Feel like some WARM water?
Cabo is one of the few spots on the planet where you are exposed to two major swell directions within a one hour drive. It’s usually not flat in both windows, north and south. a surfers guide to Cabo was born out of my passion for travel to Mexico.
It’s 2017 and I am updating A Surfers Guide To Cabo, this living guide for the 10th time after my, yes you guessed it, my 9th trip in the last few years.
Things are changing in Cabo. Violence is on the rise and the drug cartels seem to be moving in. I spoke with lots of locals about this while there in September and most reported that tourists had nothing to worry about. I didn’t feel unsafe, but I could feel a bit more tension in the air.
The jump in killings in Los Cabos — accompanied by a rise in other crimes — has pitched residents into a state of fear they say they have never felt before.
I still think this is a great trip and I’ll keep going down unless things go upside down with the violence. I wouldn’t worry to much about what you hear, but keep your wits about you while in Cabo and don’t get mixed up in any shenanigans.
Here is a great podcast on staying clear of violence, anywhere in the world.
⚡ Update September 2017 Trip Highlight
Lidia caused major damage to roads and infrastructure, grab a 4×4 to get to breaks;
New paved road to the Pacific side now complete (Toll);
New paved road to Eastern Cape complete;
New hotel in Cerritos – Tortugas Cerritos Beach front Hotel;
Discovery of best place to eat (Pacific Side) Hierbabuena;
Officials now charging $50 if you lose your departing customs form..
I have surfed all over the world and ridden some of the best waves on the planet. I have traveled to far off locations around the globe: Africa, Asia, South America, Mainland Mexico, and Central America. I even drove from California to Panama and wrote a guide about the adventure, grab it for $29 bones if you feel like taking that trip.
A surf trip requires lots of planning and usually a long ass plane trip, but sometimes you just want a no hassle easy surf escape. Two hours after taking off from LAX you can be surfing in warm water, with easy access to two swell windows.
Stuff your face with Mexican cuisine and drink cheap beer by the bucket load—you can also drink good boutique brewed beer at the Baja Brewery, nothing like having an IPA after sucking down watery Mexican beer for a few days.
I’ve been traveling to Mexico for a few decades now and every time I go back, I am reminded of the jewel just south of the border. Is it safe? I’d say traveling to Baja is getting more and more safe. I go down every few months and things are looking better with each visit.
I hope this guide assists you along the way. Please drop me a line and let me know of any additions or useful updates. If I end up adding your content in the guide, I will send you a free Wave Tribe surfboard leash as a gift.
Have a wonderful trip!
Derek, Wave Tribe Founder
Before we start, grab this free download. It’s the perfect map for your trip.
Surf trip require lots of planning and usually a long ass plane trip but sometimes you just want a no hassle easy trip. Here is where Cabo fits the ticket. Two hours after taking off from LAX you can be surfing in warm water with access to two swell windows.
Stuff your face with Mexican cuisine and drink cheap beer by the bucket load—you can also drink good boutique home brewed beer at the new Baja Brewery, nothing like having an IPA after sucking down watery Mexican beer for a few days.
I’ve been traveling to Mexico for a few decades now and every time I go, I am reminded of the jewel just south of the border.
I used to travel to mainland Mexico every year and surf the beaches of La Ticla and the surrounding region, but as violence has percolated in those areas I have diverted my surf energies to Baja—see our other article on Surfing Northern Baja Mexico 2016.
Book your airline ticket for about $350—you’ll want to fly to San Jose Del Cabo (airport code SJD).
I like Alaska Airlines because they treat surfers right at $40-$75 per board bag—no matter what you put in it or how many surfboards you stuff your bag with. Speaking of surfboard fees, check out our fee surfboard baggage fee guide before you pull the trigger on a plane ticket.
Flying with Alaska is down right fun and the planes are super comfortable. If you are flying someone else to Cabo you are missing out on a great airline.
Going through customs is easy and you don’t need a visa if you are an American citizen, but you will need a valid passport. For information on getting a passport head on down to your local US Postal Office or check out this link. As of 2017, passports cost $110 and take a few weeks to process.
The Cabo airport sits about 20 minutes from downtown San Jose and about 30 minutes from San Lucas. There are two roads to San Jose, the toll road ($2-$4) and the free road. Spend the few dollars to jet straight to the break, you’ll be stoked. To get to the toll road from the airport go left out of airport (toward the mountains). The road will curve back around toward the beach.
* Going to the Pacific side? Take the toll road toward toward San Jose, 2K from the exit for San Jose veer left toward Todo Santos. This road will cut 30-40 minutes off your trip and the road are excellent. You can also go to San Lucas this route.
If you are into the party thing then you’ll want to head towards San Lucas and hang out with the college trippers, strippers and overweight cruise ship retirees.
However, for a more relaxed setting check out San Jose or Todos Santos depending on the season you go and, of course, the surf forecast. No matter where you stay you’ll be an hour’s drive to all three top surfing locations, which are listed in order of quality:
The three main breaks in San Lucus are Old Man’s, Zippers, and The Rock. All of them are within paddling distance of each other and offer a progressively faster wave, check out the names and you’ll know which is which.
You can see all breaks from the road (just head towards San Lucas along the coast going west out of San Jose). Below Zippers there is a dirt parking lot below the bridge and for Old Man’s you need to park behind the Cabo Surf Hotel (just after the bend in the road) and walk through the sewage tunnel (yep, if it’s raining I wouldn’t surf here).
Word on the street is that they are going to privatize the access to Old Man’s with a new development going in, so that break might become less accessible in the near future.
Try and book something before you go, there are a ton of rental agencies at the airport. Though the rental agencies they say in airport, they are a short ride across the street from the airport. They will pick you up outside of the airport terminal and they do have agents just outside the customs area just in case you get freaky lost.
If you can afford it (you can) get something more 4x4ish than not. Or at least something a but bigger for your boards. I like to keep my boards in the car for obvious reasons (theft and brutal Mexican sunshine) but if you ride a bigger board then you’ll need some good soft racks.
I’ve been stuck in the sand and had to be pulled out by a 4×4 on 2 of the last 6 trips, not bad odds for Baja. If you are in an economy rental, your chances of getting stuck are higher. You might also have to pay for damages that happen when you try and pull that plastic heap from the sand. We rented a car from Ace in June 2016 and had a great experience.
Yea, I know you bought insurance online and they said you don’t need to buy any at the car rental office—but this is Mexico bros.
Don’t buy the web insurance! It is useless in Mexico.
There I said it, but I know you are still going t buy it. Yea, your American Express card says they’ll cover your ass too but don’t take the risk in Mexico because you’ll have to fork over the money before you are able to leave the country. I guarantee American Express isn’t going to wire you the 20K you need to extricate yourself from the Mexican cha cha you got yourself into.
How do I know? Bro.
Unfortunately, I have had two major accidents in Mexico over the years including a head-on collision in Michoacan. I’ve been through the shit ringer in Mexico, and I want you to have a fighting chance in case you got to throw a Mexican Hail Mary after a car accident.
So get out your wallet because you’ll need to get the full coverage that they offer you up at the rental agency. Full coverage in Mexico means if something happens, you are fully covered. If you get anything else, half coverage with your credit card, or some other policy you found online at Orbitz then you won’t be fully covered. Yea, they got you by the cajones.
There is a hotel right in front of Old Man’s called Cabo Surf Hotel. If you got the cash (like $250+ per night) this is your best location because you are steps from the surf.
It’s a really nice hotel with a pool and good food—you can grab a meal here after your surf if you are feeling like hanging in this area. Watch your bros hit the lip while you stuff your face with a fat burrito and some tasty guacamole.
Right next to the fancy Cabo Surf Hotel there are perfectly situated condos. I did find one for rent that looks spectacular for $175 a night—it’s called Las Olas and it sits in the middle of all the waves in that region in a group of condos.
Another popular spot for surfers wanting central access to both the Eastern Cape, at only $75 per night, is the Drift San Jose. It has 8 private rooms, a communal kitchen, secure parking and a pool, centrally located in the historic center of San Jose del Cabo, surrounded by great bars and restaurants.
An alternative to resorts the scene is pared back, do-it-yourself—like an upscale hostel—with great social atmosphere. Booking available through Airbnb with a link to the listings here.
Check other hotels here on Trip Advisor. When you land you’ll need to rent a car unless you are just going to surf the waves in town and stay close to the breaks.
The only hotel near 9 Palms www.vidasoul.com located at Punta Perfecta and 3 miles North of 9 Palms. They have great food and service and 16 rooms. They cater to surfers and surf photo shoots and videos.
*The owner Joan Hafenecker sent me this info, I have yet to check it out but the pics look good.
Depending on where you surf you can find all types of waves in Cabo, from beach-break on the Pacific side to endless points breaks on the Eastern Cape.
As I mentioned before, within one hour driving you have two coasts—and swell directions to choose from—the Pacific side is exposed to north swell and will pick up most wind swell or ground swell from the north (and a little south).
San Jose and the Eastern Cape pick up anything with a south in it—any kind of south.
I shouldn’t have to remind you, but please be respectful to the locals. Every surfer that visits Cabo is an ambassador and you need to remember that we are visitors in their home.
Most locals are really cool and they will go out of their way to help you or give you a wave—if you get snaked in the water it will usually be by another gringo who has moved to Cabo and usually acts like as d-head.
