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Surfing Panama

Surfing Panama – A Surfers Paradise

Panama links Central America to South America, officially called the Republic of Panama (more here from wikipedia).

Panama has some of the best surf breaks in all of Central America. Whether you like point breaks, beach breaks, hollow tubes, or long peelers, Panama has a variety of surf breaks to accommodate your style.

Surf-Camp-Bocas-Del-Toro-Panama-Playa-Paunch-Surf

Bocas Del Toro Panama

Panama is still virgin and you can catch most of the best surf spots by yourself with your buddies. Few people know about its surfing potential, which is a big plus for surfers who visit.

[box type=”info”] Panama has started gaining popularity among the surfers around the globe but is still a wonderful surf travel destination and is nowhere as crowded as its northern neighbor Costa Rica.[/box]

Advantages of Surfing in Panama

Panama’s roads are of the best in Central and South America, with 4 lane highways all over the country for quick access to the surf breaks. The transportation system is very good, and buses and taxis are readily available from the international airport.

Panama is also one of the safest places in the world. In general, you can surf, roam the streets, party, or shop care free, at any time day or night.

Panama also has an excellent communications system so you can easily call your girlfriend, family or business back home at any time without any hassle. You can even rent a cellular phone for your surf trip, so you can be always in communication.

Panama’s hospitals are of the best in Central America, so in the event that you got beatings on the rocks or reef while surfing (God Forbid), you can be guaranteed that you will be assisted by well-trained health care professionals.

Panama is still inexpensive. At the beaches, you can generally get a great meal for under $4, and budget hotels range from $20 to $50 per room per night, depending on your style. Bus transportation can cost anywhere from $0.30 to $15 depending on where you are going.

Best time to Surf in Panama

seasons

The Pacific side is best in the months between April and November. The Caribbean side is best between December and March, but can get swells any time of the year except the time between September and November.

Panama Surf Spots Chart

Panama Surf Spots

Panama Surf Spots

The Surf spots in Panama are scattered across the Caribbean Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Panama City, Los Santos, Veraguas, Chiriqui.

Let’s check the forecast right now . . .

Pacific



Caribbean


Caribbean Ocean

On the Caribbean side the surf breaks are all spread out around the islands of Bocas del Toro, Bastimientos and Carenero. You can get to the breaks on the main island by taxi, and to the breaks on Bastimientos Carenero by boat taxi. You don’t have to worry about tides for these spots since the Caribbean ocean does not have much fluctuation of tide. One of the most famous spots is Bocas del Toro.

Isla Bocas del Toro 

The islands of Bocas del Toro on the northern Caribbean side of Panama have some of the best surfing in Panama, with a wide variety of surf breaks. The best surf period is from December through March which is dry season.

The surf here is island/reef surf, similar to what a surfer might find in the South Pacific or Indian Ocean. Great qualities about Bocas are:
  • Consistent Swell
  • Quality and Powerful Surf
  • A Tropical Surfing Experience
  • Scalable

Bocas del Toro has great surf spots for everyone from Beginner to Advanced skill levels and  there are places to surf alone without much crowd.

Pacific Ocean Panama

Starting from the beaches in the province of Darien, travel along the coast through Panama City, then the Panama Bay Area beaches, then the Peninsula area of Los Santos and finally the provinces of Veraguas and Chiriqui. The Pacific side has so many beach breaks which would suit all skill levels.

Panama City

Panama City has a few different surf breaks, however, it is not hugely recommended due to the city pollution that has gone into the ocean and the government is in the process of cleaning it up. Also, there must be a really big swell for these spots to break.

Los Santos: Pedasi / Tonosi

The province of Los Santos has some of the best surf in Panama, as it is located out on the peninsula of Panama. That is the part of Panama that looks like a boot that sticks out in the Pacific ocean.

To get there, you go down the Pan American highway, then take a left at Divisa, then go through Chitre, then through Las Tablas, then to Pedasi.  At Pedasi,  the beaches begin, and run all the way through Tonosi to the end of the road at Cambutal. There are dozens of unexplored beaches in this area.

