Where to Surf in Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Tamarindo is famous for its’ surfing and you won’t be disappointed. There is a reason that Tamarindo was one of the favorite locations in the famous Endless Summer II movie. There are 6 major locations on Tamarindo beach to surf.
One note, Tamarindo has very extreme tides, so once a day the water will be 50+ feet further up the beach and once a day the beach will get huge as the water retreats. We’ll mention WHEN it’s best to surf at these locations also. If you want a tide chart for Tamarindo, head to the home page of this website and you’ll see on on the left side.
Looking at the water, we’re going Left to Right (South to North):
Capitan Suisso – There is a fantastic break down by the Capitan Suisso hotel. A perfect beginner break on most days, but it can turn into some world class surfing if the swell comes in right. Look for a small concrete wall that you can sit on, and a tree hanging out into the beach from the shore. Best at High Tide.
The Diria Hotel – There is a whole selection of varying waves available right outside the Diria Hotel. Stay up front for some super kid friendly waves. Head out to the middle set for a great beginner/intermediate ride. If the swell is helping, head out to the third set for some 4-6 footers. Caution, it can be rocky outside the Diria. Try to stay in between the Palapa that welcomes you to the Diria and the south edge of their restaurant. That’s the best place to be. Must be High Tide.
Pico Grande – If you’re looking at the water from the Diria, look to the rock outcropping to the right. If it’s high tide, the rocks will be a ways out, at low tide, you can walk to them. This is a fantastic break in Tamarindo. One of the most advanced breaks on Playa Tamarindo. The waves can get very large on good swell days. Generates short, but very fun rides. With the right swell, you can catch a ride all the way from Pico Grande to Pico Pequeno using the whitewater in between the breaks. Head out toward the rocks and wait. Be SUPER careful, it is rocky and shallow, never dive in the water here. High Tide Required.
Pico Pequeno – Located just inside of Pico Grande to the right of the Diria break if you’re looking from the beach. With a good swell, expect head high waves and on a typical day waist to shoulder waves. Generates both a right and a left break. Super fun, medium long rides. Mid/High to High Tide required.
Witch’s Rock Surf Camp – The entire beach in front of Witch’s Rock is packed with waves for all levels and abilities. This is where most surf competitions in Tamarindo are staged. Watch the ocean for a few minutes and you’ll find a wave to meet your needs. Barrels are not uncommon at lower tides if the winds are right (Off Shore Winds). Mid to High Tide best for this break.
The River Mouth – This is the other advanced break in Tamarindo. Walk all the way up to the river and head out at the mouth for some great waves. We’ve never seen it personally, but we have heard stories of surfers getting attacked by hungry crocs in the river on occasion, so we do not suggest swimming IN the river. Not overly powerful waves, but a great fun wave. Mostly rights, but there can be fun lefts into Casitas as well. Barrels can form at low tide with off shore winds. Almost any tide is decent for this area, but mid/high tide is best.
More Locations – You can also find amazing surfing to the South (Langosta) and to the North (Playa Grande) – check with a local surf shop in town for advice on the best breaks for your needs.
Surf Instructors – It’s very simple to find a surf instructor in Tamarindo, they are everywhere. If you want an individual person for 2-4 people, we can’t say enough great things about Kurt Szuba. He’s great with kids and adults alike and is a wonderful human being. You can contact Kurt via his website.
We also highly recommend contacting Elias Tobia, the director of SALT Surf As Life Therapy. Elias is a wonderful man and passionate about sharing surfing with his students. Great with kids and adults alike, Elias is a top notch instructor. You can find out more on his Facebook Page.
If you want more of a “Surf Camp” experience, it is worth exploring Witch’s Rock Surf Camp on the north end of the beach. They provide the classic Surf Camp experience. The instructors can be a bit of a mixed bag (some great, some not as much) and their classes and lessons can get rather large at times, so if you’re looking for a personalized and dedicated experience, I would suggest the instructors we listed above over Witch’s, but for a fun adventure, Witch’s is a great option. They also offer a huge variety of “out of Tamarindo” trips.
In addition to the options we’ve listed above, there are a number of fantastic surf shops in town all with top level instructors, rental boards and solid advice. As a rule of thumb, we would suggest any of the options we’ve listed above and would suggest skipping the instructors that are on the beach as they can be less reliable (not always of course) than instructors affiliated with a shop.