Tamarindo on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast is known for leatherback turtles, the nearby wildlife park, and a lively nightlife. And it’s also home to incredible waves, long sandy beaches, and a vibrant surf scene.
If you want to learn to surf, there’s nowhere better than Tamarindo. Consistent swells and a variety of breaks makes Tamarindo the ideal destination for new surfers. But if you’re heading out for the first time, choosing the right surf camp can be tricky.
With this guide, we’ve found the 10 best surf camps in Tamarindo, guaranteed to cater to all types of surfers. From beginner families to confident single travelers, surfing in Tamarindo has never been better.
10 Best Surf Camps
Over the 20 plus years that Witch’s Surf Camp has been in operation, thousands of visitors have learned a passion for surfing. This surf camp is one of the best Costa Rica has to offer, with a friendly vibe matched by confident instruction.
Started by founder Joe Walsh based solely on a love of surfing, Witch’s Rock has gone from a surf shack to a classy camp. Stay here if you want an unmatched experience, right at the heart of Tamarindo.
Spend the days learning to surf with expert guidance at Iguana surf camp, and the nights relaxing in their top accommodation. Iguana believes surfing, nature, and comfort can all go together.
So if you’ve crashed into more than a few waves that day, you know a comforting and private room is waiting. The atmosphere is friendly, and small group learning lets you really get to grips with the board. Iguana Surf Camp is one of the most popular in Costa Rica.
Nature is always around the corner in Costa Rica, but at Dreamsea Surf Camp you really get to experience the natural beauty of this amazing country.
The eco-glamping experience takes you into the wild, with certified yoga instructors helping you to connect with the spirituality. Which all sounds lovely, but what about the surfing?
At Dreamsea, you’re only a shuttle ride away from four world-class beaches, featuring waves that cater to both beginners and advanced surfers. A surf camp with a difference, Dreamsea leaves you feeling fulfilled both spiritually and physically.
La Botella de Leche Hostel offers a variety of surf packages, led by their knowledgeable and patient instructor. In fact, they’re so good, you might find yourself coming back for more.
Friendly staff have created an atmosphere that bounces with hospitality, and at La Botella de Leche, the guests are as welcoming as the waves.
Choose from a short surf package if you’re only spending a few days in Tamarindo, or opt for a longer stretch if you’re making the most of the area.
A stay at Selina hotel gives you the opportunity to discover all the best that Costa Rica has to offer. The rolling waves located just meters from the hotel are ideal for beginners, and the expert guides help even first time surfers gain confidence.
When you aren’t surfing, spend some time meditating, or maybe try a bit of yoga. And when voracious waves leave you hungry for more adventure, take a volcano trek, or try diving. At Selina, even the downtime is filled with discovery.
With guaranteed small classes and a hands-on learning experience, La Oveja Tamarindo Surf Camp is a dream for beginners. The customizable surf camp packages allow you to design a holiday that’s really suited to you.
Whether you want a basic camp where nothing gets between you and the waves, or something a little more adventurous. La Oveja has everything you could possibly need, alongside an unforgettable atmosphere.
The Tamarindo Surf Academy uses local experts as their guides, who know the waves from years of experience. Calm and patient instructors are ideally suited for nervous beginners or young children, and this is one of the best surf camps for family groups.
The waves at Tamarindo are incredible for beginners, but with some bigger breaks in places once you’ve found your footing. If you’re already pretty confident, the wonderful instructors at the Surf Academy can help you fine tune your style.
A short walk from Coral Reef Surf Hostel will find you sinking your toes into the sands of Tamarindo beach. This lively and fun hostel offers a range of activities, including the all-important surf camp, alongside a laid-back attitude.
At this communal style hostel you’ll find guests from all over the world, all as eager to hit the waves as you are. Surf lessons are held by local instructors, and the friendly staff can tell you all you need to know about the area.
Located just 25 minutes away from Tamarindo town, the Rapture Surf Camp is a chance to surf in a quieter destination. If you’re worried about being on show at the popular Tamarindo beach, then the Rapture Surf Camp offers a different experience.
With fantastic hidden breaks just minutes from the camp, there’s a chance to have a more personal surfing discovery. Missing the nightlife of Tamarindo? Take a shuttle into town, and celebrate catching your first wave.
Playa Avellanas is one of the best surf beaches in the Guanacaste area, located not far from busy Tamarindo. At the Avellanas Surf School, you learn the confidence to catch the waves, and a solid skill that will support you on breaks worldwide.
A great camp for families, the excellent instructors will introduce you to all the essential skills needed to create a confident surfer. Found just outside Tamarindo, Avellanas Surf School gives you some privacy as you learn.
Meal Price Range
Tamarindo is a vibrant town, with plenty of places to eat. If you shop carefully, you can get away with spending less than $20 a day on food. Tamarindo is used to surfers on a budget, but if you’re desperate to cut costs, expect a lot of rice and beans.