Veraguas

The province of  Veraguas has some of the best surf known to Panama and Central America for that matter. This is the area around the back (west) side of the Peninsula. The main breaks are all close to the town of Santa Catalina.

Veraguas Panama

Veraguas Panama

Chiriqui: Islas

The province of Chiriqui  has several islands in the Pacific that have really good surf. These islands are very remote and generally only those who have access by sail boat or yacht can get to them. However, there are some tour operators that offer specialized tours to these exclusive surf locations.

There is also excellent fishing in this area, and there is one particular spot in the area called “Hannibal Bank” that is world-famous for catching marlin and sail fish. Most of the big fishing charter yachts in Central America go there to fish. The surf breaks are relatively unexplored.

Chiriqui: Islas Panama

Chiriqui: Islas Panama

Chiriqui: David

The city of David has several spots that are worth mentioning and they get the same swell direction of Chiriqui Islands and the Peninsula waves. This area is also relatively unexplored.

Getting There Panama

International flights arrive at Tocumen International Airport (PTY) in Panama City. Services arrive daily from the US (most are routed through Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston or Miami) and other Central and South American cities; KLM and Iberia fly from Amsterdam and Madrid, respectively. Flights from San José, in neighboring Costa Rica, often stop in David before continuing on to Panama City. The recently upgraded airport in David is expected to see direct international flights from and to the US at some point.

You can cross into Panama by land from Costa Rica, but due to security concerns it’s not possible to do so from Colombia. Instead, backpackers are increasingly booking passages by boat.

Where To Stay in Panama Surf Trip

Hotel Oasis Panama

Hotel Oasis Panama

Hotel Oasis Panama

Hotel Oasis is located on Caranero Island just a $1 water taxi ride away from the main island. It has been described as the cleanest place in town. The staff seems to be super friendly and accommodating.

One couple missed breakfast by 30 minutes and they still insisted on feeding them and giving them coffee.

A few other reviewers said that they had been able to check in way earlier then the hotel’s scheduled check in time because their flights arrived early.

Jose and his wife (the owners) are very helpful and will go out of their way to make your stay enjoyable. They know every tour guide in town by name and will hook you up with the best deal they can. All rooms come with A/C and cable TV.

The rooms with balconies and hammocks are $10 more per night but totally worth it since they’re right on the water. They also have an outdoor deck area above the water to chill and read a book. No toiletries are provided other than soap so bring your own shampoo! And make sure you bring a lot of dollar bills. No not for the strip club this time 😉 for the water taxi rides back and forth. Oh and the hotel only takes cash as well so hit up an ATM on your way there.

Hotel Caribbean View Panama

Surfing Panama Hotel Caribbean View Panama

Hotel Caribbean View Panama

Hotel Caribbean View is located on Isla Bastimentos. It’s more of an affordable, basic or maybe even rustic type of place. The food is excellent! Cooked by Luis and assisted by his wife, daughters and grandchildren.

In one of the reviews one person stated that it was “The best Lobster I’ve had in Central America” and she was from Maine so that says a lot. The lobsters even arrive in the same boat as you. The restaurant also offers a very good breakfast including pineapple pancakes and a decent cup of coffee.

The rooms like I said are pretty rustic. Nice and clean but basic and the bathroom was described as small and dark. All of the rooms come with A/C and free WiFi. When you’re ready to head to the main island you can grab a water taxi right from the dining room on dock over the water.

The owner’s son is also available to take you out on boat trips at our convenience. There is no ATM on Isla Bastimentos so stop in Isla Colon before you get there.

Hotel Villa Romana Panama Surf Trip

Hotel Villa Romana

Hotel Villa Romana

Hotel Villa Romana is an oceanfront hotel in Puerto Escondido (Pedasi), Panama. Pictures just don’t do it justice it’s a very beautiful hotel as the reviewers on tripadvisor.com said over and over again.

They have 21 Ocean view suites that are simple yet comfortable. A nice pool with a separate shallow pool for the kids and chairs under wooden framed covered vines so they don’t get sunburnt.

