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The 6 Best Surf Towns in Costa Rica 

With its stunning coastlines, lush rainforests, and vibrant culture, Costa Rica has been a magnet for adventurous surfers from around the world for a long time now. 

Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, this beautiful country has endless surf towns that offer endless waves, breathtaking landscapes and a laid-back “pura vida” lifestyle. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time surfer, Costa Rica’s surf towns provide a haven for surf trip enthusiasts of all levels. With so many to choose from, you might be wondering what the best surf towns in Costa Rica are, so we are going to narrow down your searches and let you know which ones have to be on your Costa Rican bucket list

Disclaimer: Some of the links included on our website may contain affiliate links. We may receive some commission from purchases made via these but it will NOT affect the price you pay. This is to allow this site to stay online and ensure that readers use, what we believe, are the best products possible whilst travelling.

Some helpful tips for visiting Costa Rica 

Getting around

Getting around Costa Rica is pretty easy and we delve into it a bit more in our complete backpacking guide for Costa Rica, which includes a packing list.

If you’re exploring Costa Rica just for the surf you might want to opt to rent your own car or motorhome. This allows you to take your boards around the country easily and will save you a pretty penny or two.

That being said, we got around by using a mixture of shuttle buses and public transport and there were tonnes of people travelling with their boards so you shouldn’t have any issues.  For shuttles between locations and surf towns in Costa Rica, we used both 12Go and Caribe Shuttles

Booking accommodation

Depending on your travel style, you’ll probably stay in a mixture of hostels, hotels and guest houses in Costa Rica. This is exactly what we did and we loved getting to meet new people and enjoying some serenity. Loads of the hostels in Costa Rica have both dorms as well as private rooms and this is a great way to make friends with other fellow surfers. 

As we were travelling as a couple, two dorm beds often cost the same amount for a room in a guest house/hotel which made it sensible to opt for these on occasions.

For hostels, we always booked through Hostelworld and for hotels and guesthouses, we used a mixture of booking.com and Agoda

Booking tours 

During our time in Costa Rica, we actually primarily booked our tours through our accommodation. 

Hostels in Costa Rica tend to have a wide range of activities you can do throughout your stay. They will also arrange transportation for you to get there if you need it. 

However, this tends to be a more expensive option so we also recommend looking into the tours on Viator. We booked a few activities through Viator after finding them cheaper than ones offered locally and we had great experience. 

So where are the best surf towns in Costa Rica? 

This Costa Rica map highlights all the best Costa Rica surfing towns!

1. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca – The best surf town in Costa Rica for Backpackers! 

Location: Limon province, Caribbean Coast  

Budget: $

Vibe: Backpacker-y

Where to stay: We stayed at the Selina in Puerto Viejo but have heard amazing things about Rocking J’s Hostel if you are looking for a more affordable option. 

Best surf camp: Surf the Jungle Costa Rica 

Other activities: The town itself is awesome and has multiple shops, markets and great food options. There is also a wildlife sanctuary that is well worth a visit! 

Situated on the southeastern coast of Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca was a location that really surprised us and has made it to the top of our list of the best surf towns in Costa Rica. 

Renowned for its laid-back atmosphere, vibrant Caribbean culture and world-class waves, this charming town offers an unforgettable experience. 

Puerto Viejo takes the top spot for its consistent and powerful breaks, ideal for both beginner and advanced riders. The warm waters of the Caribbean Sea provide an ideal playground for wave enthusiasts or those who enjoy a beach break. The beach itself is ideal, with surfboard rental shops lining the coastline and a variety of refreshments on offer. There are also toilets and changing facilities that you won’t often find in other areas. 

Beyond the surf and beach, Puerto Viejo has a unique charm that we didn’t experience in the rest of the country. The town’s Caribbean influence is evident throughout in its vibrant music, incredible cuisine and welcoming locals. 

We originally only visited the beach in town which is not nearly as impressive as the nearby Playa Cocles. This ended up being only a short walk along the road from Selina Puerto Viejo. Selina Hostel offered surfboard rentals but we found that the rental shops at the beach were more affordable at $10-$15 (5,400CRC-8,000CRC) for a day’s rental.

2. Tamarindo – The best surf town in Costa Rica for luxury travelers! 

Location: Guanacaste Province, Pacific Coast 

Budget: $$$

Vibe: Tourist-y

Where to stay: We stayed in the Selina (you will see a theme here) but also recommend the Pipe House.

Best surf camp: Witch’s Rock Surf Camp 

Other activities: Tamarindo is a very touristy place so you will find tons of fun tours as well as great parties, bars, restaurants and shops. 

