How to Plan the Ultimate Costa Rica Vacation

Aloha plus Pura Vida is Safari Surf School!

A trip to Costa Rica is far more than just a surf trip. A Costa Rica Vacation, even one centered around surfing, is a trip to one of the world’s most biodiverse and fiercely protected natural wonders on the planet. Costa Rica has it all: tropical beaches with world-class waves, towering volcanoes, dense jungles, exotic wildlife, and so much more. While we want you to surf as much as possible on your trip to Costa Rica, we also encourage you to get out and explore all that Costa Rica has to offer. If you’ve never visited Costa Rica, you’re in for a treat. Continue reading below for How to Plan the Ultimate Costa Rica Vacation. 

Costa Rica at a Glance

Nestled in the heart of Central America, Costa Rica is a small yet captivating country renowned for its unparalleled biodiversity and commitment to environmental conservation. Despite occupying only 0.03% of the Earth’s surface, Costa Rica boasts nearly 6% of the world’s biodiversity, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and eco-tourists. This tiny nation is home to over 500,000 species, comprising a stunning array of flora and fauna, including 250 species of mammals, 850 species of birds, and thousands of plant species. Costa Rica’s dedication to preserving its natural treasures is evident in its extensive network of national parks, reserves, and protected areas, which cover over 25% of its territory. The country’s progressive environmental policies, such as its goal to become carbon neutral by 2050 and its ambitious reforestation efforts, have garnered international acclaim. 

Planning Your Costa Rica Vacation 

costa rica surf map
Blank physical map of Costa Rica.Equirectangular projection

Costa Rica is served by two major international airports: Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) in San José and Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport (LIR) in Liberia, Guanacaste. From SJO, it’s a 4 to 5-hour drive to reach our Costa Rica surf school in Nosara, while from LIR, it takes about 2 to 3 hours. If you’re staying with us, we include round trip airport transfer as part of our service. Once you arrive, transportation options include renting a car, taking public buses, shuttles, or domestic flights to explore the country. Keep in mind that some areas, like Nosara, may require a 4WD vehicle due to unpaved roads. Regardless of your choice, expect unforgettable adventures and warm hospitality as you delve into the wonders of Costa Rica’s landscapes and culture.

Where to Travel in Costa Rica 

Safari Surf guests love the local waterfalls in Nosara

For surfers of all levels, the Guanacaste region offers a wave-rich coastline, with Nosara standing out as a premier destination. Nestled along the Pacific coast, Nosara offers travelers pristine beaches, consistent swells, and a laid-back atmosphere that beckons both beginners and seasoned surfers alike. Our Costa Rica surf school provides the perfect base for riding the waves and immersing yourself in the local surf culture. Beyond surfing, Costa Rica offers a wealth of ecological tourism hubs waiting to be explored. From the majestic Arenal Volcano to the cloud forests of Monteverde and the biodiverse wonders of Manuel Antonio National Park, there’s no shortage of natural beauty to discover. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping adventures or serene encounters with wildlife, Costa Rica promises an unforgettable journey filled with excitement and awe-inspiring landscapes.

Our Ideal Costa Rica Vacation 

surfer at sunset

Our Ideal Costa Rica Vacation has a little bit of everything, from soaking in the hot springs at Volcán Arenal to catching waves at Playa Guiones. We recommended picking one non-surf destination, whether Volcán Arenal for the hot springs and volcano hikes, Monteverde for the canopy tours, or Manuel Antonio National Park to spot exotic wildlife.  

Let the team at Safari Surf plan your perfect Costa Rica vacation. Head to our website to book the trip of a lifetime. We’ll see you in the water. 

Celebrating 25 Years of Safari Surf: A Look Back at Our History of Our Costa Rica Surf School 

safari surf school group

While it’s hard to believe it’s been so long, 2024 marks the 25th anniversary of Safari Surf School. Tim and Marsi first traveled to Costa Rica in 1995, and we were immediately enamored with the country’s natural beauty and the kindness of its people. A lot has changed since the first iteration of Safari Surf School opened its doors; we’ve moved locations, grown tremendously, opened two successive surf schools in Panama and Ecuador, and cemented our Costa Rica surf school as a staple of the community in Costa Rica. As we celebrate our 25 years of operation in Costa Rica, we want to reflect on how far we’ve come. Continue reading below for Celebrating 25 Years of Safari Surf: A Look Back at Our History of Our Costa Rica Surf School.