If you need a guide or some help finding your way you can check out SurfinCabo.com and ask them to take you around. I met the owner and he was a nice guy that rips a SUP. They got boards for rent and will take you out to the waves along with a few friends, if you desire.
Now let’s check the realtime surf:
Right in town (San Jose) hit up Old Man’s for a meow session or paddle down to The Rock or Zippers for more challenging waves.
To the east and at the end of hotel row in San Jose are some waves at The Estuary. This was actually the first wave I surfed in Cabo and it can get really fun.
I did learn later that it is one of the most polluted breaks when the river mouth breaks and sewage comes pouring our of the riverbed. Don’t let hepatitis ruin your trip.
I had an epic session at The Rock, one of the best I have had in a while. Super fun! You can paddle to The Rock from Old Man’s or check it from the cliff. For best positioning, sit just behind the big rock and pick off the sets—watch the locals, they’ll show you how it’s done.
Once you are ready to experience the Eastern Cape, head east towards downtown and cross the large concrete bridge towards La Playa. You’ll make a few twists and turns along the way but just keep following the signs for Eastern Cape.
The road out to the Eastern Cape is dirt and can be full of potholes. Get the insurance on the rental car—if you don’t, the roads will rip apart your wallet and you’ll be faced with unexpected (‘mordidas’) fees at the end of your trip.
The drive out to the Eastern Cape is about one hour depending on where you go, it’s not a bad drive at all. You might want to consider camping out on the beach a night or two if the swell is pumping.
Camping is free in most places and totally safe, but you’ll need to take some shade with you to protect yourself from the relentless heat during the day. Trees? Nada.
A word on the heat—the south swell window is basically March through August and the closer you get to August the more horrendous the heat is.
If you are like me and not a fan of heat then I would lean towards an earlier trip—April is the most comfortable and you might even need a spring-suit, but the south swells can be a crapshoot—plan accordingly.
The winds tend to come up around 9 and mess with the lineup, so you’ll want to get on it early. The good news is that they also tend to back off around 4pm, allowing you a few hours to get in a good evening session.
Here is a great resource for the wind on the eastern cape, I used it my last trip and planned several good sessions based on the data, it is very accurate: Eastern Cape wind conditions. Anything under 5 knots is acceptable and watch out for those nasty easterly gusts.
The road turns into dirt about ten minutes in and you’ll start to see the swells slamming into the coast. The first fun wave you’ll come across is called Shipwrecks, about 40 minutes out of town to the East. Shipwrecks is a nice right-hander off a beautiful point and is a hotdog wave where mostly short-boarders hang out.
There is a left in the middle of the beach too. When you see the Virgin Mary library you know you have found it. Really, I am serious. Oh, and the ship is gone, so don’t look for that.
Nine Palms is another break another 15 minutes down the road. It is a super fun point-break with some long rights and the occasional left.
When the swell is right the wave will bend and toque on the outside and can spit and barrel in the mid section. It can throw and be heavy but mostly it is forgiving on the takeoff and allows for several turns and the occasional lip section to whack.
Between 9 Palms and Shipwrecks is another fun wave called La Fortuna which offers a few options in the bay and also a right that breaks fast off an inside rock and another section off to the left of the rock that is a little slower but will hold a big south swell.
There is a good restaurant at La Fortuna and has better camping than the other locations.
If the swell is huge (or if there is a hurricane) you can continue on past 9 Palms and you’ll find a few more waves. The further along the cape you go the smaller the surf will get.
Did you forget wax or sun block?
The best surf shop in town is Costa Azul Surfshop. I bought a rash vest that I used every day while there and a pair of booties that I never put on (I’ll save them for Bali).
There is another shop in town next to the Kiss Brew and Rock bar on the main drag called Salsipuedes that has a good selection of gear and a few Firewires hanging in the window.. There are also a few shops popping up near Zippers, so if you snap your board and need one you’ll be able to pick one up.
Shooters downtown has a really good vege burger and cold Coronas for 10 pesos.
The best place to eat in town is the Guacamaya. This is of my all-time favorite Mexican eateries and this is always the first and last place I eat at when I arrive to Cabo. The ingredients are super fresh and the chile selection is insane. I promise, you’ll love it!
People tend to like The Drunken Sailor in La Playa area (across the bridge) for good seafood and some nice chill atmosphere. I thought their Margaritas were tops.
This entire area is growing and has a nice feel to it, they just put in a beautiful hotel called El Ganzo right on the marina, might be worth taking your lady there for a drink or a night away from downtown.
If you are chilling with your woman or want to go out and have an excellent organic meal, then head for Huerta Los Tamarindos out in the fields towards the Eastern Cape.
Finding the place is not easy and I am not going to even attempt to explain it, but it’s worth taking the effort to visit. They have a great wine list and some of the best views possible, this is by far my favorite place to eat in Baja.
Mexico isn’t known for its wine, but there are some nice reds coming out of Northern Baja; and though I have found it hit-and-miss (mainly miss), I do like the reds being produced by La Cetto and I have been pleasantly surprised by their quality. Los Tamarindos has it on their menu and it’s worth getting or grab a bottle at the wine store in the Pescadero Plaza (same plaza of Rock & Brews).
For some good Italian food cooked to your liking check out Rustico and say ‘Hola’ to Perla and Javier, the owners. Sit at the bar, you’ll enjoy talking with the owners and sharing their passion for food.
For the best coffee and Italian ice cream in town, check out the The Dolce Villa, they got organic beans from Oaxaca and a real Italian coffee machine. They make all there ice cream with top quality organic ingredients and offer more flavors than a Los Vegas hooker has tricks (not that I would know about that second part).
If you are looking for a surf instructor while in Cabo ask for Victor at La Dolce Villa and he’ll find you one.
I know you came for warm water and point breaks, but sometimes you just got to go where the surf is and that might very well lead you to the Pacific side of Cabo. I had done several trips to southern Baja before I ventured onto the Pacific side and I have to report that I really enjoyed both the atmosphere and surf in this region.
You’ll have to trade your long points for beach break and cobble stone reefs, but when you pull up to A-frame peaks or barreling green mountains you’ll be stoked that you ventured over to the Pacific. From San Jose head toward San Lucas and just before you drop down towards the spring-break marauding streets of San Lucas, you turn right towards La Paz and Todos Santos.
About 30 minutes later, thanks to the newly paved four-lane highway, you’ll find yourself at Cerritos. Cerritos is located off to the left of the highway and it is the first major establishment (if you can call it that) since leaving the suburbs of San Lucas.
You’ll see several hotels out on the beach and you need to head north toward the right that you’ll see breaking off the point. This is a fast wave and can be very ledgy at any tide and I find that it tends to get better at low tide with more markable sections.
You can park at the restaurant on the beach as long as you buy a cold beer after you surf—worth the peace of mind you’ll have knowing all is good with your vehicle—also worth the cold beer and delicious guacamole they start serving at 11:30am.
We stayed at a new hotel right on the beach, an epic place with an awesome crew. The official name is the Tortugas Cerritos Beachfront Hotel. They have about 12 rooms and offer a delicious breakfast and lunch menu. Each room has an awesome ocean view. Great location, wonderful staff, and fantastic rooms. You feel like the surf is under you pillow you are so close to the water.
Aide, Bertha, Noe, Juan Carlos, Diane and Drew all made us feel like we were at home—I can’t wait to go back and stay here again.
We booked our room on airbnb and it cost us about $100 a night, not a bad price for sleeping steps from the beach. You can’t miss the hotel, it’s the one next to the new condo monstrosity going up just south of them.
In town you can find some great food, a good cup of coffee (Baja Beans) or an internet connection to check the swell. I recommend hitting up Baja Beans for a quick coffee anytime but please don’t miss the jewel of the Pacific—Hierbabuena!
Hierbabuena (Peppermint in Spanish) is as “locavoric” as is possible. Set in and amongst a beautiful and bountiful organic garden from which over 50% of each meal’s ingredients are sourced quintessentially represents “farm-to-table” dining.
Please do not leave the Pacific side without eating at the Hierbabuena organic restaurant. This indoor/outdoor extravaganza is perhaps the best meal I have had in any location in the last few years.
We rolled up after a surf session with beers in our hand, walked in, grabbed a seat, and the staff walked right over and asked if we were ready for another cold one. Of course we were! Epic.
The pizza is amazing and the kale stuffed enchiladas are exquisite, the wine list impeccable and the staff full of smile, laughs and downright stoke—can you tell if I liked it or not?
Getting here is a little tricky, departing Cerritos drive toward Todos Santos. The first town you will come to is El Pescadero. Turn left on the road before the Pemex station, you’ll see a small sign on the road. If you hit the Pemex station, double back and turn right onto the dirt road and follow the signs about half a mile down.
Past Cerritos is Pescadero, here you will find a great right point-break called San Pedrito which is a great wave and can hold some big swell that swings off the point.
Just before Cerritos there is a break called the curve. I have never surfed it, but I could see from the road that it had a good set-up. Past Cerritos is Pescadero, here you will find a great right point-break called San Pedrito which is a rippable wave and can hold some big swell that swings off the point.
Todos Santos is a laid-back town with excellent surf, great food and some good old fashion Mexican cowboys walking around. It’s a bit artsy and rustic with just the right amount of hippy. Todos Santos reminds me of what northern Baja used to be like when I was growing up, before the narco problems invaded the Tijuana surroundings.
