Central Nicoya Peninsula Surf Guide

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intro The Nicoya Peninsula is the largest peninsula of Costa Rica on the Pacific Coast. It has two main provinces; Guanacaste and Puntarenas in the north and south respectively. Blessed with a sweeping range of white sand beaches, clusters of verdurous jungles teeming with diverse wildlife, imposing hills clad in green, scenic greenery and a laid back touristy vibe, the peninsula has become a major tourist attraction. It provides many platforms and opportunities to sports enthusiasts and nature lovers. Whether it is riding the waves, sailing the ocean, watching the whales, horseback riding, hiking the forested trails or zip lining, the Nicoya Peninsula promises a supreme tropical experience to all sorts of vacationers.


The Central Nicoya Peninsula consists of beaches like Playa Samara, Playa Carillo, Playa Camaronal, Playa San Miguel, Playa Coyote and several more which are quite famous among surfers and non surfers alike. Besides surfing the waves, travelers can check out the nature reserves and wildlife refuges in the area such as Diria National Park, Cabo Blanco Absolute Nature Reserve and Curu Wildlife Refuge. The beach towns of Central Nicoya Peninsula are rather small and it is really easy to explore them on foot. There are a various accommodations, bars, cafes, restaurants and other necessary facilities. Travelers do not have to worry about the costs. There are cheap yet comfortable lodging options for budget oriented people while for those seeking a deluxe getaway, there are lavish resorts, hotels and villas. The atmosphere is extremely friendly and people will find many cordial tour guides. There are great inexpensive platforms for activities such as horseback riding, surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, turtle tours and sportfishing.

Surf Spots

Playa Samara

surf Samara is located south to Nicoya Peninsula and west to San Jose. It is one of the leading sportfishing platforms in the peninsula. Even though it is not a major surf town, it does have some good surf breaks. Ideal for long boarders, beginners and kids, Playa Samara has a beach break which remains consistent throughout the year. It features sloppy waves with ordinary power that break gradually to both directions over a sandy bottom. The length of waves is average usually reaching up to 150 meters. Best swell direction is from the north and northwest. The swells are known close out before reaching the coast. The surf is best ridden at an upcoming high tide. Furthermore, there are some outside reefs far out in the ocean nearby an isle called, Isla Chora. Although fun to ride, they are difficult to access. Playa Samara has no rips, undertows and current making it really safe and idyllic for children and novices. The beach remains deserted most of the times.

Playa Carillo

Playa Carrillo is a splendid beach on the southern side of Playa Samara. The beach, which lacks any direct development, is embellished with dancing palm trees, sparkling white sand and shimmering shorelines housing a handful of restaurants and accommodations. Cariillo has become a well liked holiday point, particularly among surfers and young backpackers. It gives excellent opportunities to try out snorkeling, sport fishing, swimming and surfing. Talking of surfing, Playa Carillo has an inconsistent surf break that remains flat most of the times. The coast is protected from the swells causing the waves to go flat. When swells rise from the North and Northwest direction, the spot is good to ride. The months from December to March provide good surfing conditions. The break is suitable for all surfers.

Playa Camaronal

Playa Camaronal is a deserted beach located south of Playa Carillo. Camaronal is granted with world class waves that are known to remain all year round. Other than surfing, the beach is a noted nesting site for Olive Ridley Sea Turtles. To reach Playa Camaronal, take the road from Playa Carillo and head right up to Punta Islita after about 5 miles. During the rainy season, it is extremely hard to access the beach as the roads get blocked. You can also get to the beach via a 20 minute long boat ride from Samara. Playa Camaronal boasts some of the biggest waves in the Nicoya Peninsula. It has beach breaks and rivermouths that peel to the left and right over a sandy bottom. The wavers are fast, stong and hollow riding up to 150 to 300 meters. To work and avoid going flat, the waves need to receive good swells from South and Southwest direction. The swells can hold up to 15 feet. Best time to surf is at mid to high tide especially between the months of December and March. Due to strong currents and undertows, only advanced surfers are advised to ride.

Punta Islita

South of Playa Camaronal, a small beach called Punta Islita is found. It has rather short waves break onto a coastal inlet. The surf spot is very easy to access. The waves are fun and gentle perfect for beginners to ride.

Playa San Miguel

To surf in seclusion and peace, Playa San Miguel is a great beach. It has a beach break with fun waves that break to left and right. The best time to surf is at a low, upcoming tide.

