Stand Up Paddle Surfing
Somewhere between a canoe and surfboard, Stand Up Paddling (SUP) reigns in relaxation and excitement. Instead of the traditional hang-ten position, paddle surfers stand atop specialized SUP boards and ride the waves like a traditional long board or simply cruise along the water's surface using the long paddle to propel themselves through Costa Rica's oceans and lakes.read more close
The tradition of SUP can be traced back more than 7,000 BC, practiced by the Ancient Romans and Polynesians alike. But it wasn't until 2005 that SUP made a popular resurgence in the west.
Costa Rica has become a popular destination for SUP aficionados. The country’s warm waters (average 80 degrees) and variety lakes, rivers, beaches and oceans are ideal for both novice and advanced paddlers. The sport is recommended for children ages 10 and older and anyone who is comfortable in the water. Wet suits are not required, and in some of the more popular SUP destinations like Tamarindo, equipment is available for rent or purchase.
When the weather is cooperating, Jaco’s Playa Herradura offers the ideal setting for beginner SUP surfers: mild winds and miles of glassy ocean. Local outfitters provide equipment rental, private or group lessons and even an extreme seven-day SUP package that combines paddle lessons with day tours and oceanfront accommodations. South of Jaco in Manuel Antonio, SUP is quickly becoming a popular activity for independent stand up paddle surfers.
With its enclosed bay, Tamarindo is ideal for beginner SUP lessons, while adjacent Playa Avellanas offers SUP surfers a more challenging experience. Other popular SUP locales include Mal Pais, Nosara and Samara. Highlights of some SUP tours include snorkeling offshore reefs and spotting sea turtles, as well as beautiful sunsets during afternoon lessons. Local operators provide all the necessary equipment as well as group and private lessons from professional instructors, which usually start around $35-60 per person.
Learn the basics of SUP on picturesque Lake Arenal. A four-hour tour includes SUP instruction, a paddling guide, snack and round-trip transport. Explore the calm waters of the lake's west end, as the active Arenal Volcano smokes nearby.
Puerto Viejo is renowned for its reef break, Salsa Brava – a churning section of Caribbean Sea appropriate for beginner and expert surfers depending on the season and weather. Beginners will want to visit during the Caribbean's spurts of drier weather from March to April and September to October. Surf lodges and sporting outfitters rent out SUP boards, while experienced instructors provide lessons for both beginner and advanced paddle surfers.
Pavones is home to some of the best surfing in the country with one of the world's longest left breaks. With such epic waves, it's also the undisputed hotspot for intermediate SUP paddlers on the south Pacific coast.