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Top 10 Surfing Spots in Puerto Viejo: Unleash The Adventurer Within

Bringing Surf Magic to Puerto Viejo

Located on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast, Puerto Viejo isn’t just another beach town—it’s a rite of passage for surfers. It holds hidden rippling waves covering the wobbly bottom. Its vibrant culture dances to the rhythm of the sea, and the beaches, oh the beaches, are nothing short of spectacular.

Surfing here isn’t just for the brass gods who brave big swells; It’s for newbies too. For many, the Puerto Viejo experience is where they catch their first wave and the surfing bug, for once, bites hard. That’s the magnetic pull of this place—it’s full of surf lore and community spirit.

The waves at the center of this paradise are storytellers—each of the top ten locations tells a different story. Ready to ride the waves of Puerto Viejo? Protect yourself. We’re about to cut through the water, revealing why the surfing spots in this coveted getaway are getting their pin on every surfer’s map.

The Top 10 Surfing Spots in Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo is a surfer’s sanctuary with spots for seasoned pros and novices alike, each offering a unique challenge or a gentle learning curve. Explore the top 10 surfing spots that make this Caribbean coastline iconic.

Surfing in Puerto Viejo: A Guide to the Legendary Salsa Brava

Puerto Viejo is not just a picturesque town on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast; it’s a surfing haven known for its diverse and challenging waves. Among its many surf spots, Salsa Brava stands out as a legendary destination for experienced surfers seeking adrenaline-pumping rides.

Salsa Brava: The Heart of Surfing in Puerto Viejo


  • Situated right at the Puerto Viejo town center


  • Catered towards advanced surfers

Best Time to Surf

  • Waves roll in all year round

Unique Features

  • Salsa Brava is the crown jewel of Puerto Viejo surfing. Its name translates to “fierce sauce,” aptly describing the waves that lure surfers from across the globe.
  • The spot is famed for its powerful barrels and sharp, hollow right-handers, making it a thrilling challenge even for the pros.
  • It’s a reef break, meaning waves break over a coral reef, creating fast-moving currents and demanding top-notch skills from surfers.
  • Salsa Brava isn’t just a surf spot; it’s a competitive arena. The spot regularly hosts international surfing competitions, drawing the best surfers to showcase their prowess.

Surfing in Puerto Viejo: A Spotlight on Cocles Beach

Puerto Viejo, a serene coastal town, promises an unforgettable surfing experience, especially at Cocles Beach. Known for its scenic beauty and surf-worthy waves, Cocles Beach is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to ride the waves in Costa Rica.

Cocles Beach: A Surfing Haven for All


  • A Leisurely Stroll: Cocles Beach is conveniently located just a 15-minute walk south of Puerto Viejo, making it easily accessible for both locals and tourists.


  • Welcoming Everyone: Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been surfing for years, Cocles Beach caters to all skill levels – beginner, intermediate, and advanced.

Best Time to Surf

  • Year-Round Waves: The beach is known for its consistent waves throughout the year, ensuring that surfers can enjoy the sport no matter when they visit.

Unique Features

Cocles Beach stands out for several reasons, making it a popular choice among the surfing community:

  • Consistent Waves: The beach offers steady waves that surfers can rely on for a good surfing session almost any day of the year.
  • Surf for All:
    • Beginners can take advantage of gentle rollers closer to shore, where the water is calmer.
    • For those with more experience, steeper sections further out provide a thrilling challenge.
  • Relaxed Atmosphere: The beach’s long, sandy stretch offers plenty of room for everyone, creating a relaxed environment where surfers and beachgoers can coexist peacefully.
  • Learning Opportunities: Instructors are often available to help beginners get on their feet, making it an ideal spot for those looking to learn in a friendly and welcoming setting.

The Cocles Beach Experience

Visiting Cocles Beach is about more than just catching waves; it’s about soaking in the laid-back culture, meeting fellow surfers, and enjoying the natural beauty of Puerto Viejo. Whether you come with a board in tow or you’re just there to watch and soak up the sun, Cocles Beach offers a slice of surfing paradise that’s hard to beat.

