it with a swell, which is hit or miss, but they groom out barrels and long rides. May to November are also good months as southern swells light up the south facing beaches.
In the central pacific region waves can be found year round. The most consistent beachbreaks are Mal Pais, Playa Hermosa, and Dominical. There are also nearby point breaks, and Boca Barranca (near Puntarenas), is a left that goes 700 meters+ with a good south swell.
If you time it right, the southern zone has some of the most perfect waves on the planet. The two favorites are Playa Pavones and Playa Matapalo. Pavones can break 2-3 times overhead and have rides a half mile. Matapalo, on the other side of the Golfo Dulce, is a right point break that has house sized waves and picks up a west swell. Playa Zancudo is a nice beachbreak to visit and Drake's Bay has access from Sierpe by boat.
On the Caribbean, the time to go is between January and April. To the north Tortuguero's rivermouths are unsurfed and shark infested. The first fast barreling wave is at Playa Bonita, north of Limon. There are beach breaks south from Limon to Cahuita, but watch for sharks. Cahuita has nice white and black sand beaches. The jewel of this coast is the reef break Salsa Brava, the hollowest wave in Costa Rica. Farther south is Playa Cocles. And towards the Panama border are lesser known reefs and pointbreaks to go discover.
All of the popular beaches have access to board rentals and surf lessons. Rentals - $10-20 per day, $30-50 for a lesson. New boards go for $360-450. Don't forget to get rashguard, sunscreen, and wax! Chosita del Surf in Jaco - 2643-3844, has high quality surfboards and products.