Costa Rica is an absolutely incredible destination for a surf trip. There is warm water, swells year round, and such a wide range of surf that there is something for every surfer. If you’re in the process of planning a Costa Rican surf trip, you might be wondering what your options are for surfboards. Generally, your options are going to be:
- Renting a surfboard in Costa Rica
- Buying a used or new surfboard in Costa Rica
- Bringing your surfboard with you from home
The first time I went to Costa Rica for a 4 month long surfing and backpacking trip, I went back and forth on whether or not I should bring my surfboard. I ultimately did decide to bring my surfboard with me, and it was the perfect decision at the time. 2 years and 3 trips to Costa Rica later, and I’ve learned a lot more on rental options, used surfboard market, and where to buy new surfboards in Costa Rica, and I’m going to share everything I know in this post with you, so you can choose the option that works best for you.
** This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Meaning, at no extra cost to you, I earn a small commission anytime you purchase any of the linked products. Thanks for your support of Gathering Waves!
Costa Rica surfboard rental market
For a lot of surfers, the easiest option for their surf trip is going to be to rent a surfboard in Costa Rica. Generally, it’s pretty easy to rent a surfboard in Costa Rica, and it’s a good option for beginners, especially, because you might not know what type of surfboard is best for you.
To rent a surfboard in Costa Rica, you’ll simply want to check out your local surf shop, or if you’re staying at a surf hotel, they should have some boards available for you. Even if you’re not staying in a surf hotel or surf hostel, the reception at your hotel/hostel will know exactly where you should go to rent surfboards.
Cost of surfboard rentals in Costa Rica
Surfboard rentals in Costa Rica can cost anywhere from $10 -$30 per day. $10 is on the pretty low end though, I’d expect to pay usually around $15/day. If you’re looking for premium surfboard rentals, like performance shortboards and nicer longboards, you’re going to be paying on the higher end of the spectrum. If you’re staying for a full week in a place, I recommend trying to work something out with the surf shop where you keep the board for a full week, and get a slightly discounted weekly rate. A lot of surf shops already have deals like this, but if they don’t have one posted, it doesn’t hurt to at least politely ask.
The quality of Costa Rica surfboard rentals
The quality of surfboard rentals in Costa Rica varies a TON. A lot of shops only have super beat up 8 foot boards, and some shops have a wide variety of boards with everything from nicer performance shortboards to decent longboards. It’s pretty easy to find longboard rentals in Costa Rica, and it is not nearly as easy to find shortboard rentals, although they do exist.
If you’re a beginner surfer going to Costa Rica, I also recommend renting a surfboard, because most of the rental options in Costa Rica really cater to beginner surfers. Also, if you’re planning a surf trip to Costa Rica and are a beginner surfer, here are the best beginner surf spots in Costa Rica.
Pros of renting a surfboard
- You don’t have to lug a surfboard around from town to town
- You don’t have to risk flying your surfboard and having it get dinged or worse in transit
- If your airline has significant baggage fees for flying a surfboard, it might actually be cheaper to rent a surfboard than to fly one from home (if you’re only coming for a short trip)
- It’s pretty easy to rent a surfboard in Costa Rica
Cons of renting a surfboard
- Rental prices add up! If you come for a two week surf trip and pay $25/day on rentals, that’s $350 spent on a rental board! You can almost buy a surfboard with that much money.
- Limited options. If you have a really nice surfboard at home that you love, you might be pretty disappointed with the rental options available and find yourself missing your surfboard that you left behind.
- You’re tethered to rental shop hours. A lot of surf shops in Costa Rica don’t open until 8am or later, and if you need to grab a rental board, that means you can’t surf before they open. Granted, you can get around this by renting a surfboard for the whole duration of your trip and keeping it at your accommodations. But if it’s the first day of your trip, or you just traveled to a different surf spot, you have to work around the hours of the surf shop.
Buying surfboards in Costa Rica
If you’re coming to Costa Rica for a week-long surf trip, I don’t recommend going this route. However, if you’re planning a surf trip to Costa Rica for a month or longer, it might be worth it to buy a surfboard when you get here, and then either take it back home with you or sell it before you leave.
While I haven’t personally bought a surfboard in Costa Rica, Rowan has, and his entire family has, so I’m very well-versed with the process. And it’s easier than you may think!
Buying a used surfboard in Costa Rica
Buying a used surfboard in Costa Rica is a great strategy for anyone planning a longer surf trip. The best places to look for used surfboards for sale in Costa Rica are Facebook Marketplace and in local surf shops.