Villa Romana has an amazing restaurant that has a 180 degree view of the ocean and you might even see some whales pass by if you are there just after whale season starts.

Jessica the manager and Anna are very helpful and friendly. Nothing is too much trouble for them. They have cool night shows and even a children’s mini disco! Reviewer tip: Look for discounts or deals before you book you just might luck out.

Where to Eat Panama Surf Trip

Capitan Caribe

Surfing Panama

The Captain Caribe

Capitan Caribe is a food truck located in Bocas Town. Don’t let the term “food truck” scare you off though.

The Captain Caribe burger is described as being the “Best burger in all of Central and South America!” and their burritos are even better! Luigi the chef and the rest of the crew are really fun, friendly guys that love their job.

The food is super delicious, affordable and made with fresh and local ingredients. They even have vegetarian options that aren’t listed on the menu if you just ask.

There’s outdoor seating or you can just order it to go and take it back to your hotel. Just make sure you get there before 7 or else the lines will be crazy long or they might even run out of food. Try the Bocas Love Smoothie while you’re there too!

Los Pibes

Surfing Panama

Los Pibes

Los Pibes located in Santa Catalina is open for dinner and late night. They are an Argentinian grill but from what I can tell from the reviews the steak is thin and overcooked.

The burgers and fish on the other hand are outstanding! The Chimichurri sauce is so good you’ll ask for seconds and they serve yummy sangria and have great wine.

Don’t expect anything fancy, this is a laid back place with smashed surfboards for decor. Great place to go with your surf bros when you want a good burger. Oh and they don’t take credit cards so bring cash.

 The Sea Monkey Restaurant and Bar

surfing panama

The Sea Monkey Restaurant and Bar

The Sea Monkey is located in Isla Bastimentos just a 10 minute water taxi ride from Bocas Town. It’s one of the highest recommended places I’ve seen in Panama and for good reason.

Ryan and Stacey are the owners and are some of the most friendly welcoming people you will ever meet. They treat each guest like royalty.

They have a very user-friendly menu varying from International, Fusion, Mexican and Asian dishes. Try the “famous” ravioli and curry while you’re there.

The only complaints I’ve seen were they should have “finely chopped the salad more” and “the portions should have been bigger cause it was so good I would’ve eaten it all again”. Enjoy some fun cocktails under the fairy lights while listening to music at this very yummy yet affordable establishment.

Surf Camps in Panama

Morro Negrito

Surf Camps in Panama

Surf Camps in Panama

Located on a pristine island off the Pacific coast of Panama, you will have wave after wave to just you and your friends. Multiple islands surround Morro Negrito and each one provides its own unique wave.

From fast hollow point breaks to sand bottom beach breaks, everything is covered. Morro Negrito surf camp is a wonderful place for almost anyone to go. The surf breaks range from a beginner level to a professional level.

Oasis Surf Camp Panama

Oasis Surf Camp Panama

Oasis Surf Camp Panama

Oasis is sheltered by coconut palms and other shade trees, on the long sandy beach of Playa Estero.

This public beach  is great for families, beach picnics, and offers the best spot for beginners to practice surf lessons. “La Punta”, which breaks 0.5km offshore, has a sharp lava reef and is as powerful as it is dangerous.

Surfcamp Guanico Inc.

Bocas Surf School Panama

Surfing Panama Bocas Surf School Panama

Bocas Surf School Panama

Bocas Surf School is located in the thriving island town of Boca del Toro. The warm waters and numerous surf breaks provide the perfect environment to experience a full range of surfing curriculum.

BSS  has established courses and can also custom design a course for individuals, couples, families or groups. Manuel the instructor is very patient, speaks perfect English and is 100% dedicated to getting you up and surfing.

He always knows where to get good waves even if the other surf schools are closed he’ll take you in his own boat to get there. If you decide to stay in the hostel which is very very clean and not a party hostel at all but only a 5 minute walk to midtown where all the parties are they’ll give you $5 off your surf lesson.

