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Central Pacific surf spots and breaks

Central Pacific surf spots and breaks

Ride a half-mile long wave on Boca Barranca, learn the breaks in Jaco or enjoy a tube ride on the hollow beach and point breaks at Playa Hermosa along Costa Rica's central Pacific coastline extending from Puntarenas south to Manuel Antonio and Playa El Rey.

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Boca Barranca

The long, left point break at Boca Barranca can swell for more than a half-mile during optimal conditions making it the second longest wave in Costa Rica. Longboards are recommended to ride the wave while shortboards are best for catching the lip. You'll find the best surf at low tide on a southern swell, especially in the morning when the water is as smooth as glass. Boca Barranca's north of Caldera port; just follow signs south out of Puntarenas.


Puerto Caldera is known for its challenging A-frame right wedge though left wedges are also common. This spot has been compared to Florida’s Sebastian Inlet. The surf is best at high tide and a swell is necessary before the waves start rolling in. Located just one hour west of San Jose, Caldera is just a few miles south of Puntarenas.

Playa Tivives and Valor

Playa Tivives pours on the right and left beach breaks while across the river at Playa Valor you'll find the river mouth creates a rocky break and barrel waves ideal for advanced surfers. Surfing conditions are best during midtide. Drive south from Caldera and follow signs to Playa Tivives.

Playa Escondida

The waves at Playa Escondida barrel into a perfect tube break; strong rights and lefts are also common. The surf is best at mid or high tide and not recommended at low tide. Because the beach is known for its perfect waves, it is often packed full of boarders excited to catch a killer wave. You'll find it just north of Jaco accessed through a private beach club.


This popular town is one of the nation’s hottest surf destinations: excellent food and lodging options make it a convenient base for explorations to nearby beaches while its beaches are fit for beginners and experts alike. Jaco Beach's south-end has relatively consistent small right and left breaks ideal for beginner surfers or those looking to warm up for bigger swells, which you'll find on the beach's north-end. The surf is good except during low tide. Only an hour and a half from San Jose via Route 27, the beach town is accessible by car, public bus or private shuttle.

Roca Loca

Spanish for Crazy Rock, this rocky, right break is full of churning surf and huge waves. Due to potentially dangerous conditions, the Rock is only recommended for advanced surfers. Surfing conditions are best during low tide. The first time out to Roca Loca, be sure to surf with seasoned boarders who understand how to navigate the reef. Drive one mile south of Jaco; Roca Loca is located before Playa Hermosa.

Playa Hermosa- Puntarenas

Famous for consistent waves and surf that breaks away from shore, Playa Hermosa is an excellent choice for seasoned surfers. Barrel waves are common. The breaks at Cabinas, The Gate, The Tree, and the Tulin river mouth are powerful and popular. You'll experience the best conditions are during mid and high tide. Playa Hermosa was the site for the 2009 ISA World Surfing Competition, and was also chosen for the 2011 ISA championship. Head south of Jaco, following signs to Playa Hermosa.

Esterillos East and West

Both beaches offer surf conditions similar to those in Jaco, with left and right beach breaks that peak well. The best surf is at midtide, although low tide can be ideal for beginners. From Jaco drive seven miles south, following signs to Esterillos Este or Esterillos Oeste.


The best surf spots are visible from the road – a long left switches to break right, creating an exhilarating challenge for any boarder. Since the surf is sheltered, there needs to be a decent swell before the waves gather significant steam, but when the surf is good, it’s some of the best along the central Pacific. Quepos is easily reached via car, public bus, private shuttle or plane. From San Jose, take Route 27 to Orotina and follow signs to Jaco and Manuel Antonio.

Manuel Antonio

The gentle beach breaks at Manuel Antonio's Espadilla Beach are best suited for beginner and moderate surfers. However, with a good swell, waves can reach heights challenging for more advanced surfers. Intermediate and expert surfers will want to head down to the north-end of Espadilla Beach known as Playa Playitas, there you'll find a serious right point break that's nice and slow when the tide is high. Manuel Antonio is home to many hotels, restaurants and other amenities, making this an excellent base for exploring nearby surfing hotspots. It is easily reached via car, public bus, private shuttle or plane. From San Jose, take Route 27 to Orotina and follow signs to Jaco and Manuel Antonio. Drive 10 minutes past Quepos, down the hill into Manuel Antonio.

Boca Damas

Spanish for Ladies’ Mouth, this river mouth convergence with the Pacific creates exciting left and rights suitable for beginners and advanced boarders alike. The conditions are best at midtide. Boca Damas sits just north and within walking distance of Quepos.

Playa El Rey

This secluded beach receives few visitors, making it an excellent choice for boarders in search of private waves. Beach breaks are similar to conditions in Jaco with left and right peaks suitable for beginner through advanced surfers. The surf is ideal at mid-tide. From Quepos, drive 15 miles south toward Dominical. At Roncador, turn right and drive six miles to Playa El Rey.

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