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Northwest Guanacaste

Guanacaste is home to the best waves in Costa Rica. Ollie’s Point and Witches Rock are considered to be the most amazing surf spots in the country, but they are also two of the most difficult to reach. Witches ranks as one of the best beach breaks in the world and Ollie’s one of the most entertaining points.

Potrero Grande (Ollie’s Point)

Potrero GrandeIncredible and famous right point at a river mouth with fast and semi-hollow waves. Best on low to mid tides, but that really depends on the sand situation. With enough sand it can stay good on higher tides.

Getting there
The only way to get to Potrero Grande is by boat, as there are no roads in the area. You can rent a boat from Playas del Coco or Playa Ocotal or take a guided trip. Trips typically start at about $200 for a boatload of surfers for a day, which is 8 hours. Some trips include lunch, sodas and beer. Make sure you plan your boat trip in advance.

Playa Naranjo (Witches Rock)

Playa NaranjoPlaya Naranjo is a 2-3 mile stretch of beach with hollow beach breaks throughout. The experience of being there is nearly as amazing as the surf.
Witches rock is where an estuary meets the ocean creating sandbars. The fast hollow lefts and rights are perfected by offshores, which come from December to April and can get very strog.

Getting there
Witches Rock is in Santa Rosa National Park. It’s accessible only by 4x4, even during the dry season. It’s a difficult 12 km drive (once in the park) followed by 30-minute hike which may include a paddle across the estuary.
Another option is to take a 4x4 taxi from Liberia for around $40 each way.

Where to stay for Ollie’s Point and Witches Rock
You’ll find that there’s nothing once you get here, there are no facilities of any kind. You don’t “stay” at these beaches unless you camp. You can stay in Playas del Coco or Ocotal, or even Liberia and take a taxi to the surf.

Another place to stay is on a boat, the Giuseppina – a 48 foot yacht. It has 3 staterooms, a kitchen, bathroom and other amenities. They will go out for one day excursions, but it’s better to go at least for a one night stay right there at Witches Rock or Ollie’s Point.

Playa Grande

Playa GrandePlaya Grande is located north of Tamarindo. It’s in the same bay on the same stretch of beach but it’s better exposed to south swells. Considered as one of the best beach breaks in Costa Rica, it has some of the most consistent waves in the country and does get big and powerful.

Playa Grande is accessible from Tamarindo by either driving or taking a long paddle and hike. It is worth taking the time to go to this beach because it’s almost always bigger than Tamarindo and less crowded.

Where to Stay for Playa Grande
There are now many options at Playa Grande. The oldest and best known hotel in the area is Hotel Las Tortugas, located right on the beach. It’s the closest hotel to the surf, however, the nice thing about Playa Grande is that you can walk to the surf from any of the area’s hotels.

Tamarindo

TamarindoTamarindo is a great way to start your surf trip in Costa Rica – it’s easy, especially for beginners and families. There’s a variety of breaks within walking distance, so you don’t even need a car. You’ll find many surf shops carrying a great selection of rental boards, so you don’t even need to bring a board.

Tamarindo is a very touristy destination and a growing one as well. For the most part the growth has been managed well by local business people and residents. It’s big enough to have medical care facilities, Internet cafés, restaurants, resorts and much more.

Getting there
Going from San José to Tamarindo is an easy drive. Take the Interamerican Highway north until the Tepisque Bridge. After crossing the bridge, follow the signs to Santa Cruz. Continue north from Santa Cruz to Belén and make a left.
There’s also an airstrip two miles outside of town with daily services to and from San José (45-minute flight) by SANSA and Travelair, and even direct flights on Delta.

Tamarindo Rivermouth (El Estero)

El Estero is the first break as you get into town, accessible from anywhere in Tamarindo. Great on upcoming medium tide and a strong northwest swell. Given its proximity to the hotels of Tamarindo, the rivermouth can get very crowded.
Tamarindo Beach Break

Typical beach break – great, convenient and often crowded. The best waves are just north of Hotel Doly.

Pico Pequeño
Pico Pequeño is located right in front of the Hotel Tamarindo Diriá. Works best on mid-tide and it does need some swell. Low tides get too shallow, and it’s a lava rock bottom.

Isla Capitán
It’s a little deserted island out in Tamarindo with perfect offshore reef barrels. Breaks are best at higher tides; however, when lower tides come you can surf smaller waves wrapping around the island and breaking over little reefs into each other.

Where to stay around Tamarindo
There are a number of great places for surfers to stay comfortably or economically in Tamarindo.

The Witches Rock Surf Camp (although is not really a ‘camp’) is a great choice for Tamarindo, probably the best for most surfers.

The Tamarindo Vista Villas is the best known hotel for surfers in this area. You’ll find it on your left as you come into town, next to El Milagro. Vista Villas combines great location, ambiance, cleanliness, amenities and the best views of the surf.

If looking for a more romantic option (as well as a more expensive one), El Jardin del Edén is the perfect option for you. Some rooms have great views of the surf from fancy hillside rooms. They also offer good deals for kids and cash discounts.

The popularity of Tamarindo a tourist destination has grown to the point where there are now condominiums and vacation homes for rent. Renting a condo is a great option to a touristy hotel.
Our featured hotels in Tamarindo are the following:

  • Capitán Suizo Lodge
  • Jardín del Edén Hotel
  • Tamarindo Diriá Hotel
  • Tamarindo Vista Villas

Playa Avellanas

Playa AvellanasGreat beach break about a half-hour drive south of Tamarindo. Playa Avellanas is a big beach with lots of breaks, so it’s easy to avoid crowds. Everything breaks best at mis-tide.

One nice thing about Avellanas is the little café setup at the parking lot. It’s a great place to hang out and eat.
Where to Stay for Playa Avellanes

Cabinas Las Olas is a great option – right price, nice people and great eats. You can camp right on the beach next to the main parking lot. Another favorite is the Iguanazul Hotel, even though is bit far.

You can also camp at Cabinas Iguana Verde, right on the beach. Food, shelter and surf are only steps away.

Playa Negra

Playa Negra is one of the best and most consistent breaks in the country. About 5km south of Avellanes, Negra is almost always crowded, although it has difficult access, especially when the roads are muddy, as is this whole area.

This is not a good spot for beginners. Waves come in and lift up on the reef fast, so getting pitched is part of most surf sessions at Negra, even for the experienced.

A bit to the south there’s another break called Callejones. It’s a good option when Playa Negra gets too crowded. There’s also Junquillal, which breaks best at higher tides, and many more breaks in the area that can provide you a quality surfing experience.

Getting there
You can stay in Tamarindo and drive in and out easily. During dry season, it will take you about 30 minutes, but in the wet season you might not be able to drive in at all. You can also take a ferry from Tamarindo.

Where to Stay for Playa Negra
Hotel Playa Negra is a cluster of cabins right in front of the break. It has a restaurant, pool, Jacuzzi, pool table, clean and comfortable room, and an amazing break right out front. The hotel’s restaurant is the hangout in between surf sessions.

There are many other surf camps in the area now, starting with Pablo Picasso ‘cabinas’. You’ll find a range of accommodations, from loft beds to cabins with private baths.

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