Tamarindo has to be one of the premier surf towns in Costa Rica, popular with visitors for its unique blend of tourist appeal and incredible surfing conditions. Yes, it’s crazy touristy but this vibrant coastal gem offers an unforgettable experience! 

One of its greatest attractions is its breathtaking beaches. The town’s shores boats huge stretches of golden sand and crystal clear waters with an unbeatable Pacific Ocean backdrop. Surfers of all abilities flock to Tamarindo for its exceptional surf breaks, and it was probably the spot in Costa Rica where we did the most surfing! From beginners to seasoned pros, the town provides an ideal mix of wave sizes and difficulty levels. 

Do be warned though, there are actually some spots on the coast that have crocodiles and while there are loads of signs and warnings, some people do ignore these and attacks can happen.

After a day of thrilling rides, the town comes alive with its legendary nightlife scene! With an array of bars, restaurants, clubs and beach parties, you will not struggle to fill your evenings and dance the night away. 

3. Santa Teresa – The most beautiful surf town in Costa Rica! 

Location: Puntarenas Province, Pacific Coast

Budget: $$

Vibe: Chill

Where to stay: Lost Boyz or Zeneidas Surf Garden

Best surf camp: Lapoint

Other activities: Horse riding on the beach, exploring the village, Montezuma day trip and yoga classes.

Santa Teresa is a bit of a hidden gem in Costa Rica, but for surf lovers it shouldn’t be missed! 

Filled with natural beauty and vibrant surf culture, getting there may be a little bit tricky, the journey is undoubtedly worth it. The remote location actually adds to Santa Teresa’s charm, preserving its unspoiled beaches and laid-back atmosphere. 

One of Santa Teresa’s standout features (other than the surf) is its excellent selection of restaurants. They combine to offer a range of international flavours and local cuisine that’s suitable for all budgets. 

Beyond the dining options, Santa Teresa is famous for its stunning beaches. Picture, perfect stretched of white sand meets the Pacific Ocean’s picturesque turquoise waters, creating the perfect setting for sunbathing, swimming, and of course, surfing. 

With consistent swells and a variety of breaks suitable for all skill levels, Santa Teresa has to be one of the best surf towns in Costa Rica. 

4. Jaco – The best surf town in Costa Rica for families!

Location: Puntarenas Province, Pacific Coast

Budget: $$

Vibe: laid-back

Where to stay: We stayed in Room2Board and had the best time, it was close to the beach, had a nice pool and was only a short walk into town but CasaJungla is also a great option. 

Surf camp: Jaco Beach Surf School

Other activities: Waterfall tours, relaxing on the beach, Los Sueños Adventure Park, and Carara National Park.

Situated along Costa Rica’s Pacific coast, Jaco is an awesome coastal town with an energetic vibe that attracts a diverse range of travelers. It offers a unique blend of options, making it a haven for backpackers, luxury resort enthusiasts and food connoisseurs alike. 

We only really visited Jaco Costa Rica to break up our journey up the coast from Manuel Antonio but we are so glad we did! It’s a very versatile location as it’s known for its bustling nightlife and lively atmosphere it also has a real laid-back vibe to it. 

The town is home to a mix of budget-friendly accommodations for backpackers and high-end resorts and their dining scene is very similar. With affordable sodas for local food and mercados with cuisines from all over the world.However, what truly sets surfing Jaco apart from other locations is its reputation for being one of the best surfing destinations in Costa Rica. With its consistent waves and weather conditions, Jaco offers year-round surf opportunities for beginners and seasoned pros alike. 

While the surf is amazing and you will meet so many like-minded individuals ready to catch some waves. One of the downsides we found in Jaco was that the beach wasn’t the best just for chilling after a surf. Luckily our hostel had an incredible pool so we spent a lot of time there.

5. Nosara – For a peaceful surf experience in Costa Rica! 

Location: Nicoya Peninsula, Pacific Coast

Budget: $$

Vibe: Relaxed

Where to stay: Nosara Beach Hostel or Selina Nosara for private rooms

Surf camp: Surf Simply

Other activities: Yoga and wellness retreats, the Nosara Rodeo, Sibu Wildlife Sanctuary and nature tours.

Nosara has so much to offer! The tranquil spot on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula is known for its stunning and protected environment. This peaceful destination captivates visitors with its unspoiled beauty, incredibly consistent surf and endless wellness activities. 