There is a feeling of things being a bit wild-west like, yet with enough comforts of home that you don’t feel totally disconnected (though you can unplug easily if desired).
The main break in Todos is called La Pastora. You need to drive through town to get to the beaches to the north. Between Hidalgo and Obregon, turn left onto Camino A Las Playitas.
You’ll go down a hill and along a riverbed. The road will twist and turn and a few miles from the town you’ll come to a clearing to the left where La Pastora is located. Don’t drive too far toward the beach unless you have a 4×4. Park where the dirt look compact and walk to the see the swell.
This is a really fun wave with lots of sections. Be careful of the rocks on the shore when getting in and out. I tore a chunk out of my toe the last trip while excitingly jumping off a rock with a sharp barnacle. Not fun.
Two places with great grub and an awesome atmosphere in Todos Santos are Café Santa Fe and La Esquina. La Esquina is a more casual hang-out and conveniently located near the beaches to the north of Todos Santos.
Café Santa Fe is where you go to take your gal or to have an excellent meal after a long surf. It is a little pricy but WAY worth every peso.
Hotel California is also worth a visit with some excellent local dishes and live music most days during the high season. There is surf to the south and north of Todos Santos and likely tons of waves I don’t even know about, it’s the end of the road but in many ways feels like the beginning.
There are quite a few airbnb places available online for Todos Santos. This June we stayed at an awesome location just a few minutes from the main surfing beach.
Jason, the owner, lives with his family on the property but they have a detached unit several few away from the main house with two bedrooms and a great rooftop vantage point of the surf—get up and check the surf from your room. Check it out below:
Hotels Cabo San Jose
Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort
Telephone no: 00 1 888-767-3966
One & Only Palmilla
Telephone no: 00 52 33 4164 2110
JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa
Telephone no: 52-624-163 7600
Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort
Telephone no:00 1 855-605-0316
Hyatt Place Los Cabo
Telephone no: 00 52 624 123 123
Cabo Azul Resort
Telephone no: 00 1 888-725-5669
Hyatt Ziva Los Cabo
Telephone no: 00 52 1 877 394 9146
Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort
Telephone no: 00 52 55 5350 9603
Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Los Cabos
Telephone no: 00 1 855-605-0317
Marisol Boutique Hotel
Telephone no: 00 52 624 132 9089
Royal Decameron Los Cabos
Telephone no: 00 1 844-238-5587
Melia Cabo Real All-Inclusive Beach & Golf Resort
Telephone no: 00 34 912 76 47 47
Holiday Inn Resort Los Cabos All-Inclusive
Telephone no: +63 1800 1 888 1025
Barcelo Grand Faro Los Cabo
Telephone no: 00 34 518 88 95 70
Bel Air Collection Resort & Spa Los Cabos
Telephone no: 00 52 800 400 2040
Cabo Surf Hotel
Telephone no: 00 52 55 4170 9258
Mar Adentro Cabos
Telephone no: 00 52 33 4164 2134
El Delfin Blanco
Telephone no: 00 52 624 142 1212
Hotel & Suites Las Palmas
Telephone no: 00 52 81 4170 7121
Restaurant & Bars Cabo San Jose
Don Sanchez Restaurante
Telephone no: +52 (624) 142 2444
12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
5:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Flora’s Field Kitchen Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 1 (624) 355-4564
10:00 am – 2:30 pm
9:00 am – 9:30 pm
Sardina Cantina Restaurant
Telephone no: 526241726365
8:30 am – 10:30 pm
La Forchetta Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 624 130 7723
5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Blue Fish Cabo Seafood Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 1726652
11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Teo Restaurant Bar And Grill
Telephone no: +52 624 105 2408
9:00 am – 12:00 am
Retro Burger Bar Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 624 130 7042
11:00 am – 12:00 am
Habanero’s Gastro Grill Restaurant
Telephone no: 52 624 142 2626
8:00 am – 10:30 pm
El Herradero Mexican Grill and Bar Restaurant
Telephone no: 624 14 26350
7:00 am – 10:00 pm
Mariscos La Pesca Restaurant
Telephone no: 624-130-7438
11:00 am – 10:00 pm
El Matador Restaurant
Telephone no: 526241570443
Mi Cocina Restaurant
Telephone no: (624) 1467100
8:00 am – 11:00 pm
Telephone no: (624) 142 1760
1:00 pm – 3:00 am
Telephone no: +52 624 142 5928
6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
7 Seas Seafood Grille Restaurant
Telephone no: 8589645117
7:00 am – 11:00 pm
Petit Masala Restaurant
Telephone no: 526241040013
2:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Cuervo’s House Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 624 142 5650
7:00 am – 4:00 am
Dvur at Casa Don Rodrigo Restaurant
Telephone no: 624 142 04 18
11:00 am – 11:00 pm
La Salsa’s Restaurant
Telephone no: 526241727009
12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
CJ’s New York Deli Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 624 105 2566
9:00 am – 9:00 pm
Telephone no: 624 146-9900
9:00 am – 11:00 pm
Mi Casa Restaurant San Jose del Cabo
Telephone no: (624) 146-92-63
4:30 pm – 12:00 am
Bars San Jose
11:11 Disco Room San Jose
Telephone no: +(52)016241420271
The Barn Bar
Telephone no: 52 624 100 7892
6:00 pm – 12:00 am
La Reserva Rock & Beer Bar
Telephone no: 6241298635
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
La Casa del Vino de Baja California
Telephone no: 624-142-3885
La Lupita Taco & Mezcal
Telephone no: +52 624 688 3926
2:00 pm – 2:00 am
Shooters Sports Bar
Telephone no: +52 624 146 9900
2:00 pm – 2:00 am
Telephone no: +52 624 130 7267
1:00 pm – 12:00 am
Telephone no: +52 624 171 8226
12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Telephone no: +52 624 146 7000
6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
El Wine Shop
Telephone no: +52 624 105 2065
8:00 am – 7:00 pm
La Vaca Tinta
Telephone no: +52 624 142 1241
5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Hotels Todos Santos
Posada La Poza
Telephone no: 00 52 55 4164 2560
Todos Santos Inn
Telephone no: 00 52 612 145 0040
Guaycura Boutique Hotel Beach Club & Spa
Telephone no: 00 52 33 5004 7273
Telephone no: 00 52 55 5350 8725
Hacienda Todos Los Santos
Telephone no: 00 52 81 4160 5457
Villa Santa Cruz
Telephone no: 00 1 760-230-4855
Telephone no: 00 1 760-230-4855
Telephone no: 00 52 33 4170 8561
Villas de Cerritos Beach
Telephone no: 00 1 747-200-1533
Cerritos Surf Colony
Telephone no: 00 52 55 4164 2330
Restaurant & Bars Todos Santos
La Casita Tapas – Wine & Sushi Bar Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 612 145 0192
Tequila’s Sunrise Bar & Grill Restaurant
Telephone no: (612) 145-0073
11:00 am – 6:00 am
La Copa Cocina Restaurant
Telephone no: +(52)612 145 0040
5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Los Adobes de Todos Santos Restaurant
11:00 am – 7:00 pm
La Esquina Restaurant
Telephone no: 016121450851
7:00 am – 7:00 pm
Rumi Garden Restaurant
Telephone no:+52 612 145 1088
12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Tacos Y Mariscos El Sinaloense Restaurant
Telephone no: 526121450336
Website: https://www.facebook.com/Tacos-Y-Mariscos-El-Sinaloense-206627032712641/ Open Hours:
12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Chez Laura Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 612 145 0847
La Coronela at The Hotel California Restaurant
Telephone no: (011.52) 612.145.0525
5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Ristorante Tre Galline Restaurant
Telephone no: 612-145-0274
5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Telephone no: (612) 145-0568
8:00 am – 9:00 am
Michaels at the Gallery Restaurant
Telephone no: +52 612 145 0500
Telephone no: +52 612 145 0130
12:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Telephone no: +52 612 175 0800
Posada La Poza Restaurant
Telephone no: 011-52-612-145-0400
1:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Shut Up Frank’s Restaurant
Telephone no: 612 145 0707
Gallo Azul Pizza Bar & Art Restaurant
Telephone no: 612 145 0707
3:00 pm – 10:00 pm
El Gusto Restaurant
Telephone no: +526121450400
Bistro Magico Restaurant
La Santena Restaurant
Telephone no: 9704754120
Surf Schools & Tours
Costa Azul Surf School
Telephone no: 6241422771
Mario Surf School
Telephone: 52 1 612 142 6156
Open hours: Sun 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Mon – Sat 8:00 am – 7:00 pm
Eco Adventures: tosea.net (hiking, whale watching, fishing trips, bird-watching, etc.)
Cabo Magic: Sportfishing Adventures
San Jose Spas and Massages
There is nothing like a good deep massage after several days of surfing. Every time I return to Cabo, I see more and more spas springing up. The one I have been going to for years is next to the Pescadero mall (where Rock & Brew is located).
The spa is called Moonlight and they offer one hour massages for $40. I highly recommend this place—no happy endings here, I am sure you can find those types of ‘treatments’ elsewhere in Cabo. Tel. +52 123 51 40 Email. firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you love Cabo so much that you’d like to move there or maybe build a surf shack to escape the winters? Check out these site for real estate investment opportunities:
If you’re not familiar with Costa Rica, then you most likely will not have heard of the little beach town named Playa Grande. A place which I called home for 6 months was none other than the remote beach area of Playa Grande, a place that simply cannot be matched.
