The best surfing in Central America? Well, that would be… Central America.
Central America is one of the most wave-rich regions on the planet. The fact that it is easy to get to (for Americans at least) makes it a go-to surf trip destination. Of course, the history and politics of Central America have always kept it from becoming completely overrun. And while Costa Rica may be headed in that direction, there are still plenty of warm, empty waves to be had.
Add in that your surf trip to Central America will also expose you to the warm people and culture and you just can’t miss.
So while ‘Best Surfing in Central America‘, like all best lists, is subjective, what you’ll find is that Central America offers something for everyone (unless you’re dying to use that new wetsuit).
This list is in no particular order. We’re just going to start at the top and head down. What you’ll find is that as long as the country has access to the Pacific Ocean it has good surfing opportunities. Additionally, some of the best surfing in the Caribbean can be found in Central America as well. But, if I was planning a road trip to surf through Central America this is what it would look like.
Wait? Am I planning a surf road trip? Oh man, I’m getting excited!
All right, let’s be totally transparent here. Guatemala is never going to win any ‘best surfing in Central America’ contests. Its featureless coastline and swell angle just doesn’t provide the pumping surf you are likely to find in pretty much every other country on this list.
However, this doesn’t mean that Guatemala doesn’t make a great surf trip. In fact, the lack of difficulty is exactly what might make Guatemala the perfect Central American surf destination for plenty of people.
The proximity of the main surf zone to the airport means you won’t spend tons of time in the car. Additionally, you have the option to hit Antigua, a Unesco World Heritage Centre along the way – something you don’t get anywhere else in Central America (there are other sites, just not whole towns!).
This makes for a great surf trip, just don’t expect barrels at the end of the road. And in fact, for plenty of people, that is exactly what might make Guatemala the best surf destination in Central America.
Let’s continue our road trip, shall we?
Now, unlike Guatemala, El Salvador is likely to get plenty of votes as the best surfing in Central America. Also unlike most other surf spots in the region, pictures of surfing in El Salvador are likely to feature reeling rights over rocky points.
El Salvador is not known for its beginner-friendly waves like Costa Rica. It’s also not known for being a beginner-friendly travel destination (also like Costa Rica). The country has a rough history of volatile politics and notorious street gangs.
These things keep El Salvador off the radar for many travelers, but those willing to take their chances are rewarded with amazing waves and a lack of crowds that their neighbors to the south can no longer provide.
As always, traveling entails risk and most of the real violent crime is not targeted at tourists. But El Salvador is a country where you need to travel smart and keep a low profile.
Of course, these things all combine to make it perhaps the best surf destination in Central America.
Nicaragua is a strong contender for the best surfing in Central America. For those people who feel like they have outgrown the friendly waves and general vibe of Costa Rica, Nicaragua is often the next step.
Surfing Nicaragua just turns up the dial a bit on everything – a bit more volatile and a bit more thumping.
The beach breaks in Nicaragua can just be that much more advanced – thumping, barrels.
More Resources on Traveling to Nicaragua
Surfing Nicaragua Travel Guide
Ah, Costa Rica.
That warm, friendly bosom of surfing and Pura Vida lifestyle.
Costa Rica has become internationally renowned as the friendliest, safest, and most accessible country to visit in Central America. Sure, no place is immune from petty crime targeting tourists. As they like to say, “We play in a rough neighborhood.”
With high literacy rates and a national embrace of tourism as an important industry, you’ll find Costa Rica easy to get around with plenty of people who speak English.
And the waves… Oh, the waves…
Costa Rica is truly blessed with something for everyone as far as waves are concerned.
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