Tamarindo Rivermouth doing it's thing

Tamarindo Rivermouth

Wave Quality: Excellent (8 / 10)
Ideal Swell Direction: SW (215° – 230°)  NW (280° – 300°)
Ideal Wave Height: Chest high – overhead
Best Wind Direction: Light offshore
Best Tide: Low
Required Experience: Advanced.
Best Board: Shortboard , fish, longboard
Bottom: Sandy
Crowd: Moderate – heavy
Wave Power: (8 / 10)
Best time of the year: December – April

Tamarindo Rivermouth

LocationThe Tamarindo Rivermouth is located at the mouth of the Tamarindo estuary, along the northern edge of Playa Tamarindo. The main peak is located approximately 300 meters south of the Casitas surf break and 200 meters north of the Tamarindo Beach Break.


Wave Quality – Excellent right-hand rivermouth (8 / 10)

The wave quality of the Tamarindo Rivermouth is highly dependent on the sand bar below. On a year-to-year basis, the sand deposits of the rivermouth will dramatically shift due to the meandering nature of the estuary itself. Some years, the sand will produce a 200 meter pinwheeling barrel while other years the wave is mostly a close-out. When the sandbar is razor edge, be prepared for several thick, makeable barrel sections on 1 wave.  

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

Since the Tamarindo Rivermouth 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 more ideal situation is during the dry season (November – April) when the North Pacific is active and is sending out XXL swells that hit Hawaii first, and then trickle into Costa Rica a few days later. When this happens, you can expect a steep, northerly swell which sweeps into Tamarindo Bay perfectly for days on end.

Empty wave breaking at the Tamarindo Rivermouth

Ideal Wave Height – Chest high – overhead

Tamarindo loves a big swell. If there is an XXL southern hemisphere swell, most of the energy will be blocked by
Isla Capitan right offshore so Tamarindo will be one of the only beaches on the coast that can handle the energy. While other beaches are double-overhead, Tamarindo will be fun head high +. As for a NW swell, the energy is not blocked by Isla Capitan so Tamarindo will receive the full magnitude of the swell. This is when Tamarindo will get the biggest waves of the year and is generally met with offshore winds and blue, dry season skies.

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.

– 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?
(December – April)

The very best time to score the Tamarindo Rivermouth is during the North Pacific swell season which runs from December – April. This is also when Tamarindo will receive all day offshore winds which increases your likelihood of catching the Tamarindo Rivermouth at its ideal tide cycle.

Big bottom turns at the Tamarindo Rivermouth, Costa Rica

Best Tide – Low

Unlike many other surf spots in the area, the Tamarindo Rivermouth loves a low tide. The swells wrapping into the bay will feel the shallow sandbar of the Rivermouth and produce a shallow, grinding barrel all the way to the beach. As the tide begins the rise, the wave will generally shut down around medium tide.

Getting shacked at the Tamarindo Rivermouth

Required Experience – Advanced

When the Tamarindo Rivermouth is pumping, it is for sure an advanced wave. The initial take-off  is usually steep and over a shallow sandbar. Once you make the drop, you need to hit the gas immediately to pump through the barrel and make it past the oncoming sections.

Best Board
– Shortboard , fish, longboard

Ride whatever board you have that generates the most speed. A shortboard is generally the best choice to make the critical drops, but an experienced longboarder can catch the wave far enough out the back to trim across the face before the wave hollows out on the inside.

What’s On The Bottom? Sandy bottom

What’s The Crowd Like?
(Moderate – Heavy)

When the Tamarindo Rivermouth is on, IT’S ON! And everyone knows it. Since the Tamarindo Rivermouth is a world class wave located in the heart of Tamarindo, all the locals will surf here when the swell is good. There are some days when you can get a fun session with a small crowd, but when the big NW swell comes and the sandbar is perfectly groomed, everyone is waiting for their chance to get tubed in front of their home crowd.

How Powerful Is The Wave?
(8 / 10)

This wave is know to break boards and bodies. The wave comes from deep water to shallow water very fast and will generally double up on the sandbar and slingshot you down the line.

Perfecto Meter –
(9/10)  (1 = Lake Michigan wind chop / 10= Kelly Slater Surf Ranch)

On an ideal day with the perfect swell angle, offshore winds, and most importantly, a perfectly groomed sandbank, the Tamarindo Rivermouth will have you sprinting down hot sand as prefect cylindrical peaks peel over 200 meters. When this wave is working to potential, you will not find better waves anywhere else. This high perfecto meter rating is completely dependent on the sandbar.

Spaghetti Arm Index
– (4/10)

The wave can break pretty far out, but there is a recognizable channel for an easy paddle out. Also, with the sub-0 low tides, you can walk along the inside sandbar almost all the way to the peak which is always cool to watch the waves grinding past you.

– Shallow sandbar, flying boards, heavy crowd, crocodiles

How Do I Get There?

The Tamarindo Rivermouth is located right where the Tamarindo estuary meets the ocean, on the south side of the rivermouth. You can keep an eye on the wave from Witch’s Rock Surf Camp or the Tamarindo beach parking lot.

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