Surfing in Puerto Viejo: Discovering Playa Grande

Nestled south of Puerto Viejo, Playa Grande stands as an inviting surfing spot, offering a respite from crowded waves and an ideal setting for those looking to enjoy the essence of surfing in a more secluded environment.

Playa Grande: The Surfer’s Retreat


  • Easy Accessibility: Just a 10-minute drive south from the heart of Puerto Viejo, Playa Grande offers convenience and serenity rolled into one, making it a favored spot for those seeking both.


  • For the Passionate Surfer: This beach primarily attracts surfers at the intermediate level and longboarders, offering conditions that are just right for riders looking to push their skills in a tranquil setting.

Best Time to Surf

  • Surf Any Season: Like many of Puerto Viejo’s beaches, Playa Grande offers the privilege of surfing all year round, ensuring that the waves are always ready when you are.

Unique Features

Playa Grande quietly boasts several unique features that make it a standout surfing destination:

  • Wide and Welcoming Waves: The beach is known for its long, rolling waves that cater perfectly to longboarders or those who prefer a leisurely ride on a bigger board.
  • Less Crowded: One of the beach’s biggest draws is its less crowded nature, allowing surfers to enjoy their waves without the hustle of too many people around.
  • Peaceful Vibes: Beyond the waves, Playa Grande offers a serene environment that is as perfect for meditation and relaxation as it is for surfing.
  • Scenic Backdrop: Surrounded by stunning scenery, it provides a spectacular view that complements the peaceful surfing experience.

Surfing in Puerto Viejo: The Charm of Punta Uva

To the south of Puerto Viejo lies a perfect spot for beginners to dip their toes into the world of surfing: Punta Uva. Known for its gentle waves and serene atmosphere, this beach is an ideal site for those taking their first surfing steps.

Punta Uva: Gateway to Surfing for Beginners


  • Away from the Hustle: Positioned a 20-minute drive south of Puerto Viejo, Punta Uva promises a surfing experience away from the bustling town center, an idyllic setting for beginners to focus on honing their surfing skills.


  • The Ideal Classroom: Specifically catering to beginners, Punta Uva’s calm surf conditions provide the perfect stage for novices to learn and grow.

Best Time to Surf

  • Year-Round Accessibility: While surfing at Punta Uva is feasible all year round, the calmer periods are particularly advantageous for beginners to test and improve their skills.

Unique Features

Punta Uva extends unique characteristics that make it a popular choice among beginners:

  • Gentle Waves: Punta Uva is known for its calm, small waves, making it an ideal spot for beginners to practice without being overwhelmed.
  • Protected Bay: The beach is located in a protected bay, ensuring a safe environment for surfing newbies.
  • Calming Atmosphere: The serene surroundings of Punta Uva allow beginners to concentrate on their learning experience without any distractions.

Surfing in Puerto Viejo: The Thrill of Manzanillo

For experienced surfers seeking an ultimate adrenaline rush, Puerto Viejo offers a delightful destination, Manzanillo. Known for its heavy surf and striking beaches, this is the place where challenging waves meet skilled surfers.

Manzanillo: The Exhilarating Challenge for Experienced Surfers


  • A Bit Further, A Bit Wilder: Positioned a 30-minute drive south of Puerto Viejo, the beaches of Manzanillo offer a scenic getaway for those seeking a surf challenge away from the main town.


  • Not for the Faint of Heart: Manzanillo is a playground for experienced surfers. It’s here that their abilities are tested against the powerful waves this destination is famed for.

Best Time to Surf

  • Rains Bring Waves: While Manzanillo brings surf all year round, the rainy season – particularly December-January and July-August – sees the arrival of its well-renowned heavy surf.

Unique Features

Manzanillo intrigues experienced surfers with its unique attributes:

  • Heavy Surf: Manzanillo is synonymous with heavy surf, offering skilled surfers a chance to ride some of the most powerful waves around.
  • Pristine Beaches: Amid the adventure, surfers can also relish the pristine beaches of Manzanillo, adding to the overall experience.
  • Thrill Factor: The challenging conditions may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for tried and tested surfers, this is their adrenaline-packed adventure.

