PURA VIDA IN COSTA RICA
We left on January 26 heading for Costa Rica (CR) . After a super heavy trip and that Capi almost stopped him in the States, because of his resemblance to Bin Laden, we arrived in San José, the capital of CR, where we waited for Lope Carral (All Ocena Surfboards) and Borja (his friend) With whom we spent a few days, enjoying the waves and their good company. Lope has been living in CR for a long time and knows everything very well, so he helped us a lot in the beginning, we had a great time and he passed us some tables, which have been the bomb. We traveled my brother David “Capi” , our brother canary and great surfer, Manolo Trujillo and I, with great desire to surf good waves and impregnate us with the Pura Vida Costa Rican. Upon arriving, we caught a good swell in the area of Jaco and surfed, Playa Hermosa and Esterillos , in the middle of the Pacific. Good waves, tubes and sessions very fun and consistent. After leaving Lope, we took a 4x4 and spent a month searching, all along the coast of CR. This is a short story of our surfari and many of the good waves we surfed.
The name of Costa Rica (CR), says it all. It is bathed by two oceans, the Pacific to the west and the Atlantic to the east. With Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south and has a great consistency, with good waves throughout the year. The level of surfing in CR is high, but at the same time medium-low, by the number of people who will learn, especially Americans. Although undoubtedly, the best CR surfers are the pelicans.
CR is considered the Swiss of Central America, with a safe and stable country, especially if we compare it with its neighboring countries.
I advise to get up early, because the wind usually starts early, at noon it is very hot and at night the wind usually falls, it is less hot and it is another good time to surf. The water is super hot (bermus) and the sun and heat are hard, although it always gets much better than the cold. Roads and driving are a bit dangerous and distances, sometimes make searching desperate.
The locals are friendly, but not foolish and increasingly know what is to behave as locals, especially those who travel and have observed as they are not treated with the same “Pura Vida” with which they have received many of the surfers who Invade their coasts, especially during the last years.
Access to many of the surf spots in CR is complicated and without a 4 x 4, it is not highly recommended, especially in the rainy season. The hands of the Yankees have invaded CR for years and many have already in this land their paradise bought from banknotes. The PURA VIDA will depend like everything of your luck, but without doubt the life of the majority of Costa Ricans is purely close to the paradise.
It is the area that has the beaches + beautiful CR, with offshore winds, good seas, variety of waves, from soft + to perfect, lots of sun and nightlife. The best months to go are December – April. The best places to stay for base camp are in Tamarindo and Santa Teresa .
The best waves are in Potrero Grande , Witch Rock , Playa Grande , Playa Negra and Santa Teresa , although it will depend on the days and your luck. These are the waves where there are more surferos and this + crowded. The biggest dangers are the jellyfish, the scorpions and the criminal sun that does.
Potrero Grande (Ollie’s Point) , Witch Rock (Rock Witch) have a lot of fame, but are accessible only by boat or 4x4.
Playa Grande , to the right of Tamarindo, has very good waves and good tubes. TAMARINDO is definitely the place to be. It is the typical surf town and one of the CR surfing centers, along with JACO . Here you will find everything, surf shops, schools, restaurants and party, lots of partying. The waves in Tamarindo are only acceptable when entering the sea, but if there is sea, the neighboring waves will normally have much more quality. It is a good place to stay for a few days or at least where to have the base camp and from there go out to explore other waves. Tamarindo is one of the epicenters of surf in CR, but do not expect spectacular waves. Some of the waves in this area are ; The Estero of Tama , the Island Captain , Great Peak , The Point of the wood . LANGOSTA , is just to the left of Tamarindo, is a good reef, although the wave does not have much quality (El sapo, Langosta estuary). AVELLANAS , is a good wave, very funny, the beach is very pretty (Little Hawaii, the hazelnut estuary, the stick, the parking, the purruja) BLACK BEACH for my taste is the wave of more quality of this area, a good Reef with right waves.
Marbella beach is where more sea enters. If there are no waves anywhere, this is the best option. They are beautiful Playa Hermosa, with good tubes. Playa Frijolar, Ostional, Nosara, pebble beach, beach scripts, Santa Teresa, Playa el Carmen, Malpais, are other of the many waves of this area.
It is talking about powerful waves, easy access, pipe paradise, with dangers like poisonous snakes, crocodiles.
Boca Barranca (the second left + long of CR), after Pavones, the 1st section is called the Butterfly), the Hole , one of the CR + round and powerful waves, the name says it all. Playa Escondida, Isla Herradura, JACO, on specific days can have good waves, but usually the waves are not very good, although if fun .. The ideal place to learn to surf, with many shops, restaurants and nightlife. It is the city of surf in CR, as well as Tamarindo. A good place also for lovers of fishing. A good place to have base camp for a few days.
