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Surfing In Santa Teresa, Costa Rica: The Ultimate Guide

Let’s start with the premise that I fell in love with Santa Teresa. Santa Teresa has perfect surfing waves, lots of cool cafes and restaurants, friendly locals and expats living there, chill vibes and beautiful sunsets.

It has everything I want for a surfing holiday. Heck, it has everything I want for somewhere to live full-time too!

If you’re planning a surfing trip, you have add Santa Teresa to your Costa Rica itinerary. I know the awesome waves and charm of Santa Teresa will make you fall in love too, and you’ll wish you could stay longer.

In this guide I’ve listed everything you need to know about surfing in Santa Teresa. Including the best time to surf, the best surfing beaches, average rental and lesson prices, how to get to Santa Teresa and more.

So let’s dive in and start planning your Santa Teresa surf trip, I can guarantee you’re going to love it!

Surfing in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Surfing in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Do you need travel insurance to surf in Santa Teresa?

After my personal experience spending two nights in a private hospital in Tenerife, and having to pay for it out of pocket (it wasn’t cheap), I always recommend getting travel insurance.

You might not end up needing it, but for a small fee you can travel without worries. Personally, I suggest getting your travel insurance with  Heymondo.

Heymondo offers tailor made travel insurance, providing the best value for money for your specific trip. You can also buy it once you’re already abroad and have forgotten about it before flying (which, if you’re anything like me, is quite likely).

Besides the usual cancellation, medical expenses, luggage coverage and general travel insurance services, Heymondo also has a 24/7 doctor chat and instant assistance through their app.

As a Greta’s Travels reader, you get 5% off your Heymondo travel insurance!

Click here to get your 5% off Heymondo travel insurance!

Isla Tortuga in Costa Rica seen from above

Isla Tortuga, one of the most popular day trips from Santa Teresa

How to get to Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa is a bit of a pain to get to. The journey from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, takes around 6.5 hours and includes two buses and a ferry.

The drive from San Jose to Puntarenas, where you board the ferry is pretty smooth on well-paved roads.

The annoying part of the road is the final stretch leading up to Santa Teresa, where the roads are unpaved and you will be bouncing up and down a lot.

The public buses journey is fairly cheap and will cost around $13. You can also get a private car and transfer for around $50, but I don’t think it’s worth it as it would still take around 6 hours at least.

Go for the private transfer if you prefer to travel comfortably or the public bus times don’t work for your itinerary, because the total length of the journey is going to be the same.

Sunset from the ferry on the way back to San Jose

Sunset from the ferry on the way back to San Jose from Santa Teresa

Best time to surf in Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa has strong and consistent waves all year round, as well as all day long. The best time to surf ultimately depends on your level of surfing experience and what kind of waves you’re looking for.

Best time of the year

Temperatures in Santa Teresa are consistent between 20°C to 30°C all year round. The only difference is December to March is the dry season, with very little chance of rain, whilst May to October are the wet months.

However rainy season in tropical countries usually means an intense and brief downpour at some point during the day, and fairly clear skies for the rest of it. If you can only visit Santa Teresa in summer, I wouldn’t let that deter you.

The water temperature is around 26°C all year round. You can comfortably surf in just a bikini or board shorts (after surfing in Fuerteventura  and Tenerife with a full wetsuit this was a pleasant change for me)!

Surfing in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Surfing in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

Best time of the day

You can usually find all the good surfers out from 6AM to 9AM and then again from 4PM to 6PM. This is when the tide is higher, meaning the waves are bigger and longer.

However if you’re not a confident surfer yet (as is my case) I felt a bit insecure surfing at the peak times since there are quite a lot of people in the sea. I was always scared of getting in someone’s way and ruining their wave.

My personal favourite time is from 2PM to 4PM, when the waves start getting big again but there aren’t as many surfers in the water yet.

In the middle of the day, when the tide is low, the waves tend to be quite short. That means that by the time you manage to stand up, the wave is over and you’re scraping your fins in the sand.

Surfing in Santa Teresa Beach at sunset, Costa Rica

Surfing in Santa Teresa Beach at sunset, Costa Rica

Best surfing spots in Santa Teresa

The whole western coast of Costa Rica receives regular and consistent surfing waves. You could surf anywhere along the coast around Santa Teresa if you really wanted to.

