Surfing In Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa has become one of the top destination surf spots for surfers in search of the best waves in Costa Rica. Because of its rolling coastline, white sand beaches and notoriously ‘hollow’ low tide waves, Santa Teresa attracts surfers of different levels of expertise. Beginners, intermediates and advance surfers alike can find a perfect breaking wave that caters to their level of experience.

Waves in Santa teresa

Surfing in Santa Teresa and Mal Pais is one of the favorite past times for those visiting the area.

Santa Teresa attracts yoga enthusiasts, adventurists, eco tourists and foodies to its eclectic mix of culture and cuisine. But perhaps its biggest draw is for those who appreciate the constant pounding of the surf on its pristine beaches. The waves in Santa Teresa are some of the most consistent that Costa Rica has to offer, making it a favorite spot to surfers around the world.

Santa Teresa is located on Southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. When surfers refer to ‘the waves in Santa Teresa’ they are generally referring to Santa Teresa and its surrounding beaches. This would include Mal Pais, Playa Carmen, Santa Teresa and Playa Hermosa. Some might even say that this includes Cedros, on the other side of the peninsula near Montezuma, and Manzanillo, which is just North of Playa Hermosa. This collection of beaches attracts waves form nearly every direction  giving them a variety of different surfaces to break on.

Surfing In Santa teresa

Although Santa Teresa is most commonly known for its beach breaks, when the swell picks up surfers in the area are also privy to point breaks, and reef breaks as well.  Having this variety lets the surfer choose what type of wave they would like to surf and how advance they would like to take it. The same swell can have a different effect on how the wave breaks depending upon what beach it is. For example, one swell might be too big for the beaches but perfect for the reefs. However, surfing a reef might not be on everybody’s list of things to do, but surfing a slow rolling point break might be. That same swell that is bringing in top to bottom ‘Indo style waves’ on one side of the peninsula, might  bring in chest high rollers on the other side.

Another way to look at this could be, dad and his buddies might be able to surf world class performance waves in the morning, then take the women and children to surf world class beginner waves that afternoon. All during the same swell, on beaches less than twenty minutes away.

Surfing in Santa Teresa and Mal Pais, different waves and surrounding beaches

Map of Waves in Santa Teresa
Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa is a long sand beach located at the northern end of Santa Teresa. The beach is surrounded by rock croppings that guide the waves into a  sand bottom beach break. The beach has become notorious for beginners as the long sand bottom and long rolling waves have made it a popular destination for the surf schools in the area. For intermediate and advance surfers, the outside waves offer a variety of peaks with punchy sections.

Playa Santa Teresa

The waves in Santa Teresa present a variety of beack breaks and point breaks when the waves get big. The waves in Playa Santa Teresa are usually a little bigger and more hollow than the waves at the surrounding beaches. This makes surfing in Santa Teresa more for the intermediate to advance levels. The surf is generally better at low tide when they get faster and more punchier.

Playa Carmen

Playa Carmen is small beach that separates Mal Pais and Playa Santa Teresa. It is a sand bottom beach break with a slower moving wave good for both beginner and intermediate surfers. There is generally a long rolling right and a shorter punchier left that break from the outside all the way to the beach.

Mal Pais

Mal Pais has a combination of different waves that break on a variety of reefs and rock croppings. The swell generally has to be a little larger and from a proper southern direction for the waves to be good in this area. It should be noted that when the waves get good in Mal Pais, they might be best waves that the country has to offer. Most of the waves are more advance with some waves that mimic those in Indonesia or the popular reef breaks on the Caribbean coast. There a variety of different rocks to avoid, and shallow reefs not to fall on, making the surfing in Mal Pais more for advance surfers with experience and wave knowledge.


Knowing where to surf in Santa Teresa can get a little confusing when the swell picks up. Because of the untouched coastline, and limited beach access, having a local surf guide or instructor can be a huge benefit to those in search of the perfect waves. If you would like to experience surfing in Santa Teresa with a seasoned local & certified surf instrucor contact Surfing Costa Rica Pura Vida today!

 

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