This is a tourist destination, so there are plenty of interesting places to eat. With a higher budget you can find some delicious treats.
Many hostels and surf camps have communal cooking areas, so swing by the local shops and markets to pick up groceries. If you’re on a tight budget, this is the best way to keep costs down.
Sample some local produce, and your taste buds (and wallet) are sure to be satisfied.
Tamarindo is a fantastic place for beginners to surf, so equipment rental is available all over the beach and town. Because of this, you can often get a board for a decent price.
Rental costs for surfboards are likely to cost upwards of $10. In some places, that $10 can get you a board for an entire day.
If you plan on attending a surf camp, rental boards are often included in the price. But make sure to check before booking.
Many surf schools, hotels, and rental places work together to create offers. If you’re staying in Tamarindo, ask at your accommodation where to go for equipment. They’re likely to point you in the right direction.
The waters of Tamarindo are warm year round, and in the summer months you only need a rash guard. During the coldest winter months there can be some biting winds, so if you plan to surf Tamarindo in December, consider a surf jacket.
These are available for rental, but you might find it easier to buy before you go.
Prepaid SIM Cards
You’ll want to share every detail of your Costa Rica vacation, but international roaming can increase costs massively. For that reason, it’s worth getting a prepaid SIM card.
If you’re flying into San Jose International Airport (SJC), then you can purchase a prepaid SIM card at baggage claims. There may also be a Kolbi counter at Liberia airport (LIR).
A SIM card can be bought from phone shops or supermarkets. There are 3 options: Kolbi, Movistar, and Claro. Kolbi, the government network, tends to be the cheapest.
To register the card, you will be required to show your passport.
A prepaid SIM card will cost roughly $20 as a starting point. If you run out of data, it can then be topped up easily.
Tamarindo is located right on the beach, so for the most part your feet are the only kind of transport you need.
There are buses and taxis in Tamarindo, with the local bus service being an inexpensive way to travel. Taxis can become pricey, but they’re often more convenient.
If you want to travel much further afield, look for organized shuttle trips. These are arranged via travel companies, or hotels/hostels. There’s much to explore in Costa Rica, and these organized trips are the best way to see it all.
Gas Prices in Costa Rica can fluctuate, but expect to pay around $4.50 per gallon. Diesel is cheaper, and diesel cars are more popular forms of transport. On average, a gallon of diesel will cost $3.73.
Types Of Risk
Costa Rica is a safe place to visit for the most part, although there are always risks associated with travel. Tamarindo is also very safe, but with a vibrant nightlife there are some dangers. Keep valuables locked up, watch your drinks, and don’t pick fights.
Make sure to wear sunscreen, because the sun can get hot. Watch out for the weather, and don’t enter the water during a lightning storm.
There are several types of swells along Tamarindo. Know where the suitable breaks are, and only surf what you can handle.
How To Prepare
Visitors from the US and Canada do not need a visa to enter Costa Rica. Tourists from these destinations are permitted to visit Costa Rica for 90 days.
Similarly, visitors from the UK and other European destinations don’t require a visa to visit Costa Rica.
The recommended travel vaccinations for Costa Rica are: hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid, yellow fever, and rabies. However, there are no specific vaccination requirements to gain entry (unless you’re travelling from a country with a yellow fever outbreak).
Language And Currency
The national language of Costa Rica is Spanish. However, English is fairly widely spoken, particularly in busy tourist spots like Tamarindo. Bring along a Spanish dictionary to be on the safe side.
There are plenty of English language surf schools in Tamarindo, so don’t worry if your high school Spanish doesn’t go much further than “Hola!”
The currency used in Costa Rica is Colones, and the exchange rate is pretty crazy. At first, you might be taken aback by just how much everything costs. 1 USD is equal to over 600 Colones.
You can pay in dollars in some places, but you’re likely to get a poor exchange rate.
Checking Surf Forecast
If you travel during the rainy season, May to October, the surf is fairly consistent in Tamarindo. Keep an eye on the surf forecast, but expect to find similar breaks. During the height of summer, big Pacific swells make for great surfing.
During the dry season, November to April, it’s a bit different. Although you can still find good breaks, they become irregular. If you have transport, don’t forget to check the other beaches in the area.
December through to March is a good time for beginners, with gentle breaks and smaller crowds.
Be sure to purchase travel and surf insurance before heading to Tamarindo. In some cases, surf injuries will be covered by the general insurance.
Anything Else You Should Know
It would be remiss not to mention all the other fantastic things you can do in Costa Rica. After a particularly rough day on the waves (we’ve all had them), soothe your soul with a trip to see baby sea turtles.
Or head inland and explore the breathtaking untouched beauty of wild Costa Rica.