Guanacaste Surf Breaks: 7 of the Best CRIA-Area Waves for Families

get kids outside surfing in Costa RicaLiving on Costa Rica’s Gold Coast means year-round sun, sand, and access to Guanacaste surf breaks. We can stretch our skills and test our mettle, whenever the mood strikes. That said, there’s so much more time to “hang 10” when you’re hanging out on summer break!

And so, as we roll through mid-summer, we thought we’d share some insight into some of what CRIA families have been enjoying this summer. And by that, we really mean surf breaks. Because surfing is almost a way of life here. Grabbing your board and heading into the Pacific becomes as natural as riding a bike or taking a walk. It’s just what we do. Well, one of the things we do! 

From brand-new beginners to the most confident experts, CRIA students and their families carve out plenty of time over the summer to test their surf skills at beaches close to home. Here are a few of our favorite spots to while away a day on your boards: 

Ollie’s Point

We wouldn’t typically kick off this list with the famous Ollie’s Point – a surf break for experts only and accessible solely by boat! – but hey, alphabetical order… 

And so, let us introduce you to the fast and furious, right-breaking Ollie’s Point, a thrilling and challenging choice destined for the advanced surfers in your family. Because this is an unabashed, experts-only, serious-boarders kind of place. And it’s so worth it, considering that there are usually very few crowds!

If you go, know that Ollie’s Point, also known as Potrero Grande, promises a fast and perfect break that hits a rocky sea bottom. (See above, re: experts only.) What’s more, those breaks can often eclipse 8 feet high! Tip: Whether you’re there to surf or to spectate, be sure to bring plenty of food and water, as the beach is accessible only by boat.

Playa Avellanas (Lola’s and Palo Seco)

Playa Avellanas, located just south of Tamarindo in Hacienda Pinilla, offers one of those Guanacaste surf breaks that can go either way: On a calm day, waves are small and ideal for confident beginners but on a big day, this is an advanced surfers only kind of place. (When in doubt, inquire into current conditions.) 

Gather your family and grab your boards, and head out into the waves that crash in front of Lola’s Restaurant or Palo Seco. Here, you’ll find consistent surf that doesn’t churn and froth. Be sure not to drift south, though, as the Playa Avellanas River Mouth and the beach’s famous surf break, Little Hawaii, qualify as Big Daddies every day of the week.

Playa Tamarindo (Capitán Suizo)

International schools in costa rica

Congratulations Aldito Chirinos for his 1st place finish in the Under 16 and Under 18 category at the Circuito Guanacasteco de Surf in Avellanas!

If you’re looking for a true beginner break – say, a spot to take your first lesson or try to catch a few solo waves for the first time – then there are few choices better than the slice of Tamarindo Beach directly in front of Hotel Capitán Suizo. (Stand with the hotel at your back and you’re looking at the right place!)

The waves here are perfect for the inexperienced among us: gentle, mild, and delivering minimal pull, making it easy to practice your new skills without any major added challenges. A small (literally) tip, though: If there’s no one in the water, the waves are likely too small. Don’t worry, though; the surf should pick up again in an hour or so!

Playa Grande (Casitas)

Named for the casitas that line the beach here, the Casitas stretch of Playa Grande starts at the river mouth. (Remember to always, always pay for the lancha across the river, which is a favorite spot for crocs!)

Fair warning: Casitas is another Guanacaste surf break that can go either way: On a calm day, the surf here is perfect for confident beginners, who will have a chance to test their pop-ups and balance on slightly more challenging waves. But on a bigger day, Casitas is better suited to intermediate surfers. Again, if you’re unsure, ask surfers in the water about current conditions. (They’re not always easy to eyeball.)

Playa Junquillal

Once a hidden gem, Playa Junquillal has become a definite favorite among Guanacaste’s surfing families. Again, though, this is a beach where the surf can go either way: on a calm day, even beginners can handle Junquillal’s waves but on a big day, this is experts only need apply. 

If you hit on the right conditions, though, Junquillal is incredibly fun and offers high learnability. That’s because it promises a sandy beach break and just a two-minute paddle-out, so you and the kids can go again and again and again. Aim for high tide, in order to hit on waves tall and long enough to make them worth your while!

Playa Marbella

If you’re looking for the kind of Guanacaste surf that challenges as much as it thrills, then look no further than the waves at Playa Marbella. Suited to all levels of surfers, Playa Marbella is the kind of beach that lets you try new things, learn about your boards (which and when?), and hone your skills. 

That’s because this big-but-not-threatening swell breaks into a barrel, which more often than not, is manageable and fun rather than tough and terrifying. Do keep your eyes peeled for outside breaks that crescendo into massive waves!

Witch’s Rock

Tamarindo is one of the best places to live in Costa Rica with a familyAgain, we cannot compile a list of Guanacaste surf breaks without including Witch’s Rock, a world-famous left that challenges even the most expert surfers among us.  

So, straight off the bat, know that Witch’s Rock is not a destination for family surfing. (Unless you’re a serious surfing family!) That said, it is an incredible rush to visit and watch the advanced surfers do what they do best: catch Roca Bruja’s big, unforgiving, and consistent waves, which often curl into the most satisfying of barrels. Tip: If you can, be sure to catch a surf competition!

Fuel Your Family’s Interests in Guanacaste & at CRIA

One of the greatest things about living where we do is the astonishing, natural, and organic opportunities all around: It seems that everywhere we go and every sight we see, there’s always something that instills wonder and inspires CRIA students to observe, experience, and enjoy the greater world around them.

Guanacaste surf breaks are a little like that: They invite you and your family to find your inspiration, explore your interests, and identify your passions, just like we do at CRIA.

We don’t want you to just take our word for it, though. Come and visit. Tour our campus. Poke your head into one of our classes, a swim class, or an extracurricular. Get a feel for our community. See if it inspires you.

Whether you’re wondering about tuition & fees or special education in Costa Rica, cafeteria nutrition or the admissions process, we’re here to help. And when you’re ready to take the next step – to come, visit, and get your questions answered in person – we’d love to welcome you!

Get in touch to schedule a campus visit. We look forward to it!