Southern Nicoya Peninsula Surf Guide

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introThe Southern Nicoya Peninsula is in Puntarenas province presenting famous holiday points such as Santa Teresa, Mal Pais, Montezuma, Tambor, Manzanillo, Cobano and Paquera. The Nicoya Peninsula is the largest peninsula on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica . 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.


descriptionThe very first glimpse of Southern Nicoya Peninsula is usually from the ferry from Puntarenas. You will see a picturesque landscape boasting tall crags and sweeping hills bordered by white sand beaches jutting into the ocean and intensely green forests on the backdrop. Upon their arrival, most people go straight to the popular tourist oriented towns such as Montezuma, Mal Pais and Santa Teresa which are full of vigor and amazing opportunities. These towns are precious gems of Costa Rica offering clean ocean, pristine beaches, a base for sporty activities and a cordial environment. Along with awesome surf breaks and verdant jungles that teem with wildlife, rivers and waterfalls are just as renowned. In Montezuma, waterfall tours are an important part of the holiday. Due to its immense popularity, the roads and pathways of Southern Nicoya Peninsula have quite improved. You will find several paved roads that allow a smooth drive and quick access. Moreover, the coastal towns have all kinds of accommodations – from luxurious boutique hotels, resorts, charming villas to bed and breakfasts, cabinas, camps and hostels. Travelers will find various restaurants serving different cuisines and many facilities for convenience and comfort.

Surf Breaks in the Southern Nicoya Peninsula

Popular surf breaks in the Southern Nicoya Peninsula are described below:


    Breaks found in Montezuma region are:

    Playa Los Cedros

    Playa Los Cedros is a splendid beach located on the southern region of Montezuma, about halfway to Cabuya. Playa Los Cedros is highly noted for its left handed reef rocky point break which is only surfable at high tides. The waves are significantly short reaching up to 50 meters, rather smooth and consistent. To fully work, the break requires swells from North, Northwest, East and Northeast directions. The size of swells begins to build up at 1.5 meter. Despite being rocky, the break is quite suitable for novices and intermediate surfers. The rocks are completely exposed so it is easy to avoid them while surfing. Because of its small waves, the break is greatly disregarded by advanced surfers. Playa Los Cedros is hardly ever crowded and has become one of the best spots to surf among beginners. Other than surfing, the beach is great for picnics, horseback riding and sportfishing.

    Playa Grande

    Playa Grande is a spectacular beach found north of Montezuma featuring a consistent beach break. It is very deserted an people often face difficulty locating it. The surf break is idyllic for intermediate and advanced surfers who are looking for a fun yet somewhat demanding ride. The break works best with south and southwest swells during all tides. If you are lucky to come across it, be ready to experience a perfect day with your loved ones in Playa Grande.

    Isla de Cabuya

    Isla de Cabuya is a small cemetery island found on the southern end of Nicoya Peninsula. It features a heavy point beak which is rather unpopular due to its faraway location and inconsistency. To work, the break requires big swells from the south. At low tides, you cane easily walk out to the spot. Usually, you will have to rent a boat from Montezuma or Cabuya to reach the break.

    Playa Santa Teresa

    costa-rica-playa-santa-tereThe beautiful beach of Santa Teresa features three amazing breaks; La Lora Amarilla, Casa Cecilia and Suck Rock.

      Casa Cecilia

      Casa Cecilia is a break ideal for beginners and other surfers looking for an easy and entertaining ride. The break has consistent, gentle waves throughout the year. At low tides, the spot is superb for newbies while when the swells get large, the waves can be somewhat demanding and challenging. The waves break onto the rocks that end up creating right and left barrels.

      La Lora Amarilla

      La Lora Amarilla is found next to a bar of the same name. It is considered one of top surf breaks in the country. The break has hollow, A-shaped waves that peel to right and left at a low tide. During high tides and powerful currents, the wave generate a large wall of water that reach up to 150 meters! La Lora Amarilla has no rock formations and is blessed with consistent waves. It is suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers.

      Suck Rock

      Suck Rock is a highly popular break featuring large, steep and really fast waves that peel to the right. The waves are very long riding up to 20 feet at times! The waves are known to get double overhead before they close out. The swells get rather big at high tide which is the best time to surf.


