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Some of the Country's Surfing Hotspots

by David Dudenhoefer

The country's best Pacific breaks are located near its northern and southern borders, and the central beaches are probably Costa Rica's most consistent surf spots, experiencing few completely flat days per year. Playa Hermosa, located to the south of Jacó, is the place to head if there isn't a big swell in Guanacaste or on the Caribbean, since even if Hermosa is flat, you can always find something rideable at one of a half-dozen breaks located 10 to 45 minutes drive in either direction.

Manuel Antonio, about an hour south of Hermosa, is a good option since it has an array of attractions to complement the surf. If it's flat there, you can enjoy sea kayaking, snorkeling or a white water paddle down the Savegre River. Dominical, further to the south, tends to get better waves but it has fewer of the one thing that makes flat days bearable: Women.

The Atlantic coast has suffered some serious storms and subsequent flooding in past years, but Puerto Viejo's legendary Salsa Brava usually gets hit by some great surf in January and February. But as is all too often true of legendary breaks, it can also get crowded during those months.

Though there's nothing else as gnarly as Salsa Brava on the Atlantic, there are several alternative breaks for those who want to escape the crowd. Codes, just south o Puerto Viejo, is usually a good break when the swell is small, but it tends to close out when it's big. If there's a decent swell you can try out the beach breaks at Manazanillo, south of Puerto Viejo, or Cahuita's Black Beach. Or you can check out one of the river mouths between Cahuita and the city of Limón; not the big Estrella, but the smaller Estero Negro and Bananito, further north. Don't leave valuables in your vehicle if you surf either of those breaks.

Playa Bonita, on the north side of Limón is a popular left that breaks over coral, but there aren't usually many people out there during the week. Adventurous surfers, however, can try a similar left over the reef that surrounds Isla Uvita, a small island off the coast in front of the town. Because of the strong currents, you'll want to hire a boat to drop you off on the island and pick you up later.

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