Surfing in Puerto Viejo: Embracing the Mighty Waves of Playa Negra

Nestled just a stone’s throw away from the famed Salsa Brava, Playa Negra holds its ground as a surfer’s haven with its unique black sand and challenging waves. This beach is not just about its distinct aesthetics but also about the powerful surf it offers to those willing to ride its waves.

Playa Negra: A Playground for the Daring


  • Just Steps Away: A mere 5-minute walk north of Salsa Brava, Playa Negra combines convenience with the thrill, making it a favored spot among surfers looking for quick access to high-quality waves.


  • A Step Up: Playa Negra is well-suited for intermediate to advanced surfers. The beach’s powerful swells require skill and confidence, offering a gratifying challenge to those who dare.

Best Time to Surf

  • When Rains Favor the Brave: The best waves at Playa Negra make their grand appearance during the rainy season, particularly in December-January and July-August. This is when the beach truly comes alive, offering thrilling barrel sections that promise an adventure.

Unique Features

Playa Negra stands out with characteristics that beckon seasoned surfers:

  • Volcanic Black Sand: Not just any beach, its volcanic black sand gives Playa Negra a unique allure, enhancing the surfing experience with its distinct landscape.
  • Powerful Swells: The beach is renowned for its powerful swells, challenging surfers to navigate its waters with precision and daring.
  • Thrilling Barrel Sections: Especially during the rainy season, surfers can find exhilarating barrel sections, a dream scenario for experienced riders looking for that perfect wave.

Surfing in Puerto Viejo: The Versatile Waves of Playa Arrecife

Puerto Viejo, a tropical paradise for surfers, presents a spot that caters to enthusiasts of all levels: Playa Arrecife. Whether you’re taking your first tentative slides across the ocean or carving up waves like a pro, Playa Arrecife’s changing face offers conditions that adapt to your needs.

Playa Arrecife: Surf for All


  • Close to Town: A quick 10-minute drive south of Puerto Viejo takes you to the welcoming shores of Playa Arrecife, a diverse surfing spot perfect for many.


  • Dual Faces for Different Paces: Playa Arrecife’s waters fluctuate in temperament, presenting suitable conditions for beginners on calm days, while challenging advanced surfers when the wind creates powerful waves.

Best Time to Surf

  • Timing is Key: The best time to surf here truly depends on what you’re looking for. Calmer days are perfect for beginners, while windy conditions are best for those seeking a challenge.

Unique Features

Here’s what makes Playa Arrecife a special spot for surfers:

  • A Spot for Everyone: The beach is a welcoming stretch for learners on gentle days and a thrilling stage for veterans on windy days.
  • Learning and Thrill: Calm waters present the perfect setting for beginners to learn, and windy days turn the beach into an arena for the experienced to show their skills.
  • Powerful Offshore Waves: When the wind picks up, so does the excitement. The offshore waves on windy days appeal to the advanced surfers looking for more powerful and exhilarating rides.

Surfing in Puerto Viejo: Discovering the Hidden Gem of Playa Chiquita

In the world of surfing, Playa Chiquita stands out as a secluded treasure along the Caribbean coast, south of Puerto Viejo. This hidden cove offers a unique surfing experience away from the bustling crowds, where surfers of all levels can find their perfect wave.

Playa Chiquita: A Surfing Sanctuary for All


  • A Peaceful Hideaway: Tucked away in a secluded cove south of Puerto Viejo, Playa Chiquita offers a tranquil spot for surfers seeking solitude and pristine waves.


  • Waves for Everyone: Whether you’re just getting your feet wet or you’re able to ride waves with ease, Playa Chiquita has something for you. The beach’s varied breaks cater to all skill levels, depending on the specific location you choose to paddle out.

Best Time to Surf

  • Year-Round Surf: One of the greatest advantages of Playa Chiquita is its consistency, offering good waves throughout the entire year. This flexibility makes it an ideal destination for surfers looking to escape the constraints of seasonal spots.

Unique Features

Playa Chiquita is not just another surfing location; it’s a serene getaway with several notable characteristics:

  • Escape the Crowds: The secluded nature of Playa Chiquita makes it a perfect escape for those looking to surf in peace, away from the more popular and often crowded spots.
  • Diverse Breaks: From quiet coves with mellow waves perfect for beginners to more advanced sections out at sea, Playa Chiquita offers a range of surfing experiences.
  • Explore and Discover: The adventure of finding the perfect break is part of Playa Chiquita’s charm. Surfers can explore different parts of the beach, each with its unique wave setup.