Facebook Marketplace is a fantastic resource for finding used surfboards in Costa Rica. Simply log into your Facebook account, go to marketplace, select your location and radius, and search for “surfboards”. Several options will come up, all ranging in price and quality. We’ve recently had a good experience buying a nice used surfboard this way.
Some surf shops also sell used surfboards. It’s not super common, so it’s best to check in with your hotel if any surf shops nearby sell used boards, or go out and explore.
Used surfboards are generally going to be cheaper than buying a brand new surfboard, so this is a great way to save some money.
Buying a new surfboard in Costa Rica
Another way to go is to buy a new surfboard in Costa Rica! It’s likely going to be a little more expensive, but it’s a really fun and exciting process.
If you’re planning on buying a new surfboard in Costa Rica, I recommend checking out either Cheboards in Tamarindo, or Carton in Jaco.
Cheboards makes mostly beautiful fishboards, mid-lengths, and longboards, although they usually have a few higher volume shortboards as well. Boards from here range anywhere from $1k-almost $2k, so they’re not cheap, but they’re really high quality and you’re essentially buying a piece of art when you buy a Cheboard from their shop in Tamarindo.
Carton is a local shaper based out of Jaco, and he makes a little bit of everything, although I see more of his shortboards around than longboards. You can pop into his shop and check out the inventory he has on hand, or reach out and have him custom shape a board for you. He custom shaped a surfboard for Rowan in 2020, it cost about $500 at the time and only took a few weeks. Rowan absolutely LOVED that board too.
Other options for buying new surfboards include simply checking out your local surf shops and seeing what they have in stock!
Bringing your own surfboard to Costa Rica
Finally, you can bring your own surfboard to Costa Rica. This is a great option if you have a board (or two) at home that you love, and the airline doesn’t charge an insane amount for you to fly your surfboard.
I’ve flown surfboards a few times to Costa Rica, and have luckily had good experiences each time. Flying Alaskan Airlines from California, I only have to pay $30 each way to check my board, which is a sweet deal. Be sure to double check with your airline before flying your surfboards to Costa Rica, so you know exactly how much they charge. Some of the airline fees for surfboards are utterly horrendous.
How to safely pack and transport your surfboard to Costa Rica
I’m sure you’ve seen and read about the horror stories of surfboards getting smashed by airlines. Luckily I haven’t had to experience this, but I also take extra care to really pad my surfboard before flying it. To keep my surfboard safe on the plane, I buy some pipe insulation for the rails, and line the whole exterior of my surfboard with that. I also buy a roll of bubble wrap, and bubble wrap the whole thing after covering the rails/nose/tail with bubble wrap. This method has worked for me so far! If you want to skip the plastic waste, I recommend investing in a nice surfboard coffin.
Transporting a surfboard around Costa Rica
Unless you’re renting a surfboard everywhere you go, or staying in one place, you’ll be faced with the issue of how to travel with your surfboard in Costa Rica. Two years ago, before my Costa Rica surf trip I was super concerned about how I was going to travel around Costa Rica by bus with my surfboard.
Luckily, it’s super easy to stow your surfboards under the bus in Costa Rica with the rest of the luggage, or simply buy a ticket for your surfboard (usually only costs a few bucks) and take it on the bus with you.
If you’re renting a car, you can just slip the boards in the car, or strap them to the roof if they won’t fit inside. I recommend bringing padded surfboard racks if you plan on strapping them to the roof, as a lot of rental cars don’t have roof racks.
If you’re taking shuttles and taxis, you can pretty easily either slip the boards inside or strap them to the roof. All the drivers here are super familiar with surfboards, and many of them even have their own straps to put the boards on the roof. I do recommend bringing at least simple straps for your surfboard just in case though.
In conclusion, there are several options when it comes to surfboards in Costa Rica. Renting a surfboard is a convenient option, especially for beginners who may not know what type of board they need. Just keep in mind that rental prices can add up quickly, and the options may be limited. Buying a surfboard in Costa Rica can be a good option for longer trips, but it’s important to do your research and make sure you’re getting a quality board at a fair price. Bringing your own surfboard from home is another great option, but it does come with the risk of damage during travel and additional baggage fees. Ultimately, the choice of what to do about surfboards in Costa Rica depends on your individual preferences and needs. Regardless of which option you choose, Costa Rica offers incredible waves and an unforgettable surfing experience. You’re going to have an amazing time!