Learn to Surf in Costa Rica

 In Costa Rica Vacation Tips, Eco-Adventure

Jacó Costa Rica’s gentle surf, surf shops, and abundance of teachers make it the perfect place to learn


Jacó Beach, Costa Rica is a perfect place to learn to surf if you’re a beginner. That’s because the waves are gentle and consistent. Plus, there’s no shortage of board rentals, surf camps, or teachers.

Surf local Maria Del Mar runs a surf camp by the same name, Del Mar Surf Camp and Yoga Retreat, a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Her upmarket camp offers group and private lessons, as well as coaching for the more advanced surfers.

Vista Guapa Surf Camp offers surf lessons for beginning and advanced learners in small groups or private lessons. For a change of pace, you can also learn stand-up paddleboard or take advantage of mountain biking and hiking tours or yoga classes.

Tips for first time Costa Rica surfers:

If you’ve never paddled out before, take a lesson. Most lessons last 2 hours and are well worth the money. In addition to getting you started out right, your teacher will spend some time on safety. With that in mind, we have a few tips:

Learn to spot riptides, which are characterized by an absence of wave action between breakers. If you take a minute to check things out, you’ll notice slightly darker areas of light chop—that’s a rip that will pull you away from the beach, out to sea. Rips can be scary but if you keep your cool, it’s easy to get out of one. Stay with your board and paddle parallel to the shore.

Most beaches, by law, require you to wear a leash that will keep your board close by if you wipe out. It also keeps your board from becoming a danger to other surfers.

Keep an eye on the sky. You don’t want to be caught on the water in a thunderstorm and conditions can change quickly.

Mind your Ps and Qs—there are rules, some unspoken but nevertheless enforced—about surf etiquette. For instance, if a rider’s up on a wave you’re going for, yield to the rider on the wave. Never cut off another rider.

Unless you’re an expert, don’t try to surf Playa Hermosa. It’s gnarly and only for the experienced. A better idea is to head for The Backyard Bar and Grill on a Saturday afternoon. Lunch is served from 11 a.m.; dinner goes until about 10 p.m. Get there early for a seat on the deck next to the rail and watch the big boys riding the waves. The weekly contest starts at about 4:30 and there’s always a barbeque and live band. The party goes until about 8 p.m. when everyone starts heading for the clubs on Jacó’s strip.

Surf’s up; go catch a wave! Reach out today and talk to our Concierge Team; they can get you set up with lessons before you arrive and perhaps even advise you on smart gear to bring along.



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