Beach Break Surf Camp Panama

surfing panama

Beach Break Surf Camp Panama

Beach Break Surf Camp and Hotel is located beach front in the beautiful bay of Playa Venao.

  • Safe and consistent sand bottom surf break in front of the surf camp;
  • World class wave something for every level of surfer;
  • Clean and Comfortable beach front accommodations;
  • Abundant fishing straight from the shoreline;
  • Full quiver of rental boards to choose from.

Riomar Surf Camp Panama

RMSC is located at Playa Rio Mar in the town of San Carlos, Panama, 1 hour from Panama City.  In this region of Panama,there are more than 18 different surf spots within 20 minute drive from our camp RMSC.

Riomar Surf Camp Panama

Riomar Surf Camp Panama

RMSC is a great starting point for surfing trip in the uncrowded waves of Central America. The beach break is a 2 minute walk and the right point break a 10 minute walk.

Maps (google maps)

political-map-of-Panama

pma_05_Surf-Map

Surfing Panama Maps

References:

Surfing Nosara Costa Rica Surf Guide

Surfing Nosara Costa Rica Surf Guide

Surfing Nosara Costa Rica Surf Guide

The Basics

As far as the complete Costa Rican vacation is concerned, Nosara may be one of the most up-and-coming vacation destinations in the entire country. Central America, and Costa Rica for that matter, are slowly becoming more and more developed and this town is no different.

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Though there’s tourism and an expat community Nosara has remained a little off the grid in terms of vacation hotspots.[/box]

Nosara combines top of the line style accommodations and eateries with the remoteness of a Tico beach town. You won’t be charged an arm and a leg for a meal, but don’t expect the prices of southeast Asia street cuisine—how I miss me some Gado Gado from the stalls of Bali.

The town of Nosara is small, but there’s a ton to do, regardless of your surf abilities or interests. Obviously you’ll probably be visiting Nosara to catch some gnarly beach breaking waves, but a session or two of yoga while you’re there is a smart decision.

girl_harmonyhotel_nosara_surf-trip_wavecationNosara doesn’t have the heavy rage atmosphere of Tamarindo or Puerto Viejo, you’ll actually get some really solid days of surf in while you visit and might even heal your chakras from all that debauchery from last week. After a great night sleep, you might be able to get two sessions in a day—depends on a 5 or 6 a.m. high tide; two sessions every day, that’s what we all love, wake up to the brisk Costa Rican morning (well, not that brisk), watch the sun rise and surf until breakfast.

Nestled in the northern peninsula of Costa Rica in a region called, Guanacaste. Guanacaste is known for is “cowboy country” atmosphere, gnarly waves, and pristine beaches, though it hasn’t been overrun with thousands of tourists. Although you’ll find ridiculous crowds and hundreds of tourism companies in nearby Tamarindo, Nosara delivers a much more relaxed and chill-out vibe than any other beach I’ve visited in Central America.

There’s tuk-tuk taxis rolling all over town, the food is out of this world, and everyone in Nosara embraces life in the most positive of fashions. If you’re trying to surf Costa Rica on a budget, then Nosara isn’t the best option, but it can definitely be done if you know the right places.

One of my favorite parts about Nosara is the way how the town in general operates. If the swell doesn’t hit or the wave isn’t working, people find ways to entertain themselves. Another huge plus of Nosara is that it’s home to the majority of the beach yoga institutes, which means in shape vacationers. It’s a whole lot better to a bunch of babes on the beach than the typical overweight American vacation slug.

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Badass waves plus badass babes will always make for an incredible surf trip.[/box]

Nosara Costa Rica The Town

mapLg

Nosara is definitely one of Costa Rica’s best kept secrets, for it may attract a lot of surfers, but the majority of them are fairly strong riders.

There’s two different beaches in Nosara, so you won’t get caught in too big of a lineup, but on the weekends, expect a few dozen surfers. From my experience in Nosara wasn’t your typical party surf town, but you can probably find something happening if you hit any of the bars on the main strip.

