Surf Spots in Tamarindo

One of the things I really enjoyed about staying in Tamarindo was having a surf spot or two right at your front door. Now, Tamarindo proper is not necessarily known for world-class waves. Yet, if you're itching for some surf and don't feel like bouncing around on some of the more notorious backroads of Guanacaste, you'll have at least three options within walking distance of most of the hotels in Tamarindo.

Let's start with Tamarindo. There are two primary spots located right in town - the first is directly in front of the Tamarindo Diria...

Of the breaks I'm going to list, I would say this was the lesser of the three. But let's be honest... it was right in front of our hotel (the picture was taken from one of the hotel restaurants) so how can you pass it up when it's right there!? This picture was taken on the heaviest day... maybe head high on some sets. The waves had quite a bit of power on this day but were usually relatively mushy and not that hollow. The break hits in a couple of different spots - one in the middle of the lava reef and one directly over the right part of the reef. The middle part tends to be more crowded - the lineup is full of locals as well as a handful of surf schools. The right is less crowded but is more shallow with rocks just below the surface. Just visit the spot during low tide and you'll know exactly what I mean.

Five minutes down the beach and across from the Witch's Rock Surf Camp is a rivermouth break...

Looks nice, huh? Admittedly, this was a relatively small day and there were only a couple of people out. This shot was taken from a beachside hotel so the perspective makes it look like shorebreak but it's the actual break. However, it makes it clear that the rivermouth was faster and hollower. I don't know that the size was that different from the Diria but you can expect better quality waves. Of course, as with any rivermouth, the area can have a few "sea critters". Watch for crocs after heavy rains.

Further afield is Playa Grande, by far the best spot in the area and known as one of the better waves on the Pacific side of Costa Rica...

There are a couple of ways to get to Playa Grande. The first way to get there is to drive from Tamarindo. Theoretically, the beach isn't that far away but roads being what they are in Costa Rica, it's more of a 20 minute drive. Mind you, you can see Playa Grande from the rivermouth. The other way to get there is by foot... you first walk to the river where you can catch a ferry for about a buck. Now, some people will paddle across the rivermouth but I'd just as soon pay a pittance to dodge the crocs. From there, you start walking.

A note about walking. We were told at the Iguana Surf Shop that the walk to the spot in front of Las Tortugas hotel was about 15 minutes long. Don't buy it! Walking along the crescent shaped beach during low tide to the spot across from Las Tortugas takes about 45 minutes. Now, you'll cross several spots along the way and there will be random pockets of surfers here and there. The most popular is definitely across from Las Tortugas because it tends to be the best break on Playa Grande.

Grande is typically 1-2 feet bigger than Tamarindo but we got stuck with a small day. If anything, I got a few rides in and just chilled on the beach. No complaints here.

Of course, if you do have a car and feel like exploring, you'll have all kinds of options at your disposal... Playa Langosta (right around the corner from Tamarindo), Playa Negra and Playa Nosara. Chartered boats can take you further out to classic breaks like Ollie's Point and Witch's Rock. Ultimately, you won't run out of options and finding a wave to your liking with take little to no effort.

1 comment:

Marc said...

Awesome blog! I came across it randomly in a google search. Just wanted to add that Witch's and Ollie Point are definitely worth the trek on a good day. We chartered a boat out for the entire day--split between 5 guys it was around $40/person. For those looking to go, it involves a 45 minute drive up north (from Tamarindo) to the town of Playa Coco followed by another 45 minute boat ride out to Witch's. The scenery on the boat ride is stunning btw and offers a nice tour of some of the coastal areas. Between the two spots, we surfed for a good 6-7 hours with lunch inbetween. Totally worth the price if you ask me!