Surfing in Puerto Viejo: Advancing Skills at Playa Cocles’ South End

Playa Cocles, situated on the Caribbean coastline of Puerto Viejo, is a renowned surfing hotspot. The wide sandy stretch is crowned by its southern end, a favored location for intermediate surfers looking to elevate their skills. This part of the beach offers diverse breaks and consistent surf, making it an ideal place to improve your surfing game.

Playa Cocles (South End): Proving Ground for Intermediate Surfers


  • Southern Charms of Cocles Beach: Located on the southern fringes of Cocles Beach, this often less crowded section offers an inviting spot for surfers aiming to hone their skills.


  • Progressive Waves: While Playa Cocles suits surfers of various levels, its south end specifically caters to intermediate enthusiasts, offering the perfect setting to advance your surfing capabilities.

Best Time to Surf

  • Year-Round Surfing: Much like the rest of Puerto Viejo, Playa Cocles (South End) promises consistent waves throughout the year, allowing surfers to practice whenever they choose.

Unique Features

What makes the south end of Playa Cocles so appealing to intermediate surfers are its distinct features:

  • Diverse Breaks: The range of breaks at the south end of Cocles Beach provides an excellent training ground for ambitious surfers to test and improve their maneuvers.
  • Supportive Environment: The challenging yet manageable wave formations offer a rich environment to practice skills and boost confidence, making this section an ideal playground to master maneuvers.
  • Balance of Solitude and Community: Largely less populated, the south end provides enough space for focused surf sessions, while still preserving a sense of community to exchange tips and experiences with fellow surfers.

Surfing in Puerto Viejo: Embracing Nature and Waves at Black Beach, Cahuita

Nestled into the heart of Cahuita National Park, Black Beach is a charming blend of surf and scenery, a testament to Puerto Viejo’s diverse coastline. Known for consistent, manageable waves, coupled with the allure of a lush rainforest backdrop, Black Beach serves as a serene, supportive playground for surfers at both the beginner and intermediate levels.

Black Beach (Cahuita): A Seamless Fusion of Nature and Surfing


  • Rainforest Retreat: Just south of Puerto Viejo and within the boundaries of Cahuita National Park, lies Black Beach, favoured for its surf-friendly conditions framed by an abundant rainforest.


  • Learning Grounds and Exploring Arena: Black Beach caters to different proficiency levels, from beginners practicing their fundamentals to intermediates enjoying long rides and improving their techniques.

Best Time to Surf

  • Year-Round Surf Appeal: Consistent waves grace Black Beach throughout the year, offering plenitude of opportunities to hit the water, irrespective of the time frame.

Unique Features

Key features that make Black Beach stand out include:

  • Consistent, Manageable Waves: Black Beach is known for less intense waves, making this an ideal starting point for beginners to practice and intermediates to ride longer waves comfortably.
  • Natural Splendour: Surfers at Black Beach get the rare privilege to ride the waves amidst a setting of verdant rainforest, enhancing the overall experience.
  • Ideal for Skill Development: The blend of consistent waves and tranquil setting makes Black Beach an ideal location to work on techniques and improve skills at a comfortable pace.

Surfing in Puerto Viejo: Enhancing Your Surfing Experience

Puerto Viejo is not just about the thrilling waves; it’s also about the vibrant culture, the lush landscapes, and the warm, welcoming community. For surfers, this coastal town is the perfect place to dive deeper into the surfing lifestyle, whether you’re looking to learn, improve, or simply soak up the local vibe. Here’s how you can enhance your surfing experience in Puerto Viejo.

Surf Schools and Lessons

Recommendations for the Best Places to Learn or Improve

  • Caribbean Surf School: Known for its experienced instructors, this school offers lessons for all levels, ensuring personalized attention to help you advance your skills.
  • Totem Surf School: With a focus on safety and fun, Totem is ideal for beginners and those looking to refine their techniques in a supportive environment.
  • Playa Cocles Surf Camp: Offering intensive surf camps, this is the go-to place for an immersive learning experience, perfect for serious enthusiasts committed to improving their surfing prowess.

