Dozens of beaches are favored by surfers drawn by tubular waves conjured by the breeze from the warm, often murky, water. Swimming requires caution, however, as many unsheltered beaches are known for riptides, dangerous undertows that every year kill dozens of swimmers and surfers. Many beaches are at least seasonally littered with tree trunks and driftwood.
Playa Cocles:  Beautiful golden sands and offshore islands; good surfing for beginning surfers, plus fine dining options a stone’s throw away.
Puerto Viejo:  Kicking up usually only when there’s a swell, the reef-break wave known as La Salsa Brava is the highest and most powerful in Costa Rica—definitely for experienced surfers only.
Playa Naranjo (Santa Rosa National Park) : Lonesome beach in Santa Rosa National Park, good for camping and wildlife viewing. World-renowned Witch’s Rock offers a fast hollow right.
Playa Potrero Grande (Santa Rosa National Park) : Isolated and hard-to-reach, this beach—better known as “Ollie’s Point”— rewards surfers with an excellent, fast hollow right point break made famous in The Endless Summer II. The surroundings offer plenty of wildlife treats.
Playa Grande:  Miles long, this beach is the nation’s prime nesting site for leatherback turtles by night, while delivering consistently challenging surf by day, including left and right breaks.
Playa Tamarindo:  The quintessential surfers’ beach, fronting the hippest beach resort in the country. Massively broad when the tide recedes, revealing tidepools, this beach is made for romantic walks along the rugged shoreline, while surfers will enjoy the rivermouth break. Immediately south, Playa Langosta offers a greater challenge, however, waves are less consistent.
Playa Avellanas:  With a growing number of amenities catering to the surfing crowd, Avellanas also caters to the monied class with the ritzy Hacienda Pinilla resort. It has half a dozen great beach and reef breaks.
Playa Negra:  Accessed by dirt road, this gray-sand beach on a rugged shoreline is a popular find for surfers seeking an epic right-hand reef break.
Playas Santa Teresa and Malpaís:  Currently the hippest surfing spot in the country, these twin beaches run along a ruggedly gorgeous shore lined with surf camps, funky bars, and even chic yet laid-back deluxe resorts. Several surf spots offer a fine medley when there’s a swell.
Jacó:  The original surfers’ town, and still drawing a loyal surf crowd, Jacó has matured into party central. It’s a place for intermediates, with fun left and right peaks.
Playa Hermosa:  Immediately south of Jacó, Hermosa has consistent and powerful waves over head high, but can get crowded with surfers seeking the perfect barrel.
Dominical:  Funkily laid-back, yet slowly pulling itself upmarket, Dominical offers consistent beach break lefts and rights, from easy-to-ride rollers to challenging tubes.
Cabo Matapalo: This remote spot on the extreme southeast tip of the Osa Peninsula  has several stupendous rocky point breaks and is most appropriate for expert surfers.
Pavones:  A legendary Mecca for surfers, Pavones is world-renowned for a left point break that on good days can deliver a kilometer-long ride.