You’ll receive all the benefits of the Costa Rican, Pura Vida lifestyle, but without the overpopulation of tourists. Playa Grande is unique in the sense that it is located so incredibly close to nearby tourist trap Playa Tamarindo, yet seems to fly under the radar when it comes to crowdedness.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]I surfed this beach every single day for 6 months and the biggest lineup I saw was during Christmas, though there were still only about 15 people in the water. [/box]
The reason Playa Grande avoids all the tourists is because it’s pretty hard to reach if you don’t know what you’re doing. Separated from Tamarindo by a crocodile infested estuary, many tourists and locals choose to stay and surf in Tamarindo, while the true surfers head over to Playa Grande.
Playa Grande is made up of two different areas.
The main stretch of Playa Grande and the hidden reserve of the Palm Beach Estates. They both have incredibly great waves, though I tend to prefer to hang around the Palm Beach break known as Casitas.
If you want a relaxing spot to surf for your next vacation, or simply want to avoid the nasty lineups of Tamarindo, then I highly recommend you check out this spot. I could wake up and surf Playa Grande 356 days a year and you’d never hear me complain about anything.
If you want to know what Pura Vida actually feels like, then head on down to Playa Grande and see what you’ve been missing.
Playa Grande is without a doubt the only place in Costa Rica that has its town set up in such a strange fashion. Though it’s only located 1 km from Tamarindo, it’s a 30 minute drive, because there’s no bridge connecting the two towns.
This allows Grande to remain more remote and ultimately brings in significant less surfers. If you’re coming from Tamarindo, you’ll have to detour through Huacas, then continue through Matapalo, and eventually you’ll land in the main stretch of Playa Grande.
Like any surf town, Grande has surf shops, restaurants, a convenience store, a tiny school, and a ton of hostels and hotels.
The beauty of Grande is the fact that it’s located in a National Forest, so there are no buildings over 2 stories. This is insane considering how many hotels have tried to be developed in the area. Due to Costa Rica’s strict laws against building on National Forest, the hotels have turned from the five-star resorts you see in Mexico to the surf vibe hostels of Bali, Indonesia.
Your bed will be soft, the windows will be open, and monkeys will dance outside your cabina doorway and the Ticos are just downright welcoming.
While living in Playa Grande, I met a variety of different people, all of whom were incredibly helpful and friendly. To put things in perspective, I had my surfboard stolen in Tamarindo and my neighbor went out of his way to track it down. I figured I’d never see it again, but after 2 days, Oscar showed up on my doorstep with my surfboard and a fresh bar of wax.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]That’s how small of a community Guanacaste is. You lose something, someone helps you find it.[/box]
As far as accommodation, it won’t be hard to find a place to rest your head, the only difficulty will be finding a place that isn’t expensive. Due to its remoteness and tranquility, the majority of the hotels and hostels try to charge a lot of money.
This can easily be avoided if you find the right place, or rent a house with a bunch of your mates. I rented a pool house in Palm Beach for 400$/month, but it could sleep 2-3 people.
Otherwise you can fit 10-12 surfers in one of the beach homes, or you can stay at one of the hostels. Depending on your budget and length of stay, a rental home could be your best option. Then, you’ll be able to cook all your own food, do what you want, and not have to worry about quiet hour of a hostel.
If you want incredible cuisine, then Playa Grande isn’t the best place to find it. Although there’s a few really good Sodas (Tico restaurant), the best ones are over in Tamarindo.
The best place to get a meal in Grande is either at Bar Seven or Kiki’s on the main strip. One thing to remember is that if you stay in Palm Beach you will need a car! Palm Beach is located a 20 minute drive from the mains trip of Grande, so walking from place to place takes a long time.
One good part about Palm Beach is that you can take a 1$, 2 minute boat ride across the estuary and eat in Tamarindo whenever you want. The only problem about the boat is that it only operates between 6/7 am and 530 pm. This presents a problem, because you can’t party in Tamarindo and expect the boat guys to be working. You either have to pay a taxi (20-40$), find a place to crash in Tamarindo, or swim the estuary.[box type=”alert” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Do not swim the estuary, you will get eaten by the crocodiles.[/box]
Playa Grande has a ton to offer any type of surfer and there’s a ton of wildlife surrounding the entire town. After reading this guide, you should be comfortable enough with the town of Grande that you can find a place to stay, eat, and surf without having to deal with Gringo prices.
If you only have a short time in Costa Rica, then a place like Playa Grande is a great way to have guaranteed incredible surfing, while also being able to check out a few other close spots.
Due to its close proximity to Tamarindo, Avellanas, Langosta, Marbella, Nosara, and Witch’s Rock—Playa Grande serves as an ideal spot for surfers who want to get a heavy dosage of Costa Rican surfing.
One thing about Playa Grande that sticks out the most is the consistency of the waves. I lived there for 6 months and only could remember a few days that were really choppy. Though a 20 foot swell won’t work at Playa Grande, anything between 6-12 is going to be epic. The paddle out is extremely easy, the waves hold well, and there’s never anyone surfing Playa Grande.
Playa Grande is a beach-breaking wave, offering rights and lefts to surfers of all shapes and sizes. There are two main breaks in Playa Grande, Casitas being the one located right next to the river mouth and main grande being located right next to main town.
Casitas is located right next to a huge rock formation, so there will definitely be a few rocks below you, but during high tide you’ll be far enough above water to not have to worry. The daredevils that are looking for a hollow low tide wave are welcome to rip Grande, but as a Playa Grande veteran, I’d go high tide coming in 9 times out of 10.
Depending on the time of day you surf Playa Grande will determine what type of board you should use, or at least from my experience. Though a dedicated short boarder, I found that surfing sunrise in Playa Grande was much more enjoyable with a longboard.
I’m not sure whether it was the waves, the crowd, or the fact I was just tired at 5 a.m., but early mornings in Playa Grande was always better with a 10 footer.
But, there’s no use in wasting your time on a long boy if the waves came out to play. For this reason, I’d recommend a short board for most afternoon sessions. I ride anything as short as a 5’ 4”, and anything as long as a 6’6”, though it doesn’t really matter because it’s all personal preference.
My go-to in Playa Grande was my 6’2” Rusty Joker, but it’s really up to you >
Depending on your style of play, Playa Grande can be a phenomenal place to spend your surf trip. The waves won’t be the barrels of Tahiti, nor the length of Pavones, but they’ll be better than Tamarindo 10 times out of 10.
You’ll get to rip a few of those cutbacks you’ve been dreaming about and on top of it, you won’t be wearing that 3/2 Cali wetsuit because you’ll be in Costa Rica baby!
Okay, let’s do that surf check . . .
Like I mentioned before, renting a house with your buddies is probably the most affordable and luxurious option, but obviously there are a few additional options.
Yoga, surf, fish, enough said. The RipJack offers a ton of different styles of rooms. From singles to family suites, you’ll most likely find something that satisfies your need here for sure.
The beds are comfortable, the staff is super cool, and you’ll be located about 100 feet from the main Grande beach break. You can’t really beat that, but rooms will be priced much higher than a hostel.
Standard rooms are 80$/night, Suites are about 200$, and private bungalows are around 150$.
This boutique style hotel is located right on Playa Grande National Park beach, allowing guests to enjoy the National Park and the untouched beach during their Tico vacation.
Also, the sea turtle population in this area is out of control, especially between Oct-Dec. There will be a ton of tours every single day, so if the waves decide to take a dump, at least you’ll be able to see some cool wildlife.
This is the best option for backpackers and surfers, because rooms are cheap and you get the luxury of staying in the Palm Beach Estates. This means that there will be 24/7 security, complimentary golf cart rides, and a whole lot of rich people on vacation. In addition, you’ll be a 10 minute walk from Casitas surf break and have the convenience of everything that Palm Beach has to offer.
This is the best place to stay if you’re vacationing with your family, because it’s quite luxurious and is located just steps from the best break of the area.
Located in the Palm Beach Estates, you’ll receive 24 hour security in the gated community and have the comfort of a five star resort.
The pools always cold, the food is delicious, and the staff is helpful and friendly. Also, if there are a few non-surfers in your party, the hotel offers several tours for them to enjoy.
Simply states, there ain’t no place like Playa Grande. You have constant waves, a quaint surf town, safety, and one of the emptiest lineups in the entire country.
Though it’s a little hard to reach, Grande offers a tranquility that simply cannot be found anywhere else in the country. You won’t have to deal with hundreds of people crowding up your lineup, neither will you have to worry about walking on an unsafe beach late at night.
Everything in Playa Grande is very much Pura Vida, so feel free to kick off the sandals, rub some wax on the board and surf some of the slow breaking wavs of Playa Grande, Costa Rica.
This place will have a special place in my heart forever (and yours) when you arrive.
I’ve had some of the craziest nights of my life in Samara and hope to continue to surf this town until the day I die. The entire town is full of beach bums, surf nuts, and party animals, which makes it one of the best destinations for surfers, backpackers, and anyone who wants to weave in a little rowdiness to their surf trip.