    Located north of Santa Teresa, Playa Manzanillo, a spectacular white sand beach, is found. It has an offshore reef break which is very irregular. It breaks to both directions over a reef rocky bottom. The break has many rocks and rip currents so be careful. Manzanillo gets super crowded on weekends.

    Mal Pais

      In Mal Pais, following surf breaks are found:

      Playa El Carmen

      Playa El Carmen is a broad white sand beach sandwiched between Mal Pais and Santa Teresa. It is widely acknowledged for its superb beach break which remains consistent throughout the year. The beach break has several peaks that break with a short left and a long right. Nice swells are gathered from southern and northern hemispheres. The waves have ordinary power with few rip currents making it suitable for beginners.

      Mar Azul

      Mar Azul is an inconsistent reef break that go to the left, The break has many rock formations, multiple peaks and overhead swells. Mid to high tides are the best time for surfing. Only professional surfers are advised to surf here.

      Punta Barrigona

      Punta Barrigona is also a left handed reef break. It has a long left that turns into a huge hot dog wave. Nice and large swells rise from west and south. It is only suitable for experienced surfers.

      Sunset Reef

      Sunset Reef is a rocky reef break that breaks to the left creating large barrel waves. The waves are super fast initially which gradually turn into a large wall of surfable waves. Watch out for shallow reefs. Sunset Reef is perfect for veterans seeking a thrilling challenge.

      Los Suecos

      Los Suecos is reef point break in Mal Pais that break to the left. It features fast and hollow waves that are ridden best at a high tide with nice swells coming from the west and south.

    Surf Camps

      In the Southern Nicoya Peninsula, there are numerous surf camps and schools. Some of them are:

      Blue Surf Sanctuary

      Blue-Surf-Sanctuary-Costa-Rica Blue Surf Sanctuary is a luxury surf school and a bed and breakfast service situated in Playa Santa Teresa. Surfers who wish to have a lavish and peaceful vacation along with some wave riding will Blue Surf Sanctuary an ideal haven. The camp has a warm and family friendly atmosphere with a cordial staff. For those who are seeking privacy, the camp ensures the highest level pf privacy. Blue Surf Sanctuary presents several great packages that include accommodations, meals, transport service, surf classes and tours, yoga lessons and other adventurous trips.

      Vajra Sol Surf and Yoga Retreat

      vajrasolVajra Sol Surf and Yoga Retreat is a deluxe retreat located on the dazzling beach of Santa Teresa. The camp is a lavish platform for going on new ventures, trying out new things and indulging in luxury under the tropical skies. The retreat is famous among locals and foreigners alike. It has many branches in other countries as well such as America, Africa and Asia.Vajra Sol offers surf lessons conducted by professional surf teachers, yoga lessons in beachfront decks, lovely accommodations and many more amenities.

      Other well know surf camps include Zopilote Surf Camp, Jobbie’s Surf Retreat, Mal Pais Surf Camp, Shaka Beach Retreat Resort and Surf Camp, Anamaya Surf Camp and Yoga Resort, The Jungle House, Chica Surf Adventures, Costa Rica Surf and SUP, Costa Rica Surf and SUP, Peaks ‘n Swells Surf Camp Pacifica Xtreme Surf Camp and The Endless Summer Surf Camp.

    Surf Shops

    Below is a list of a few surf shops located in the Southern Nicoya Peninsula.

      360 Surf Shop

      360-Surf-Shop-1360 Surf Shop is located in Playa Santa Teresa. The shop is owned and operated by Julia Mueller-Schwenn since 2006. She is a professional surf instructor with years of experience in various countries including Hawaii, Indonesia and Costa Rica. After a whole decade of instructing and surfing, she made a decision to open her own surf school and shop in Costa Rica. In 2011, Ryan, a talented Floridan surfer, joined the company as well. The shop offers everything one needs on a surf trip along with other stuff. Their phone number is +506-2640-0369. For more information, visit their website.

      Al Chile Surf Shop

      Al-Chile-Surf-Shop-and-SchoolAl Chile Surf Shop is situated right in front of a hostel called Brunela in the northern end of Santa Teresa. The shop has a large inventory loaded with a good variety of surfboards and equipment. Be it a long or short board, boogie or SUP board, fun or high performance board, the shop has all kinds of boards in very reasonable prices. The staff is extremely helpful and cordial ensuring customer satisfaction. The shop has branded products such as Carton, Aloha and Honeycutt. Besides selling surfboards, they have a wide selection of surf accessories such as leashes, decks, wax, ding repair kits and clothing. Al Chile also provide personalized surfboard artwork by a Tico artist William Borges. If you have any queries, contact them at 506 2640 0959, email at and check out their website.

