Playa Hermosa Surf- The Ultimate Guide

Costa Rica has some of the best surfing in the world. With warm waters, friendly locals, and epic waves all year long, you can’t ask for much else. 

Playa Hermosa is one of the best surf breaks in Costa Rica. It’s a consistent, barreling wave, located on the lovely Pacific Coastline, about 15 minutes from the popular beach town Jaco.

Despite its proximity, the Playa Hermosa surf is nothing like Jaco’s. This beach is remote, beautiful, and the surf is truly world class. 

If you’re planning a surf trip to Costa Rica, and you’re an intermediate to advanced level surfer, you absolutely cannot miss out on the Playa Hermosa surf, and this Playa Hermosa Costa Rica surf guide is going to tell you everything you need to know.

p.s.: This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support of Gathering Waves!

How to get to Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa is located in the Central Pacific region of Costa Rica, 15 minutes south of Playa Jaco. 

There are a few different ways to get to Playa Hermosa:

Travel to Playa Hermosa from Liberia

  • By car: The easiest way to get to Playa Hermosa from Liberia is to drive a rental car. Google maps says this takes 3.5 hours, I’d budget at least 5 hours to make the drive. 

  • By shuttle: If you’re not keen on renting a car, you can also get to Playa Hermosa by booking a shuttle. There are plenty of shared shuttle options from Liberia to Jaco, but to get to Playa Hermosa you may have to book a private shuttle, or strike a deal with your driver to get you past Jaco into Playa Hermosa. You can also just take a taxi to Playa Hermosa once you arrive in Jaco. Travel by shuttle should also take about 5 hours. 

  • By bus: This is the cheapest and lengthiest way to get to Playa Hermosa from Liberia. You’ll have to take the bus from Liberia to Puntarenas which leaves every 3 hours, and takes 3 hours. Then, you’ll transfer from Puntarenas to Jaco. Then, you’ll have to grab  a taxi to get from Jaco to Playa Hermosa, which is about 8 miles away. You can double check bus routes here!

Travel to Playa Hermosa from San Jose:

If you’re planning a surf trip to Playa Hermosa, it’s way easier to get there by flying into San Jose! San Jose is a bigger airport than Liberia anyway, so it’s likely international flights will be cheaper anyway.

  • By car: This is the quickest way to get to Playa Hermosa. Google maps says it takes just under 2 hours to get from San Jose to Playa Hermosa. The roads are paved here, so that’s pretty accurate. Just factor in some extra time for traffic and food stops!

  • By shuttle: You can also book a shuttle from San Jose to Playa Hermosa if you don’t feel like driving or taking the bus! This should also take about 2 hours. 

  • By bus: Good news for budget surf travelers: It’s SUPER easy to get to Playa Hermosa from San Jose by bus! The bus from San Jose to Jaco leaves every 4 hours and is a 2 hour trip. Then, you’ll have to take a taxi from Jaco to Playa Hermosa. Double check bus routes here!

This is the Playa Hermosa Jaco Costa Rica

One of the biggest sources of confusion I’ve come across and experienced first hand, is how many different Playa Hermosas are in Costa Rica!

Playa Hermosa means beautiful beach in Spanish, so it’s no surprise there are so many different beautiful beaches with this name in Costa Rica.

To clear up some confusion, this post is about the Playa Hermosa adjacent to Jaco, located in Puntarenas. The other popular Playa Hermosas include:

  • Playa Hermosa Guanacaste
  • The Playa Hermosa near Santa Teresa
  • Playa Hermosa on the Osa Peninsula

Usually, when surfers are talking about surfing Playa Hermosa, they’re referring to this one, next to Jaco. 

Although the surf in Playa Hermosa next to Santa Teresa is also pretty dang good. 

Best Season to Surf Playa Hermosa

The best season to surf Playa Hermosa depends greatly on what you’re looking to get out of your Costa Rica surf trip, as well as your surfing level. 

Playa Hermosa Rainy Season Surf

If you’re a more experienced surfer, looking for bigger waves and fewer crowds, the best time to surf Playa Hermosa is during the rainy season. 

During the rainy season, swells are more consistent and the surf will be much bigger. This is a good time for intermediate-advanced level surfers to plan a trip.

Plus, prices will also be much lower at this time!

Playa Hermosa Dry Season Surf

If you’re a beginner-intermediate level surfer, the dry season is a better time to explore the Playa Hermosa surf. 

Waves are smaller during the dry season, and more friendly for surfers with less experience. 

With that said, Playa Hermosa is not a surf break for beginners. If you’re a beginner surfer in this area, consider surfing in Jaco instead!

The dry season is the high season for tourism in Costa Rica, and at this time there will be more crowds, and everything will be a little more expensive. 

Don’t that deter you though, I spent 4 months backpacking Costa Rica in the dry season and had a blast!

About the Playa Hermosa Surf Break

Playa Hermosa is a 4.3 mile (7km) beach on the Central Pacific coast of Costa Rica, right next to Jaco. 

This beach hosts some of the best surf in Costa Rica, with consistent barrels and clean rides. 