There’s a ton of hostels, beach rentals, and hotels—finding hotel accommodations is super easy and affordable. Though the main beach break normally doesn’t reel overhead waves, if you walk down the dirt road north of town, you’ll find Buena Vista, the semi-secret beach break that the locals call home.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Whether you’re traveling with your family, girlfriend, or the boys, a visit to Samara is completely worth your time. [/box]
Samara has one of the rowdiest nightlifes in Costa Rica and when the waves hit, provides a dirty beach break that you’ll find yourself reminiscing about as you sit in your cubicle back in the USA while ordering office supplies.
One of my favorite parts about Samara (and also Nosara) is the idea how everyone seems to know each other. It’s got the surf vibe of places like California/Hawaii, but without the overabundance of people. Anyone surfed Trestles lately—take a number!
As opposed to visiting a place like say, Southern California, you actually get to dominate the lineup with your buds. There’s no fifty person lineup, no dickhead locals trying to maintain a dick-tatorship (hehe), no crusty comments—the atmosphere is 100% pura vida![box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Though you can find this friendly, Hakuna Matata vibe in many parts of Costa Rica, Samara is one of the few places where everyone is like that.[/box]
From the OG long boarding Expats to the barrel hunting local Ticos, every surfer in Samara is out for one thing: fun.
You’ll hear the locals whistling, hollering, and making all sorts of strange sounds. This is the surfing I love, when you get a crew of different cultures all doing their thing, it truly creates a vibe that is unexplainable. If you’re trying to plan a Costa Rica or Central America surf trip, Samara is a great one to add to the list. You can get stoked all day at Buena Vista, grab a great fish taco, and hit the night with a bottle of rum and a clear head.
Alright, so there’s two beaches that you’ll want to surf while you’re here. The first time I came, we just surfed in front of Lo Que Hay, where Playa Samara is located. Depending on the swell, this wave is either going to be fun, or incredibly flat.
The majority of experienced surfers aren’t going to hang out here, unless theres a fat southern swell, in which case, it’s a great wave. You get the convenience of being right in front of town, it’s a calm beach breaking wave, and you may just be able to catch a few airs.
I’d recommend Playa Samara for beginners, or low-intermediate surfers that want to practice their surfing abilities. The wave is going to work much better at high tide as it comes in, which provides decent waves for long boarders, or beginner short boarders.
Unfortunately for experienced surfers, there’s some offshore rocks that block a lot of the swell, so you might want to head to Buena Vista.
Let’s take a quick break and check the surf . . .
Buena Vista is a much better beach for surfers that actually want to get pitted before they hit the town. This beach is located just north of town and can easily be reached by a 30 minute walk, or 5 minute car ride.
Though the wave isn’t going to barrel, most local Ticos find that there’s a ton of moderate sized waves here and you can definitely have a little fun with the wave lips. Lying at the north end of the estuary, near a river mouth, Buena Vista’s waves are normally pretty good. There’s going to be two points here, one is sketchy, the other is mellow.
There’s a huge rock formation at the south end of the beach, which provides a pretty sizable left, but there’s definitely a ton of rocks below. If you’re comfortable and it looks rip-able, then send it, but if you want a mellow day, then I’d stick to the other point.
Locals call this wave, Punta Tortuga, meaning turtle point, as it’s located in front of a small Turtle sanctuary. I’ve had great days riding here and it’s awesome because Buena Vista is very lush with vegetation. After you rip and earn some local respect, the Ticos will treat you to an after session coconut. They will literally shimmy up the coco trees, kick down a few dozen fresh cocos and teach you how to open them without a machete.
Due to Buena Vista’s remoteness, there aren’t any places to buy water or refreshments, so my advice, bring a water bottle. The waves at Buena Vista break moderately slow, so you’ll forfeit power for length with a lot of these waves.
For surfers that want to party in Samara, but really want to get out of their mind pitted, should head to a little Tico town called Marbella. Marbella use to be one of Costa Rica’s best kept secrets, but like most epic surf towns, it has been developed. It’s not as crazy developed as Samara or Tamarindo, but compared to what it used to be, it’s not the same.
This is a reef/rock break, dishes out epic left and rights, and should only be surfed by experienced surfers. There’s rarely a lineup, with a ton of power, and you don’t have to surf with Chads from New Jersey.
This is a very hard beach to find, but if you really want to access it, it’s very possible.
It’s going to be on the way to a town called Junquiyal, where you would normally stop, but if you keep on the road and ask a few locals, they’ll guide you in the right direction
There’s a ton of bars, restaurants, and funky eateries in Samara, which makes a post Samara surf session one of the best.
If you want a taste of natural Costa Rica, but want a twist of rage, then Samara Beach is without a doubt the best place to go. The Ticos of Samara have all had their fare share of all nighters, so don’t feel bad if you can’t keep up, because these guys are pros in-and-out of the water.
Though there’s tons of different places to start the night, a beach front eatery called, “Lo Que Hay” is of my favorites. The name which literally means “It is what it is”, delivers a heavy dosage of strong drinks, cool people, and music that will get those bones a’shaking. Maybe it’s because I’ve started so many nights at Lo Que Hay that I’m prejudice to start every night here, but you really can’t go wrong with cheap fish tacos and cheaper beer.
One of the other places where you’ll find just about everyone everyone in town is a swanky joint called Sports Bar Arriba. Located on the second floor of a shopping complex, it feels almost as if you’re walking into a high class Tico nightclub, but trust me, you aren’t.
This sports bar/surf hideout is a local favorite and the bartenders mix up some of the tastiest drinks in the area. Whether you’re looking for shots of whisky, piña coladas, beers, or anything in between, this bar most likely has it. The entire staff at this restaurant bar is incredibly friendly, everyone speaks english and I promise you will have the time of your life.
Last time I was at Arriba the bartender and I were inventing new shots; ask for the Guanacaste or the Shooter McGavin (Happy Gilmore, come on!), maybe they’ll remember.
Aside from the endless party scene in Samara, you can actually find a great bite to eat and meet some of the badass Expats that have migrated to this slice of absolute paradise. As you enter town (from the north), there’s a joint called “LuvBurger” that offers amazing organic and vegan options for those health-nut surfers out there.
You’ll find your surf munchie style tacos at El Taco Volador. Personally I’m a Lo Que Hay kind of guy, but it’s always worth a little variation when you’re visiting a foreign place. Also, Il Vino has arguably the best pizza I’ve ever had in the land of Pura Vida. Thin crust or deep dish, I’m not sure who the chef is, but he deserves a high five for sure.
If you’re looking for something quick before heading out on the waves, I’d recommend a stop at the town’s Panaderia y Heladeria. You can scarf down a quick croissant (or 5) for some quick surf energy, for this place is on the road which leads to Buena Vista surf break.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Playa Samara is one of the most organized towns in the entire country of Costa Rica and you’ll be able to find everything you need for a kicks surf trip. [/box]
There’s two or three grocery stores, two ATMs (which are normally hard to come by), a few rental car places, a ton of hotels, and plentiful surf schools for the beginners. As a family friendly, surf friendly, party friendly town, Samara Beach is a place you’ll want to stay at forever. And feel free to, there’s plenty of work and there’s even a hippie commune outside of town if you’re looking for a free place to crash.
La Mariposa: This is a great hostel for backpackers and surfers, because it’s cheap, clean, and fun. Though I normally stay with friends in Samara, this is a great alternative option for people that are traveling on a budget. I’ve stayed here multiple times and have absolutely no complaints. You can rent hammock rooms for like 8$/night, or dorm rooms for 12$/night.
Samara Tree House Inn: This is a more luxurious option, which offers five or six treehouse style apartments in the heart of Samara Village. You get your own apartment, making it a great option for surf crews that want to ball-out a little bit while they party and surf in Samara. The rooms include top of the line beach furniture, a pool, WiFi, free breakfast, and a much better standard of living than any other hostel. Apartments are only 35$ per night (for 2 people). Find more info at www.samaratreehouse.com.
Hotel Samara Beach: If you want to be located super close to the beach, then this is probably one of the best options as far as accommodation goes. This place has an awesome tropical beach vibe and offers guests clean and comfortable rooms. I’m not sure what pricing for rooms are, but you can find what you need at: www.hotelsamarabeach.com.
Cabinas Nayuribe: Renting a cabina is always a great idea when you visit any surf destination. Though when I say “cabina” I don’t mean the epic luxurious one’s you find in Hawaii, but rather the Tico style of Cabina. Sometimes they are nice, sometimes they are gnarly. I’ve never personally stayed at these cabins but I know people who have and they’ve said positive things. Cabins can be anywhere between 25-60$ per night, depending on size, comfort, etc.
Samara Beach is definitely on my list of favorite destinations in Costa Rica, mainly because there’s so much to do.
I wouldn’t say it’s the most epic location for surfing, but I would recommend it as a pit-stop along the way.
Every legendary surf trip needs a few nights of hardcore partying and you’ll definitely get your fair share of late nights if you stay in Samara. Samara is a semi-popular vacation destination, but doesn’t have the overabundance of obese North Americans crowding the beach. There’s a ton of beautiful people, tasty food, funky bars, and ways to spend your day.
The waves aren’t going to be up to par for the barrel hunters out there, but I would totally recommend at least a few nights in this surf party town. Also, if you happen to be traveling with your family, there’s a ton to do as far as tours and all that jazz. Although you’ll always find me cruising waves over at Buena Vista, every part of Samara is worth a visit. Happy shredding.