This town is set up very well, everything is convenient, but it isn’t packed with tall buildings or fancy resorts. Not to say there aren’t great accommodations, but it’s much nicer when the hotels are more boutique style as apposed to enormous all-inclusive ones.

As you enter town from the highway, you’ll see tons of surf shops, surf schools, yoga studios, Tico souvenir stores and tiny little bodega style grocery marts. The majority of the vibe in Nosara is based around surfing, yoga, and escaping from the business of your life.

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Everyone I met in Nosara was so awesome, it was a great breath of fresh air.[/box]

From the highway, you’ll find the main strip of the town, where you can find most of the things you’ll need during your trip. You can wake up, head to Café de Paris, where a cute french couples dishes out French pastries and killer drinks at the barista—they also have some rooms for rent but it would drive me crazy to wake up to French pastries every day.. Or you can head to Tibidabo, where you’ll find authentic Mediterranean style foods and an upscale cocktail bar.

At the end of town is where this place called the Beach Dog Cafe is located and is a great local hangout for people looking to catch natural lunch and stiff buzz. With the majority of shops and restaurants owned my Expats, the town functions pretty smoothly.

You can most definitely find Tico cuisine all over town, it’s cool how so many people from around the world have moved to Nosara and called it their new “home”. You really get that international vibe when so many cultures come together and it works super well in Nosara.

Nosara Costa Rica Surfing

Nosara Costa Rica Surfing

Nosara is made up of three different beaches, all serving up a different style of wave. There’s Nosara, Pelota, and Guiones—Guiones is by far the best. If you’re just learning, I’d recommend Playa Nosara or Pelota, but a beginner will hold up just fine at Guiones (as long as the swell isn’t huge).

Big-surf-at-Playa-Guiones-image-by-VisitNosara.com_

Guiones is an enormous, un-crowded, white-sand beach, which dishes out glassy, clean, and forgiving waves.

[box type=”alert” size=”large” style=”rounded”]The beach is surf-able almost 365 days a year, with about 250-300 days of shoulder to overhead size waves.[/box]

Because the beach at Guiones is huge and there’s a ton of points, every skill level of surfer will find what they’re looking for. The best times to rip here is either in the early morning, or just before sunset, arguably the best times to ride anyways.

As far as Costa Rica is concerned, Guiones has potentially the cleanest and most well developed waves in the country, which is why I find myself returning every few months. As a short boarder, low tide is probably my favorite time to rip Guiones, as the waves have much steeper faces when there’s less water.

I’ve found the wave barreling at low tide, while high tide and mid-tide are much better for beginners or badass old timing long boarders.

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Much like most of Costa Rica, the locals are cheerful, friendly, and an energetic bunch. They’ll be happy to share waves with you as long as you can respect there presence.

I wouldn’t recommend dropping in on a veteran Tico, but he’ll definitely give you the head nod to rip that slow rolling right if you just give it a little time. As one of the chillest places in the whole country, locals tend to be pickier with their waves and won’t drop in on every set that rolls through.

Now, let’s check the surf . . .



Surf School Recommendation Nosara Costa Rica

There are a few surf schools around the entire town, so finding a lesson is super easy. A lot of the surf schools throughout the town, there are there I’d recommend Nosara Tico Surf School, Nosara Surf Academy (www.nosarasurfacademy.com) or the Safari Surf School (www.safarisurfschool.com) for they have the best instructors.

Tim the CEO of the Safari Surf School reports that it is one of the longest running surf programs in all of Costa Rica—since 1999, and for good reason, these guys are the best at what they do! They offer all inclusive surf packages for all budgets and do a lot of custom packages as well. All the staff are locals from the Nosara area. They are all ISA certified and lifeguard certified. They also have 2 instructors who are the only ISA level 2 instructors in all of Costa Rica. With sustainability as their core principal (Wave Tribe likes that) Safari is well connected with in the community development projects and strives to make a difference to keep Nosara, well—Nosara!