These schools not only provide expert guidance but also offer the opportunity to connect with fellow surf enthusiasts, creating a sense of community as you learn.

Local Surf Shops

Where to Find, Rent, or Buy Equipment

  • Puerto Viejo Surf Shop: Offering a wide selection of boards for rent or purchase, this shop is a staple in the surfing community, known for its knowledgeable staff.
  • Cocles Surf Shop: Just steps away from Playa Cocles, this shop offers convenient rental options and expert advice on the best boards for the local waves.
  • Banana Surf Shop: Besides surf gear, Banana offers surfboard repairs and sells surf-inspired apparel, making it a one-stop shop for all your surfing needs.

These local shops not only supply the necessary gear but also serve as community hubs where you can glean insider tips and advice on the best surf spots and conditions.

Cultural Immersion

Encourage Interaction with the Local Community, Cuisine, and Events

Enhancing your surfing experience in Puerto Viejo transcends the time spent on the waves. Immerse yourself in the local culture by:

  • Exploring Local Cuisine: Savor the flavors of Puerto Viejo by trying dishes like Casado or Gallo Pinto at beachfront eateries or local food stalls.
  • Engaging with the Community: Attend local events, markets, or festivals to understand the lifestyle and traditions of the Caribbean coast.
  • Participating in Eco-Tours: Beyond surfing, explore the rich biodiversity through guided tours in the Cahuita National Park or the Jaguar Rescue Center.

By engaging with the community and delving into local customs and cuisine, you enrich your overall experience, making it more meaningful than just catching waves.

Surfing in Puerto Viejo: Preserving Puerto Viejo’s Surfing Paradises

Puerto Viejo, with its crystal-clear waters and vibrant surfing scene, has long been a haven for surfers from around the globe. However, as we embrace the waves, it’s crucial to ensure the preservation of this surfing paradise for generations to come. This section delves into how surfers can contribute positively to the environment and the local community while enjoying the unparalleled surfing experiences Puerto Viejo offers.

Eco-conscious Surfing

Discuss the Importance of Environmental Responsibility

When surfing in Puerto Viejo, your interaction with nature isn’t just a backdrop for the sport; it’s an integral part of the experience. Being eco-conscious means:

  • Using Eco-friendly Surf Wax: Opt for biodegradable wax to minimize your impact on marine life.
  • Participating in Beach Clean-ups: Join local efforts to keep the beaches pristine and free of trash.
  • Educating Yourself and Others: Learn about the local ecosystem and share knowledge on preserving it.

Adopting these simple practices helps ensure that the beaches and waves remain clean and vibrant for everyone to enjoy.

Supporting Local Businesses

Emphasize How It Benefits the Community and the Visitor’s Experience

Supporting local businesses is not just beneficial for the community but also enriches your surfing journey.

  • Surf Shops: Choose local shops for rentals and purchases. It supports the economy and often leads to personalized advice on surf spots.
  • Surf Schools: Opt for local instructors who provide insights not only into surfing techniques but also into Puerto Viejo’s surfing culture.
  • Local Eateries: After a day in the sea, refuel at local spots. It’s a great way to taste the local cuisine and interact with the community.

Through these choices, visitors contribute to the thriving local economy, ensuring that the community benefits from tourism rather than being overwhelmed by it.


Puerto Viejo offers a rich tapestry of surfing experiences, embracing exciting surfing styles from calm spots suitable for beginners to challenging waves for experienced surfers, and it’s important to surf responsibly with the preservation of this paradise at heart. Here is a quick recap:

  • Eco-friendly surfing: Simple actions can make a big difference in preserving the natural beauty of Puerto Viejo’s beaches and waters.
  • Sponsoring local businesses: Choosing to sponsor a community enhances your experience and contributes to the well-being of the community.

By responsibly exploring Puerto Viejo’s surf spots, every visitor has the opportunity to create unforgettable memories while ensuring that natural beauty and cultural authenticity are preserved Let’s ride the waves with respect and care when looking after and protecting our global surfing paradises.

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