Surfing in Playa Hermosa & Jaco
Updated: Sep 11, 2021
Introduction – Surfing in Playa Hermosa / Jaco
Hermosa is a bit more challenging than Jaco, and both are considered the definitie surf mecca of Central Pacific Costa Rica.Playa Hermosa and nearby Jaco is THE definitive surf mecca of the central pacific coast.
This area arguably offers the most consistent year-round surf with over 3 ½ miles of steep beaches with excellent exposure to swells from almost any direction. Although this area is extremely popular, there are so many peaks up an down the beach that you are likely to find an uncrowded, head high peak at almost any time of year.
Playa Hermosa is a small community of surfer friendly hotels and small restaurants & all accommodations are located beachfront with surf right out the door. Because the surf in Playa Hermosa is more challenging than nearby Jaco, this area attracts a more experienced surfer.
Playa Jaco, located just 2 short hours from the international airport, has become one of Costa Rica’s most visited beach towns, especially amongst the traveling surf community. Jaco is a small, yet extremely active town geared towards surfers, parties & nightlife. As you walk down the “strip,” you will find countless surf shops, restaurants, bars, discos and a variety of accommodations.
Hermosa is geared more towards the hard-core surfer while Jaco is designed for the active type looking for plenty of hotels, surf shops, bars, discos and an overwhelming nightlife.
One of Hermosa/Jaco’s greatest advantages: located just 2 hours on paved road from the international airport in San José.
Because the surf in Playa Hermosa is more challenging than nearby Jaco, this area attracts a more experienced surfer.
A very long left that breaks off a rivermouth. This is an ideal wave for longboarding as it does not get hollow, however on a good day, rides are up to 500yds. Best on south or southwest swell & dawn patrol. Water can be extremely dirty after a rain so be prepared!
A rivermouth break with a left breaking at low, incoming tide over a sand bar. This break needs a large swell from the south/southwest. Just to the south, you will find “El Hoyo” which is a thick, hollow right hand which forms off a jetty and breaks over a sand bar. It is more consistent than Boca Barranca. To get to “El Hoyo,” you must enter the port and “convince” the guard to let you through.
Playa Tivives; Playa Valor
Offering a variety of lefts and rights, beach breaks and rocky points (Valor). Tivives offers rights & lefts breaking with strong currents; the mouth of the river creates and almost perfect, tubular left (beware of crocs & dirty water). Valor is accessed by paddling across the river. Best at incoming high tide with a south swell (L & S).
A horseshoe, A-frame reef break with a powerful, hollow left and mellower right. Be aware of low tides as rocks are exposed. Best at mid – high tide with a southwest/west swell. Boat access only from Herradura Bay.
Long beach with lefts and rights breaking and sandbottom and rocks. This area is smaller than Hermosa and a good option for beginners. Best in front of Surfer Factory at the south end, in front of the White Fence in the middle, and in front of Copacabana at the north end.
A right which breaks in deep water over a reef. It is one of the heaviest spots on the coast offering long, clean rights. Climb down the cliff just before the highway takes you down into Jaco. Paddle out through a narrow 8″ wide channel visible on the inside reef at low tide. Best on a due WEST swell at low to incoming tide.
Long stretch of beach offering some of the most consistent conditions on the Pacific Coast. A variety of sandbars have formed creating a pounding and tubular beachbreak. The following are the breaks that line this beach:
Terraza - a fast, hollow right breaking in front of a group of visible rocks. Several other breaks just south of this break offer less punishing waves breaking over a sandbar. Best conditions on a west/southwest swell from low to mid tide incoming.
Backyard - a very consistent sandbar located at the entrance to the dirt road in Hermosa. This wave breaks close to the beach and is generally hollow with rights and lefts. Best conditions on a southwest/west swell at mid – high tide incoming.
Almendro (Almond Tree) - breaking in deeper water than most of the hotel breaks, this break also offers a sandbottom with rights and lefts. Best conditions on a south/southwest swell at mid- high tide incoming.
Corners - breaking in even deeper water creating a little more size, more sandbottom rights and lefts. Generally bigger than northern breaks of Hermosa. Best conditions at low to mid tide and a west/southwest swell.
Tulin - located in front of the Soda Tulin about 10 minutes south of the Backyard, this break is consistently a few feet bigger than the hotel breaks. There is also a rivermouth break further south (with crocodiles) with a perfect line-up in ideal conditions. Best conditions at low tide on a west swell.
South of Playa Hermosa
Breaking over a sandbar on the inside and outside on a submerged reef. Generally outside breaks reforms on the inside for more beginner surfers. No crowds and best conditions at high tide on a south swell. To get here, travel south of Hermosa for 20 minutes and enter at Esterillos Oeste.
Beach break offering long waves breaking close to the shore. Best conditions at mid – high tide on a south/southwest swell.
Things to Do
Jaco is a small, yet extremely active town geared towards surfers, parties & nightlife. As you walk down the “strip,” you will find countless surf shops, restaurants, bars, discos and a variety of accommodations.
This is the ideal destination for surfers or young travelers looking to be in the middle of the action. Carara Biological Reserve is located about 25 minutes north and Manual Antonio is a day trip south — at both places you will find the unique opportunity to see the scarlet macaw, hundreds of species of flora and plenty of other wildlife including the occasional toucan.
Local activities include surfing, stand-up paddling, yoga, fishing, canopy tours, horseback riding, kayaking, and more.
Get a Surf Lesson - Duration is 2–3 hours and includes transportation, surf instructor (no more than 2 students per instructor), surfboard.
Backyard Surf Contest – Usually during high season, Backyard Hotel in Hermosa will host weekly local surf contests on Saturdays. Come here around 4 PM to enjoy a beer on the beach and watch the best surfers in the area compete!
Tortuga Island Tour - The Original “Calypso Catamaran Cruise”. Particularly enchanting for it’s beauty, Tortuga Island is known for its immaculate white sand beach and turquoise waters, a perfect stop for swimming, snorkeling and Calypso’s Famous Lunch.
Canopy Tour - This is an exciting look at one of the few remaining transitional forests in Costa Rica . The Tour consists of 11 suspended platforms and a hanging bridge from tree to tree in order to reach the other platform, connected with steel cables, the total length around seven hundred meters (+2000 feet). The height of the platforms vary from 60 to 120 feet above the ground.
Horseback Riding in Herradura - Includes transportation, guide, horses.
Manuel Antonio National Park - A half day trek to a white sand national park that includes transportation, entrance fee & snacks. Usually you can see a monkey or two here.
Carara National Park - Carara National Park covers a low mountainous area of 15,000 acres of an interesting ‘transition’ forest between the Dry Tropical Forest and the Rainy one. Home of many mammals, as well as the rare Scarlet Macaw and vast number of species of plants and trees. Appreciate the wonders of this intricate eco-system. And there’s monkeys!
ATV Tour - Includes drinks & snacks. Explore Costa Rica with an ATV! Modern equipment with all the fixings through the mountain’s backyard.
Sportfishing, central pacific is one of the best places for deep-sea fishing, every year thousands of fish are release in this area of Costa Rica
Private Transfers- Where you are traveling around or you are looking to book an airport transfer you will always find the best deals
Things to Avoid
North Jaco, especially the Beatle Bar: Once a great dancing spot, the ambiance has turned a little dark and we recommend avoiding this area.
Do not park your vehicles on the beach or main road with ANY valuables inside as petty theft is created by temptation.