If you are reading this, I hope you are already at your hotel in Quepos or Manuel Antonio and wondering where to find the best waves for your level of surfing. For April, May, and June, these months are some of the best of the year for swells and quality wave conditions. The reason is the Southern Hemisphere is going towards their winter, when powerful South and Southwest swells plow across the Pacific and send big long period swells to the Costa Rica coastline. Meanwhile it is still ‘summer’ here, when the winds are offshore for a longer part of the day and the rains are limited to the afternoons or evenings.
About two thirds of the time the waves will be big, so where do you go? If you are a beginner or intermediate surfer, you should check out the Quepos river mouth, a long left breaking wave that works best at lower tides. Also, you could drive about 80 minutes north to Boca Barranca, another long left that works at low tide. Or you can drive an hour south past Dominical to Dominicalito, which has a protected bay and the waves are smaller. This break works at lower tide.
If you want the bigger waves, then the closest spot is Playitas, at the north end of the beach in Manuel Antonio. This wave breaks best at high tide and has rights and lefts. Or, another great high tide break is Dominical, which has some great sand bars near its river mouth. And Isla Damas ten minutes north of Quepos is known to have an amazing barreling left, but takes a boat or jetski to get there. One of my favorite spots is Esterillos Oeste 40 minutes north, which has big, more slopey waves that can break up to a half mile from shore. This spot is amazing for SUPs and longboarders who want big surf, and works at both high and low tide. And it does offer a more hollow inside break for shortboarders at high tide when there is some size.
There are a few secret spots, too, and of course other perfect peaks that take longer than an hour to reach. But to find quality waves when it is either big or small, you don’t have to travel that far. Check CRsurf.com for the latest forecasts and tide charts for the whole year.