Looking for some classic, consistent, and powerful tropical beachie action? Well, you’re in the right place. Playa Hermosa in Puntarenas is one of the best and most consistent surf breaks in Costa Rica.
A black sand beach famous for its throaty barrels, Carlos Munoz, and the odd crocodile siting. Here’s everything you need to know about surfing Playa Hermosa, from what makes the joint tick to where to stay and how to get there. Let’s get it!
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Where is Playa Hermosa?
Playa Hermosa is located just outside of Jaco. The popular Costa Rican tourist town is a bustling, crowded place with ex-pats and North American tourists. While Jaco is hectic and somewhat trashy, Playa Hermosa is far from it, despite being only minutes down the coast.
Playa Hermosa - Surf Overview
When to Surf Playa Hermosa?
Playa Hermosa has waves all year round. If you find the right sandbank, you can score barrels and fun peaks for turns whenever you visit. However, the beach receives its best and biggest swells (potential for barrel-of-your-life type waves) in the wet season (April – October).
Playa Hermosa - Surf Spot Breakdown
Playa Hermosa is four miles of black sand beach, with multiple peaks breaking the length of it. Most surfing happens in front of the small cluster of accommodations on the sand (close to the beach’s northern end). But sandbanks can shift, and the best waves can happen anywhere, so do your driving and scope the best bank.
Other Surf Spots Around Playa Hermosa
If you’re a beginner in this part of Costa Rica, Playa Jaco is your best bet for beginner-friendly waves. Located in the main town of Jaco, you’ll have all the surf school and hire facilities you could ever want when learning how to surf in Costa Rica.
At the southern end of the four-mile Hermosa stretch lies Tulin. Another hollow, punchy section of beach and a great spot to check the banks and escape the crowds.
Enjoying this post? You might like my complete guide to surfing in Costa Rica, or full breakdowns from around the country. Check out the guide to surfing in Dominical, Santa Teresa, Pavones and Puerto Viejo.
Where to Stay When Surfing in Playa Hermosa?
While you could stay at one of the more plush hotels in Jaco, you’ll want to stay in front of the waves to maximize your time at Hermosa. Thankfully, there are several great options to stay right on the sand.
Best Budget Surf Accommodation in Playa Hermosa
While there are more budget accommodation options in Jaco, Wipeout Hostel is your best option for staying close to the sand on a tight budget at Hermosa. A short walk takes you straight to the main peak and the hostel itself is a wicked spot to meet travelers/surfers and tap into the Jaco nightlife of the nighttime.
Best Mid-range Surf Accommodation in Playa Hermosa
Literally on the sand at Playa Hermosa, Vida Hermosa is a wicked place to stay for surfing in Hermosa. A collection of private units complete with a bathroom, however, A/C and wifi, you’ll have a great place to kick back between surf sessions and escape the harsh midday sun. Oh, and brekkies included! Prices start from $79usd per night.
Hotel Beachfront Vista Hermosa
Another beachfront Playa Hermosa property and one that’s at the upper end of the mid-range accommodation options. Pool, on-site restaurant, wifi, and surf lessons are just some of the amenities available. Read more about the Hotel Beachfront Vista Hermosa.
Best Luxury Surf Accommodation in Playa Hermosa
Las Brisas Resort
A beautiful property nestled in the jungle above Playa Hermosa. Complete with a pool, tropical gardens, restaurants, and only a 10-minute walk from the surf break. If you’re looking for the most comfortable and relaxed stay while surfing in the area, Las Brisas is your best bet.
Playa Hermosa Surf Lessons
Playa Hermosa is NOT the best place to learn how to surf. The waves are super powerful, break close to the beach, and the rips are intense. If you’re a beginner, head to Jaco; the beachie beach is long and flat with mellow and forgiving waves–perfect for learning. Check out the best surf schools here.
Alternatively, you can head to some of Costa Rica’s more friendly breaks such as Dominical or Santa Teresa.
Where to Eat & Drink?
Bowie’s Point is the main food joint in Hermosa and the go-to place to eat for all meals. The resident pig, Morita, is also an interesting attraction that wanders around while you’re tucking into your Gallo Pinto. Otherwise, many of the hotels have onsite restaurants with decent food.
Tips for Surfing in Playa Hermosa
Because of the ocean floor and how Hermosa faces SW directly into the oncoming Pacific swells, it gets some serious swell and packs a punch. So don’t be fooled; even on the smaller days where it looks playful, the waves are still super powerful!
Due to the volume of water moving around, especially on bigger days, the rips are intense. Whether water ripping out to sea or sweeping you down the beach, finding the best waves often means paddling away from rips to find clean water.
As you’d expect, the heat in Costa Rica is intense. At the best of times, you’ll want to avoid surfing in Costa Rica between 1-3, at least not without a thick layer of zinc and sun hat. But throw in some scorching black sand, and even getting in the water at midday is comparable to running over hot coals at noon!
While the best peaks can get crowded, the length of the beach means crowds are spread out more than other more concentrated surf breaks. On smaller days, when the waves are still powerful but more user-friendly, expect to see the crowds increase too.
One interesting aspect of surfing in Playa Hermosa is the occasional crocodile siting. Yep, crocs on the beach! Just down the coast is one of the best places in Costa Rica to see these magnificent creatures. Unfortunately, this does mean they slip out into the ocean occasionally.
The Digital Nomad Surf Scene
While there is less digital nomad infrastructure than towns such as Santa Teresa or Bocas Del Toro in Panama, hotels all have wifi, and you can easily whip out your laptop between surf sessions. The cafes on the sand are also a great place to check your emails while you enjoy a coffee!
Surf Shops in Playa Hermosa
Jaco has a handful of surf shops where you can stock up on boards, wax, leg ropes, and sunscreen. Here’s where to go to get re-stocked.
Surfing in Playa Hermosa is the quintessential Costa Rican surf experience, a place to surf every day, get barreled, and relax on the beach between sessions. Playa Hermosa is one of the best surf destinations in Costa Rica, and if you’re in the country, a must-visit. Check out the full guide for more information on surfing in Costa Rica.