The two biggest sports in Costa Rica are soccer and surfing, in that order, but it’s pretty close. Surfers from all over the world travel to Costa Rica throughout the year in search of waves along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. The draw is obvious: ocean temperatures that feel like warm bathwater, offshore morning winds, safe travel options, friendly locals and, perhaps most importantly, excellent waves for surfing all day long.
Costa Rica Surf Spots:
Along each coastline are plenty of mellow places to learn how to surf, as well as spots where experienced surfers can chase large, powerful swells.The entire southern Pacific zone, including Dominical, is a hub of wave activity. Near our incredible Dominical rental villas, surf sessions can range from playful to off-the-charts amazing.
Swells at Dominical beach are largest from May through November, and the waves there can pack a serious punch. Recognized as the most consistent surf spot in the country, Dominical is a large, sand-bottom beach with a river mouth to the north and rock outcroppings to the south. There are full-time lifeguards in Dominical, a rarity for any Costa Rican beach. During the peak of the green season, a typical day in Dominical features a 5 a.m. sunrise, offshore wind throughout the morning and head-high surf, with bigger swells falling into the double-overhead range. After 10 a.m. the wind can become unpredictable. It’s never a bad idea to paddle out early, get some rest and then check the waves again in the afternoon.
Best Time of Year for Surf in Dominical:
From December through April, waves in Dominical typically run in the waist-to-head-high range. The beauty of the dry season is that it usually stays glassy all day, with very little wind, so the waves are playful and extremely inviting from sun up to sun down. On most days, Dominical is a shortboard spot due to the power of its waves. When the sets drop below head high and the tide pushes up, longboarders head out and catch 50-meter rides. Kids and beginners like to splash around near the shore where the whitewash is gentle and the lifeguards are within eye-shot.
There are a few surf shops along the main road in Dominical that sell and rent surfboards and bodyboards. They also have surf wax, leashes, trunks, rash guards and offer ding repair. Unless you purchase surf supplies in Jaco or are willing to drive 45 minutes east to San Isidro, this is pretty much it for surf gear.
Surf Lessons in Dominical, Costa Rica:
Whether your party is big or small, we can assist you in booking private and group surf lessons. Most surf instruction is done at Dominical or Dominicalito, a sheltered beach with smaller waves a few kilometers south of Dominical. Surf instructors are experienced local wave-riders with CPR certification. A standard lesson lasts two hours and for updated pricing check out our Tour Guide here. All lessons include a surfboard, leash, wax, rash guard, drinks, and fruit. Instructors teach new surfers how to paddle their boards, set up for waves and, ultimately, get on their feet. Lessons begin on land with basic instruction and then everyone heads out into the whitewash, to where it’s about 4 feet deep, and starts to surf. Mile-wide smiles and thunderous high-fives are always included in the price.
For those looking for a Southern Costa Rica surf adventure beyond Dominical, here are a few options to consider:
When the waves are pumping in Dominical, like at least 8 feet in height, Dominicalito is worth a check because it’s only a few minutes’ drive south. Dominicalito sits in a bay protected from swells and is typically about a third of the size as its big brother to the north. It’s also pretty rocky, so it’s best to go there on a medium tide going high.
Punta Dominical, a left-handed point-break a kilometer south of Dominicalito, only breaks on bigger south swells, like 6-foot plus. When it’s on, however, there are some really long rides on tap. Locals love to hit Punta Dominical on a medium tide going high, so it could be busier during those times. But the truth is, when it’s breaking, there really is no bad tide.
Between Dominicalito and Uvita is Playa Hermosa, not to be confused with Playa Hermosa near Jaco, one of the country’s top surf destinations. Our Playa Hermosa is a right-off-the-highway beach break that typically runs a little smaller than Dominical. This is a long, sandy beach with plenty of peaks and lifeguards on duty all day. If you want to surf alone or with a couple of friends, head to Playa Hermosa and pick your spot. The far north end of the beach, up in a cove, is also worth looking at. There are lefts and rights that break near the cove, and the scenery is spectacular.
Southern Costa Rica Surf Breaks:
The world-famous point-breaks of Pavones and Cabo Matapalo are each about a three-hour drive south from Dominical, although they require different driving routes. These are the places to go when swells get very large. Pavones is one of the longest lefts in the world. When it’s on, plenty of people are in town, but the upshot is you can easily snag the ride of your life. Cabo Matapalo is located on the north side of Golfo Dulce, across from Pavones, and features a trio of outstanding right-handed point-breaks. Cabo Matapalo is much less crowded than Pavones, but accommodations cost more and you pretty much have to bring all of your own supplies.
Now book your trip, buy some sunblock and get prepared to paddle out.
All surf lessons can be reserved with Stephen at [email protected].