If you’re looking to go on a tropical beach vacation that also has some adrenaline-pumping adventure, Costa Rica could be the destination for you. And a great way to ensure an unforgettable vacation where you’ll really learn how to catch some waves is by signing up for a surf camp.
Each surf camp offers different benefits and amenities, so to help you figure out which one is best for you, here are a few questions to ask before booking your trip.
There will be so much going on during your lesson, you want to make sure there are enough instructors per student to stay safe and have fun. In the group lessons, ask what the average student-to-teacher ratio is: 2-3 students per teacher is a good ratio to shoot for.
If you equip yourself with a little surf wave knowledge, you can ask a few questions about the nature of the wave. Soft, rolling beach breaks are the best for newbies who are just learning. Other questions to ask: Are there any rocks? Does the wave break on all tides? Is it a fast breaking wave?
Seeing yourself on video will be one of the best ways to improve your surfing. Most people cringe at the idea of watching themselves learning to surf, and for good reason. You’ll be making weird faces, falling in awkward positions, and doing all sorts of funky movements with your arms. Trust me – it won’t look pretty.
But if you can handle the slight embarrassment of looking bad (remember even the best in the world had to start somewhere), you’ll be able to pinpoint a few common errors and create a game plan for the next lesson.
Practice. Practice. Practice. Spending time in the water is the quickest path to progressing your surfing. Make sure you have access to boards outside of the lessons so you can go out and practice on your own.
Costa Rica is blessed with year-round warm water and waves for all levels, which makes it one of the most popular surf trip destinations.
Here are the top 5 Surf Camps in Costa Rica, in no particular order:
Location: Tamarindo, Costa Rica.
Witch’s Rock is a classic surf camp located in the center of the busy little tourist town of Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Witch’s Rock offers lessons to all levels and abilities. It’s a great choice for single travelers, small groups, and couples. In the town of Tamarindo, there’s an awesome restaurant and bar area that offers plenty of alternative ways to spend your day when you’re not in the water, including a lively nightlife, all within walking distance of Witch’s Rock Surf Camp.
All of their surf packages include transportation from the airport, accommodations, a complimentary daily breakfast, surfboard rentals, and waves for every level.
Location: Golfito, Costa Rica (as well as locations in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, and Panama)
Surfing with Amigas offers adventure surfing retreats for women all over Central America. (Sorry guys, this one is not for you. But definitely send your girlfriend, wife, sister, or mom on this surfing adventure). Started by former pro-surfer Holly Beck, this company runs high-quality retreats focused on surfing, adventure, and community service. Holly is an amazing surf coach – I was fortunate enough to participate in a surf fitness workshop she lead a few years ago in Santa Barbara, California.
Surf with Amigas caps their retreats around 10 people to maintain a high teacher-to-student ratio. This ensures everyone gets the attention they need to learn in a safe and fun environment. They also include video analysis to help improve your surfing, daily yoga, and a community service project to give back to the local communities. It’s a surf, adventure, and service retreat that’s got it all.
Their retreat includes transportation from the airport, accommodations for 7 nights, all meals, surf instruction and video feedback, surfboard rentals, daily yoga, and additional adventures.
Location: Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Eric, owner and head surf instructor at Salty Sols, specializes in getting beginners up standing on their 1st lesson, or else beers are on Eric! He has a laid-back style that makes students feel safe, secure, and confident. His infectious passion for surfing and teaching comes through with every group lesson he teaches. Not only will you learn to surf with Eric, but you’ll also most likely have a new best friend after spending 2 hours with this guy.
Located in the surf town of Tamarindo, Eric uses the wide range of waves in the area to match his students’ abilities.
Salty Sols offers 2-hr private and group lessons for beginners and advanced surfers. They provide a rash guard and surfboard during the lesson, so all you need are your swim trunks.
Location: Montezuma, Costa Rica
Tucked away in the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, Anamaya boasts one of the most amazing views you’ll ever see. Believe me, you will not want to leave this place. They specialize in yoga-focused retreats, but also offer surfing and adventure packages as well. The location is a little remote, making the trip to get there a bit more difficult. There’s also not much around the property (besides incredible nature), so everything is about a 10-20 minute drive away. This area is filled with very consistent waves making it a highly popular surf destination.
Their surf retreat is all-inclusive: shared accommodations for 7 nights, 3 meals daily, daily yoga classes, 5 surf lessons & board rentals, sauna treatments, and a waterfall hike.
Location: Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
If you’re looking for some of the most breathtaking views, incredible beaches, and rich wildlife, this place is for you. Encanta La Vida is located on the Osa Peninsula, which is in the southern-most part of Costa Rica. This area is the most untouched and undeveloped part of Costa Rica. While the waves here are geared towards intermediate surfers, there are also a few good beginner waves that are good to learn on.
Here’s a small glimpse into how special the Osa Peninsula is, according to the Earth Times,
“The Osa Peninsula itself is home to half of all the species in Costa Rica, that’s a staggering 2.5% of the entire biodiversity of the planet, living on a mere 0.00000085% of the earth’s total surface area.
It’s a place where jaguars still roam the jungles, scarlet macaws fly freely about the town and the enormous humpbacked whales swim close to its shores. The Osa Peninsula holds possibly the highest natural diversity on the planet, inspiring The National Geographic magazine to describe it as “the most biologically intense place on earth”.1
You can’t begin to imagine how amazing it is to be out in the water surfing amongst all this awe-inspiring nature. You just need to experience it for yourself! The only downside is that the Osa Peninsula is remote and can be challenging to get to.
Staying at Encanta La Vida includes accommodations and 3 meals per day. They also have boards available for rent and offer yoga classes. There are three point breaks right outside of the lodge with waves appropriate for beginner, intermediate, and advanced surfers. This spot is perfect for someone looking for a remote jungle getaway.
So, there you have it—the top 5 surf camps in Costa Rica. If you’re wondering about any of these locations, feel free to reach out. And if you’ve surfed in Costa Rica, I’d love to hear your favorites. Where have you been?