Roca Loca , a right-wing point break with a rock that intimidates when it’s time to take off. PLAYA HERMOSA is a very long beach with several waves along its route. For my taste, the best of this area; From Terrazas, north of the beach, Backyards, El Almendro, La Curva, Tullin, good waves, reminded me a lot of Helgueras, the Brusco, in Cantabria, good tubes, waves and powerful, very fun and one of the most beautiful beaches Consistent with this area. It is one of the surf spots that has best behaved with us throughout the trip.
ESTERILLOS , the parking spot is called La Sirena, a good right that breaks on a rock bottom. Esterillos Oeste and Centro (La Felicidad) are 2 beautiful beaches with good waves. They are round and tubular waves, although they do not have the quality of their neighbor Playa Hermosa. Further south, there is a good beach, which seems endless, Bejucos, with good peaks of right and left.
Quepos , in front of the restaurant El Gran Escape, a very good wave, but little consistent, left long and very good, but that breaks little + 5 times a year.
In the nature reserve of MANUEL ANTONIO there are good waves and the little beaches that is located north of the beach, breaks on lava and has some punch, funny waves, but nothing spectacular, needs a lot of sea. Playa del Rey, a good beach with good peaks, type to Beautiful, but not usually surf, because it has huge crocodiles, which make you think a lot the entrance.
The Pacific Center area is easy to access and has some of the CR + powerful waves. The best months to go are from April to October. It is the pipe zone par excellence and there are more waves than people, since the mosquitoes, crocodiles, dengue, poisonous toads …. They do not invite to explore the area, except for those who risk and get the reward.
Good waves, probably the long ones of CR ( Pavones and Matapalos ) breaking glued to the tropical coast. The greatest danger is the poisonous snakes there are. The roads and the distant spots make you think of the optimism of surfing alone, but once you arrive, the reality is different.
DOMINICAL – A powerful and tubular wave, but often becomes a pure harness. Good tubes and is one of the CR + consistent waves, when there are no waves elsewhere, here you can always scratch something, but when there is sea, possibly close from side to side. Watch out for the currents. It is one of the CR magnets as far as swell is concerned. The village is beautiful, surrounded by mountains and has a very beautiful waterfalls nearby
OSA PENINSULA – Carate is one of the places where there is greater animal life of CR, due to its dense jungle, does not have many consistent waves, but it is an amazing site.
MATAPALO – It’s one of the best CR rights. The best way to get here is by boat from Pavones, because by road, it takes up to 5 hours from Pavones. It is for many the masculine version of Ollie’s Point; Bigger, stronger, faster … A long intense wave, although little tubular, that is breaking on a background of rocks initially and then remains of maneuvers. Real surfing, in crystal clear waters. It’s pretty consistent. The worst thing is that he is usually quite crowded and careful again with the venomous snakes that abound in this area. A good option is to do camping. Like many of CR’s good surf spots, its access is complicated, but once there, you will create that you are in paradise. You will find yourself in the jungle and many of the days, the sound of birds and monkeys, is sometimes deafening, even in the water. At night, you will not want to leave the store, the amount of strange noises you will find. At dawn, you will understand by the footsteps around, that your dreams, could have been turned into nightmares. Welcome to the jungle. One of our favorite travel spots.
Backwash – Similar to Matapalos, it breaks from left and right, although the right is better. Good tubes, especially at low tide.
Pan Dulce – one of the beaches + pretty in this area and with the waves + soft. It’s the first one you find, when you take the road to the beach. With a rock in the middle of the path you’ll have to avoid. Paradise of place.
PUERTO JIMÉNEZ – It does not have good waves, but it can be a good base camp, if you want to avoid sleeping inside the jungle. It is the main town on the Osa peninsula. More than surfing, what prevails is eco-tourism. A thousand options to see and visit.
PAVONES – Considered the 2nd + long left of the planet, although for my taste there are other waves much longer, it is a world class wave. Only surpassable by Chicama (Peru), Mompiche (Ecuador), Raglan (New Zealand) … It is undoubtedly the longest wave and one of the best in CR. It has everything, sections of tubes, turns, good cut backs, but especially speed … a good playground, where debug your surfing. Although it is usually very crowded, the days that you are pompeando, you will believe that you are in the same paradise, with sets of up to 6 and 7 waves that can be surfed at the same time. A good wave, that will make you leave with a smile of water and while you walk to the Cantina, where the wave begins, you will realize that you are surfing one of the meccas of modern surfing. It is surfed in all tides and the wind does not affect much the quality of the wave. It needs a powerful sea of the south, to make connect all the sections and to turn it into classic. Against + size, the wave catches better the reef and is better, although with 1 meter, the wave is already amazing. The section of the river, is for my taste the fast, tubular and fun.
Pavones is an amazing town, one of those places where time stops and you never want to leave. During my life I have known many places in the world, where I would not mind staying for a long season, or the rest of my life …. And this is one of those sites. The locals and people of the village are very friendly and it is a paradise on earth, with its river, its jungle behind and a left, which for any surfer, will make you dream and understand why surfing, despite the current massification. There are usually a lot of people, especially from March and like almost all CR surf spots, it is difficult to get there, but the sacrifice will be rewarded. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED !!!!
