The Best Beginner Surf Beaches in Costa Rica

The waves are calling | © Marc Veraart / Flickr
The waves are calling | © Marc Veraart / Flickr
Photo of Jenn Parker
11 September 2017

Costa Rica has been on the surfer’s map for decades, and the small country hosts two coasts that are riddled with waves. While experienced surfers from around the globe come to Costa Rica to surf famous breaks like Witch’s Rock, Salsa Brava, and Playa Hermosa, a solid number of first-time surfers flock here to learn the ways of the waves on many of the country’s beginner-friendly breaks. All of the following breaks can became too advanced for first-timers or beginner surfers with the right swell, but more often than not they are perfectly suited for learning.

Playa Tamarindo

Playa Tamarindo is one of the most popular beginner-surfer destinations in Costa Rica. This happening beach town in Guanacaste has several surf spots that all break over a sandy bottom, multiple surf schools and camps, at least a dozen surf shops, and plenty of board rentals and private instructors for hire. Tamarindo is the epitome of a surf town. Most of the time, the waves here are on the smaller and gentler side, which is perfect for learning. There are times throughout the year when the perfect swell shows up, though, and the waves here can excite the more advanced surfer.

Playa Guiones

Playa Guiones (Nosara) is another popular destination for beginner surfers. What’s great about Playa Guiones is that both beginners and advanced surfers will be able to find waves that are perfectly suited to them. The more advanced waves break really far out from the beach, while the more beginner-friendly waves break closer to the shore. The beach is enormous, too, which makes it really easy to spread out and have your own space to practice your newly acquired skills. There are several surf schools, surf camps, and surf shops in Playa Guiones that will be able to accommodate all of your surfing needs.

Charge it | ©dog4aday/Flickr

Playa Samara

Playa Samara is a excellent beginner surfer spot. This gentle beach break is the ideal spot to learn how to surf. There needs to be swell, though, and the tide needs to be high, otherwise Playa Samara is completely flat; it then becomes an incredible place to go paddle boarding. The town of Samara is a cool place to hang out, too. There are a number of fun little bars, restaurants, and plenty of accommodation options. There are also a few surf shops on Playa Samara where you can rent boards and sign up for lessons.

There's nothing like your first wave | ©Craig Bonsignore/Flickr

Playa Espadilla

Playa Espadilla is the main beach in Manuel Antonio and an excellent beach for new surfers to learn and practice how to surf. The south end of the beach during and around high tide produces small and beginner-friendly waves. The waves at the north end of the beach can get bigger when there is enough swell in the water. This is a popular beach for both surfers and beachgoers. There are several surf shops in Manuel Antonio where you can rent boards, sign up for lessons, and pick up any beach and surf essentials you need.

Surf's up! | © Bernal Saborio/Flickr

Playa Jaco

Playa Jaco at or around low tide is ideal for beginner surfers. When the tide is higher, the waves tend to be bigger. Jaco is another popular surf town and is located in the Central Pacific part of the country. There is no shortage of board rentals and lesson opportunities in Playa Jaco, and there are several surf camps that run programs in this area for all levels. Playa Jaco is also well known for its happening nightlife. If you are looking to party and surf, this might be the ideal spot for you.

Practice makes perfect | ©dog4aday/Flickr

Playa Los Cedros

Playa Los Cedros is located on the southern side of Montezuma. This absolutely stunning beach is made for picnicking, sunbathing, long strolls, horseback riding, and surfing. While there are a few rocks, they are very noticeable and easily avoidable. This spot has a left point break that only works at high tide. The waves are consistent here and break quite smoothly. The consistency and gentleness of this point break are ideal for new surfers to practice their surfing skills. There are several surf camp options in Montezuma, as well.

It's a longboard kind of day | © Clark Weber/Flickr

Punta Uva

Punta Uva is a 15-minute drive from the center of Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast. This is one of the best surf spots for beginners on the Caribbean side. The other spots tend to be more suited for intermediate and advanced surfers. Punta Uva is breathtakingly beautiful and the water is crystal clear. Punta Uva is a pretty consistent right point break.

Surf until the sunsets | ©Mike/Flickr

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