Maximizing wave count starts with knowing where the waves are, followed closely by knowing how to not
squander time that could be spent surfing – usually getting to and from the breaks. Staying at a surf camp
pretty much solves that problem, and it would be convenient if there was a surf camp at every great break on
the planet, or if the surf camps were all within walking distance of the breaks. But that’s usually not the case.
So an important part of surf travel planning is finding the accommodations closest to the breaks you want to
surf so you waste minimal time getting to and from the waves. That search is complicated by amenity needs
(bringing a non-surfing companion? kids? need air conditioning?) and budget. Budget, of course, is the
greatest determinant of wave count. Rich guys can surf anywhere, anytime, and for as long as they want.
Hell, they can even buy waves, and do.

The biggest time-waster comes from not planning at all, and spending your precious surf trip time driving
from break to break and hotel to hotel looking for the right accommodations at the right price at the right
break. Imagine the typical frustration at home of four-guys-in-the-Trooper checking all the local breaks,
arguing about going north or south while the wind turns from offshore to sideshore to onshore and the line-
ups get crowded. Now multiply that by the number of dollars your plane ticket costs. That number becomes
the “aggravation factor” experienced by driving around a strange country seeking the right accommodations
near the right breaks if you don’t plan properly. Or buy a prepackaged trip.

Everyone knows the best way to maximize wave count is to stay somewhere with a direct view of the surf.
Chasing surf, especially in unfamiliar territory, is usually a waste of time. By sitting and watching a break you
can jump on it when the combination of conditions is just right—tide, wind, crowd—and get two benefits:
First, you are not out looking, you are there; and second, within a couple of days you get to know the break
well enough to be pretty sure you are out looking for other surf at the right times. Since finding
accommodations with surf right out front is ideal, I’ve tried to point out those hotels wherever possible.
Unfortunately, there are very few hotels or even surf camps sitting right on top of good surf breaks. In fact,
most surf camps drive you to the surf, just like at home.

Sorry, but no secret breaks are revealed here. While over 70 breaks are featured, every one has already
been exposed in other surf travel guides. True, you would have to search quite a bit to put together the same
list. It’s also true that you will find suggestions as to where there may be spots yet to be discovered or talked
about. Another truth is there are a few breaks that are pretty well known by the experienced Costa Rica
travelers but haven’t yet been written up, so we're holding off on those. The most important truth, however, is
that while every inch of the Costa Rican coastline has been discovered, you can still find excellent, totally
uncrowded waves.

Pura vida!
The Surfer's Guide to Costa Rica
©1996-2012 SurfPress Publishing. All rights reserved.
Pura Vida

“Pura vida!” In Costa Rica it’s the local slang for “great,” “terrific” or
“cool.” In English it translates literally as “pure life.” A country whose
national exclamation is “pura vida” just had to have been created for surfers.

Take one trip to Costa Rica and you will quickly see why—warm water year-round, tasty and inexpensive
food, affordable lodging, friendly locals, and a wide variety of waves catching swells from two hemispheres
and two oceans. With all that, Costa Rica has become a popular destination for traveling surfers worldwide.
In fact, surfers comprise roughly one out of every five tourists, and there were 1.9 million tourists in 2007, an
11.5% increase over 2006.

Surfers travel for many reasons—to get away from crowds, cold water, and overly familiar waves; to get to
uncrowded reefs and points, consistent and bigger waves, warm water and different cultures. We travel to
empty our minds of everything but surf. Pure surf. Justifying a surf trip is easy. Making it work often is not.
Before every trip most surfers do some sort of research and planning to ensure that precious time and hard-
earned money are put to their best use, which means surfing the greatest number of the best waves. For
many that means ordering up a prepackaged surf tour. Others want more control, spontaneity, privacy or
adventure. They want to merge with the local environment and culture, and do it on their own. And still get a
lot of great waves.
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