One of the things we loved about Nosara was its commitment to preservation. The village takes great pride in its pristine beaches and lush jungles, implementing strict environmental measures to ensure their protection. As a result, Nosara was one of the cleanest spots we visited in Costa Rica!

Surfers flock to Nosara for its consistent and impressive surf conditions, suitable for all skill levels! Nosara has reliable swells, warm waters, and breathtaking sunsets making it the ideal setting for surf lovers in Costa Rica. 

Beyond surfing, Nosara embraces wellness as a way of life and the town is full of yoga retreats, wellness centres and holistic practices. 

6. Manuel Antonio 

Location: Puntarenas Province, Pacific Coast

Budget: $$

Vibe: Tropical

Where to stay: We stayed in Hotel Coco Beach

Surf schools: 

Other activities: Explore the national park, watch the sunset and go on wildlife tours.

Manuel Antonio was one of our favourite spots in Costa Rica and is also surprisingly, one of the best surf towns! 

Nestled along Costa Rica’s central Pacific Coast, Manuel Antonio offers a captivating blend of natural wonders, delectable cuisine, and exceptional surfing opportunities. 

The town’s star attraction is obviously Manuel Antonio National Park, a tropical paradise teeming with diverse wildlife and lush rainforests. Visitors can explore the park’s scenic trails, encounter monkeys, sloths, iguanas, and birds and relax on the pristine beaches inside. 

Speaking of beaches, Manuel Antonio has some of the most beautiful in the country and some of the best we have seen in the world! With their golden sands, turquoise waters and unbeatable sunsets, these beaches need to be on everyone’s bucket list! 

The surfing scene is something we weren’t expecting from Manuel Antonio, but actually, it’s one of the best surf towns in Costa Rica! Surfers of all levels can rent a surfboard and find their slice of paradise, with consistent waves and various breaks for all abilities. 

With its combination of national park splendour, breathtaking beaches, exceptional surf breaks, and mouthwatering cuisine, Manuel Antonio stands as a must-visit destination for surf enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

FAQs for surf towns in Costa Rica 

Is surfing in Costa Rica suitable for beginners?

One of the reasons that Costa Rica is so famous across the world for its surfing is that it is suitable for all abilities! Alex had surfed a few times before we visited but I was a complete newbie and there were still areas across the country that worked for us both! 

What is the best surf town in Costa Rica?

For pure surfing, it is without a doubt Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Do be aware that this is catered to the more experienced surfers given the high waves. Beaches include Playa Negra and Playa Salsa Brava.

What are the best surf camps in Costa Rica?

Tamarindo do the best surf camps in the whole of Costa Rica. Thanks to a range of surfing conditions, everyone from beginners to ‘very good’ can grab a surfboard and ride the waves. Camps are available the book on the beach or via accommodation no matter your skill level.

Which side of Costa Rica has the best surf?

As you can tell my the lopsided list, the Pacific Coast is by far the better surfing side of Costa Rica. In addition to the above, Playa Hermosa is other great spots to check out!

When should you go for a surfing trip in Costa Rica?

For Tamarindo, Santa Teresa and Nosara in the North, anytime between November and March is a great a time to surf. Conversely, areas like Manuel Antonio and Jaco is best during the wet season of May to October is best.

How much does a surfboard rental cost in Costa Rica?

Different surf towns in Costa Rica with have varying prices, but as a whole, we usually paid between $10-$20 per day for a surfboard rental. 

There you have it, everything you need to know about the best surf towns in Costa Rica. Giving you all the best places to stay and surf in Costa Rica and why they’re a must-visit on your next surfing holiday to this beautiful country. We absolutely loved the fact there was so many places to surf and each was so different which made it even more enjoyable. The best bit was that the only expenditure was hiring a surfboard which is really affordable!

Have you ever been surfing in Costa Rica or is it on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!

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Disclaimer: Some of the links included on our website may contain affiliate links. We may receive some commission from purchases made via these but it will NOT affect the price you pay. This is to allow this site to stay online and ensure that readers use, what we believe, are the best products possible whilst travelling.

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12 Comments

  1. I don’t surf, but I love to watch the surfers and as Costa Rica is on my bucket list I can combine them thanks to your blog.

  2. We loved Manuel Antonio and Tamarindo for nature and the vibe. Can’t surf though, but I can see they’re lovely places for it!

  3. Love this guide! I’ve been to Jaco and Manuel Antonio, but haven’t experienced the surf in the other destinations. Saving for a future trip!

    1. We completely agree Sydney, such relaxing places that we could spend weeks at too! Thanks for your kind words.

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