Surfing Jalisco Mexico is quite a phenomenon experience. The Jalisco region of Mexico contain a long series of beach breaks, river mouths, and the occasional reef, stretching from Puerto Vallarta in the north to the border of Michoacan in the south.[box type=”alert” size=”large” style=”rounded”]If you decide to venture into Michoacan please be careful because these days it has been reported that the Narco activity on this area may be hazardous to your health.[/box]
Let’s get back to Jalisco, the birth place of Tequila . . .
While it’s home to several high-quality waves like Tecuan, Campos Manzanillo, El Pariso, and Boca de Apisa, the jewel of this area is the infamous Pascuales. A thumping beach break that can hold 25+ foot waves. Pascuales is to Jalisco and Colima what Puerto Esondido is to Oaxaca—you’ve seen this wave in the mags—dangerous, hollow, and for experts (or you) only if there’s any hint of Southern Hemi in the water.
Like in most of Mainland Mexico, crowds in Jalisco can vary wildly from spot to spot. The bulk of big-name spots in the area will have a crowd, and expect some pretty serious localism in the water at Pascuales, a wave so fierce, getting beat up on the beach will be the least of your concerns if you paddle out on big day.
The usual in Mainland Mex: dangerous roads, corrupt cops, shallow reefs, Montezuma’s Revenge (a stomach bug in the water supply that can strand you in the bathroom for days on end), highway bandits, board liquefying beach breaks, and mosquitoes o’ plenty.
Yet, this trip is well worth all the challenges and risks—word on the street is that these days it’s a little sketchy up towards La Tica area but if you dare to travel into that region you will be rewarded with empty waves.
The rainy season, and hot as hell. This is the most consistent time for surf, with the South Pacific churning out regular south and southwest swells that end up peeling into the region’s point breaks, reefs and beach breaks. Most crowded with surfers, too. Watch out for hurricanes, as they can (and do) make landfall here on occasion.
September – November are the rainiest months in the rainy season, and as such, can be difficult to travel in. The upside is that there can be less wind so the surf can stay glassy all day; the downside is well, all the rain and mud and bugs it brings. South swells aren’t as dependable as spring and summer, but it’s still a reasonably consistent time to visit.
Perfect weather and minimal swell.
Can be the best time, as it’s not too hot, the rains haven’t started in earnest and south swells start hitting strong in May. Plus, it’s Spring Break, which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on your age and marital status.
Other than surf, there isn’t much to do or see in this small coastal town in Jalisco. You may want to stay down the road and drive in and surf Pascuales, but if you decide that you would rather get up with the chickens and surf before anyone drives in than we do have a few options for you.
Well, it’s not the Sheraton but it’s as close as you will get out here in the wild west of Mexico. Check out Paco’s Hotel for 50 bones a night.
Manscos Homero (Located in Tecoman a short drive away)
Barre de Navidad in Jalisco is an exposed beach, reef, rivermouth break that has reasonably consistent surf. Summer offers the best conditions for surfing. Offshore winds blow from the north northeast.
Clean groundswells prevail and the best swell direction is from the southwest. The beach break provides left and right handers and in addition, both left and right reef breaks add variety.
Relatively few surfers here, even on good days. Beware of rocks and sharks.
Forgot your surfboard or need some gear? Check out Barra Surf Shop & Bar.
Well kept boutique hotel right on the beach in Barra de Navidad. The hotel is centrally located in the town, within easy walking distance of restaurants and markets.
Reviews for Casa Chips look good . . .
“Our room had a terrace and ocean view. It was large, comfortable and CLEAN and even had a kitchenette! The staff was friendly and attentive. It was so easy to feel right at home in a totally new place in a different country. We will definitely go back again.”
Link to hotel on trip advisor.
Casa Colina– $$$$ Ultra High end but worth it
Link to hotel on Yelp.
Hotel Laguna del Tule– $$ Moderate price range
Link to hotel on Yelp.
Restaurant Paty (link on Yelp)
Amber di Mare
If you’re looking for something different other then Mexican food this place looks great. They’re mostly Italian with some seafood variants. We ran across someone that loves this place and said, “We ate here twice in one week! We have been going to Ambar’s since 2000 and it is always fabulous. My husband LOVES the French onion soup, the crepes are delicious, the pizza is fabulous, and the Cesar salad was wonderful. Ambar’s is a rare gem in an unsuspecting place.”
Link to Amber on trip advisor.
For night-life options and a deeper dive into local restaurants in Barra check out this link.
Quimixto in Jalisco is a quite exposed beach break that has consistent surf. Summer offers the optimum conditions for surfing. Offshore winds are from the south.
Groundswells more frequent than wind-swells and the optimum swell angle is from the west southwest. The beach breaks offer lefts and rights. A fairly popular wave that can sometimes get crowded.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Be wary of rips – they make surfing dangerous.[/box]
Arroyo Seco is small town 50 km north of Barra de Navidad. Empty Beach well know by the locals for it’s big waves. It’s hard for beginners, when the swell is small the waves break really fast and hard.
|Type of Wave||Beach break|
|Direction of Wave||Right|
Surf-mexico.com was originally founded by three friends who love to surf. They help you find best places to stay, best places to surf and share surfing tips in Mexico.
Enjoy your trip, stay safe and let us know how your trip goes. Check out these other articles for some more details about the area:
Nearly all of Costa Rican surf towns have been engulfed by tourism, which can truly put a damper on a surf trip to Central America. When you visit the majority of Costa Rican surf towns, you’re going to have to deal with the beginner hussies, expensive fish tacos, and most likely, a crowded lineup.
Pavones is a tad different. Renowned as one of the most desolate and remote surf destinations in the entire country—Pavones provides surfers with a total surf oriented experience.
Being that it’s so difficult to reach, Pavones lacks the extreme amounts of surfers from around the world and rather caters to the die hard barrel hunters. Yes, you can get barreled in Pavones if you get the right swell. Pavones encompasses 10 miles of different beaches, which lines the nearly untouched Golfo Dulce area of Costa Rica. Thanks to Colin for letting us use his sick shot of Pavones—if you are looking for a surf camp in the area we highly recommend his sight: https://unaola.com/
The Rio Claro is one of the clearest rivers in Central America and this dazzling spectacle feeds into the gnarliest left breaking wave in the entire country.
Pavones is considered to be possibly the longest warm water left in the world, which is why so many people have attempted to reach it, though only few have actually made the trek. I have surfed both Chicama in Peru and Pavones in Costa Rica and on they both give the title ‘world’s longest left’ a run for the money. The only way to know is to surf them both yourself.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Literally, you can hit this left for 1 mile+, and I’m not even exaggerating.[/box]
One of the greatest parts of Pavones is the entirely chilled-out, relaxed vibe that the area offers. Located in nearly the most southern point of the south pacific region of Costa Rica, Pavones is a little slice of heaven that thousands of surfers have dreamt of visiting. There isn’t the chaos of a tourist heavy atmosphere here, so you can crush waves all day, grab a slice of pizza, and enjoy a nice brew in this desolate surfer destination.
The waves in Pavones are legendary. Honestly, if you ask any old time surfer in the South Pacific and they don’t tell you Pavones is the raddest destination in southern Costa Rica, then they are lying to you.
Pavones is situated in the “deep-south” of Costa Rica, on the southern side of the Gulfo Dulce, near the small ecologically heavy town of Golfito.
You won’t be able to reach Pavones unless you truly want to rip it, because it’s just about the hardest wave to reach in all of Costa Rica. Though it may be a hard wave to get to, finding the town of Pavones is very simple, you just need to have the motivation to get your ass from San Jose to Pavones.
It’s about 8 or 9 hours from San Jose the capital and if you’re taking a bus, the trip can take 16+ hours, due to the amount of bus transfers that it requires. The majority of surfers rent a 4×4 car and can reach it without too much trouble, that’s my best advice to you.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Pavones is a world class wave, consistent as all hell (150 days/year), and is without a doubt the longest left in the country. [/box]
The one problem with Pavones is that it needs a big southern swell to create the monster left that you want. The beach has a sandy bottom with rocks and the point is a long wrap around on a beach of boulders, so watch where you toss your board.
If the swell is working and you’re in Pavones, the wave goes on forever. Typical length is between 400-900 meters, which is ample enough time for you to have the left of your life. I must warn you, though Pavones is incredibly remote, when the swell hits, the town gets crowded.
There’s a ton of surfers in the south pacific region of Costa Rica, so you can imagine, word travels fast as a Japanese bullet train.
One other little unknown secret about the area is that you can also head south of Pavones and surf a point called Punta Banco, where you’ll be able to find lefts and rights. Punta Banco is much less crowded when the sell hits, so can be ideal for surfers that don’t want to deal with a crowded lineup. You didn’t hear it here.
Overall, Pavones is one of my personal favorite spots to visit in Costa Rica. It’s awesome when an enormous swell hits my hometown of Uvita and since the wave won’t hold, we grab a crew of Ticos, rent a van, and head down to the holy land of Pavones, Costa Rica.
You want a south west, south swell, the wave starts working at 3-5 feet and holds out to 16+ . . . let check the swell now.
You can surf at any tide, during any hour of the day, during any weather conditions, because you’re in Pavones and should surf regardless of the conditions anyways. The only downside is how crowded it can get, but that’s a small price to pay when you can ride the wave for 500+ meters.
