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+ Consistent, seasonal swell
+ Powerful reefbreaks
+ Insignificant tidal range
+ Laid back Carribean style
- Flat between seasons
- Lack of good beachbreaks
- Extremely wet
- Petty crime

Limón, Costa Rica, Central America and The Caribbean

Salsa Brava, Steve Fitzpatrick

Surf Spots

Tortuguero Beach
Cocaïne Point
Playa Bonita
Roca Alta
Isla Uvita
Barco Quebrado
Playa Negra - Limon
Salsa Brava
Playa Cocles
Little Shoal
Punta Uva
Manzanillo (Limón)

The Surf

Costa Rica’s Caribbean coastline receives fairly big and wild waves from short-lived, seasonal storms, mainly centred off Colombia. These powerful, short-fetch Caribbean swells break in the 2-12ft range on some excellent reefs, concentrated around Puerto Limón and Puerto Viejo. The Caribbean coastline is short (212km) and the majority is within the barely accessible Tortuguero National Park, a long sandy line backed by huge waterways with countless beachbreaks, potential rivermouths, and brimming with sea-life.

When to Go

The main winter season from Dec to March sees many storms churning off Cartagena in Columbia, aiming ENE swells and stormy weather directly at Costa Rica. There is also a June-August season, July being the safer bet. The Talamanca coastal range helps to calm down local squalls and induces offshore winds in the morning. Tidal phases are only 1m, but that’s enough to make the heavy coral reef platforms even more dangerous at spots like Isla Uvita and Salsa Brava.

dominant swell NE -E NE -E NE -E NE -E NE -E NE -E
swell size (ft) 3-4 3 1-2 3 1 3
consistency (%) 80 60 30 60 10 70
dominant wind N -E NE -E NE -E NE -E NE -E N -E
average force F4 F4 F4 F4 F3 F4
consistency (%) 95 74 78 85 61 91
water temp (C) 26 26 27 27 27 27
wetsuit boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts boardshorts
Limon - 360,000

212km (132mi)

GMT -6h

Travel Information


The Talamanca coastal region is affected by an extremely wet climate. Rainfall averages 2400mm (95in), which is close to rainforest levels. Unfortunately, the rainiest months (Dec/Jan, July/Aug) correspond with the swell; it can rain for days on end, but the sun usually comes out a bit every day. Rain can come in heavy downpours, often at night, followed by clearing skies. Temps are similar throughout the year. Typically the lows will be above 21°C (70ºF) and the highs below 30°C (86ºF). Expect high humidity and cooling breezes. Water temps are very stable in the 26°C (29ºF) range; boardies all the time.


Cahuita National Park wildlife includes howler monkeys, sloths, iguanas, parrots, hummingbirds and toucans. Diving can be good when surf is flat. The Caribbean side means serious nightlife, especially in Limón (Springfield) and PV (Crucial Bar or Sunset Reggae). Have a look at Bri-Bri handicrafts.


Be prepared to face intense downpours. These waves have power and intensity and can be dangerous especially at Salsa Brava, the most crowded spot. Jellyfish appear in the murky water at certain times of year. Things to avoid: Rasta wannabees selling drugs, street crime, bugs and mosquitoes!


Take a semi-gun for Salsa/Limon spots. There are several shops in San José (Mango, Shaka Bra) and gear to rent in Puerto Viejo as well as Dan Garcia, a reliable shaper. Bring wet weather clothing!