Playa Hermosa waves definitely have a lot of power, making this an intermediate+ level surf break.

The Different Playa Hermosa Surf Spots

Terrazas

Terrazas is perhaps the most popular of the different Playa Hermosa surf breaks. Located directly in front of Hotel Terazza del Pacifico, this rocky reef break produces a barreling right with the proper conditions.

Just South of Terrazas there is a barreling left that can be surfed as well.

This break is best surfed a couple of hours before high tide.

Backyards

This break works right in front of the Backyard Hotel. It’s one of the most consistent breaks on the beach, and is hollow and powerful. 

This surf spot breaks over shallow water and is known to be a board breaker, and only experienced surfers should paddle out here.

Almendros

El Almendro is Spanish for the almond tree, and this surf break in Playa Hermosa located right in front of a massive almond tree is aptly named! 

This wave works best when it’s head-high + and is best surfed from medium to high tide. 

Tulin Rivermouth

Tulin is the surf spot furthest south down the beach at Playa Hermosa, next to the rivermouth. 

With the right swell working and the cooperation of the sandbars, Tulin can get quite good, and is known to produce some awesome, barreling waves. 

However, due to its proximity to the river, crocodiles are a big hazard at this surf spot.

Unlike the other surf spots at Playa Hermosa, Tulin works best at low tide.

Hazards of Playa Hermosa Surfing

Rocks

This is a fairly rocky beach, and many of the different surf spots break right over a rocky reef. Don’t go out in surf above your skill-level, and be mindful when jumping or falling off of your board.

Heavy Waves

The various surf breaks in Playa Hermosa are heavy, and more suited for intermediate-advanced surfers. If you’re a beginner-intermediate level surfer, check out the surf in Nosara and Santa Teresa!

Crocs

Crocodiles do frequent the river and estuary in Playa Hermosa. Beware of murky water, and surfing near the rivermouth.

Stingrays

Stingrays like it here too. Remember the shuffle!

Best Tide to surf Playa Hermosa

Most of the breaks at Playa Hermosa are best surfed 1-2 hours before high tide, or from mid-high tide rising. 

The exception here is Tulin, which performs best at low tide. 

Where to stay for Playa Hermosa Surf

With a bigger budget:

If you’re looking for luxury on your Playa Hermosa surf trip, check out the Backyard Beachfront Hotel. It’s located right in front of the Backyards surf spot, has an awesome pool, and lovely views!

With a medium budget:

Hermosa Beach House is a beautiful oceanfront hotel that is just perfect to host your Playa Hermosa surf trip. 

On a backpacker’s budget:

This is the only hostel within walking distance of Playa Hermosa, and if you’re surfing on a budget, this is the place to stay!

Not only is the location amazing, but the owners are friendly and there is also a pool and AC. 

FAQ’s

How big are the waves in Hermosa Beach?

The answer to this question of course depends on the season, tide, and the swells.

Even if the waves aren’t much bigger than head high, it’s really the power that can make the waves at this beach dangerous.

If you want to know how big the waves are in real time, you can check the Playa Hermosa surf cam here, and see for yourself!

Is Playa Hermosa good for beginners?

No, the Playa Hermosa Costa Rica surf is not good for beginners. However, the surf in nearby Jaco is great for beginners, and Costa Rica has many other beaches that are excellent for beginners. 

Where to eat after Surfing Playa Hermosa

Cafe Bohío is the place to get coffee in Playa Hermosa. The interior is cute and newly renovated, and their coffee drinks are incredible. 

This popular restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a mix of local food with some Japanese and Aisan influence. 

Tips & Tricks for Playa Hermosa Surf

  • Get out early

If the tide allows for it, an early surf will give you some waves to yourself. It’ll also give you the chance to get some good waves before onshore winds pick up and create some chop.

  • Don’t leave anything on the beach, and don’t leave any valuables in your car

Costa Rica is a very safe country, but theft is still a big issue here. Keep your belongings safe by not leaving them on the beach or in your car. 

What to Bring

  • Your surfboard!

Be sure to bring your favorite surfboard on your hermosa beach surf trip. If you can’t fly a board to Costa Rica, then check out Carton’s surf shop in Jaco where shaper legend Carton has loads of different awesome boards available.

  • Tropical surf wax

Surf wax is fairly expensive in Costa Rica, so it’s definitely worth it to pack a few spare sticks in your carry-on, or throw it in your board bag.

  • Spare Leash

Leashes are SUPER expensive in Costa Rica. When my leash snapped I ended up having to buy a replacement for $55 for a leash that would’ve cost me $20 in California. Trust me on this one, pack an extra leash.

  • Surf suit or board shorts

The water is super warm in Costa Rica so you really can just rock your trunks, bikini, one piece, or whatever floats your boat. 

Playa Hermosa Surf Guide: Final Thoughts

That’s a wrap on this Playa Hermosa surf guide! The surf in Playa Hermosa is some of the best in Costa Rica, right up there with Pavones and Playa Negra

This is definitely a beach for intermediate-advanced surfers, and if you fall into that category then you’ll probably be totally stoked from the awesome waves of Playa Hermosa.