Surf in Costa Rica

Of all tropical countries, Costa Rica is one of the most recommended for its ecotourism, wonderful people, cleanliness, and welcoming spirit.

Many people don’t realize that Costa Rica is home to some of the best breaks in the world, with consistent surfing year-round. The waves on the Pacific side of Costa Rica tend to be smaller during their “summer,” which runs from December through February. March through May generally offers the biggest waves and is when the “Big Air” and night surfing contests are held in Jaco/Hermosa. The instructors know where to find a good break any time of year, as there are 22 breaks to choose from near our camp.

Vista Guapa is located in Playa Jaco, and lessons are generally taught on Jaco Beach, which is approximately 4 kilometers long with moderately good waves. Surf lessons are generally held when the tide is coming in, and therefore timing of the lessons varies day to day. Nearby Playa Hermosa offers multiple breaks (Roca Loca, El Gato, El Peladero, Los Almendros, La Chanchera, La Curva also called “Corners” and Tulin) and is where we generally take our more experienced guests. We also have a boat at the camp. which we use to take surfers to “Secret Spot” (Playa Caldera) near Puntarenas. Another favorite surf spot near Puntarenas is Boca Barranca, the world’s third longest left with a ride of approximately 950 meters and big swells from the south.

Whether guiding guests or on their own, Alvaro and his team can be found practicing most mornings (“dawn patrol” at 6:00am) and often in the afternoons as well. There is nothing more thrilling than watching the sunset over the ocean while floating on your surfboard at these beautiful beaches during a great evening session. At that moment, you begin to truly understand the meaning of the Costa Rican motto: “Pura Vida”!

Other Spots

North of Jaco is Boca Barranca, the third longest left in the world with a run of approximately 950 meters and big swells from the South. We access this break by land after a drive of almost an hour from Vista Guapa surf camp. It is best surfed during low tide and is geared toward more experienced surfers.Our “Secret Spot” is located south of Boca Barranca in Punta Caldera. That’s about all we can tell you since after all, it IS a secret spot.

South of Jaco is Roca Loca. Roca Loca is a break located between Jaco and Hermosa and is about 4 miles from Vista Guapa along the main highway. Many of our guests go for an early morning or late evening jog to look out at the surfers in Roca Loca, and the ones with enough stamina for the heat and humidity can jog back to cool off in our pool. Roca Loca is a very good right in the Guapinol Bay with a powerful wave. Its entrance is a narrow rock channel and the wave is not very consistent. There is an indicator wave visible from the top of Vista Guapa that indicates whether Roca Loca is “going off”. It is a 4 – 12 foot wave for experienced surfers only and frequented by many locals.

Continuing south is El Gato, discovered by Carlos Villalobos “Kile” who was one of the first most renowned surfers in the area. El Gato is a good, strong left that breaks to the south of Guapinol Bay, surfed mostly by locals. The break is inconsistent, and only from the south. The waves rise 3 – 10 feet, and the sea bottom is rocky.

Playa Hermosa is known as one of the most consistent beaches in the world with a length of approximately 8km and many breaks to choose from along the wave. Our surf guides are often found training at Playa Hermosa in the morning and evenings and are happy to share their knowledge of the breaks with our experienced and true intermediate guests. There are strong currents which discourage many beginners from paddling out and the waves can reach 2 to 10 feet and higher. The bottom is mostly sand and the swell comes from just about any direction. Many guests of Vista Guapa enjoy traveling with the guides and experienced guests to sit on the beautiful black sand beaches and watch the incredible display of surfing by locals and visitors while taking in breath-taking scenery. Some of the best international surf contests take place along Hermosa Beach, many of which have been won by our own Alvaro Solano.

Esterillos is a beautiful beach with powerful currents and undertows which make it unsafe for swimming. The waves break pretty far out, but are fairly consistent and particularly good for long boarders. The swells come from the north, northwest and south, and the bottom is sand and rocks.

While there are many breaks as you continue along the map, we focus primarily in the areas outlined above, with some secret spots accessible by boat that the guides can take you to when the conditions are good for those areas. We often take our guests to Parritas, Quepos and Manuel Antonio, but for sight-seeing and waterfall tours, as opposed to surfing, all of which is still a great adventure and lots of fun!

Be sure to talk to your surf guides and instructors about the best breaks for the time of year you visit us. They have a passion for surfing that is unparalleled, and they love to impart their knowledge and skills along to the guests of Vista Guapa.

Pura vida!


Surf Map


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