By: Mikael and Thrillism
10 minute read
Last updated June 5th, 2020
Costa Rica is one of the best surfing destinations in the world, but that doesn’t mean that finding a surf camp in Costa is easy. It’s actually pretty overwhelming – not because of lack of choice, but because of too many choices. You’ll see what we mean as soon as you start browsing through the best surf camps in Costa Rica.
There are hundreds of surf hostels, all-inclusive camps, and luxury retreats throughout the country, and it’s no surprise as to why. The waves here are nothing short of perfection, and the Pura Vida lifestyle is enough to make you want to set some roots.
So how do you decide on just one out of the endless options for surf camps in Costa Rica?
Our suggestion is to focus on a specific area based on the travel vibes you’re going for – like whether you’re looking for remote jungle vibes or luxury resorts are more your style. We’ve covered the top CR destinations for surfers, so check out which one is right for you – and which surf camps to visit while you’re in the area.
Tamarindo is the first place that comes to mind for surfers heading to Costa. It’s got consistent North Pacific swells all year long thanks to the never-failing offshore winds. But this isn’t the sole reason that the global surfing community congregates in Tamarindo. It’s a fun town that has a lot going on, plus there are plenty of Costa Rica surf camps to choose from here.
Anyone looking for chilled out jungle vibes may want to look elsewhere – Tamarindo is a party town, perfect for young backpackers and solo travelers. But if stopping in for a few happy hour drinks after spending a day on the water is your thing, you’ll love everything about Tamarindo.
If you’ve got some surfing experience under your belt, the best Tamarindo surf breaks are El Estero, Pico Pequeno, Witch’s Rock, and Grande. But beginner’s beware – these breaks are not for the faint of heart. New surfers and young wave riders can practice their skills at Tamarindo Main Beach.
Looking for a Costa Rica surfing camp in Tamarindo? Check out these two top-rated choices.
Witch’s Rock Surf Camp has hosted over 50,000 guests since it opened in 2001. The Tamarindo surf camp is all about good vibes and good waves, and they’ve got a surf package for everyone with surf programs catering to beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. They even offer a family surf camp Costa Rica program.
“Surf amazing waves, create lifelong friendships, and relax on the beach at Witch’s Rock Surf Camp.”
– Witch’s Rock Surf Camp
No matter which package you choose at WRSC, here’s what you get: accommodations for 7 nights, breakfast every morning, 7 days of surf school, unlimited use of surfing equipment, and airport transfers.
Tamarindo’s Iguana Surf Camp is another top pick – and this one has been around for even longer than Witch’s Rock. This surf camp got its start in 1989, offering several different programs catering to all skill levels, budgets, and vacation plans.
“Our fail-proof teaching methods have been helping people learn how to surf since 1989. We have put it to the test in over 125,000 beginner surf lessons.”
– Iguana Surf Camp
The most popular package at Iguana is the weeklong surf camp, which includes accommodations, surf lessons, unlimited board rentals, airport transfers, and more. If you’re short on time or just passing through Tamarindo, the Fiver (5-day) or Weekender (2-day) packages might be a better fit.
For sleepy surf town vibes, very few Costa Rica surf spots compare to Nosara. Nosara is the exact opposite of Tamarindo when it comes to the overall atmosphere, but the waves are just as good. You’ll love the hippy vibes, but you’ll love breaks like Guiones and Camaronal even more.
The cherry on top is that some of the best surf camps in Costa Rica are in the heart of Nosara, like the surf coaching retreat by Barefoot Surf Travel.
During your time on this 7-day surf retreat, you’ll be surrounded by the lush rainforest of Costa. This camp is specifically geared towards new and intermediate-level surfers who want to improve their skills and take on more challenging waves.
“Imagine yourself surfing a pristine 7 km long beach break surrounded by some of the lushest rainforest hills on earth. We’ve created one of the best surf coaching camps in Costa Rica.”
– Barefoot Surf Travel
The accommodations are located on Guiones Beach, which stretches 7 kilometers and offers the perfect atmosphere for beginners with its forgiving, gentle waves. During the retreat, you’ll also venture to other nearby beaches like Ostional, Pelada, and Garza.
The Playa Manzanillo reef break is for all levels, and not just because of the variety of left and right breaks to choose from. This is a sublime tropical paradise that remains quiet and secluded compared to other Costa Rica surfing destinations.
Manzanillo is a great place to take a step back and unplug from the rest of the world. A lot of families focus their attention on surf camps, Costa Rica, in Manzanillo, but all are welcome. Compared to towns like Tamarindo and Santa Teresa, visitors of Manzanillo don’t have tons of options when deciding on a surf camp in Costa Rica, but there are quite a few.