No complaints here mon, just a ton of stoke!
Pavones is a small Costa Rican town located in the southern Pacific zone, near the town of Golfito (about 1.5 hours south). The entire town is reliant on its surf community, but there’s a ton of birds, so there’s also some birdwatchers.
If you catch Pavones at its peak, you can ride it the entire length of the town and impress all the cute girls watching from the beach—some of them birdwatchers. While the majority of the population is Costa Rican, a large amount of international expats have voyaged to Pavones and have been calling it home for decades.
Due to the amount of international cultures in Pavones, there’s definitely a very cosmopolitan vibe to the area, which makes it more welcoming for foreigners.
Though Pavones is incredibly small and remote, it does have a few different restaurants for surfers to enjoy, but remember, there aren’t a ton of options. There is a small surf shop called Sea Kings in Pavones—grab those goodies you forgot. The also have some boards for hire and offer surf lessons.
Obviously there are the small Tico Soda restaurants, serving up Gallo Pinto, Arroz con Pollo, and other Costa Rican dishes. Also, there’s a small Italian restaurant which dishes up tasty slices of pizza, small pasta dishes, and some other Italian infused recipes.
The only other restaurant I know if the upscale Brazilian style buffet, which has vegetarian and meat eating choices for surfers that have a little more cash to spend on gourmet meals.
There’s also a small supermarket, but it has all the essentials you’ll need. Meat, fresh veggies, fruit, bread, milk, eggs . . . and yes, beer!
Also, if you happen to be traveling with people who aren’t die hard surfers (likely not the case) then there are a few no surf activities. There’s a yoga studio called Shooting Star Studio where surfers or non-surfers can get a quality stretch in pre or post surf.
Get in the rental and check out a few waterfalls in the area or book a fishing charters in Golfito. Or good old school and just take a walk with your camera for a ton of wildlife right in you back—and front—yards.
If you want to take a day off from the waves, or they aren’t delivering, the Osa Peninsula is right around the corner and it’s one of the most bio diverse places in the world. You can see Scarlet Macaws, sloths, monkeys, dolphins, whales . . . the list goes on-and-on.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]All in all, Pavones has a plethora of activities for people to enjoy, but the main reason people flock to this remote little Tico town is for the gnarliest left in the world. [/box]
It’s a peaceful place, where you can surf waves, meet people from around the world, share badass stories, and see some of the world’s rarest wildlife. If you want laid-back with a mix of epic surfing, I don’t know any place better than Pavones, Costa Rica.
I normally sleep in the van we rent, or camp in a tent on one of the various camping area, but there are a bunch of housing options for people that don’t want to be such a surf dirtbag. When I role with the ladies I usually stay at one of the following options.
These are very cozy, homey cabins, tended by a super cute couple. They make you feel at home and provide you with just about anything you’d need while surfing or vacationing in Pavones. Roberta from Brazil said about staying there, “Amazing place, amazing people, amazing vibe.”
There’s a common area, WiFi, spacious cabins, and a ton of videos to watch—there’s a lot of down time in Pavones. But the best part about La Ponderosa is without a doubt the care that Marshall and Angela McCarthy provide their guests.
Got an extra 100k lying around? Marshall and Angela have some property opportunities listed on their site that look enticing.
Tell them Jason says hello and give them a hug for me, they’re great people—if you buy some land, can I sleep on it?
This place has a ton of different accommodation options. You can get private rooms, cabins, shared dorms, private rooms with shared bathrooms, the whole shebang. Rooms start at 15$/night for the shared rooms and privates are anywhere from 30-60$/night.
There’s a big kitchen, full of kitchen equipment, WiFi, hammocks, chairs, a porch, comfortable beds, and a super clean hotel. You can rent surfboards here, book tours, and park your car in a safe location. Cash only, like most of Pavones and Costa Rica.
This are another option if you want to do the cabin route of accommodation. I’ve never personally stayed here, but have surfed with a ton of people who have. Only good things. You get your own cabin with a kitchen, bathroom, and private space. Great for surf crews that want to have their own private area. There’s an open air bar and restaurant, WiFi, and a very laid-back atmosphere.
Let’s take a quick break and take a great look at the wave during a solid swell . . .
Pavones is one of the most unique locations in the entire country of Costa Rica. You’ll spend hours reaching this little surf town, but it will be worth every mile (if the swell hits).
Surfers from around the world have been flocking to Pavones for the better part of century and the waves send surfers home happy.
There aren’t a lot of places where you can get unbelievably pitted for 500 meters 150+ days out of the year, but at Pavones, you can. So pack your back, stuff your board bag with you favorite rip sticks, and head on down to Pavones, Costa Rica.
There may not be a whole lot to do as far as parting and nightlife are concerned, but you get to have the pleasure of getting up close and personal with nature in Pavones.
I’d recommend Pavones for any surfer visiting Costa Rica, it’s a must see. Get stoked my friends!
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.
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).
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.
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:
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$
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.
Barcelo 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.
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.
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.
Tamarindo 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):
I was blown away by this country and truly believe it to be one of the most untouched countries in the world as far as natural beauty. I mean, Chile is home to the legendary “Patagonia”, where though you cannot surf, you’re able to see a part of nature that only a handful of people have seen.
When you look at the length of the coastline it seems like Chile should have the longest coast in the world—actually, not even close. Chile ranks 19th in the world for coastal length and the top three countries with the most coastline are: Canada, Indonesia and Greenland (USA is 8th).
Ok, let’s get back to Chile.
The water is an electric bluish gray, barely any life can sustain existence, and the air is so clean it almost brings backpackers to tears. Chile has a special place in my heart. From the heavy lefts I surfed in Pichilemu to the fresh vegetable markets of Valparaiso, Chile will forever be one of my favorite places to visit.
As far as authentic Chilean culture is concerned Pichilemu and Punta de Lobos are two of the best surf towns to visit. You’ll catch a view of how this part of South America does business; hot dogs with mayo, chilly water, Pisco sours, and some of the tastiest lefts in the entire continent.
The people of Chile rarely sport anything but a smile, making surfers feel right at home as they travel around with their clanky board bags and salty hair. I spent 3 weeks traveling around Chile and saw the good, the bad, and the just straight up bizarre.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]I partied in Valparaiso for New Years, took a chick to the ER on New Years, and surfed into 2015 in some of the chilliest water I’ve every come across. [/box]
The entire country of Chile is a pretty gritty place, but as long as you don’t mind authentic Spanish culture and bit of poverty, you’ll feel right at home in this mountainous country.
Chileans have a very unique style and charisma, it’s a very positive vibe that they’re transcending to visitors, which is what made my experience so amazing. While you’re in Chile it’s nearly impossible not to see some of the most incredible landscapes in the world. You can drive four hours and find yourself in deserts, mountains, beaches, cities, snow, sunshine, caves, and just about everything in between.
Alright, the waves of Pichilemu are going to be more geared towards the more beginners, while Punta de Lobo is the hotspot for intermediate and advance surfers. Both towns are going to be giving you a solid left and the wave is pretty heavy.
Anyone who has every surfed Punta de Lobo will tell you how incredible of a wave it is. It’s a consistent left that can push you a few hundred yards and when it’s really working, barrel you to the third dimension.
There are a few different points at Punta de Lobo, so if you aren’t entirely comfortable with a barreling left, don’t be worried. You must be aware that Punta de Lobo is home to Quicksilver’s Big Wave Invitational, so the wave can reach over 20-30 feet without warning. Also, you won’t be surfing above a soft pillow, there’s a ton of rocks at Punta de Lobo, but there are by no means dangerous if you have quality surf experience.
Let’s check the surf right now . . .
Regardless of your surf level, the glassy waves of Pichilemu and Punta de Lobo will surely have you shredding daily and having a great surf adventure in Chile.
Most surfer fly into Santiago, Chile and move forward from there. You can either rent a car, or travel by bus. I found several flights with one stop for under $1000—which is damn good considering that it cost me $750 to fly to El Salvador a few weeks ago and the flight to Chile is 13 hours versus 5 to El Salvador.
The bus system is incredible in Chile and you can get just about anywhere on public transit (and the public buses are super nice), so I recommend busing around the country.
From Santiago you’ll be able to find several buses heading to Pichilemu, probably 4-5 per day. The bus ride is about 3 hours and it’ll take you about a mile from the hostels and cabanas of the town. However, if you have a car, traveling around will become much, much easier and you’ll be able to hit a ton more beaches.
Also, if you find that the wave isn’t working in the area, it’s super easy to just pack up the car and head further north or south.
Though they speak Spanish in Chile, beware that the tongue and dialect they use here is nearly impossible to understand if you don’t have some serious Spanish background.
As a fluent Spanish speaker, even I found it hard to understand a lot of the Chileans I came across. But luckily Chileans are just about the raddest South Americans in the game, so as long as you sport a smile and know how to properly share your space in the lineup, life is easy.
Pichilemu Surf Hostal: This is where I stayed, it’s a small little surf friendly hostel, located right on the beach. You get your own room, great for couples and people that just want to chill, not as good for surfers who just want to drink Pisco sours and rip overhead waves.