As an avid surf backpacker who’s been all over Central America, I whole heartedly believe that Nosara is one of the best waves I’ve surfed. It may not have the power or height of somewhere like Salsa Brava, nor will it have the remoteness of Playa Grande, but Nosara is awesome. It’s a great beach for short boarders, long boarders, old timers, veterans, virgins, intermediates, chicks, dudes, bros, weirdos, the whole goddamn shebang.

Head to Nosara, surf Guiones, and throw in a yoga session; trust me, you won’t regret a visit here.

Here’s a video to show you what’s up in Nosara:

Nosara Costa Rica Hotels & Places To Stay

Nosara Beach Hostel

Nosara Beach Hostel

It all depends on what type of vacation or surf trip you want to have. Nosara is a little bit on the pricier side, but can easily be conquered by surf backpackers if they choose the right accommodations.

If you are traveling with a crew, you will probably want to rent a house somewhere and avoid staying in a hostel. But if you are traveling solo or with a small group, then theres a bunch of hostels and surf camps that cater to people trying to live on a budget.

Nosara Beach Hostel: This is one of the places I stay when I’m surfing Nosara, because it’s like a 2 minute walk from the southern point of Playa Guiones. Bunks here range from 10-15$, usually have air conditioning, and are super modern. You walk into this hostel and you’ll feel like you just walked into a millionaires kitchen.

The hostel is very spread out, so you feel more comfortable than a standard backpacking hostel. This is the most popular hostel in Nosara, so it brings in people from around the world. The majority of people here are either surfing, yogaing, or looking for some peace in Central America. I have only good things to say about this hostel and would recommend it to anyone who wants to surf the break for a few days and needs a place to live cheaply at.

http://www.nosarahostel.com

4 You Hostel: Another great hostel choice, perfect for backpackers. You pay 13-18$ per night here, but are housed in an extremely luxurious hostel. There’s a room to lock your board in, there’s badass keypads for the doors (so you won’t have to worry about losing your hostel keys), an enormous shared kitchen, and plenty of area to lounge. This hotel is definitely the cleanest in Costa Rica, so you can actually feel clean while you sleep.

http://www.4youhostal.com

The Gilded Iguana: A stapled landmark in the town of Nosara, the Gilded Iguana has been housing backpackers, surfers, and vacationers for years. This place has a super chilled-out vibe, a great seafood restaurant, and is located a few yards from the beach. There’s a pool, clean rooms, air conditioning, and a bunch of different room styles. I’d recommend this place for any surfer who has a little bit more dough to spend on accommodations, or even if you want a great bite to eat, a trip to the Iguana is a great idea.

http://www.thegildediguana.com/rooms/original-hotel-room/

To Sum it Up

Nosara Costa Rica Hotels & Places To Stay

Nosara is without a doubt one of the most beautiful parts of the country. I’m not sure whether it’s the people, the waves, the town, the vibe, or the overall happiness of the locals, but Nosara has a distinct atmosphere.

The people are friendly, everyone’s in great shape, and everything is very clean and warming. If you want a place that feels like a less crowded, smaller, more homey version of San Diego, then Nosara may be the best place to visit.

Everyone wants to meet you, everyone wants to surf with you, and everyone wants you to get stoked out of your gourd. Enjoy Nosara.

Nosara Costa Rica Maps

nosara costa rica map

nosara costa rica map

 

nosara costa rica map

Surfing Tamarindo Costa Rica

Surf Travel Guide: Surfing Tamarindo Costa Rica

Surfing Tamarindo Costa Rica

Tamarindo Costa Rica From The Air

The Basics

A surf trip to Costa Rica would not be complete without a journey to west coast, where surfers can find some of the most consistent waves in the entire country.

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]The region is called Guanacaste and it’s jam packed with beaches that bring the heat almost 365 days a year. [/box]

Depending on what type of atmosphere you’re looking for, a vacation to this part of the country can really turn your surf trip from mediocre to goddamn phenomenal.

There’s a party-heavy surf town called Tamarindo, where you can find perfect waves, rowdy nightclubs, and some of the best cuisine of the country.

