Costa Rica has long been a surfing paradise. Its world-class waves are enough of a draw on their own, but when you add the epic scenery, pristine beaches, friendly locals, party towns, and seriously chilled way of life, well, you’ve got the surf vacation of a lifetime.
There are waves for everyone in Costa Rica. From gentle swells perfect for beginners to some of the longest and heaviest waves in the world. But with a coastline of over 1200 Km, two oceans, and hundreds of beaches, how will you ever choose where to base yourself?
Well, we’ve found some of the best hotels, located near great surfing spots all over Costa Rica. From north to south, Pacific to Caribbean, we’ve found the perfect places to help you find your slice of Pura Vida!
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La Oveja Hostel & Surf Camp – Tamarindo
The Northern Pacific is one of the most popular stretches of coastline and is home to enough diverse surf spots to keep you busy for weeks. The undisputed hub of this area is Tamarindo. With an international airport, an abundance of cheap hotels and a reputation for surfing hard and partying harder, it’s easy to see why it’s a favorite spot in Costa Rica.
Once you’ve had your fill of the town’s busy beaches, head south to the quieter but no less spectacular breaks at Playa Langosta and Playa Avellanas. And if you’re staying a while, hire a car or join a surf tour heading up the coast to Witches Rock, famously featured in the cult surf film Endless Summer II.
La Oveja Surf Hostel is located in the heart of Tamarindo. It offers bright, colorful rooms, sociable communal areas, a swimming pool, and a funky restaurant and bar area that hosts live music in the evenings. It’s only 300m from Tamarindo beach and just over 1km from Langosta and Playa Grande, with all the town’s amenities within steps of the hostel.
Address: Calle Guanacaste, frente a Hotel Portofino, 50309 Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Best For: Staying right in the thick of things, partying, and meeting other surfers.
The Sunset Shack – Nosara
If you want something a little more chilled, head to Nosara. This little town is a hub of holistic living, yoga, and ecotourism. And surfers have been flocking here for years to ride the consistently awesome break at Guiones Beach.
The three-star Sunset Shack is located just 250m from this beach and offers quality service with laid-back surf camp style. The accommodation, saltwater swimming pool, bar, and restaurant are surrounded by tropical trees complete with monkeys calling from amidst their branches.
The reception can book you a private airport shuttle to make your journey to the peninsula easier and can also organize car rental to help you explore the other surf spots up and down the coast. Beginners will find plenty of surf schools and instructors here to help them get to grips with the swell.
Best For: A quality spot in the holistic capital of Costa Rica.
Hotel Nantipa – Santa Teresa
The paradise that is Santa Teresa was once a secret jealousy guarded by the surfers who knew it. But the word is out now, and this one-time fishing village is quickly growing into another popular yoga and surf hub offering increasingly upmarket accommodation, cool restaurants, and boutiques. So far, its development has not infringed on the area’s beauty, and it retains its off-the-beaten-track feel.
The five-star Hotel Nantipa is just steps from Santa Teresa beach and less than 1km from the waves of Playa Carmen. Guests can enjoy the large, freeform pool or choose a room that boasts its own private pool. The resort offers yoga classes, a full-service spa and wellness center, and an elegant restaurant.
Hire a car to explore the many beaches and point breaks around nearby Mal Pais. And visit Montezuma’s beautiful coast with its white sand beach, waterfalls, and turtle sanctuary.
Best For: Perfect for couples and those wanting to stay in luxury hotels while surfing in Costa Rica.
Hotel Perico Azul & Surf Camp – Jaco
Costa Rica’s largest surf town, Jaco, is located in the center of the Pacific coast. Easily accessible via San José airport, Jaco is a perfect spot for beginner surfers or those visiting Costa Rica for the first time. Renowned for its surf and party lifestyle, visitors are guaranteed a good time in this tourist hub.
There are plenty of surf schools available to help you get into the beginner-friendly waves of Jaco beach. And if you already know what you’re doing, head for the nearby bigger breaks of Playa Hermosa or Playa Esterillos.
Hotel Perico Azul & Surf Camp is one of the best hotels in Costa Rica for those new to surfing. There’s a surf school onsite, and you can rent equipment and book surf lessons as you book your accommodation. The hotel is only 350 m from the beach and in the center of Jaco, so whether it’s waves or parties that you’re looking for, you’re never far from the action.
Best For: beginners and first-timers wanting a friendly base close to all the action.
Tribe Boutique Hotel – Dominical
Further south sits Dominical, a pretty, mountain-backed town that strikes a wonderful balance between peaceful, nature retreat and happening surf town. A three-hour drive from San José, Dominical is easily accessible and growing in popularity as surfers look for quieter, but still awesome, waves away from the tourist hub of Jaco.
