The Best Time Of Year To Surf In Costa Rica (Local Explains)

A surf trip abroad is something to look forward to! Therefore, it is devastating to discover that you booked your surf trip during the few months when your destination receives no waves. To avoid this from happening on your Costa Rica surf trip, it might be good to know when it’s the best time to go surfing in Costa Rica.

The Pacific coast from Costa Rica receives the biggest swells from May to November. Still, it tends to be very consistent all year round. The Caribbean coast, however, only gets swell from December till March. Therefore, the best time to surf in Costa Rica depends on your desire.

Even when a country has waves all year round, some months are more popular than others. This can be due to bigger waves, better weather, or smaller crowds. This article will tell you exactly when it's the best time of year to surf in Costa Rica.

Does Costa Rica Have Seasons?

Costa Rica has a rainy season and a dry season. They are also referred to as summer and winter. Due to the mountains in the center of Costa Rica, there are many different climates.

This results in different seasons at the same time. While the west has its rainy season, the east experiences a summer/dry season.

There are two seasons in Costa Rica. Unlike places that have summer, fall, winter, and spring, Costa Rica has only summer and winter.

Although they are called summer and winter by the Costa Ricans, it’s nothing compared to the summers and winters which most of you are used to.

The Costa Rican ‘summer’ is also known as the dry season. This season lasts from December till April.

During these months, there is hardly any rain (in most parts of Costa Rica), but the amount of wind increases substantially inland. 

The Costa Rican ‘winter’ is also known as the rainy season. The rainy season lasts from May till November.

May and November are the transition months. During these months, the weather can be unpredictable.

The above is the most basic way of describing the seasons in Costa Rica.

However, since Costa Rica is a long country with two coastlines, the seasons tend to differ a little bit per area.

For example, the dry season in the Northwest lasts from November to May. However, the dry season only lasts from January to March in the South West.

When visiting the Caribbean coast, you’ll find that the seasons are different again. Here the dry months are February, March, September, and October.

What is The Best Time of Year to Surf in Costa Rica?

The short answer:

The best time of the year to surf in Costa Rica is during the rainy season. Although it depends on your preferences, these months are the most consistent and deliver the Pacific coast's biggest and most powerful waves. Since this coast has the most spots, there is something for everyone.

The extended answer:

Let me give you some insights into the difference per season when it comes to surfing.

Since the best time of the year might be different for you compared to me or any other surfer.

You'll see that most people recommend the rainy season for anyone planning to go on a surf trip to Costa Rica.

This is due to the increase in swell (southeast), which will be received on the Pacific coast.

There is a lot of consistency during the rainy season, and the swell is basically always 4 ft+. 

Most places will have sunny mornings with offshore wind, thus creating the perfect dawn surf moments.

Unfortunately, the clouds will start to cover the sky during the day, and most afternoons, you'll have your typical tropical rain.

The rainy season is also the low season when it comes to tourism.

Most businesses working with tourists call it the "green season" in the hopes that it sounds more welcoming and therefore brings more tourists into the country.

However, the low season means lower prices and less crowded lineups, and you don't have to reserve everything weeks in advance.

If you're planning to go to the Caribbean coast, you should forget what you just read.

The Caribbean side gets their odd swells during the rainy season, but it's not consistent if any at all.

However, during December, February, and March, the Caribbean coast gets some amazing swell, creating gnarly waves due to all the reefs.

So what about the dry season?

Unfortunately, this season is the high season when it comes to tourism.

Most beach towns are vibrant and lively, and you'll see lots of tourists and locals enjoying their free time on the beach.

When it comes to the quality of the waves, don't worry, the Pacific coast is consistent all year round.

Although the swell is often less strong and big compared to the rainy season, there are still plenty of great surfing days.

This makes the dry season a great time to surf for beginner to intermediate surfers or those who like to surf but don't like the afternoon rain.

Besides, if you do feel like you want to kick it up a notch, you can always take the bus to the Caribbean coast and enjoy the reef breaks there.

Best time of year to surf on the Pacific side of Costa Rica

The Pacific coast of Costa Rica gets its biggest waves during the rainy season. Therefore most intermediate+ surfers prefer this season.

The dry season is better for those still learning or searching for less powerful waves.

Best time of year to surf on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica

There are basically only three months in which you can surf on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

These months are December, February, and March. During the other months, the Caribbean coast hardly ever receives any swell.

So what is the best surfing season in Costa Rica?

Although this depends on your preferences, the rainy season does have the most pros compared to the dry season.

The only real con is the afternoon showers and the size and power of the waves if you're a beginner.

However, since there are many spots, you’ll be able to find smaller waves during the rainy season too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you surf year-round in Costa Rica?

The Pacific coast receives swell all year round, and the Caribbean coast receives swell three months per year.

Since these three months happen to be during the months when the Pacific coast receives smaller waves, you can say that Costa Rica offers surf all year round.

Is there surfing in Costa Rica in the summer?

There is surfing in Costa Rica during the summer.

The Pacific coast is ideal for beginners and intermediate surfers (with bigger swell for the more advanced surfers from time to time), and the Caribbean coast is great for the intermediate+ surfers during the summer.

Can you surf in the rainy season in Costa Rica?

During the rainy season, the swell size and power increase a lot on the Pacific coast. Therefore it creates great surf opportunities for anyone daring to paddle out.

On the other hand, the Caribbean coast hardly gets any swell during these months but tends to be dry and great for sightseeing.

Can you surf in Costa Rica in March?

Since the Pacific coast receives swell all year round, and the Caribbean coast receives swell during December, February, and March, it’s safe to say that you can surf in Costa Rica in March.

Conclusion

If you’re planning an epic surf trip, and you don’t mind a bit of rain during the afternoon, the rainy season will be your best option.

The crowds are smaller, the prices cheaper, and the waves bigger and more powerful.

However, if you’re a beginner and would like to enjoy your afternoons in the sun rather than the rain, or if you want lots of other tourists to socialize with and have some beach parties, then the dry season might be a better option for you.

Marcus Campbell

Surfing is the biggest passion in my life. Transferring my knowledge about surfing to others is what I love doing most! I do this through my own surf school and through my articles on this website. This is how I hope to get everyone excited about this amazing sport!
Published: 
April 20, 2022
Published: April 20, 2022