Out of all the surf camps in Manzanillo, there’s one that stands above the rest: Kelea Surf Spa
At Kelea, guests have the chance to totally unwind. In between surf lessons, you’re encouraged to de-stress with yoga and massage, nap in hammocks, and explore the surrounding nature. If you’re brand new to surfing, you’ll join a small group for your daily lessons, and already experienced surfers will get more in-depth instruction on how to take your skills to the next level.
“Whether you’re a first-time surfer and just looking to explore something new, or a seasoned surfer who can’t wait to get back in the waves and improve your surfing, there’s a place for you at Kelea Surf Spa.”
– Kelea Surf Spa
The Pura Vida package at Kelea is a 7-day all-inclusive retreat that includes everything from daily meals to airport transfers. This is the perfect surf camp if you’d like to throw some yoga into the mix, and you can’t complain about the included 1-hour full body massage.
Choosing a Costa Rica surf camp in Santa Teresa may be the best thing you ever do with your life, especially for intermediate and advanced level surfers. Santa Teresa offers a refreshing balance of chilled-out vibes and entertainment. It’s not nearly as touristic as Tamarindo, but it’s not quite as remote as Manzanillo.
On top of plenty of restaurants, bars, and accommodations, some surfers say that this laid-back surf town is home to the best surf camp Costa Rica has to offer, like Selina and Blue Surf Sanctuary.
The Selina brand is spreading across the globe like wildfire, but they’ve got a few amazing locations in CR, and two of them are located in Santa Teresa. These locations don’t just offer intensive surf training camps, but they also have surf lessons available to all guests.
“Situated among a paradise of tropical beauty, Selina Santa Teresa South is a haven for wellness lovers seeking an alternative to the party environment present at other hotels in the region.”
– Selina Santa Teresa South
If you plan on doing any online work between your surf lessons and yoga sessions, you’ll love that Selina offers a coworking space on the premises. The best Selina package for surfing junkies is the Surf & Jungle 7-Day adventure. In addition to 7 nights of accommodation in the dorms, you get meals, jungle excursions, surf trip transportation.
Looking for a women’s surf camp in Costa Rica? For a “no boys allowed” surfing experience to reset and unwind, ladies love Blue Surf Sanctuary. It’s not always a female-only surf camp, but they’ve got the option for it if you’re hoping to escape from male energy for a week.
“Our surf resort not only offers Costa Rica surf vacation packages, but we also offer the ultimate beach retreat with local spa services, massage, and yoga! Let us build your perfect surf trip.”
– Blue Surf Sanctuary
Guests can either book nightly and sign up for surf lessons as they go, but the better choice is to sign up for one of the Blue Surf Sanctuary packages. The student to instructor ratio is never more than 3-to-1, so you’ll always get the attention you need to learn new skills or build on old ones.
Getting to a Jaco surfing camp Costa Rica is easy from the international airport in San Jose – it’s about 2 hours by shuttle or taxi. This is a lively touristic surf town that’s well developed, so you won’t get an off-the-beaten-path experience. You will, however, have plenty of chances to ride some challenging waves.
The main surfing beaches near the city center are Playa Hermosa and Playa Herradura. Hermosa is the ideal for advanced surfers thanks to its fast-breaking heavy waves. If you’re not quite ready for that yet, Herradura is the better choice. But no matter where you surf, you can’t go wrong with one of these Jaco surf camps.
We’ve already talked about one Selina location in Santa Teresa, but it’s worth it to mention the Jaco Selina. The atmosphere is social, each room has a funky, beachy design, and the Surf Club is out of this world. The most popular surf package is the 3-day group camp, but you also have the option to sign up for private lessons as you go.
“Designed to reflect an authentic Costa Rica experience, our location is surrounded by Miro’s Mountain, walking distance from the town’s main street, close to other hotels, and a whole host of natural attractions.”
– Selina Jaco
Jaco’s Tortuga Surf Camp has been in business since 2007, and they won’t be going anywhere any time soon. The Tortuga programs offer the perfect combination activities for adventure lovers and mellow surfers alike. In addition to surf lessons, Tortuga offers adventure tours for exploring the beaches and jungles of Costa Rica.
“At Tortuga Surf camp we have mastered the art of creating perfect training programs that fit the needs of every surfer level.”
– Tortuga Surf Camp
As far as the Tortuga camp goes, you have the option for 7, 14, or 22 days. Each program is split into 3 main blocks (mechanical drills, timing stage, and navigation skills) where you’ll focus on a specific surfing skill set. The coolest part about Tortuga is that you get to build your own surf camp based on what you like to do and your current surfing level.