The long, beautiful Playa Dominica boasts consistently high waves with both left and right breaks and powerful barrels. However, beginners might find some of these breaks too strong and would be wise to use a surf school rather than heading out alone.
The three-star Tribe Boutique Hotel offers a peaceful, adults-only spot to relax and unwind amidst the area’s natural wonders. Lounge by the pool or in a hammock listening to the birds and the monkeys and watch lizards dart by. The rooms are elegant, decorated in natural tones with carved stone features in the bathrooms and air-con as standard.
Best For: World-class waves in a beautiful setting.
Caza Olas – Pavones, Golfo Dulce
Pavones is possibly the ultimate surf destination in Costa Rica. Tricky to get to and with inconsistent swell, it’s not for everyone but it’s a real bucket-list spot for serious surfers. When conditions are right, Pavones throws up one of the longest left-hand breaks in the world. A wave you can ride for more than three minutes and a distance of over 1km – if your legs can handle it, that is!
But the surrounding area is remote, to say the least. Seven hours from San Jose, the tiny town has basic accommodation, shops, and restaurants but little else. There is limited wifi and not everywhere takes credit cards. You won’t find any luxury hotels or boutique eateries here, just some of the most surfing mad people in Costa Rica. So if you’re thinking of making the trek, plan ahead, pack all the essentials and carry enough cash for your stay.
Caza Olas Hostel has everything visitors to Pavones need: a comfortable bed close to the surf and other similarly surf-crazy guests. Located 200m from the famous break and close to the town’s amenities, this is a basic but good hostel with private or dorm rooms. There is a communal kitchen which helps keep costs down if you need to stay a while to await the perfect wave! This hostel also has wifi which is not a given in this remote town.
Best For: Good basic accommodation near one of the best waves in the world.
Encanta La Vida – Matapalo
On the bottom corner of the Osa Peninsula sits Matapalo, amidst swaths of undeveloped jungle creeping down to the pristine, white sand shore. Three beaches make up the surf trifecta here: Playa Matapalo, Backwash Bay, and Pan Dulce, all within easy reach of each other. Surfers of all abilities can find something to suit them here. Although for beginners, unless you’re up for rough roads and remote jungle living, there are far more accessible places to hit the waves!
For those that do make the trek, Encanta La Vida offers beautiful jungle accommodation in one of the most beautiful spots in Costa Rica. Guests can sleep in private bungalows and rustic treehouses arranged around the saltwater swimming pool. Morning yoga classes are backed by a soundtrack of native wildlife, and the perfect swell of Pan Dulce is just a stroll away.
Address: Cabo Matapalo, 60702 Cabo Matapalo, Costa Rica
Best For: remote jungle living right beside the beach.
Vista Verde – Puerto Viejo, Caribbean Coast
Most surfers head to the Pacific Coast for its dryer climate, wider choice of surf spots, and more developed surf towns. But though it might be quieter, more rustic, and lacking in luxury hotels, the Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica has plenty of charm and plenty of surfing!
The east coast surf is mainly located around the town of Puerto Viejo. And although it doesn’t have the same reputation as the west coast party towns, it still knows how to have a good time. This is a surf-party town, Caribbean style, full of excellent authentic restaurants, plenty of rustic surf bars, and a near-constant reggae soundtrack. It also has several excellent surf breaks, including one of Costa Rica’s most famous, Salsa Brava. Not for beginners, this is one of the heaviest barreling reef breaks in the world!
Vista Verde is a brightly colored spot filled with Caribbean character in the heart of Puerto Viejo. It sits on a quiet street, with lush hammock-strewn gardens and daily yoga classes. Guests will be surprised by how peaceful and removed it feels from the center of town. Accommodation is in private rooms with shared bathrooms, and there is a communal kitchen enabling you to cater for yourself.
The famed Salsa Brava and the more mellow Playa Negra are within 1km, and a Jaguar Sanctuary is nearby for those who can tear themselves away from the waves.
Address: 40 meters south of Elena Brown restaurant, 20101 Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Best For: a quiet spot close to the surf and the bars.
Caribe Town – Playa Cocles, Caribbean Coast
The laid-back surf village, Cocles, sits just south of lively Puerto Viejo. With a cluster of surf bars, shops, and restaurants, you’ll find everything you need here and an authentic Caribbean mentality to go with it.
There are waves at Playa Cocles for all abilities, although beginners should stay far away from the Salsa Brava break unless watching one of the major surf competitions happening there.
150m from the beach amidst the trees sits Caribe Town, a three-star lodge offering rustic suites and bungalows with private terraces and access to a shared, open kitchen. There are comfortable communal areas, a lovely swimming pool with a swim-up bar, and a spa. Cocles town is an easy walk away, and a night out in Puerto Viejo is only a 10-minute drive.
Address: Playa Cocles, 3km south of Puerto Viejo, 70304 Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Best For: laid-back beach living as close to the surf as you could wish.