Surf Towns of Costa Rica

Costa Rica has been high on the list of great family travel destinations for awhile now, but did you know it’s also a top surfing destination? Thanks to the country’s two coastlines — the Caribbean and the Pacific — the destination boasts some of the best waves and breaks in the world.

Best of all, there are surf spots that work for everyone from first-timers to experts, and no need to bring a wetsuit as temperatures range from the mid-80s to 90s during the day year-round.

Not sure where to hang 10? Here are the five best surf towns, courtesy of International Living:

  • Dominical, on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast — known for its dramatic mountains, rainforests, howler monkeys and sloths — offers powerful waves just right for experienced surfers. In nearby Dominicalito, the surf is calmer and the little beach town offers a few open-air eateries for just-caught seafood and handicraft vendors.
  • Jacó, on the central Pacific coast ,is the closest major beach destination to San José, Costa Rica’s capital, at two hours away by car. The area, formerly known as a party town, morphed in recent years into a family-friendly destination, thanks to its many surf schools and miles-long beach. Here newbies and experts alike can learn to surf or perfect their skills, and you can also enjoy daytrips from here to other surfing destinations, like Playa Hermosa and Playa Esterillos.
  • Tamarindo, on Costa Rica’s north Pacific coast, offers a long, gracefully curving beach and both beginner-friendly surf and powerful waves ear the river mouth. Tamarindo, known also for its beach bars, restaurants and surf schools, is also a great jumping-off point to Playa Grande, just across the river, as well as to Playa Avellanas and Playa Negra, about a half-hour south.
  • Playa Cocles on Costa Rica’s relatively undeveloped Caribbean coast offers some of the best and most challenging surfing in the country, along with a few restaurants, hotels and shops. The area hosts some of the destination’s biggest annual surfing tournaments and the vibe is bohemian and lively.
  • Playa Guiones in Nosara on the Nicoya Peninsula is so undeveloped you’ll need to bring your own drinks and snacks, but if secluded beaches are your thing, you’re in luck. Nicoya itself offers shops and restaurants along the coast, as well as yoga studios and centers for alternative healing.

With all these choices — all 800 miles of coastline — the hardest part will be deciding which beach to hit first.