Passport? Check. Swimsuit? Check. Surfboard? Check, of course! We know that great destinations inspire great transformations, and there are few better places for surfers get a fresh start than the gorgeous Central American coast. When it comes to surfing, Costa Rica is blessed with the best of both worlds; the vast Pacific Ocean on one side and the tropical Caribbean Sea on the other. We've rounded up a list of Costa Rica surf locations where you can loosen up and hang loose—hopefully, without knocking yourself off your surfboard, too.
Costa Rica surf trips along the Pacific Coast
All areas of Costa Rica are stunning, but prospective travelers might want to consider their budget and personal itineraries before choosing which side of the coast to visit. The Pacific shoreline is the longer and more developed of the two coasts, rendering it a good choice for travelers to Costa Rica who would prefer surf resort amenities such as luxury restaurants, beachside shopping, hip nightlife, and obviously, killer waves. Rent a vacation home in one of the following Pacific Coast surf locations for a totally tubular trip.
Catch the waves in Tamarindo
Set in the lush Guanacaste Province, Tamarindo is home to Playa Tamarindo, a popular surf hub suited for beginner and intermediate surfers alike. Other beaches in the area include Playa Langosta, a laid-back surf spot that is often less crowded than Playa Tamarindo, and Playa Grande, a major seasonal nesting site for leatherback turtles. Beachside cottage rentals abound here, and plenty have ocean views to make sure that you'll catch both the sunset and the best waves of the day.
Ride the tide in Jacó
If you're looking for nature, nightlife, and gnarly waves, consider retreating to vacation home rentals in Jacó. Located near the capital city of San José, this lively town serves as a gateway to Carara National Park, where you can spot crocodiles and scarlet macaws. When it's time to hit the surf, you can head to Hermosa Beach, a quaint coastal town with shops, bars, and a long pier. If you're traveling with any non-surfers, try renting a vacation home with a pool along the tree–lined Jacó Beach.
Hit the peaks in Dominical
Dominical went from a small fishing village to one of Costa Rica's top surfing destinations, and it's not hard to see why. Known for its year-round waves, this tiny town is home to a renowned surf camp that caters to both advanced and beginner surfers. It is also surrounded by the Alturas Wildlife Sanctuary and Marino Ballena National Park, both of which provide opportunities to spot local and endangered critters. Although the area is popular among tourists, its remote location and lush scenery promises a relaxing vacation rental experience.
Costa Rica surf vacations along the Caribbean Sea
While the Pacific Ocean is wonderful, some travelers desire a different experience than what Costa Rica's west coast can provide. The Caribbean shoreline is small but powerful, packing rugged waves powered by tropical winds. Pro-level surfers will certainly be at home here, but that's not to say that beginner and intermediate surfers can't enjoy the Caribbean Coast—this gorgeous tropical coastline offers surfing spots for all experience levels. Fortunately, the vacation rentals here are just as diverse.
Surf the sea in Limón
As the second most populated city in Costa Rica, Limón offers no shortage of things to do or places to catch the tide. Surf spots include Playa Piuta, a rocky beach surrounded by bars and cafes, and Playa Bonita, a popular spot for swimming, kayaking, and snorkeling. If you get tired of surfing, head a half-mile offshore to Uvita Island, where you can dive and snorkel among coral reefs. Though Limón is never crowd-free, try a summer rental to enjoy the smallest crowds.
Coast the waves in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
Situated about 40 miles south of Limón, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is home to Salsa Brava, a legendary current that's known for its tendency to swell and produce barrel waves. Inexperienced divers take warning, though—Salsa Brava is also known for rip currents and rocky landings. Playa Cocles, a nearby surfing locale, provides slightly safer waves, while Playa Negra, a black-sand beach to the north of Puerto Viejo, has waves for multiple levels. Whichever beach you choose, it's bound to look beautiful from the porch of your beachside vacation rental.