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Best beaches for surfing in Costa Rica

Whether you're a seasoned pro or are taking to the white water for the first time, Costa Rica offers a wave for everyone along its Pacific and Caribbean coasts. You'll find laid-back beach towns bursting with surf schools and shops where you can hire boards, join a group class or receive one-to-one tuition. With hundreds of secluded beaches to choose from, check out our guide for some informed inspiration.

Playa Guiones, Nosara

Nestled in the popular province of Guanacaste on the Pacific coast, Playa Guinones is one of the most consistent surf spots in Costa Rica and promises over 300 days of surf every year.

With a soft, sandy beach break, the waves are often small enough for beginners to learn on. When the bigger swells arrive however, only experienced surfers should take to the water.

Enjoying average water temperatures of 28°C, and the cleanest beach in Costa Rica, the sublime surfing conditions make Playa Guinones the perfect pick for a day riding the waves.

Playa Tamarindo

On the north Pacific coast in the region of Guanacaste, Playa Tamarindo is one of the most developed beach resorts that Costa Rica has to offer. The area boasts streets lined with restaurants, bars and surf camps. Offering consistent swells, offshore winds and long, sandy beaches, you'll find plenty of surf schools here.

On the main beach in the centre of town the schools offer lessons to the absolute beginners. More experienced surfers can walk to Playa Langosta within 15 minutes for fast moving left and right point breaks. Playa Grande is a mere five-minute paddle across the river mouth and is suitable for intermediates.

Playa Grande

A permanent nesting site for leatherback turtles, the beach here is a protected habitat. It's a real sanctuary for surfers of all levels and is located just a 25-minute drive from Playa Tamarindo.

A premium spot for intermediates, if everywhere else in the area is flat you can be certain that Playa Grande will have something to ride. The safety of the white water on the inside section of the beach allows beginners to get some practice in, while advanced surfers will enjoy the short walk down the beach to the main surf break.

Mal Pais

Made up of Playa Carmen, Santa Teresa and Mal Pais, surfers of all levels will find a ride at this year-round surfing destination. Once a small fishing village, the area has been transformed into a surfers paradise abound with bars, surf shops and some of the best sunsets Costa Rica has to offer.

Beginners should head to Playa Carmen - a long stretch of sand with breaks under three feet. The more experienced can enjoy the rocky outcroppings, point breaks and heavy barrels over at Santa Teresa.

Salsa Brava, Puerto Viejo

Experts from all over the world come to Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast, many of which hope to tackle the fast and dangerous Salsa Brava wave. This Hawaiian-style, steep wave drops straight into the barrel and is made even more wild and challenging thanks to its location above a sharp, shallow reef.

If it all seems a little too fast-paced, you're just as welcome to take a seat at a nearby restaurant and watch other people dare to take on the powerful wave.

Playa Hermosa, Jaco

Home to over 10 kilometres of black sand, strong currents and swells that reach up to 13 feet, experienced surfers will be in their element on Playa Hermosa. Located along the Central Pacific coast, just south of the popular tourist town of Jaco, you'll find less crowds here and a plethora of surf shops.

If you're after some guidance, take advantage of one of the surf schools that can be found in the area. Many will promise to have you standing by the end of your first lesson, so you'll be taking to the waves solo in no time at all.

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