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Caribbean Coast

This part of Costa Rica is a lot more Caribbean and less Latin American – humidity gets higher, pace gets slower and accommodations get simpler.

Here you will find true coral reefs and the biggest and best waves in Costa Rica. The best time to visit is during the winter, when the Pacific averages smaller waves.

Barra del Colorado / Tortuguero

Barra del Colorado has potential for good beach brakes and rivermouths. However, it has limited access (only boats and planes can get there), and can get pretty dangerous, as many sharks have been seen in the area.


Potrete is a small cove with good, hollow rights breaking on coral reefs. It’s easily reachable, but it’s usually crowded with eco-travelers and fishermen.

Playa Bonita and Roca Alta

Playa Bonita is located 4 km north of Puerto Limón. It’s a popular beach with good surf that can get big, but it’s inconsistent.
Roca Alta is the site of an excellent right that can get big and juicy.

Where to Stay for Potrete, Playa Bonita and Roca Alta
If you’re looking for comfort and proximity to surf, your best option will probably be Hotel Matama. Their price is reasonable and there’s A/C as well. Other hotels in the area are Hotel Cocori and Maribú Caribe Hotel.

Puerto Limón

Puerto Limón is a colorful Caribbean port town located about 160 km from San José. From Puerto Limón south is where most of the good Caribbean surf is.

Isla Uvita

Right off the coast of Puerto Limón is a small island with reef breaks that can get big. It’s a short ride from Limón. There are no accommodations on the island, but camping is allowed.

Where to Stay for Puerto Limón and Isla Uvita
Puerto Limón is not an upscale resort area - lots of cheap lodging here. Consider security parking if you’re planning to stay overnight at Puerto Limón, as crime is a problem here and car breaking seems to be some kind of local ‘hobby’. Hotel Acón and Hotel Park would be two good options for lodging.

Westfalia and Barco Quebrado

South of Puerto Limón there are miles of hollow beach breaks along the beach road. Here you’ll always get waves, but as it grows in size so go the rips and other currents.

There are also nice and uncrowded rivermouths nearby such as Río Banano. Near Boca del Banano is Barco Quebrado, a more invrowded beach break with waves when other spots in the area do not.

Cahuita (Black Beach)

This is a decent and uncrowded beach break with waves year-round, which can get very good. There’s an excellent break with a current near the entrance to the Cahuita Coral Reef National Park.
The road from Limón to Cahuita is nicely paved and the drive is about 45 km.

Where to Stay for Cahuita
One of the best places for surfers is the Hotel Jaguar. There’s a beach break right in front of the hotel and a reef break about 200 yards south. Another recommended hotel is the Atlántida Lodge.

Puerto Viejo (Salsa Brava)

Puerto Viejo is about 220 km from San José (a four-hour drive). Most surfers come here for the legendary Salsa Brava break – one serious surf break. It’s a big and thick wave that comes from deep water onto a shallow coral reef – probably the best and most powerful in Costa Rica.

Winter is best, December through March, and also most crowded, as Puerto Viejo is a popular tourist destination. June through August can get good too.

Playa Cocles

Playa Cocles is a decent beach break a few km south of Puerto Viejo. You can walk here from Puerto Viejo by a beach trail, but there are also nice places to stay right out front.

Where to Stay for Cocles
Some recommended hotels in the area are the following:

  • Cariblue Hotel
  • Villas del Caribe
  • Yare Hotel

Punta Uva and Manzanillo

Punta Uva is one of the most beautiful coves in the country. There are rights breaking off the reefs north of the point facing the cove. It’s a nice place to relax and surf. Seven km south of Punta Uva is Manzanillo – a fast and uncrowded break.

Where to Stay for Punta Uva and Manzanillo
There are few accommodations in this area. Some of the best lodging options are Hotel Suerre (Punta Uva) and Dolphin Tour Lodge in Manzanillo.

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