Up next on the Conscious Connection global tour of eco-surf destinations was Costa Rica — a country known for great swells, pristine beaches and epic nightlife. Despite popular belief that this small Central American paradise has been saturated by tourism, there’s actually dozens of private surfing beaches we found without a person in site. Our week long tour took us from the bustling city of San Jose down the coast to Tamarindo and Nosara all the way to Mal Pais and Santa Teresa. Along the way we encountered perfect surf, expansive environments and a variety of welcoming locals.
When flying into Costa Rica, you can choose between Liberia Airport (LIR) and San Jose (SJO). Liberia airport is situated on the North West corridor of Costa Rica which is closer to Tamarindo while San Jose is further southeast and would be a good option if visiting Jaco/Esterillos/Hermosa. Either way, you will be facing about a 2-3 hour car ride to your destination on the bumpy roads of Costa. The CC team rented a car directly from the San Jose airport for approx. $50 per day, although you could get by with public transportation if you’re staying in one place. If you do decide to rent a car, best to opt for a 4×4 SUV which can handle many of the rough roads and impromptu rivers you’ll encounter along the way.
Consider yourself warned: if you rent a car and drive through Costa Rica prepare for some serious off-roading! Alternatively, you have the option of riding the bus or taking a small flight to your final destination. The only issue with the former is that the buses leave at certain hours throughout the day, and you could end up waiting for departure if your international flight arrives early morning or late night.
Costa Rica Surf Tourism in Tamarindo
The first leg of our epic journey through Costa Rica started from San Jose to Tamarindo, or as some locals like to refer to it Tamagringo (because of the large tourist presence). The drive was approximately 5 hours which started with nice paved roads, but then turned into dusty dirt roads. We recommend using an old school paper map as well as brushing up on your Spanglish skills if you opt to make this trek. There are several twists and turns along the way, and most locals will give you directions in Spanish that include a mapped out sequence in the sand using their hands (count on making at least 8-10 wrong turns along the way). As you start nearing Tamarindo, you will begin to see a change in the environment as surf shop and resort advertisements start popping up all along the roadside. When you finally roll into the town of Tamarindo, the vibe completely changes and you are in a neat little surf village surrounded by tourists and surfers alike. Welcome to surfers paradise complete with shops, restaurants, hotels, surf boards, and palm trees!
Casa Sueca was our first of many stops, and where we spent two beautiful nights. The home is situated approximately 1 km away from the hustle bustle of the main strip and about 75 yards away from the beautiful beach of Tamarindo. We were greeted by Diana and Mariano at the front security gate where we pulled right up into the driveway and had a safe parking spot the entire time. Casa Sueca consist of five newly remodeled, fully furnished suites. Rent one or all to accommodate up to twenty-eight people. There is also three studio suites on the first floor and two apartments on the second floor. Each offers a private entrance and private open air patio or balcony with hammock overlooking the beautiful salt water pool.
Casa Sueca offers personal massages as well as yoga lessons and can also set you up with a local guide, who went by the name Spider (formally Erick Marin). Spider offers surf instruction as well as showing his guests some hidden gems that tourists don’t normally get to experience such as Playa Marabella, Playa Langusta, Lola’s, and Playa Negra. He can also show you where to pick some of the local fresh fruit as you drive along! To learn more, be sure to check out his Facebook page: Spider’s Guana Adventures.
Epic Surf & Seclusion: Nosara, Costa Rica
Our next adventure took us from Tamarindo all the way down to Nosara (about a 4 hour drive) and the gorgeous beaches of Playa Pelada and Playa Guiones. We arranged lodging at the luxurious Finca Austria home which is known for their wrap around infinity pool and gorgeous ocean vistas. The climb is steep to get to the home, but well worth the trip once you enter through the gates of this sprawling property. There are three small cottages down below with pool access, but the main attraction was the incredible house with a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean. The infinity pool was one of the largest and bluest we have ever seen with a view that rivals the Fish Eye View in Puerto Rico. The house was equipped with all the amenities one would need during their stay, and was about a 10-15 minute trip to the beach of Playa Pelada. I would recommend this home and bungalows for a large group of people, and be sure that your rental car is properly equipped with 4×4!
The town of Nosora or Playa Pelada was far more secluded and hidden than the bustling town of Tamarindo, and the surf was some of our favorite. With sandy beaches spread out for miles and surf breaks almost everywhere, you’ll be sure to catch more than a few waves per session. Finca Austria could also set you up with a NJ native couple who offer acupuncture, private kick-boxing lessons as well as surf instruction. You can check out John and Nicole’s Facebook page Viva Venture to learn more. Also be sure to check out Beachdog Café before or after your morning surf session. They offer amazing smoothies, as well as local fresh breakfast and lunch food (great spot for Wi-Fi as well).
Eco-Hip Surf Living in Mal Pais & Santa Teresa
Our next destination was Mal Pais and Santa Teresa (situated right next to one another) and could possibly have been our favorite surf spots of the trip. The drive from Nosara to Mal Pais was a grueling four hours, but again, well worth the trip when you finally pull into this neat little beach town. Mal Pais and Santa Teresa were not nearly as built up as Tamarindo, but restaurants and neat little shops lined the main road leading into these towns.
The CC team stayed at Casa Santa Maria which was approximately 3 km away from the main strip of Mal Pais. Billy was our gracious host and the house was incredibly accommodating to say the least! The home consisted of 3 large bedrooms that could easily sleep 8-10 people comfortably. The design of Casa Santa Maria is an architectural splendor and their salt water infinity pool is only a stones throw away from several awesome surfing beaches. We recommend that you hit the surf early (around 7 am) and be sure to surf both Mal Pais and Santa Teresa. Mal Pais is a slower moving fun big wave, while Santa Teresa is a little heavier and quicker. While you’re here, be sure to check out Brisas Del Mar for dinner as well as Al Chile Viola, both of which are spectacular restaurants. You can learn more about this property by emailing Billy directly at [email protected] or calling him at +506 833 901 17.
All in all, Costa Rica is a wonderful land filled with great surf, epic adventures and a variety of activities for any tropical traveler. We highly recommend that you explore this amazing destination for yourself to see all that this land has to offer. Whether you’re looking for eco-surf tourism, great nightlife or a private yoga retreat in paradise, Costa Rica will be sure to have something for you.