It’s about a 10 minute drive from the main Punta de Lobo surf break, so barrel hunters should find a cabana closer to Punta de Lobo. You get free breakfast and the safety of clean hostel at an affordable price, but the overall atmosphere of the hostel is pretty laid back. There’s an amazing
Cabanas Buena Vista: This is where I’ll stay if I ever return back to Pichilemu. It’s pretty close to the Punta de Lobo surf break, it has a hot tub (it’s so cold in Chile, trust me, you want a hot tub), spacious cabanas, and from what I remember, was fairly cheap. You really want to be able to speak some Spanish if you want to reserve one of these cabins, because the lady who owns them is 100% Chilean and knows very little English.
Hotel Rocas del Pacifico: This is going to be your standard hotel in the Pichlemu area, not what I’d recommend, but if you need a hotel, this is an option. You have to remember that you’re in a desolate Chilean town and there isn’t going to a Ritz or Four Seasons. That’s why it’s best to just splurge on your own cabana. Buy your own bottle of rum, eat your own food, which in the end will save you a ton of money.
My best advice is to look for accommodation in Pichilemu, because Punta de Lobos is strictly for surfing, accommodation is nearly non existent here.[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded”]Pichilemu is where everything is happening anyways, so finding a nice little cabana here is your best bet for a great surf trip.[/box]
Pichilemu is a pretty small town and is fairly easy to access, so don’t worry about renting a car while you’re in Chile, unless you want to hit numerous beaches on the coast. Pichilemu, like the majority of other Chileans cities is going to be super gritty, dusty, and authentic. Horse drawn carriages and Chileans smoking the peace pipe are not uncommon sights here, the vibe in Pichilemu could be described as hippie/surf/dirt bag, but that’s how I’d describe half of my surfer friends, so I’m not sure how much that’ll help.
One thing that you really should remember about Pichilemu and Chile in general is that it can be fairly expensive. Obviously if all you eat is empanadas, you’ll be able to live very cheaply, but from my experience in Valparaiso and Pichilemu, meals were very expensive. The best thing you can do for your wallet and stomach is prepare a few meals of your own each week.
There’s a ton of hotel/hostel/cabana accommodations in the surrounding areas, so choose a place that you think will fit your crew’s needs. Also, depending where you’re coming from, the water is super cold.
I’d been surfing Central America for eight months before I went to Chile and the water was unbearable for the first day or so. Honestly, the more neoprene you have the better; I rode with a 3/2 full suit, booties, and gloves.
But, there ain’t nothing wrong with a few hard nipples if Punta de Lobo is going to send you barreling 200 yards left!
Playa Dominical is a hippie haven for surf junkies and yogis alike, for this little slice of paradise is one of the least developed beaches in the entire country. Apart from being the cheapest, safest, and arguably, most authentic, Playa Dominical offers one of the largest waves in the country.
The surf report for Dominical normally turns off the less experienced surfers, so most of the time you surf here, it’s going to be pretty empty. That’s not to say you’ll get a 1pm lineup to yourself, but if you’re an early riser, bet on getting pitted for 2+ hours.
Unlike the other beaches in Costa Rica, Dominical virtually has no resorts or hotels. If you look back at the beach from the break line, all you really are going to see is lively palm trees and a few pieces of driftwood. There aren’t any buildings above 2 stories, so the vibe here is very simple, happy, and surf oriented.
This desolate beach offers a few different points, so there’s always plenty of room for everyone to catch a few beauties. Depending onyour skill (and fear) level, you can find the best wave of the area right next to the river mouth, but I’ve seen barreling waves just about everywhere in Dominical. Thefirst time I surfed Dominical I instantly fell in love with everything about the waves.
Playa Dominical is a strong barreling wave, where the wave holds size without closing out, but with a strong wave comes consequences. Don’t be surprised to see broken surfboards and unexperienced surfers being pulled out to sea. As long as you can hold your own through a strong riptide and overhead wave, I wouldn’t worry to much.
For the surfers that are less experienced, but still want to be able to stay and surf near Dominical, should head to nearby (1km) Dominicalito. These waves are considerably smaller and rarely get over shoulder height, allowing beginners to enjoy a day on the water without worrying about breaking a rental.
The first day they rolled slow, the second day some power developed and we were cutting back like nobody’s business, and by the end of the week, we were dropping in on double overheaders. I haven’t had many better days of surf in my life, so if there’s a fresh swell coming in through Dominical, my advice is: call in sick. Especially if you’re getting high tide at around 5:00am/5:30pm, those are going to be the best days to be surfing Dominical. I always prefer to surf two 1.5 hour sessions, gives me time to enjoy my day and explore the towns in which I’m surfing.
Check out the barrels in Dominical!
Marbella (this place is epic)
This town is so tiny, but has so much to offer, something that really makes it unique. Most Costa Rican towns aren’t going to offer all the amenities you’ll find in Dominical. Though it doesn’t have resorts and skyscrapers, it has a ton of little storefronts and rum bars that usually get pretty crazy at night.
Another awesome thing about Dominical is that it’s surrounded by natural waterfalls! Literally you can go on a jog and find a waterfall. Normally there will be a bunch of local kids running with towels in the jungle, follow them and you should find yourself a nice 200 foot waterfall. These falls make for a great day hike between sessions. Ask a local where you can find a waterfall and they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction, Ticos love waterfalls.
The vibe in Dominical isn’t geared towards partying as much as a surf city like San Diego, but it’s definitely there. Dominical basically only has two streets, both of which are filled with small surf hostels, Tico restaurants, and little souvenir shops.
One of the best features of the town is the local markets that get set up from 8am-5pm every day. Here, you’ll find everything from handmade bracelets to Romeo & Juliette Cuban cigars (super cheap here compared to other parts of C.R.). These market stands are all set up right along the strip of road that borders the beach, so feel free to forget the sandals and shirt at home and just stroll the beach, there’s a ton to look at. Most of the trinkets and knick-knacks are going to cost you between 2$-10$, while the larger carvings and knitted clothing is going to range into the 20-50$ range.
One thing that makes Dominical an ideal destination for backpacking surfers is its affordability. You can easily live off 300$ for a week, that being said, you won’t be living the lavish, eat out every night, drink until bar close lifestyle. Food and drink is cheap if you find the right market (or local) to buy your produce and liquor off of (there’s a few old ladies that sell rum infused with banana and strawberries). In short, the town of Dominical is tiny, but the waves are huge and the weather is perfect.
Though Dominical is located pretty far south along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, it’s surprisingly easy to get there. Depending on your mode of travel, it can take anywhere between 5 and 8 hours to reach it.
Most likely, you’ll be flying into San Jose International Airport and from here, it’s about 4.5 hours if you drive in a rental car or private shuttle. If you’re like me, and don’t have the funds to pay a shuttle 200$, then you’ll be a bus warrior! I understand that the language barrier can be scary for some people, but trust me, Costa Ricans are incredibly helpful and very nice.
The easiest way to get to Dominical is either hopping on the direct bus from San Jose to Dominical (though this bus sometimes takes 8 hours!) or taking the bus from San Jose to Quepos, then transferring over to Dominical from Quepos. My best advice would be to make the journey from San Jose to Dominical a 2 or 3 day journey. There’s a few really good surf beaches on the way to Dominical, so if you have the time to visit Quepos and Manuel Antonio, I highly suggest you do.
If you have limited time, then from the San Jose airport, take a taxi to the Delio Morales bus company (every taxi driver will know what that means). This direct San Jose to Dominical bus leaves at 6 am and 3pm, but those times are subject to change. Unlike so much of Costa Rica, the route between San Jose and Dominical is 100% paved, which makes travel way quicker and easier.
Piramy’s Cool Vibes Hostel: This is where I stay when I go to Dominical, because it’s affordable, comfortable, and only about 200 feet from the beach. A cute French couples own it, they’re super young and cool with ju
st about everything. This isn’t a surf party hostel, but it’s probably the chillest accommodation option in the entire town. Dorm beds cost between 8-12/night, while the private rooms are 25$/night. The price is really absurd considering the view and care you get at Cool Vibes. I mean, it’s called “Cool Vibes”, everyone is going to be rad as hell!
Tortilla Flats: This is a local favorite. They have great food, amazing drink specials, and know how to throw a proper party. If you want to stay up late, rip shots of high proof rum, and meet some badass locals, then Tortilla Flats is the place to be. A lot of the Ticos that hang here can DK Boogie board better than you can probably surf, so make sure you don’t disrespect these guys; they’re all legends. Prices for rooms are a little more expensive, you’re going to spend anywhere between 20$ and 80$ per night here.
Hotel Cuna Del Angel: This is your standard luxurious hotel option. It’s located a little further from the beach than the hostels, so it’s much more quiet. Rooms start at 110$/night and go up from there.
Renting a house: This is the best option for people that want to bring all their surf buddies and have the time of their lives. Rental homes in Costa Rica are very cheap, it’ll cost you about 1,000$/week for a house/cabana close to the beach. I’ve rented a cabana from Pyram’s for a week and the total cost was 250$ for 5 nights, and we stuffed 8 of us in there. Cheap as all hell.
Playa Dominical is a less developed version of Jacó (minus the drugs and prostitutes), for it’s nearly surrounded by lush rainforest. Dominical is a must see for any surfer who’s trying to get totally stoked without paying the hefty fees of a tourist town. If you’re looking for power and height, then this is probably a great option, but if you’re still a beginner, I’d stick to nearby Uvita or Quepos.