The Best Short Costa Rica Surf Trip

Surfing Tamarindo Costa Rica Sunset

It is always super amazing, or frustrating, to dream about that weeks or months long surf escape to Costa Rica, leaving everything behind and just dropping off the grid for a while.  Maybe a long while.  Maybe even forever!

However, for many of us that’s just not the reality.  In fact, for many people that isn’t even the desire.  Life at home is good, we just need a break, something different.  Warm the bones.

So that’s where the short surf mission comes into play.  Maybe even for just a long weekend.

Can a short surf trip even happen in Costa Rica?  Sure.  You just have to know how to minimize the realities of travel in Central America, namely that the driving is going to take a while, sometimes much longer than anticipated.

The secret to a short surf trip is minimizing travel time and maximizing time in the water so you have to choose your spot carefully.  

When it comes to Costa Rica, there are really two main options for a great short surf trip because there are two airports.  Where you arrive, whether it is Liberia or San Jose, really determines the area that you are going to focus on.  Both airports offer great options for your strategic surf mission, so the key in the case of a short surf trip would be to take whatever one has the most convenient flights for you, preferably directs. 

Nothing has the potential to ruin your surf trip like a layover, especially if you are escaping winter conditions somewhere.  If at all possible, take the direct flight and go from there.  

Now, if your best flight is to the Liberia airport then you can have your feet in the sand within an hour of clearing customs.  It is really one of the most convenient surf trips around.  In order to maximize your wave count, I would hole up down by Avellanas which is just a little further down the road and is empty.  

In Tamarindo, your surf mission is at serious risk of becoming a party mission (not that there’s anything wrong with that, just beware).  If you really want to escape the scene, avoid Tamarindo.

Tamarindo gets plenty of press, and for great reason, but my advice, stay at Avellanas.  

Playa Avellanas is just down the road from Tamarindo, but is everything Tamarindo just isn’t anymore.  Quiet, undeveloped, empty.

San Jose Flight Option

If your best flight option is a direct flight to San Jose, you still have plenty of options for your quick surf trip.  Heading west, you are at Jaco in less than two hours or, if you are willing to go a bit further, you get to Dominical (my suggestion) in about 3.

While these drives may be a bit longer than the options up north, the difference is that you are on a highway the whole time, not bouncing around the notoriously horrible potholed disasters that they call roads in the Guanacaste.  The quality of the roads may make up for the little extra duration of driving for those carsickness-prone people in your group.

Dominical, while a bit further down the road, would be my suggestion here.  If I get a flight to San Jose, this is where I am going.  Easy drive.  Small town.  Great waves.  Easy back to the airport.  

Everything you are looking for in your trip.

Just remember, on this highway, tolls are required.  Make sure you get a few colones before you leave the airport!

The reality is that the Liberia-Tamarindo option is so convenient it’s hard to beat.  You don’t even need to waste that precious night before your exit just heading to the airport.  

If you are down in Dominical, chances are you would need to head to San Jose the night before an early flight.  However, if this is the case, I’ve written about how San Jose has really changed for the better over the years and a night spent in Barrio Escalante is hardly a waste of time.  

It’s just different.

There are great options for pulling off a short surf trip to Costa Rica.  Where you go is going to be determined largely by which airport you can get the best flights to.  While the options from Liberia minimize the driving time once you have landed, that doesn’t help if you have to spend 5 hours sitting in Houston to get there.  If your best option is a direct to San Jose, there are some great ways to make that trip happen too.

Planning a Trip to Tamarindo? Here’s the information you need plus some more reading just to get stoked:

Ultimate Guide to Surfing in Costa Rica

Guide to Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Which Costa Rica Airport is Best for Tamarindo – Liberia or San Jose?

Getting to Tamarindo Costa Rica

Always Get the Travel Insurance

Tamarindo Surf

Must see while in Tamarindo:

Guide to Surfing Playa Avellanas Costa Rica

Best Coffee in Tamarindo

Tamarindo Coffee Roasters

Where to Eat in Costa Rica

Nosara Restaurants

Nosara Coffee

Tamarindo Coffee

Barrio Escalante Restaurants

Related Articles:

One Week in Tamarindo

Three Weeks in Playa Avellanas Costa Rica

Surfing Playa Avellanas Costa Rica – Just Don’t Fall

Surfing Playa Grande Costa Rica

Tamarindo – The Best Short Costa Rica Surf Trip?

Related Travel Book Reviews and Recommendations

Travel Book Reviews and Recommendations

Great Surf Trip Books

Great Surfing Books

Written by Roam Chronicles

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