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Surfing in Matapalo Costa Rica

Introduction – Surfing in Matapalo

Situated on the extreme tip of the Osa Peninsula, Matapalo offers the extreme adventurer with an opportunity to witness one of the few untouched, pristine regions in Costa Rica.


Matapalo combines dense jungles, breathtaking beaches, world class surfing in a peaceful, remote setting. Matapalo offers three excellent point breaks that, with the right swell, will make any traveler unpack, and stay a while.

However, there are several downsides to staying in Matapalo. First of all, the surf is not very consistent. Second, because this area is one of Costa Rica’s few remaining pristine destinations, the “locals,” (which in this case, any American who got there before you), are not very welcoming to new faces. Also, it is important to mention that this area is extremely remote and all power here is provided by solar energy.

There are no restaurants, bars, shops and therefore, all hotels include all meals in their stay (which means rustic accommodations, does not mean “rustic” prices!).

Getting There

Access to Matapalo is via a paved road from San José all the way down south (there are some sections towards the end that are not paved… 4×4 highly recommended) or via a shuttle flight to the local airport of Puerto Jimenez and then a one hour cab ride into Matapalo.


World class surfing in a peaceful, remote setting. Finicky, though.

Playa Matapalo

Best conditions at mid tide and a west/southwest swell.

Playa Matapalo

A powerful, and steep right hand wave that breaks best at mid tide offering fast rides. Because it faces the open ocean, it picks up more swells & is more consistent than nearby breaks.


Best conditions from mid- low tide and south/west swell.


A large, yet slow right that breaks over a reef in the middle of breathtaking Backwash Bay. Due to the steep beach, the waves generally jack up creating steep sections; great longboarding. Not as consistent as Matapalo, however, when it is going off, outshines Matapalo.

Pan Dulce

Best conditions with a large swell from the south at mid tide.

Pan Dulce

A long right point break that needs a large swell to work. With ideal conditions, you can expect up to 500 yd tubular rides. This wave has several fast sections that break over a rocky bottom.

Things to Do

No bars or nightlife. Just the insects, birds, monkeys, and incredible surf. Hey, you didn’t come here for ribs, you know? There are a few interesting tours like a nature tour, that will let you climb up one of the oldest trees in the area (with harness, of course).

Other Adventures

Tree Climbing and/or Nature Walk - HUGE trees, includes guide and equipment. Dolphin Watching - You might have seen one or two in the water, but this is up close and personal. Includes guide, snorkeling, transportation to and from the pier in Puerto Jimenez.

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