Playa Coyote

Playa Coyote is a deserted horse-shoe shaped beach situated which is largely undeveloped. The remarkable beach is sandwiched between Playa Manzanillo and Playa Samara. Brimming with natural beauty, lavish lodges and great amenities, Playa Coyote has become a secret celebrity getaway. The eminent beach is acclaimed for its surf points as well. It has a number reef and beach breaks. The beach break is consistent with powerful waves that break right and left over a sandy bottom. Groundswells are common an best swell direction is from the northwest and north. Due to the presence of rip currents and rocks, the beach break is only suitable for advanced surfers. The spot is almost never crowded. The months from December to March offer the best condition for surfing.

Playa Caletas

Considered as one of the best surf points in the Nicoya Peninsula, Playa Caletas boasts a demanding reef break ideal for veteran surfers. The reef break goes to right and left finally breaking over a reef coral bottom.The waves are best to surf when the swells gather from Northwest, West, Southwest and South and the wind blows from Northeast. The swells begin to build up at 3 feet and can hold up to 8 feet. The spot is best ridden at mid to high tides. The waves usually ride up to 150 meters. Watch out for rips, undertows and currents.

Surf Camps

C & C Surf School

c & c C & C Surf School is based in Playa Samara. It is a full service surf camp that organize sport camps and tours to various places. They have classes for beginners, intermediates and advanced surfers. The classes are conducted on the beach by professional surf instructors who have years of experience in the field. Other adventurous trips are sea kayaking, snorkeling tours, boogie boarding, sailing, recreational fishing trips and much more. C & C Surf School was awarded Certificate of Excellence in 2013.

Choco’s Samara Beach Surf School

choco Choco’s Samara Beach is one of the leading surf schools in Samara. It is owned and run by professional longboarder, Alex Gomez, who is a lifelong surfer and wish to share his passion of wave riding with others. The school’s staff is ISA certified, trained in CPR and multilingual to avoid communication problems. The classes are divided into three groups; for novices, intermediates and veterans.

Popo’s Treehouse Expeditions and Surf Camp

Popo’s-Treehouse-Expeditions Popo’s Treehouse Expeditions and Surf Camp is an adventure company in Playa Carrillo. With Popo’s Treehouse, have a unique experience with your loved ones on a tropical wonderland. The camps arranges fantastic activities such as kayaking, surfing rafting, swimming, wildlife watching, bird watching, snorkeling, scuba diving and so much more. The accommodations they are provide are reasonably priced and comfortably decorated. Popo’s also offers delicious meals, transport service, access to surf gear and snorkeling equipment.

Other Activities

A Trip to Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve

cabo blanco Cabo Blanco Absolute Natural Reserve is a prominent national park of Costa Rica in the Nicoya Peninsula. The picturesque nature reserve is adorned with tropical forests, cascading waterfalls, rivers and sunkissed beaches. December and April are the best ime to visit. The park is open from Wednesday to Sunday and its timings are 8 AM to 4 PM. On your trip, The White Cape is a must see. It is a huge gathering of rocks which shelters hundreds of birds. Nature enthusiasts and bird lovers will be delighted to find many unique birds like white throat magpie jays, parrots, ringed kingfisher, scarlet macaws, crested caracara, white bellied chachalaca, and turquoise-browed motmots. By the shorelines and in the ocean, a plethora of marine creatures and waterfowls are found. Everywhere you look, you will see sublime landscapes. Popular activities are hiking, swimming, snorkeling, surfing, bird watching and horseback riding.

Horseback Riding Tours

horsebackriding Horseback riding, also referred to as Equestrianism, is one of the most famous activities in Costa Rica. In the Central Nicoya Peninsula, Samara, Playa Coyote and Playa Carillo are well liked horseback riding beaches. Get up on a horse and enjoy a thrilling ride across the sandy beaches, jungle trails, mountainous roads and streams. Horseback riding allows you to easily witness scenery, wildlife and beautiful areas of the towns up close. Also, you don’t need to have a previous experience to ride the horse. Simply contact any horseback riding tour operator in the area and be ready to go on an exciting venture.


sportfishing manuel antonio Played for pleasure and fun, sportfishing is popular in the Nicoya Peninsula. Grab your gear, get on the boat and be ready to tackle some game fish. The crystal clear water of Samara is a sanctuary for sport-fishermen. Teeming with a variety of blue water game fish and other marine creatures, recreational fishing, swimming, whale and dolphin watching and sunset sailing are super fun. Game fish species like yellow fin tuna, black fin tuna, blue and black marlin, sailfish, grouper, snapper, roosterfish, snook, dorado, wahoo and swordfish are readily found.

For more information on Central Nicoya Peninsula, please visit:

Nicoya Beaches of Costa Rica – Lots more information on the beaches of Nicoya Peninsula on costaricajourneys.com
Central Nicoya Peninsula Surf Guide – Learn more about Central Nicoya Peninsula on costaricasurfing.org
Nicoya Peninsula Travel Guide – A complete travel guide on wikitravel.org

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