Tamarindo may be known for many things, but great surf is arguably our greatest claim to fame. And with good reason: We’re smack dab in the center of Guanacaste’s famed Gold Coast beaches, where pumping surf and huge breaks have inspired die-hard surfers for decades. But, what about Tamarindo beginner surfing spots – namely, are there any?
The short answer: Yes. As a beginner surfer, you’re not ready to share the waves with Tamarindo’s advanced surfers, who often don’t have much patience for newbie mistakes. Even more importantly, you don’t want to get in over your head – literally OR figuratively. Luckily, there are plenty of places where you can steer clear of big waves.
So, where are the best Tamarindo surf spots for beginners? The places where can you learn, practice, and refine your skills, without risking life or surfer ire? Our list takes to you five of the best:
1. Just North of the Tamarindo Diria
Prime among Tamarindo beginner surfing hotspots, this downtown swell is great for learning how to surf. Stand with your back to the Diria, then look right: conditions here are great for beginner surfers. Waves are consistently small and, as long as you stay clear of the rocky breaks of Pico Grande and Pico Pequeno, soft sands cushion any newbie falls. You’ll often find vendors peddling surf boards and lessons around here. Surf’s up!
2. Playa Avellanas
Playa Avellanas has a bit of a split personality: On calm days, when the waves are small, it’s a perfect choice for beginners. But on a big day – watch out! It’s advanced surfers only. But back to those calm days, when Avellanas promises just the right-sized waves to learn on; on these days, grab your board and catch the waves around Palo Seco or Lola’s Restaurant, where the surf is both consistent and mostly tranquilo. Be sure to stay south of the River Mouth and Little Hawaii, both big Avellanas surf hotspots and reserved for experts only.
3. In Front of Capitán Suizo
Though surf is never 100% predictable, the waves in front of Capitán Suizo are, more often than not, ideal for beginners: mild, frothy water with minimal pull – perfect for learning how to catch a wave, practice your pop-up, and then ride one in. Pro tip: If no one’s in the water, the waves are too small, even for brand-new surfers. Try again in an hour or so.
Casitas, named for the casitas, or rental houses that dot the beach, is located just across the river mouth, at the beginning of Playa Grande. (Note: Do pony up the ¢500/$1 for the lancha ride across the river; it’s full of crocs!) As Tamarindo beginner surfing spots go, this one’s a bit hit or miss; on a “good” day, there’s a decently sized break better for intermediates, but on a calmer day, the surf is small enough for even beginner surfers.
5. El Estero
The exposed river mouth at the north-end of Tamarindo Beach has some great – and forgiving – waves for beginner surfers. The winds here are good and can produce consistent (and often tending towards intermediate) swells, but if you stick to the breaks that crash onto the soft and sandy sea bottom, you’ll get in some serious practice on your pop-ups and ever-longer rides.
So, there you have it – five of our favorite go-to Tamarindo surf spots for beginners. Of course, at the end of the day, the best surf is the surf that makes you feel most comfortable. Because really, you’re in Costa Rica and here, wherever there’s saltwater and sand, there’s probably some great surf. And wherever there’s great surf, there are surfboard rentals and surf lessons to be had. So, if you want tiny waves, go for the tiny waves; if you prefer a bigger challenge, chase it! Just be safe while you do.
Speaking of, the only rule of thumb when it comes to Tamarindo beginner surfing: Ask before you paddle! There will always be surfers around. And chances are, they’ll not only know the best spots in town, but they’ll also know the day’s surf conditions. And they’ll know where not to go, especially if this is your first (or one of your first) times surfing. Heed their warnings.
Have fun and happy surfing!