Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Central America
LAST UPDATED 20/11/2007
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The best place to check the surf and plan a trip to Costa Rica!
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Level of surfing


Quality of surf


Call code


Net code





1,290 km


Tropical and subtropical; dry season (December to April); rainy season (May to November)


Extreme Heat, Coup / Civil Unrest

Best Months

October - March




Cost Rican colon (CRC) Costa Rican colones per US dollar - 511.3 (2006)

Time Zone

Central Standard Time (UTC-6)

Special Requirements

Lengthy VISA Process


Wrh2: Location map for Costa Rica, 21 July 2006

Costa Rica is a country in Central America, to the north, it borders on Nicaragua and to the south, Panama. In Spanish, Costa Rica means "rich coast" which is exactly what a traveller should be looking forward to seeing.

Costa Rica has amazing scenery, flora, and fauna. From rainforests, to dry tropical and temperate forests, to volcanos, to Carribean and Pacific beaches, to high mountains, and marshy lowlands, Costa Rica is the ideal tropical paradise.


Cocos Island, Costa Rica; 2007

A pitching deck, the creak of well worn timbers, the cracking of sail and canvas...tied to the mast.  Things have changed a little I guess from when Jack London and  Josef Conrad wrote their haunting Pacific infused epics but it hasnt changed everythwhere. There are corners of this earth where that mythos still holds true, and most of those  corners are here in the South Pacific.

The main source of swell here is from the intense lows that circle the earth south of Australia, these lows spin off northwards with blessed regularity, peppering the entire region with generous SE to SW groundswell from March to September. Australia and New Zealand see the bulk of these swells. These countries cast a very tall shadow across the rest of the Pacific and hence many other islands in their wake can suffer from swell difusion. December to February is cyclone season. Unpredictable cells can deliver swell in a 360 radius, lighting up rarely breaking reefs and points facing every conceivable direction. 

The South Pacific trade winds are some of the most consistent in the world, generally from the East with slight seasonal variation. This is the largest Ocean on the planet and these winds easily generate regular rideable swell. Onshore conditions can be a problem on east facing coastlines but peeling yourself out for an early surf will usually bring some relief.

In the North Pacific it is the intense lows descending from the Aleutians that deliver NE to NW swells from October to March. Hawaii is ideally placed to make best use of this energy but other coastlines in the region have their own less publicised and far less crowded gems.

Jun to October also sees rarer hurricane swell radiate out from southern Mexico. This energy is often felt right throughout Polynesia. With so many energy vectors at work it is very hard not to find a wave in Costa Rica. It's just a matter of finding the right one. Try to find one away from any military installations while your at it.

The Caribbean, she is a harsh mistress. All of the islands in the Greater and Lesser Antilles share at least some aspect towards the North Atlantic and therefore are exposed to any passing fronts that generate of the East American Coast and transit the North Atlantic. These fronts often pass a good way to the north and swell decay can be a problem.

Regular windswell is a constant on the east coast of all of the island groups and hence there is almost always something to keep you occupied and off the rum for a few hours. too much wind can be a bad thing though and onshore days are very common, no matter how early in the morning you manage to peel yourself out of your cot and stumble down to the beach.

The third source of swell in the region are from passing hurricanes. Some of the strongest storm ever recorded on the planet file through here regularly. Technically the season spans June to November with early September being the peak. The ideal scenario is for the hurricane mass to pass clear of any inhabited areas and sit well offshore in the deep Carribean for a few days prior to disipating. The result is typically 3-5 days of western swell that lights up the hidden western points and reefs of the Caribbean. The persistant NE/E trade winds will gently fan these breaks all day long. It is then that some of the rarer points and breaks of Costa Rica come to life. Surf exploration doesent get any better than this.

Heading further down towards South America it just keeps getting better. Costa Rica enjoys two coasts each with their own attractions and generous swell window. The pacific coast is generally considered superior in terms of consistency, but Carribean coast breaks such as Salsa Brava offer a supreme test for the adventurer. Pack your aeroguard and enjoy amigo!


CC: Some Rights Reserved, Driving in Costa Rica, October 2003

There are so many options in travelling around Costa Rica. One of the easiest and cost-efficient ways is to travel by bus. Most major tourist destinations in Costa Rica are serviced by at least two daily buses from and to major cities. 

If you would like to visit the secluded beaches and mountain areas, renting a car would be a better option. Don't forget to buy insurance for the car though, according to American standards, driving in Costa Rica is dangerous.


Guety: Hatham beach at Isla del coco, 29 January 2005

In Costa Rica, the climate is very diverse and has large climate differences within a day. In summer, the daytime is very hot and in the morning and evenings, it becomes very cool.

Temperatures are usually an average inbetween mid 20s to 30.

where to stay

James Diggans: A Costa Rican breakfast with gallo pinto, 22 February 2006

There are many accomodation options over Costa Rica, including hotels, aparthotels, condos, vacation rentals and cabinas.

Vacation Homes, Cabinas, and Condos are less expensive options relative to the others and could provide more flexibility in your travelling adventure in Costa Rica.

what to pack

Ö: Memory Stick Duo Adaptor and Memory Stick PRO Duo; 15 August 2007

There is a rainy season from May to October (so take an umbrella and pack accordingly) and a dry season from November to April. The coast is hot all year, so cotton shirts or blouses are best. Make sure you take a good sunscreen (SPF 30+) and a good insect repellent. Hat and natural fabrics (such as cotton or linen) clothes will be very useful. Light coat or sweater can become handy since some nights are fresher or you might get a bad weather.
Raincoat and rubberboots with light, long trousers if you plan bushwalking. Waterproof bag will be great for the rainy season.  

You won't regret swimming & snorkelling gear and a quick drying towel! And take films and memory cards with you  (can be hard to find and expensive). Little swiss knife and a good torch will be useful. Anti-malaria drugs (Aralen) if visiting the east coast. All the medicines you use on a daily basis. 

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