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Santa Teresa & Mal Pais Surfing

Updated: Sep 24, 2019

Introduction – Surfing in Santa Teresa/Mal Pais

Mal País, located on the southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula, is another rising, yet still fairly untouched, surf destination in Costa Rica. Mal Pais/Santa Teresa is a very small community scattered along the pale, gold beaches with a beautiful backdrop of green vegetation.

Mal Pais - untouched with a great atmosphere.

This area is ideal for surfers looking for a remote surfing experience with a fairly chilled nightlife (a little more bustling up the road in Santa Teresa), and just good, consistent waves and a great atmosphere. Most waves in the area are best for intermediate surfers, however a large swell will put the area’s more fickle reef breaks in epic form for advanced surfers.

Getting There

Mal País is accessed by taking a ferry from Puntarenas and then driving about 1 hour on mostly paved road into town.


This area is ideal for surfers looking for a remote surfing experience with no nightlife, just good, consistent waves and a great atmosphere.

Playa Santa Teresa

Good lefts and rights at this hollow beach break. Tends to pick up more swell than nearby breaks and holds shape better at low tide. Take a right at the crossroads and continue 3km. Best conditions on west/southwest swell.


An offshore reef break at the north end of the beach with the same name. When the swell is big, it works, fickle otherwise.

Playa Carmen

A beach break that peaks with some rock reef. This wave offers a long right wall and a shorter left breaking over a sloping sand bottom. When these breaks get big, try the nearby reef breaks in Manzanillo or to the south of Carmen. Best conditions on west/southwest swell.

Los Suecos

A lefthander with a fast take off followed by a long workable wall. Gets hollow with size and offshore winds. Needs a good swell. Not for beginners.

Punta Barrigona

A long lefthander wraps round the point turning into a great hot dog wave as it moves through the inside. Needs a lot of swell to work properly. Not for beginners.

Other Adventures

Day Trip to Montezuma – is a great place for an all day trip, where you can visit the rose petal and dreadlocks hangout, as well as the gorgeous and numerous waterfalls, Plenty of Atv Adventure Tours and much more activities. The Tropicana Bar has drinks and music in the evenings for those who still have the energy to be out in the evening (as most are in bed early preparing for the morning surf).

Canopy Tour in Mal Pais - A great canopy tour that shows the various layers and ecological niches of the rainforest. 6 hours of fun, with guide.

Get a Surf Lesson - Instruction program is customized for each student, maximum 2 students per instructor, including board and transport. These can also be multiple day lessons, and very comprehensive.

Horseback Riding - Includes naturalist guide. Great way to see Costa Rica and its savage nature.

Real Estate Visit For Malpais and Santa Teresa Properties

Things to Avoid

Avoid driving to Mal Pais, or at least drive when there is light; the road traveling in is in bad condition, and bad enough when you can see where you are going. Also, be sure to plan your departure or arrival taking into consideration the ferry times across the Peninsula.

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