A Guide to Surfing in Guanacaste
A while back, the swell and the tides lined up nearly perfectly with the dawn hours to create a trifecta of prime conditions for surfing in the area. According to Magic Seaweed’s Playa Grande forecast (a good reference point for swell across the Guanacaste Coast), swell started firing on Thursday morning. From there, wave action nearly doubled from 1m up to nearly 2.5m by Friday and Saturday, fading down closer to 1.5m by the end of the weekend and back down below 1m by Sunday morning.
Actual wave height varied per break, with factors like wave direction, water depth, and subaquatic features all coming into play, but as a general rule more swell is a good thing, elevating the enjoyment of mild breaks like Iguanita, upping the thrill of moderate breaks like Playa Grande, and drawing surfers from around the world out to the truly daunting possibilities of double and even triple overhead at Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point.
Making Las Catalinas Home Base for Surfing in Costa Rica
Versatility is a key feature of any surf camp, which is part of the reason that so many surfers flock to Costa Rica to pursue the sport. Exposure to the powerful waves of the Pacific combines with a topographically complex coastline to offer a wide selection of different breaks in a small area, like the Rockies or the Alps for snow skiers.
Within a short drive or boat ride from Las Catalinas, you can find breaks ranging from gentle training beaches to double overhead, and everything in between. It’s a surf camp that satisfies all skill levels, and provides a platform to explore the coast chasing new breaks and the perfect waves.
Easy access from Liberia Airport and the surrounding areas makes transport for riders and boards simple. Healthy, local culinary options provide a treat throughout the day to keeps everyone in peak condition. Wake Day Spa offers deep tissue massages to reduce recovery time and alleviate soreness. The Beach Club, Santarena's rooftop, and in-home pools are prime places to lounge between surf sessions.
A Weekend of Surfing in Costa Rica
For visitors in town, the rising swell Thursday through Sunday built a natural four-day surf plan. For experts, the breaks at Ollie’s and Witch’s would reach double overhead on Friday and Saturday, so a moderate day on Grande Thursday would be ideal to get in the rhythm and knock off any rust before two big days.
For beginners, a good start to the trip was Iguanita, to get a handle for boards throughout the day. As the surf began to pick up the next day, a guided session from Frijoles Locos over on Avellanas or the quieter parts of Playa Grande was an ideal way to test out new skills, while moderate riders used the next two days to hit Playa Grande at peak times as the surf started firing.
For more experienced riders, Friday brought two truly spectacular days at Ollie’s and Witch’s. To get there, surfers depart right from the beach at Playa Danta. As both breaks are only accessible from the water most times of year, a small, fast water craft covers the brief, hour and a half drive to both breaks. With the vessel lingering just outside of the break zone, surfers hop into the water and paddle into the break from behind, dropping right into the action.
As the swell faded on Sunday, there was something for surfers of every skill level at Playa Grande. By the end of a long weekend, the 1-1.5m swell presented a challenge worth overcoming for newer riders, while more experienced riders appreciated the change of pace after two intense days at the country’s biggest breaks.
No Matter the Season, No Matter the Weekend
Part of the reason the sport of surfing enraptures so many is the fact that every day, even every hour, the waves are different. The constant hunt for the surf is a part of the fun, a chase that can take surfers to distant shores, offshore breaks, and new places in pursuit of the perfect waves.
Living on the coast of Costa Rica just happens to simplify the search a bit. No matter what time of year, or what the weather is, there’s always something to discover within a short ride from Las Catalinas.