Nice section breaking across Playa Tamarindo

Tamarindo Beach Break

Wave Quality: Average (4 /  10)
Ideal Swell Direction: SW (215° – 230°)  NW (280° – 300°)
Ideal Wave Height: Waist high – chest high
Best Wind Direction: Light offshore
Best Tide: Mid – high tide
Required Experience: Beginner – Intermediate
Best Board: Soft top, Longboard
Bottom: Sandy
Crowd: Moderate – Heavy
Wave Power: (4 / 10)
Best time of the year: July & August

Tamarindo Beach Break

Location – The Tamarindo beach break is located right in the center of Tamarindo, approximately 200 meters south of the Tamarindo Rivermouth and 150 meters north of Pico Grande and Pico Pequeño.

The Tamarindo beach break consists of a few scattered peaks that break directly in front of Witch’s Rock Surf Camp and the Tamarindo beach parking lot.

Playa Tamarindo is one of the original surf towns in Costa Rica made famous by Bruce Brown’s The Endless Summer 2.


Wave Type /  Quality – Left & Right beach break (4 / 10) Average

With a mostly flat sandy bottom and nothing to break up the incoming swell, the Tamarindo beach break is generally a close out. Granted, the wave can have fun shape during a swell with multiple directions or a shorter period wind swell, but overall, this wave is for beginners or low end intermediates. As a beginner riding the white water, this wave is perfect since the take-off is easy and there is a soft sandy bottom underneath. Every so often, there is a nice, fast left hander that makes its way through the line-up, but you need to be quick if you want to beat the sections.

Ideal Swell Direction
– SW (215° – 230°)  NW (280° – 300°)

Since the Tamarindo beach break has a due west orientation, there needs to be a fair amount of west in the corresponding swell. A strong storm that flares up in the South Pacific next to New Zealand or in the central South Pacific will send a healthy dose of SW swell. The beach break will also receive NW swells during the dry season (November – April) when the North Pacific is activated. Ideally, a combination of swell angles will give the wave the best shape.

Nice peeling right - Tamarindo Beach Break

Ideal Wave Height – Waist – chest high

Since this wave is mostly a close-out, big surf here is generally unmakeable. The best size is  in the waist – chest high range.

Best Wind Direction
–  Light offshore

Best wind is light – moderate offshore which can range from NNE to NE to ENE. Tamarindo actually has a huge advantage over many other spots to the south because the wind will stay offshore longer. Since Tamarindo is located closer to Lake Nicaragua, the wind will stay offshore here all day while many spots to the south turn onshore around 10am. During the dry season (Dec – April) the offshore winds can be quite strong but the waves generally remain groomed.

Rubber? –
Yes (December – April)

Bring some rubber especially if the winds have been blowing offshore for several days. Although rare, water temps can drop down to about 63
°F. This is a phenomenon called upwelling. Normally, water temps hover in the 75° – 80°F range. Upwelling really only happens a few times during the dry season. A wetsuit top generally comes in handy for dawn patrol sessions year round. 

Best Time To Score?
 July – August

July and August are known as Costa Rica’s “Mini-Summer” months where we receive consistent SW swells and offshore winds. Also, this is our regular season so the crowd factor is more manageable.

Best Tide – Mid – high

As the tide starts filling in, you will see a dramatic increase in the wave size. For the safest conditions with the best chance of finding mellow waves, the mid – high tide is preferred. The wave can be a bit dumpy with the low tide and begins to soften as the tide rises.

Little wave breaking right along the Tamarindo beach break

Required Experience – Beginner – intermediate

The Tamarindo beach break is one of the most popular learn-to-surf breaks in Costa Rica. The wave is mellow with the higher tides and you can get a pretty long ride going straight in the white water. Low end intermediates can even catch some fun waves out here. It is pretty rare to see a ton of advanced surfers as there are much better options close by.

Best Board –
Soft top, longboard

Because of the quantity of beginners in the water and the low-quality of the wave, a soft top will offer you the most fun session. Soft top sessions are always fun and never serious.

What’s On The Bottom? Sandy bottom

What’s The Crowd Like? – 
Moderate – heavy

Yes, there are always people surfing here and it can turn into a zoo during the popular months. There are multiple surf schools in Tamarindo that hold lessons here so expect to surf with lots of beginners. The surf schools are all pretty respectful and stay in their own zone, and everyone accepts that this is the learning beach.

How Powerful Is The Wave?
(4 / 10)

The wave itself it quite gutless for an experienced surfer, but it is perfect for a beginner or intermediate. The wave face is not too vertical with a mellow take off and easy transition. Pretty rare to find a barrel out here.

Perfecto Meter –
(2 / 10)   (1 = Lake Michigan wind chop / 10= Kelly Slater Surf Ranch)

On an ideal day with the perfect swell angle, offshore winds, and decent size, the wave will still close out. Very few experienced surfers paddle out here as there are much better waves nearby and lots of beginners. Occasionally, there is a long roping left that races across the bank but is mostly unmakeable

Spaghetti Arm Index
– (3 / 10)

The wave does not break too far out nor are the waves very powerful so the paddle out is generally pretty easy.

– heavy crowd, out-of-control beginners, closeouts

How Do I Get There?

The Tamarindo beach break is located directly in front of Witch’s Rock Surf Camp. This is the closest wave to the surf camp and where we hold our
Beginner Surf Lessons.

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