If there are no waves in Pavones, or if you want to escape from the massification, to the left there are several reefs with lots of potential and fun beaches like Punta Banco.
The best of the pacific south of CR, are its long waves, its beauty, with a dense and alive jungle. The best months to go are April-August. The best places to stay for base camp are Dominical and Pavones. The worst is access, with endless hours inside the car, through bad roads, until you get to the surf spots. Pavones & Matapalos are the best waves, but at the same time, they are the two waves that more surfers receive. Without waves, two visits are Carate and Corcovado National Park.
Caribbean rhythms, Afro-Caribbean culture, rasta music, color, good ganja, palm trees … the east of CR, is the Caribbean and like all the caribbean, although many people doubt it, there are very good waves. This is the 2nd trip I do to the Caribbean in search of waves this year and the 2 times I have been lucky. Many times you will feel that you are more in Jamaica than in the Caribbean of CR. The people and the waves, make this part of CR an intense and exciting place. Surfers are considered as the + radicals of CR and around waves like Salsa Brava , is the most radical localism of CR, which at the same time make this area such a special place. The funds have been changing, due to the last earthquakes, spoiling some waves, but others have improved remarkably.
To the north of the Caribbean is Tortuguero Beach and a wide stretch, which is yet to be explored. Near Puerto Limon (it is very handsome), there are several quality waves, such as Cocaine Point , although being an industrial zone and having a shipyard near you, it does not invite much to surfing. Where there are good waves is in Playa Bonita ; A hollow left, short and powerful, that breaks on a dry reef north of the beach. On the same beach there is a very powerful and tubular right.
In the Tumbos there is another powerful right, with good tubes, that breaks on rock and sand. The village is nice and family friendly.
Isla Uvita – is the island that is located outside of Puerto Limón. It has an olon that breaks on the reef that goes bordering the island. The wave is classic of an island, with very good tubes. The only way to get here is by boat and once there, the best option is to do camping. It resembles Salsa Brava.
Following the road towards the South, road from Limón to Puerto Viejo, there are several good reefs and great beaches, with some good waves, but not much quality, like Westfalia and Broken Boat . Within the area of Cahuita , incredible town, in the middle of nature reserve, there are several quality waves, being Negra beach , just before reaching Puerto Viejo, one of the best options, with good tubes on black sand
The best area to stay is in PUERTO VIEJO , a rastafari village, where the surfer and hippie culture are mixed, under the music of JAH. The truth is that this has been without a doubt, my favorite place of CR, a place where I would not mind living for a good time and also, it contains one of the jewels of CR. SALSA BRAVA , one of the waves, but the most technical, strong, fast, powerful and dangerous CR. When you dream of surfing powerful waves and tubing in CR, this is the place of your dreams. When you jump out of the reef and enter the channel towards the peak, your heart will accelerate and you will understand why, you have sacrificed so much to reach this paradise. To my taste, it is the most powerful wave of CR, the Caribbean Pipeline. The rights are longer than the left (pure tube). You will have to draw your skewer, for the big days. Holds a lot of size. It is located inside Puerto Viejo, one of the most authentic cities of the Caribbean of CR. Very good sessions here, the only one is that on small days, locals will not give you any chance, but when it gets big, you can make the tubes of your life.
If there are no good waves in Brava sauce and low the sea, the best option is Cocles , a very nice beach, with funny waves, inside a typical Caribbean village.
Other waves in the Caribbean are Airport Rights (in front of Limón airport), shark area, Long Shoal (offshore reef, wave for size, tow-in), Little Shoal (reef offshore), the Box, Punta Uva And Manzanillo (a very good reef) …
The Caribbean is where you will find the true Rasta spirit of CR. Some of the stronger CR waves are here. It is the cheapest, exotic and magical area. The best months of surfing are from December to March. The best place to stay is in Puerto Viejo de Talamaca. The best waves are Isla Uvita and Salsa Brava. It is surely, where more localism is in CR, if you are rolled, will be rolled up, but if you are wrong …. The most powerful waves have a dangerous reef, many of the dangers of CR are here, but at the same time many of their best secrets. This is my favorite CR site and I would wholeheartedly recommend all those who are encouraged to discover this paradise. Very good times, very good sessions. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Costa Rica surprises by the quality and variety of waves that it has. A paradise for any surfer and destination, still massified, it still keeps its essence intact. I stay with innumerable sessions, with people and magical places and I hope to return very soon to enjoy the magic of the country.
PURA VIDA for all the people of Costa Rica. JAH BLESS U.
PHOTOS & TEXT- SURF CANTABRA SCHOOL.
SURFERS: MANOLO TRUJILLO, DAVID “CAPI” & NACHETE GARCIA.