I have always been under the assumption that the "green" season is optimal for surfing on the Pacific side. I stayed in Tamarindo for the second time last July and experienced HH to OH+ waves every high tide.Ollies and Witches were having very similar conditions the day I was there. My girlfriend had a blast in Tamarindo; tons of shopping, restaurants/nightlife. The crime issue I feel is exaggerated in Costa. I have said this before on this forum, but go walk though Camden, parts of Philly or Wilmington then tell me Costa is "dangerous". I am heading back to Costa Rica in 3 weeks for a nice 14 day excursion with my gf and friends. It depends on what kind of surf you're looking for regarding break recommendations, check out the site below for more info. I personally like to stay in Tamarindo because its a central location and it's a fun town.
A good reference guide book worth reading before you make the trip.
"The Northern Pacific Coast is generally the most consistent destination from December ~ April. During this season, strong offshore winds combine with ideal swell directions to put breaks like Witches Rock, Playa Negra and Playa Grande in perfect form. The Central and Southern Pacific Coasts are generally best between May ~ November as the south swell season creeps in while the Caribbean Coast tends to pick up the best conditions from November ~ March. These are certainly generalizations which are by no means, guaranteed. However, using these characterizations is the best way to plan your vacation. "
yes and no. It is the best in our summer months on the central and south cost where it catches the big southern hemisphere swells. the northern coast around Tamarindo (as previously mentioned) is better for the NW swells they get in our winter months. just look at the geography and its obvious:
Say what you want about safety but I would keep my wife out of the bad places in the US too (unless I was carrying my pistol and then only if we HAD to go there). Point is, there are so many other nicer places in CR that are safer than Jaco. Why risk it.
I will be returning to Witch's Rock Surf Camp in Tamarindo for the fourth time in late August. Previous trips in Jan09, Sep09 and Sep10. Green season has absolutely been the best of the trips. An occasional shower, even a spectacular thunderstorm, but generally great weather and workable surf every day. Tamarindo proper is a pretty beach, but not usually breaking as well as other nearby beaches: Playa Grande, Playa Negra, Avellanas, Marbella, Little Hawaii, and two very successful trips to Witch's Rock and Ollie's at 6' plus. WRSC is a super relaxed vibe, very friendly staff, inexpensive and excellent food, right on the beach. Their professional instructors are the best, regardless of your skill level, I've seen the results personally when they taught my son. I don't want to get blocked for advertising, I'm just a huge fan. Read their reviews, you won't go wrong! One strong word of caution make sure you know what is included when you book your trip. Roads are poorly marked compared to U.S. , nearly impassable in some areas. Knowing where to go for the best break on any given day and then actually getting there can be tricky. WRSC includes boards, breakfast, ALL transportation, guides, and much more. See you there!
Petty crime is rampant in Costa Rica. Leave something on the beach and you should expect it to walk. Leave something in your car and you should expect a break-in. This isn't like surfing on the DelMarVa (in more ways than one!). Violent crime is rare unless you are in one of those infested, drugged-out areas that some of the popular villages have become (affluent careless gringos = crime opportunities).
Rainy season is well underway by August. Bridges and roads in-place one day and gone the next. The main road going from Puntarenas to Jaco that we used was covered by a mountain mudslide a day later and wasn't cleared for several months. Ditto to the main southern route from Jaco. We used tertiary roads over the mountains -- an interesting experience in itself. Bridges on the single road from Nosara to Nicoya were washed out or heavily damaged after an overnight 12 inch rain and made for some interesting navigation (the reason we ended up in Jaco Beach). Maybe the infrastructure has changed a lot since 1988, but I doubt it has changed that much. Surfing down at Hermosa Beach was fun and interesting. Interesting because of all the varied debris in the water and the streams of orange-brown water indicated where the rips were running. Very uncrowded back then at Hermosa. That has certainly changed.
Go and have fun... just be aware it isn't staying at the Greenbrier Resort.
I agree with the rest, try to stay out of Jaco if you are with your girlfriend/wife, not that cool a place unless you want to party and meet girls. Hermosa is probably to coolest place close to there, but there are a lot of other places you can check out. Just saw this too, don't see this happen much down there.
I'm going down sometime in August and it is usually a good time of year, not crowded and usually some sort of waves, although two years ago got skunked in August and this past Dec got good waves, should be the opposite, go figure.
Tamarindo waves...not so much. Playa Grande was great, though I don't know what it's like to stay nearby (maybe someone else here does...).
My friends and I went in March of this year. We stayed at the Rip Jack Inn in Grande. They were more than helpful and had damn good food and clean rooms and it's practically on the beach. Good vibe in Grande and a great homebase spot if you plan on going to Avellanas, Playa Negra & Witches. Although, you may not be able to make it into Witches during the rainy season. There were some monster mud pits, luckily they were dry when we drove in...I realize southern and central Costa Rica are probably better spots for August. but I'm sure there's waves in the Grande area. Also, one thing, and I don't want anybody to take this the wrong way, I love Costa Rica, not trying to stir up any sh*t (no pun intended)...but I wouldn't surf in Tamarindo if I were you...there's a sewage drain that empties out right into the lineup there,which might not be a problem in smaller towns, but Tamarindo is jumping, lots of people...NASTY!
I think someone already said it, I would stay away from Jaco. I know a woman whose sister moved there and she was there visiting and somebody grabbed her pocketbook and took off. From what I hear, a lot more crime down there, but I'm sure most of it is just petty theft. Have fun, you are going to love CR...ever since I got back I've been trying to figure out how the hell and when I'm moving there. Pura Vida!