Tamarindo is going to be perfect for beginners, intermediates, and advanced surfers, because the wave really is whatever you make it. There will be some days that the swell will reach overhead and only the badass local Ticos will hit the water, but most days it’s going to stick between 3-5 feet.

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]It won’t be like your barrel days on the water, but I promise days on the water in Tama are some of the best I’ve ever had. [/box]

The town isn’t the cheapest (possibly one of the most expensive), but can easily be enjoyed by any surf dirtbag that’s strapped for cash.  From my experience in Tamarindo, I only really have positive things to say.  The town is bitchin’, the waves are consistent, and the spread of bikini babes is definitely the most impressive of all of Central America.

The Wave At Tamarindo

Surfing Tamarindo Costa Rica

Big Long Lines ~Photo courtesy of Samba to the Sea Photography

Tamarindo has its pros and definitely has its cons.  There will be waves just about every single day of the year, but you may have to share those waves with a few Chads from New Jersey (no disrespect to the NJ crowd).

As a vacation hotspot, there’s a ton of people trying to learn how to surf here, but if you head over towards the river mouth, you’ll find you have some space.

Tourists tend to stay away from the river mouth because the crocodile horror stories the Ticos, and myself, have been telling to tourists for years.  There hasn’t been a legitimate croc attack in that river for years, I use to swim across it to surf Playa Grande 5 times a week and haven’t been bothered. Derek says he used to do the same.

[box type=”alert” size=”large” style=”rounded”]But beware, there are crocodiles in there, I’ve seen them![/box]

Anyways, the wave in Tamarindo is going to be a solid beach break, with exposed rights and lefts, which gives you the option of choosing what you want to rip.

Personally, when the river mouth right is working, I’ll head there 9 times out of 10.  The wave in Tamarindo doesn’t generate the power of a Hawaiian powerhouse, but it’s going to be fun if you know what you’re doing.  These are definitely intermediate style waves, so don’t head there hunting for barrels, because you’re going to just be sent further north to Witch’s Rock—article coming soon here on Salt Water High so stay tuned.

Generally you’ll catch fun sized waves that you’ll be able to cut back, catch air, and bust those 3’s that you’ve been wanting to show off.  With a wave that isn’t going to crush you if you bunk a 3, Tamarindo is easily one of the best beaches to surf in Costa if you don’t mind forfeiting size for fun (that’s what she said).

The Town

1.1354299797.mahi-mahi-tacos

Tamarindo is without a doubt the best surf/party destination in all of Costa Rica.  The bars tend to close when the sun comes up, the Imperial beers are cheap, and you can get away with just about anything.

Every restaurant, hotel, and surf school knows every single language.  From English to Swedish, you’ll feel comfortable knowing that the locals actually understand what you’re talking about in your drunken stupor.

Though Tamarindo is made up of only about two strips of streets, there are dozens of restaurants in the town.  There’s so much to do in Tamarindo that even if you don’t surf, you’ll have the best vacation of your life.

If you’re there in December or April and a taxi driver offers to drive you “La Rodeo”, take him up on that.  The Rodeos in Villareal (town right outside Tamarindo) is one of the biggest Tico parties of the year.  Just imagine hundreds of Ticos taunting bulls, running for their lives, wasted beyond belief on rum; a straight party.

Regardless of what season or day of the week you’re in Tamarindo, I promise there will be something to do.  Whether you want to get blackout wasted, or sip sangria and watch the sunset, Tamarindo delivers an unforgettable beach vacation that tourists have been loving for decades.

Surf Camps in Tamarindo

If you’re a beginner surfer or you just want a refresher course, Witch’s Rock Surf Camp is a great business to support.

Developed by surf legend Robert August, the surf staff here is the most knowledgeable and organized surf camp in the country.

Instructors know basically every language, teach in a concise manner, and prices are very affordable.

Witch’s Rock is named after the famed Witch’s Rock surf break near Playa Naranjo.  Though a very difficult spot to reach, Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s point are two of the most incredible surf destinations in all of Central America.

