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Some "Swell" Suggestions for Summer
by David Dudenhoefer
When summer—or the dry season, from December through April—gets underway, surfers will find sunny skies and offshore winds along most of the Pacific coast, with its dozens of excellent breaks.
Conditions are perfect for surfing in the New Year, but visitors should be aware that summer vacations for Costa Rican high schools and universities run from December to March so in addition to being the high tourist season, the early dry season is when lots of locals also head to the coast.
Thankfully, Costa Rica surfers tend to be much more hospitable than many of their US counterparts. The only locals-only incidents I've ever heard about actually involved foreigners who have been surfing Costa Rica breaks so long they think they've got squatter's rights. Ticos tend to have a surf-and-let-surf attitude, and as guests in their country, foreign surfers should let the locals catch their share of swells lest we sow the seeds of locals-only sentiments which might come back to haunt us some day.
Try to stray from the crowd, which is easily done. There are alternative breaks near most of the popular surf spots, and if you've got some time and a 4X4 vehicle, you can do a surf safari to such hard-to-reach regions as the southwest end of the Nicoya Peninsula and the area south of Dominical.
A slightly expensive way to escape the crowd at Jacó is to hire a boat and guide to take you to nearby Playa Escondida (Hidden Beach). Easy alternatives to such popular spots as Tamarindo and Playa Grande are Playas Langosta and Avellanas, both to the south of Tamarindo. There also are plenty of good beaches on the southwest end of the Nicoya Peninsula that get fewer surfers, such as Playa Carrillo, Nosara and Samara, which offer a variety of hotels and restaurants.
There are a couple of excellent and isolated breaks out on the Santa Elena Peninsula, to the north of Tamarindo, which is protected within Santa Rosa National Park. Most famous of these is Playa Naranjo, with massive Witch's Rocks standing off shore. You need a 4X4 and camping equipment to surf Naranjo, and you should bring plenty of fresh water and be prepared to pay entrance fees. Portrero Grande, to the north of Naranjo, has an excellent point break that can only be reached by boat.
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