Travel to three of the best destinations in Costa Rica to ride the waves on this 6-day trip.  Start in Playa Santa Teresa, home to major surf competitions and some of the most consistent waves in the country. End the adventure in Playa Tamarindo for surf days that end with glorious Pacific Coast sunsets. You'll also have time to relax on the beach and get acquainted with the country's vast wildlife.

Highlights

  • Experience the history and culture of metropolitan San Josê
  • Catch a wave during private surf lessons at world-class surf spots
  • Relax on the pristine beaches of Costa Rica's Pacific Coast

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San José San Jose
Day 2 San Jose to Playa Tambor & Santa Teresa Santa Teresa
Day 3 Surfing Lesson at Playa Santa Teresa Santa Teresa
Day 4 Santa Teresa to Playa Tamarindo Tamarindo
Day 5 Private Surf Lesson at Playa Tamarindo Tamarindo
Day 6 Depart Costa Rica from Liberia  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in San José

Afternoon street scene in downtown San José
Afternoon street scene in downtown San José

Welcome to Costa Rica, the land of pura vida! After arriving at Juan Santamaria International Airport, in the capital of San José, a local representative will meet you and escort you to your hotel. The rest of the day you'll have free to explore the city at your leisure.

Perhaps take a stroll through Mercado Central (Central Market), with over 200 shops, food stalls, and sodas (traditional restaurants). Then visit the Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Church), whose interior combines Greek Orthodox, Neoclassical, and Baroque styles, and features wood carvings and stained-glass windows. There's also a pair of popular museums in San José. The Museo del Oro Precolumbino (Pre-Columbian Gold Museum), holds a large collection of Pre-Columbian gold artifacts, and the Museo del Jade (Jade Museum) features the world's largest collection of pre-Columbian jade artifacts.

Be sure to explore Barrio Amón, a historic neighborhood home to cafetalero (coffee grower) mansions built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of this area’s historic buildings have been converted into hotels, restaurants, and galleries, making Amón a popular bohemian district. For dinner, you might want to opt for a restaurant in the hills of Escazú. This elevated region on the western edge of the city offers panoramic views of the valley below. No matter where you go, though, the whole city is filled with delectable restaurants serving everything from traditional local to forward-thinking fusion cuisine.

Day 2: San Jose to Playa Tambor & Santa Teresa

Playa Tambor
Playa Tambor

This morning you'll drive to the Nicoya Peninsula and transfer to Santa Teresa, renowned for its excellent surf, beautiful beaches, and friendly, laid-back atmosphere. After checking in to your hotel, the rest of the day is yours to surf or explore.  One idea for the afternoon is Playa Tambor set on Bahía Ballena, renowned for its beautiful beaches and marine life. Or, rent a kayak or standup paddle board at the nearby fishing village of Pochote for a paddle through the mangroves where you'll spot water birds like egrets, herons, and ibises. 

Here are a few restaurant recommendations for your stay in Santa Teresa

  • Enjoy a meal with your feet in the sand at Banana Beach, which offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner (as well as potent tropical cocktails) overlooking the water. Note: it's cash only.
  • Burger Rancho serves up a long list of patties (including veggie options) as well as salads, seafood, and smoothies in an airy, wood-filled space that includes TVs for watching the game.
  • Zuma Restaurant is a favorite for Israeli fare like hummus, shish kababs, and falafel, as well as Costa Rican dishes. They also mix a lengthy menu of smoothies that hit the spot for breakfast or a healthy post-surf snack.
  • Soda Tiquicia is an easy stop for casados (traditional Costa Rican meals with rice, meat, beans, and salad) in a casual, family-friendly space. 

Day 3: Surfing Lesson at Playa Santa Teresa

Time to hit the waves
Time to hit the waves

Today you'll take a private surf lesson in the waves of Playa Santa Teresa, some of the best and most consistent in all of Costa Rica. Beginners will gain confidence under the tutelage of expert teachers, while more advanced surfers can expect to hone their technique. 

After your lesson, you can hike along the coastline towards nearby Playa Carmen, another star of Costa Rica's Pacific beaches. Go for a dip in the tidal pools here, or head back into town. Santa Teresa attracts expats from around the world, and everyone seems to be clutching a surfboard or yoga mat. The long gravel road that runs along the beach is great for people watching and people meeting. You could even rent a vintage Land Rover or hop on an ATV and cruise the coast yourself.

Day 4: Santa Teresa to Playa Tamarindo

Visit Las Baulas National Marine Park to see Leatherback Turtles come ashore
Visit Las Baulas National Marine Park to see Leatherback Turtles come ashore

This morning you'll be driven north to Playa Tamarindo in the Guanacaste region where you'll be surrounded by dry tropical forest. Once you arrive, you can rest at your hotel or spend the afternoon exploring with a sea kayak and snorkeling tour. As you row through the blue smooth waters of Tamarindo Beach towards the white sand Capitán Island, you'll be able to enjoy the beautiful colors of the water and observe underwater coral reef and exotic fish.

If you happen to visit between October and March, head to Las Baulas National Marine Park to see Leatherback Turtles come ashore for a truly memorable experience. Every night during high tide in the nesting season, female leatherback turtles make their way up the beach to lay eggs. Watch the turtles come and go before the hatchlings follow suit into the water, a once-in-a-lifetime sight. 

You'll find that the laid-back surf town of Playa Tamarindo has excellent food options. A few options include:

  • For breakfast, head to charming La Bodega and order one of their fantastic egg sandwiches (like the Kristina, served with tomato, local organic goat chevre, red onion and local smoked trout on a buttered and toasted homemade bread). Homemade banana bread and fresh juices are other standouts.
  • Pull up a stool at the Green Papaya, which serves some of the best tacos and burritos in town with vegetarian options in a casual atmosphere.
  • Steps from the beach, Surf Shack serves up topnotch patties, onion rings, and milkshakes in an aluminum-sided hut decorated with surf boards.
  • Nogi's is a perfect pick for sunset dining thanks to its beachfront location. They serve a varied menu of seafood and grilled meat; be sure to save room for a slice of their Coconut Cream Pie.

Day 5: Private Surf Lesson at Playa Tamarindo

Today, you'll hit the waves at Playa Tamarindo
Today, you'll hit the waves at Playa Tamarindo

This morning you'll receive a private lesson on Playa Tamarindo, then you'll have the rest of the day on your own to ride the waves or just relax on the beach. 

For those who want to explore, there are five surf spots in Avellanas (a short drive from Tamarindo), including a few that cater to intermediate and expert riders like the one nicknamed Little Hawaii, with the biggest waves rolling in during low tide.

Another must-see spot near Tamarindo for hard-core surfers is Witch’s Rock, located in a national park and accessible only by boat. This is a world class break with big, glassy waves that thousands flock to every year, made famous by the movie Endless Summer II. A few miles beyond here is Ollie’s Point, which is a right-hand point break. You’re likely to see other boats in the water, but it’s a big area, so it won’t feel quite as crowded as Witch’s Rock.

You can also (optional) take a yoga class at one of Tamarindo's local studios and then wander around town, stopping at a café for snack or meal.

Day 6: Depart Costa Rica from Liberia

Liberia, Costa Rica
Liberia, Costa Rica

It's time to say adiós to Costa Rica! After breakfast, you'll begin the drive to Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport, in Guanacaste’s capital city, for your return flight home.

Map

Map of Costa Rica Surfing Adventure - 6 Days
Map of Costa Rica Surfing Adventure - 6 Days
Yenyi
Written by Yenyi Fu, updated Mar 18, 2019