Tamarindo Surfing Guide

Tamarindo is one of the premier surfing destinations in Costa Rica

Seriously, whenever you think of a Costa Rican surf trip, Tamarindo surfing is usually at the top of the list.

If you’re looking to score fun waves, and have a genuinely good time, you should pack your bags and send it to Tamarindo for a Costa Rican surf trip.

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An Overview of Tamarindo Surfing

Tamarindo, Costa Rica is a long, sandy stretch of beach located on the Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica. It’s probably the most developed beach town on the peninsula, which has its pros and cons. 

Pros: It’s easy to get to from the airport, unlike more remote breaks on the peninsula like Nosara and Santa Teresa. It also has plenty of accommodation options, and surf spots are easily accessible.

Cons: It can get fairly crowded, and lacks the “isolation factor” of a surf trip.

Despite the cons, I think Tamarindo is extremely fun, and you really can get some awesome, tropical waves there. 

How to get to Tamarindo

Tamarindo is located only 47 km from the Liberia International Airport, and it is quite easy to get to, especially compared to other surf destinations in Costa Rica.

Public Bus: This is the cheapest option to get to Tamarindo. Public busses depart from the Liberia Bus Station to Tamarindo once every hour or so. They are direct, and only cost about 3000 colones ($5USD). The bus from Liberia to Tamarindo takes about 2 hours.

Shared Shuttle: Shared shuttle companies like Tropical Tour Shuttles will take you from the Liberia Airport to Tamarindo. They cost around $30(USD)  pp, take 2 hours, and are a more comfortable option than the public bus.

Taxi: A taxi ride from Liberia to Tamarindo should cost anywhere from $80-$110 USD. This is a good option if you are splitting with a group of people and don’t want to rent a car. Remember, these prices are always negotiable. If a driver is quoting you something absurdly high, leave and find someone else to take you.

Rental Car: Renting a car in Costa Rica is a great way to see the country, especially if you have a large group. It also is the easiest way to manage traveling with your surfboards. Rental cars can cost anywhere from $300-$1000 USD per week, depending on the season, type of car, and whether you are getting ripped off by the company. Rent from a reputable company like Alamo to avoid getting ripped off on your Tamarindo surfing trip.  

Best Time of Year to Surf Tamarindo

The best time of year to surf Tamarindo is dependent on what you’re looking for. For beginners wanting a mellow, fun surf experience, December- early May (Dry Season) is the perfect time. 

In truth, the dry season is a fun time for any surfer to visit Tamarindo. The swells are just smaller, but nevertheless fun.

If you’re looking to surf some bigger swells, surf Tamarindo in the rainy season (late May through November). 

The Wave(s)

In Tamarindo itself, there are two main surf spots, the Beachbreak, and the Rivermouth.

The Beachbreak: The Beachbreak is located right in the center of Tamarindo. It’s directly in front of the Tamarindo parking lot, and witch’s rock surf camp. This has a sandy bottom, and a few scattered peaks. It does tend to close out, so ideal surf size here is less than head high. It is a fun wave, and great for beginners and longboarders!

The Rivermouth: The rivermouth is located 100m from the beachbreak, and you know you’re there when you see the….rivermouth. This break is an absolute blast. Plenty of peeling lefts and rights, and without the crowds from the surf schools. This is primarily a longboarding break, but you can certainly have fun on a shortboard, I know I have!

Hazards of Tamarindo Surfing

Crocs: Crocodiles are probably the main hazard of Tamarindo surfing. Take care not to wade or paddle across the rivermouth, as that is their habitat. Little panga boats can take you safely across for 500 colones ($1USD) so it’s not worth the risk.

Generally, crocs aren’t a huge risk here but they have been sighted, so if you see a weird shaped log floating near you…. Take the first wave outta there!

Crowds: Tamarindo is a fairly crowded break, and full of beginners from the surf schools. Take care not to cut anyone off, and watch out for stray boards!

Theft: Theft is unfortunately a huge problem in Tamarindo. Don’t leave anything important on the beach, or in your car. There are parking attendants watching over the lot, and you should tip them- they’ll watch to make sure your car is safe!

Surf Breaks near Tamarindo

While Tamarindo itself hosts some awesome surf, one of the biggest upsides of basing yourself in Tamarindo for a surf trip is its central location to other amazing surf breaks. Some of the best surf breaks just a short drive from Tamarindo include:

  1. Playa Negra. This is wave was made famous by Endless Summer 2, and is a consistent, right hand, barreling reef break. Check out the ultimate guide to surfing Playa Negra.
  2. Playa Grande. This wave is a large beach break just North of Tamarindo, and it barrels at lower tides. It’s a more advanced wave than Playa Tamarindo, and definitely worth checking out if Tamarindo is closing out, or not quite doing it for you.
  3. Playa Avellanas, aka “Little Hawaii”. This is perhaps one of the best long boarding beaches in all of Costa Rica, and with a solid swell an amazing surf beach for short boarders as well.