      Alex’s Surf Shop

      alexAlex’s Surf Shop is in Santa Teresa, located a few meters north of Frank’s Place. The shop is locally acclaimed among surfers and is known for its huge variety, low prices and excellent quality products. They have all the things you need to have on a surf trip such as leashes, rash guards, sandals, wax, bikinis and so on. Alex’s also arrange surf lessons and expeditions for those who wish to learn. They have their own taxi boat to take you to all the best surf spots. The shop opens at 8 in the morning till 7 PM all days a week. Visit the website to know more about Alex’s Surf Shop.

      Kina Surf Shop

      kina-surf-shop-costa-rica-logoKina Surf Shop has been around for five decades helping and guiding the surfers in every way they can. Whether you need to get your board fixed, want to a new one or wish to rent a board for few days, the folk at Kina will provide a superb customer service. Located in Santa Teresa, the shop has become widely known among surf enthusiasts for their hard work, amazing service and high end products in different variety. The shop has surfboard, surf clothes, rash guards, beach accessories and so much more. You can contact the shop by calling them on this number: 506 264 00627 or emailing them at For more information, check out their website and Facebook page.

      Nalu Surf Shop

      naluNalu Surf Shop is situated in Playa Carmen offering one of the biggest ranges of used boards in the town. Whle running a successful surf shop, they also conduct surf and stand up paddling classes on the beach. The popular products in their surf shop include short boards, long boards, fish board, performance board, soft tops, boogie board and skim boards.There is also a large variety of beach wear, sun glasses, hats, leashes, wax, surfboard bags, fins, ding repair kits and so on. For more information on Nalu Surf Shop, visit their website and Facebook Page. You can contact them by emailing them at or by calling 506 26400391.

    Other Activities

      A Trip to Curu Wildlife Reserve

      curu-wildlife-refugeCuru Wildlife Refuge is situated on the southern Pacific Coast of Nicoya Peninsula. The reserve is noted for its dense jungles, teeming wildlife, colorful flora and sparkling white sand beaches. It is sprawling over a span of 208 acres including terrestrial and aquatic areas. It has over 232 species of birds, numerous kinds of animals and plants. Some of its highlights include Curu River, a mangrove system and a unique fusion of dry and wet jungles. Popular activities are hiking, ATV tours, bird watching, canopy tours, eco tours, horseback riding on the beach, mangrove tours, snorkeling, scuba diving and boating ventures.

      Montezuma Waterfall

      montezuma-falls-31The spectacular waterfalls of Montezuma are its most renowned features. Reaching up to the height of 50 feet, Montezuma Waterfalls are Costa Rica’s most famous and beautiful waterfalls. The falls are actually separated into three different waterfalls stacked upon each other. You adventure begins from the first fall. To the reach the peak of the waterfall, you need to walk up the river for about 15 minutes. During your thrilling climb, you will come across some great underground caves to explore and swim-holes to plunge into. Montezuma Waterfalls tour is a must during your tropical vacation to the Southern Nicoya Peninsula. Be careful during the rainy season because there have been few cases of flash floods.

      Underwater Adventures in Mal Pais

      snorkellingMal Pais is on the top of the peninsula and is blessed with a plethora of underwater species. Mal Pais is a wonderful place for scuba diving, snorkeling and sportfishing. There are plenty of bounded coves, ledges and reef formations with sunlit, crystal clear water for snorkeling. Jump into the ocean and have a fine time admiring brilliant creatures like white tip reef sharks, nurse sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, tuna fish, jacks dolphins, barracudas, whales as well as smaller animals like sea horses, eels, star fishes and sea turtles. These aquatic adventures are best experienced from October or December, when schools of humpback whales and pilot whales migrate to the Pacific.

    For more information on Souhern Nicoya Peninsula, please visit:

    Nicoya Beaches of Costa Rica – Lots more information on the beaches of Nicoya Peninsula on
    Southern Nicoya Peninsula Surf Guide – Learn more about Southern Nicoya Peninsula on
    Nicoya Peninsula Travel Guide – A complete travel guide on

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