This may seem like a loaded question, but that’s because it is! Ask ten Tamarindo locals “when is the best time to surf in Tamarindo” and you’ll likely get ten different answers. And to complicate things further, what does “best time” actually mean?
We’ve been beachfront in Tamarindo since 2001, and we’ve had plenty of time to study the conditions and get the local surf conditions dialed. So we’re confident this is the most reliable info to help you catch the best surf in Tamarindo. To make it easer, we’ve broken it down by time of day as well as time of year.
When is the best time of day to surf in Tamarindo?
The best time of day to surf in Tamarindo depends on 2 important factors: tide and wind.
Most spots in Tamarindo work best with the incoming mid-to-high tide (the 3 hours before the high tide). You can always get the current Tamarindo tide information every day by checking our Tamarindo Tide Chart.
During an incoming mid-to-high tide, the waves are cleaner and more consistent. Always have your eyes on the water during this window of time. You can get more specific info on the best tide to surf each spot in our extensive Tamarindo Surf Spot Guide.
The second factor you must consider is the wind.
During the December – March months, and at other periods throughout the year, the winds in Tamarindo tend to blow offshore for multiple days at a time. With all-day offshore winds, you can wait until the very best tide window each day and score it.
If the winds are turning onshore earlier in the day (10-11am), then you need to sacrifice the ideal tide window for the ideal wind window, as surfing is much more enjoyable with clean conditions. This means surfing in the early morning.
On many rainy season days (May – November) an afternoon downpour can switch the wind offshore around 3pm and you’ll catch a surprise session.
The website we use to check the current wind conditions in Tamarindo is Windy.com.
When is the best time of year to surf in Tamarindo?
The best time of year to surf Tamarindo depends on what you’re looking for wave-wise.
If you’re a beginner surfer looking for small – medium sized surf and flawless conditions, then December – April is your best bet. This is our dry season where we have all-day blue skies and offshore winds that groom the incoming surf.
If you’re an intermediate or advanced surfer looking for medium – large waves and aren’t too concerned with a little bit of rain, then May – November is your best chance of scoring consistent swell. During this time of year, the South Pacific is pumping out sizable, long-period swells towards our region. Learning surfers will still have a great time during these months, though if the swell is big, we might move our surf lessons further down the beach to where the waves will be smaller.
If you are looking for uncrowded surf and fun waves (not necessarily perfect) then September / October is your best window. During this time we are still at the peak of our south pacific swell season but Costa Rica can be a bit rainy during this time. How rainy, you ask? Generally, a little bit of rain won’t affect the surf too much. Plus, a little insider secret, the rates for this time are the lowest of the year.
And the very best month to surf in Tamarindo is…
If you backed us into a corner and forced us to choose the very best month to surf Tamarindo, we’d be hard pressed to give you a solid answer. March? July? January?
Simply put, great waves can break year-round in Tamarindo, There are pros and cons to each month. The December-April months tend to have great winds, but the waves are usually smaller on average. The April – November months tend to have bigger waves, with more frequent swells and less crowds.
March can be great. March is still in the dry season so you’re destined to get lots of offshore winds and blue skies. March is also known for late-season north pacific swells and early-season south pacific swells. Commonly, these 2 swells will cross up at the same time offering good size, clean conditions and peaky surf. But, it’s spring break time and usually a little busier on the beach.
July and August are awesome months to surf in Tamarindo. These are our “mini summer” months where we get solid swell paired with dry season conditions. Plus, it’s not the most popular time to visit Costa Rica so crowds are quite manageable.
Seriously though, we get great waves throughout the year. This information should be used as a general guide but not as strict rules. Mother nature can be unpredictable, and great waves can definitely happen on any day of the year.
Does this help? Please send us any comments and let us know what else you’d like to learn.
If you have specific questions about the best time to visit Costa Rica or would like to book your next trip, surfer agents are on duty 7 days a week. Call us toll free at 1-888-318-7873 and pick our salty brains.