Surf 101


Costa Ballena offers you the best surfing conditions: Sunshine almost every day, big waves and a laid-back atmosphere and lifestyle. Especially Dominical has developed to a real surfers' paradise - visit us and immerse yourself into Pura Vida!

For first time surfers, Punta Uvita/Playa Chaman has great waves to help you learn and get up on the board for the first time. For intermediate surfers, Playa Hermosa has great waves and for the more advanced surfer, Punta Achiote and Playa Dominical provide consistent waves and are locals’ favorite surf spots.

Dominical is the gateway and the first beach of Costa Ballena.  It has a relaxed atmosphere, and it is well known in the surfing world, a real surfer’s paradise.  If you are new to the sport, there are schools that give classes for enthusiasts.

Tuning into Mother Earth Surf Style

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Tuning into Mother Earth Surf Style

Texto: Trevor Brown Fotos: Paul Gerace

Surfing is much more than a sport. It’s a life style. It’s an obsession guiding your thoughts, influencing how you live, where you travel, and connecting you with the natural surroundings. It’s a way of life that forces you to be conscious of the natural state and flow of the planet.

Surf Season, surf, surfers,

Surf Season

The waves we surf start as energy molecules created by a distant storm that travels across the sea until they collide with the coastline creating various shapes of waves. For a brief moment of pure adrenaline filled ecstasy you catch a glide on this wave as it peals and crashes into shallow water. The breaking of the waves creates an abundance of negative ions said to positively affect your mood via releasing serotonin and endorphins.

Surf Season, Surf Style

Surf Season2

The combination of these sensations is unique and very addictive. Through a better connection with mother earth, surfers are able to predict the waves and live for these moments. The tides are dictated by the moon. They are ever changing which requires you to keep track of their daily schedule. Surf breaks get better or worse with the change of water levels and the push or pull of the tide.

On the Pacific side of Costa Rica, the tides are drastic leaving only small windows of time for optimum surf. For example, with a high tide the waves can be slow, while a dead low tide can cause the waves to close out and be unrideable. The size and direction of the swell must also be taken in consideration when timing your surf window. Being conscious of wind direction is also essential. When the wind changes direction, a surfer will take notice.

The atmospheric pressure change of an approaching storm may destroy the texture of surface water by creating chop, or, it can do the opposite and clean up previously poor conditions.

Surf season has arrived on the Ballena Coast

~ by Dagmar Reinhard – Photo Christopher Gstailder

Much like our summer and winter seasons change, the seasons of big surf also changes. The summer months of hot sunny days are gone for now and a more wet, stormy, and cooler season brings more gifts. Many refer to this wet season as “the green season”. A surfer just refer to it as “the surf season”.

Surf Season has arrived

Surf Season has arrived

Accompanying the rains come remnants of storms from the South Pacific and the Pacific Coast of South America. The energy from these far away storms arrives to our beaches in in the shape of massive waves. As consistent as the storms, but not necessarily a result of, these waves temporarily change our local beach culture. For the avid and experienced surfers, this is the highlight of the year when wave heights at certain breaks can reach up to 15ft. Different beaches and surf spots that need high swell energy to produce waves are now in their prime, and beaches that were previously enjoyed by swimmers could potentially be dangerous.

For those who are learning to surf, places like Playa Dominical and Playa Hermosa are only recommended if you are with a surf school. Beaches like Playa Dominicalito, Playa Uvita, and Playa Ventanas are recommended and are more manageable. With the heavy rains, the rivers are now shedding more water and as a result, create strong currents and rip tides.

For those who are not surfers, there are still several beaches where you don’t have to worry about giant waves and crazy rip tides. For the more advanced surfers, look for beaches like Playa Dominical, Playa Hermosa and the various reef breaks that need this high energy to create a wave. The surf season usually lasts until late October and early November.

Great Waves at Surfers’ Paradise

Great Waves at Surfers’ Paradise

by Trevor Brown

For many, a surfer’s Paradise consists of a tranquil town and a perfect wave. However, to me the thought of one perfect wave is boring. I like the variety.

Costa Ballena offers exactly that. The rugged coastline has multiple surf zones allowing for surfers of all levels to access many waves in a relatively short distance.


Playa Dominical has always been the main attraction along Costa Ballena for its consistency and big, heavy style of wave. The size and raw power of Dominical make the waves fun and challenging for every surfer even at a professional level. With 3km of the beach, Dominical is a big playground for barrel seekers and adrenaline junkies.

Just down the road, Playa Dominicalito offers more mellow waves for longboarders and beginners. Here surfers harness their skills without the worry of the board breaking slammers that constantly crash at Dominical.

Further south, Playa Hermosa has waves for more intermediate surfers. Here there is size and power, but not as much as Dominical. None the less, the waves are fast, fun, and you still find yourself getting barrels.

Another great beach for more mellow waves is at Playa Chamán in Uvita. This beautiful National Park beach will never disappoint.

When the waves are big, this might also be due to numerous rocks and reefs along the coast that create waves. Many beaches don’t have names or are kept more secret, but ask around, as half the fun of a surf mission is the search.

Whether you are looking for power, reef breaks, point breaks, or mellow waves, Ballena Coast has it all and is without a doubt, a surfer’s Paradise.


Surfeando en Costa BallenaPineapple Tours, Kayak & SUP

Dominical, Costa Rica, between the Police and “Que Nivel Bar” Kayak – Stand Up Paddle Board Ocean & River
Tours for ALL Levels SUP Lessons & Rentals
Phone:+(506)  8873-3283 or 8362-7655






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