Less crowded than the beaches of Southern California, Hawaii and Australia, the warm water waves of Costa Rica are a favorite destination for world surfers. And lesser known than the very-developed Pacific Coast, the laid-back southern Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica is a hot spot for Costa Rica surfing with lots of great waves.
The popular Caribbean town of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, is an ideal location for laid-back surfers and travelers looking for a more relaxed Costa Rica travel experience over the highly commercialized Pacific Coast. Playa Cocles and Puerto Viejo hosted the 2014 Olympus National Surfing Circuit competition, the Lime Coral Caribbean Classic II, in January of this year.
Puerto Viejo also is home to the most powerful wave in the country – Salsa Brava, a thick Hawaiian-style barrel wave that builds in deep water and pours over a shallow coral reef lining the coast. It is called the “heaviest wave” in the country, and is for expert surfers only.
The beaches of Playa Cocles, Playa Negra, Cahuita and Manzanillo offer waves for all levels. Beginner and intermediate surfers will enjoy the sandy-bottom beaches of both Playa Cocles and Playa Negra.
A lifeguard watches Playa Cocles and right in front is where most surfers gather. “This beach break offers a more consistent break, with lefts and rights breaking close to the beach. This wave tends to jack up with a big swell due to the steep beach entry … beware of currents. Best conditions in the early morning before the winds blow it out. However, you can surf here all day as the wind often improves the lack of form,” according to Surf Costa Rica.
Playa Negra in Cahuita is also good for surfing, and is lesser known and not crowded. Playa Negra “offers a great beach break with waves year-round. Best conditions in the early morning with swell from the south or east at almost any tide,” according to Surf Costa Rica.
Playa Grande, between Punta Uva and Manzanillo, is frequented by local surfers, as is Manzanillo Beach.
When visiting, be sure not to go surfing alone, and always check with local surfers about riptides, strong currents and reefs.
Costa Rica boutique hotel Le Caméléon, at Playa Cocles, can arrange surfing classes and board rentals for you. Their in-house concierge organizes all of the top tours in the southern Caribbean region. The upscale Enchanting Hotel of Costa Rica is chicly designed in exuberant tropical gardens. Their La Sula Sea Lounge and beach club is the best place to be on Playa Cocles. You will be minutes from all of the surfing action.
Article by Shannon Farley