However there are some beaches and spots that have become particularly famous amongst surfers. Some for the waves, and others for the infrastructure around them.

Playa Santa Teresa

As you may have guessed from the name, Playa Santa Teresa is the main beach in Santa Teresa. You can access the beach from a number of paths that branch off from the main road, and surf pretty much anywhere along it.

The most southern end is a bit rocky though, so make sure to walk to the central or northern part of the beach. You will see all the other surfers in the sea so it won’t be hard to spot the good surf spot.

Surfing in Santa Teresa Beach in Costa Rica

Surfing in Playa Santa Teresa in Costa Rica

Playa Hermosa

Playa Hermosa is around a 10-minute drive away from Santa Teresa town. There are some nice resorts and surf camps close the beach.

It has become a popular spot for those looking for something quieter than Santa Teresa. Here you can find consistent waves, a sandy break and the company of other fun surfers.

Surfing in Santa Teresa

Surfing in Santa Teresa

Playa Carmen

Playa Carmen is on the southern end of Santa Teresa, starting off from Banana Beach and going on for another 1.5km. It’s around a 10-15 minute walk from the centre of Santa Teresa and Playa Santa Teresa.

Here you will find not only great surf conditions, but also lots of cute beach bars and restaurants.

We spent a great evening drinking mojitos on the beach in front of Banana Beach and watching the good surfers tearing through the waves at sunset.

The sunset from Banana Beach

The sunset from Banana Beach

Surfing prices in Santa Teresa

Generally speaking surfing in Santa Teresa is quite affordable. Everything in Costa Rica turned out to be more expensive than we had expected it to be, but comparatively the surfing wasn’t too much more than we thought.

Surf rental prices

On average renting a surf board in Santa Teresa is around $10-$15 for 24 hours. You can also rent for more consecutive days and pay a lower price per day.

There were no shacks and rental shops directly on the beach, like I’ve previously seen in Sri Lanka or Bali, which is what I was expecting. Most of the shops are on the main road of Santa Teresa.

Whichever rental shop you choose, make sure it’s fairly close to the beach. Especially when you first start out the boards are quite bulky and heavy, you don’t want to have to carry them for too long!

We rented our boards from a shop on this street. The owner was friendly and gave us some surfing tips.

Drone shot of Santa Teresa beach

Drone shot of Santa Teresa beach

Surf lesson prices

Most of the surf rental shops will also offer surf lessons. On average these were priced around $50-$70 for 2 hours of surf lesson.

Surf camp prices

If you’re committed to wanting to learn to surf, doing a surf camp is a great idea. You will be staying in accommodation with like-minded surfers, and you will have instructors to take you to all the best surf spots.

We didn’t do one in Costa Rica but I’ve done surf camps in the Canary Islands before and I loved them.

The prices are usually for a full week including accommodation, surfing lessons and board rental if you want to surf beyond the class hours. Some places might also include breakfast, half board or all meals.

The prices can range from anywhere between $500 to $1,000 depending on the type of room (dorm vs private room), how many hours of surfing and meals you include.

Sunset surfing in Santa Teresa

Sunset surfing in Santa Teresa

Our experience surfing in Santa Teresa

Have I already said that I love Santa Teresa? If you’re looking for a fun surf holiday, Santa Teresa is the perfect place to do so.

By the time we arrived in Santa Teresa we had spent a busy week driving around Costa Rica, waking up at sunrise to see and do all the best that Costa Rica has to offer. It was awesome but also tiring.

When we arrived in Santa Teresa it felt like we’d pressed pause on things, and started living a little slower.

Me attempting to surf in Santa Teresa

Me attempting to surf in Santa Teresa

We would wake up every morning and get a couple hours of surfing in before breakfast, then chill in the hammocks of our hostel during the hot hours of the day, and go back to the beach for a sunset surf session.

The beach tends to be pretty quiet during the day, since it gets very hot. At sunset however all of Santa Teresa seems to come down to the beach.