Here is their video for a digital taste:

Where To Stay Tamarindo

Pura Vida Hostel:  This is a great place to stay if you’re looking to save money on accommodation and also want to meet a ton of rad people.  This place is safe, comfortable, cheap, and super fun.  They host reggae parties on Thursdays, have hammocks everywhere, and a really cool staff.  Bunks cost between 8-15$ per night, with private rooms ranging anywhere from 20-40$

http://www.puravidahostel.com

Hotel Diria: This is probably where you want to stay if you are vacationing with your family, or if you have a real job and can afford to stay at a hotel.  This place is right on the beach, the staff will hold your board, and the Diria owns nearly half of Tamarindo.  Rooms aren’t cheap though.  You’re going to spend between 300-600 per night, but the rooms are epic.

I stayed here when my Dad came down for Christmas and it was definitely the best hotel we stayed at during our little Costa Rica surf adventure.  They are one of the few bars that actually can make killer cocktails, but they won’t be cheap.

http://www.tamarindodiria.com

Barcelo LangostaBarcelo Langosta:  Though this resort style hotel isn’t actually in the heart of Tamarindo, it’s definitely one of the best all inclusive hotels in Costa Rica.  It’s right on Playa Langosta, which is the adjacent beach to Playa Tamarindo.

The swell works great here and the resort has private access to the river mouth break.  A stay here is going to cost you a hefty tab, but if you plan to vacation with your family, this is a great place to do so.

Hotel Barcelo Wesite

Where To Party Tamarindo

If you come to Tamarindo and don’t end up waking up on the beach with an empty bottle of rum, then you really didn’t party hard enough.  There’s a bar called Sharky’s (https://www.facebook.com/CostaRicaTamarindo), where everyone usually starts the night.

They have a great Ladies night on Saturday, which brings in a ton of, you guessed it—ladies.  Also, they have a great 2 for 1 cocktail hour that will get you right wasted after a day on the surf.

where to party in tamarindoAnother great spot to spend your night is at a bar at the end of the beach called Pacifico.  This place is where all the local Tico surfers hang out, drink brews, and pick up their nightly squeezes.

I spent the majority of my nights at Pacifico, stealing bottles of Flor de Caña and asking the DJ to play more rock n’ roll.

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Pacifico is a great spot with a lot happening. [/box]

They may charge you a 2$ cover, but most nights when it’s popping off, it’s totally worth it.  But the best of the best is a bar and grill called, Witch’s Rock.

Robert August, one of the legendary surfers from Endless Summer II, bought this plot of land way back in the 70s and has tuned this place into the best stretch of Tamarindo.

As apposed to Diria which has totally Americanized the beach, Robert August built a more Tico friendly spot for surfers to hang out.  Witch’s Rock is actually a brewery—they have an amazing Witch’s Rock Pale Ale, and a tasty Gato Malo dark ale.

There’s a band called Glass Eye that plays Witch’s Rock every Friday night from 5-8ish and they’re awesome.  If you only have one night in Tamarindo, I suggest you check out this spot, for it’s really the best that Tamarindo has to offer.

To Sum it Up: Trip To Tamarindo

tamarindo-costa-rica-surf-sunsetTamarindo is your most surf friendly, tourist packed town in all of Costa Rica.  Notoriously known as Tama Gringo, you’ll find more tourists than locals, making prices on food, drink, and stay more expensive than ever.

Though Tamarindo gets a bad reputation for housing so many tourists, it truly is one of the ore entertaining beach towns I’ve visited.

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]As a poor backpacking surfer, I lived in Tamarindo for 6 months and scraped by just fine. [/box]

If you avoid eating out every night, don’t break your surfboard, and drink the local rum, you’ll be able to have a nice cheap vacation in Tamarindo.

Overall, Tamarindo is a safe, colorful, lively town that is home to some of the most fun waves of the country.  Just remember to budget your funds and remember that everything is going to be a bit more expensive in Tamarindo.

Nearby Beaches (articles coming soon):

  • Playa Grande
  • Playa Langosta
  • Playa Avellana
  • Playa Flamingo