There are no bars on Playa Santa Teresa so people bring their own drinks. You also get some local guys walking along the beach with crates of cold beer or homemade snacks. We even saw a guy making mojitos on the spot!

Me and my friend Jordan enjoying some sunset drinks in Santa Teresa

Me and my friend Jordan enjoying some sunset drinks in Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa also has a fun nightlife, without being an excessive backpacker party town. At the Thursday night bars (Thursday is the big night in Santa Teresa) you can find both tourists, expats and locals alike.

Costa Rica is considered one of the safest countries in Central America. I never felt unsafe walking back to our hostel after the beach parties.

I’ve been surfing in Bali, the Canary Islands, Australia and Sri Lanka, but Santa Teresa was my favourite place to do so. The waves were easy to surf for my surfing level, and the soft sand break meant it was very hard to injure yourself.

Pair that with the fun and chill atmosphere and you can see why I left my heart in Santa Teresa.

Awesome seafood dishes in Santa Teresa

Awesome seafood dishes in Santa Teresa

Where to stay in Santa Teresa

I think a big part of why I loved Santa Teresa so much was because the hostel I stayed at was very sociable and had a fun crowd. I listed below the hostel we stayed at and some more options if you don’t want to stay in a dorm.

Best budget accommodation in Santa Teresa – Lost Boyz Hostel

I absolutely loved Lost Boyz. It’s one of my favourite hostels I have stayed at. It’s not particularly fancy, but it has a very friendly and chill vibe.

Both the dorms and common areas are clean, there are lockers for valuables and it’s in a great location in Santa Teresa.

Click here to book your stay at Lost Boyz Hostel!

Best mid-range accommodation in Santa Teresa – Lucero Surf Retreats

Our friends who didn’t want to stay in a hostel were staying at Lucero Surf Retreats and they loved it. Clean and spacious rooms, as well as a pool where you can relax if you don’t fancy swimming with ocean waves.

Click here to book your stay at Lucero Surf Retreats!

Best luxury accommodation in Santa Teresa – SELVA RESORT Ocean View Luxury Villas

This resort has private villas with infinity pools that overlook the forest and sea. If you want to treat yourself after a long day of surfing, Selva Resort is the place to do so.

Click here to book your stay at SELVA RESORT!

Enjoying those Santa Teresa sunsets

Enjoying those Santa Teresa sunsets

Final thoughts on where to go surfing in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica

There you have it, the ultimate guide to surfing in Santa Teresa! Surfing in Santa Teresa is fun, relatively easy and affordable. If you’re planning to surf in Costa Rica, then you should definitely visit Santa Teresa.

I hope you find this guide useful in planning your surf trip to Santa Teresa! I’m hoping to go back to Santa Teresa so who knows, maybe I’ll see you out on the waves! Any questions feel free to ask them in the comments below.

Looking for more Costa Rica travel tips? Check out these guides:

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Collage of a sunset in Santa Teresa and a blonde girl surfing with text overlay saying" Surfing in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica"

EVERYTHING You Need To Know! – Face The Information

Friday 9th of July 2021

[…] had a little bit of prior surf experience, having been surfing in Bali, Costa Rica and Fuerteventura, but this was always only for week long surf camps or for one beach day as part […]

Luis

Tuesday 22nd of June 2021

FYI: The tides are not static

Heather Ernst

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

Hi - I am thinking of going to Santa Teresa in July solo to surf. I’m a timid intermediate surfer- would the waves be too big for me then?

David M. Carson

Tuesday 15th of December 2020

Great write-up, but for your information you have it all wrong about tides. First, high tide doesn't make the waves bigger, it usually makes them slower and "fatter". Sometimes that might mean "longer", but more often not. Lower tides make the waves faster and steeper. Also, the timing of high tide versus low tide doesn't correspond to any particular time of the day, the pattern changes continuously day by day, repeating itself only after 38 years. It does change only slightly per day, so if it's high tide at 8 a.m. today, it will definitely be high tide in the morning tomorrow, but probably not next week. Sorry to be the "nit-picker"!!!

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Wednesday 21st of October 2020

[…] adventures. In such a short time we did loads of different things including: horse riding, rafting, surfing, swimming in waterfalls, hiking and […]