Arriving in Costa Rica

Safari Surf School

Tim and Marsi first set foot on Costa Rican soil in 1995; the rest is history. The couple immediately fell in love with the vibrant land, people, and, of course, the surf. The following year, the duo returned and bought a small market in the tiny fishing and beach community in Garza. Tim and Marsi worked the market and lived above the store. While it seemed to be a dream scenario, the slow season proved to be just that, and before long, Tim and Marsi returned to their lives in the States. Two years later, in 1997, Marsi was pregnant, and Tim decided to get a stable job in the mortgage business. Even with a new baby, house, and a Range Rover, Tim felt something was missing. These feelings grew when Tim ran into an old friend who had started a California surf school and was spending his days at the beach. So, Tim called his brother, who was living in Costa Rica, and pitched an idea— a Costa Rica surf school. 

The Start of Something Special 

Tim and Marsi

While the first few years of operations were touch and go, and everyone involved had to do a bit of everything, they built a reputation of excellence in Nosara over time. Safari Surf School became the go-to surf school for travelers from all walks of life. Soon, Safari had built a loyal clientele with returning customers who sought out their favorite instructors. The team at Safari Surf is entirely local, from the management to the surf instructors. No one knows the waters of Playa Guiones better than the Safari Surf team, and there’s no better way to see Costa Rica than through the eyes of a local. 

The Evolution of Our Costa Rica Surf School 

As our Costa Rica Surf School grew, we realized it was time for a change. Tim put together a business plan and presented it to a small group of loyal guests who expressed interest in investing. The team raised capital, found property, and began the new chapter of Safari Surf.  Our Costa Rica surf school operated out of a small house on the property while our dream property, Olas Verdes, was being built. 

The Legacy Continues 

Surf and fishing packages

After years of successful operations in Costa Rica, we expanded our operations at Safari Surf. We scoured the globe for a destination that reminded us of our roots in Playa Guiones but still had an independent culture and identity. After leaving no stone unturned and much deliberation, we settled on a little slice of paradise known as Playa Venao, Panama. Our Panama Surf School is an extension of everything we do in Costa Rica, and we love our Safari Surf Panama team. After a successful expansion to Panama, we stumbled across the charming town of Ayampe, Ecuador, and knew we had to be part of the community there. And so, Safari Surf Ecuador was born. 

We could not have imagined a better way to spend a quarter of a century than building Safari Surf School into what it is today. Now, with teams across three countries and too many favorite guests to count, we’re taking a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come and get ready for what’s ahead. 

The Safari Surf Guide to Intermediate Surf

surfer at sunset

If you’re a surf fan, you probably follow a few professional surfers on social media, or perhaps you keep up with the various surf vlogs on YouTube. A common theme across surf media and social channels is surf travel. Surf travel’s portrayal in the media is often romanticized, branded with catchy titles like “The Search,” where pro surfers travel to the far corners of the earth to find isolated, perfect surf. The waves we once saw in magazine spreads that now dominate our social media feeds are perfect by strict definition in that they look as if they break without a drop of water out of place. If you or I tried to surf most of the waves we see in surf media, we’d, at minimum, end up with a broken board. In reality, surf travel is for everyone, not just the pros. Plenty of waves around the world are ideally suited for progression, and we have three surf schools founded on that principle. If you’re an intermediate surfer curious about surf travel, continue reading below for The Safari Surf Guide to Intermediate Travel. 

Intermediate Surf Travel Planning 

Intermediate surf travel

When planning intermediate surf travel, it’s essential to consider the destination, your ideal wave type, and the time of year you’re traveling. Ideally, you’re looking for destinations with user-friendly waves, like the sand-bottom beach breaks of Costa Rica and Panama. If you’re pushing the boundaries of intermediate surfing and are ready to try out more advanced waves, we recommend looking for destinations with multiple wave types, like Ayampe, Ecuador, which has a reliable, intermediate-friendly beach break but also reefs and points nearby.

When to Plan Your Trip 

surfing

Another thing to consider when planning intermediate surf travel is the time of year you travel. Swell season in Central America falls during the rainy season, which lasts from May to September. While swell season sounds appealing, sometimes we find that big swells are too much for new and intermediate surfers. For surfers still mastering the basics of generating speed, catching waves, and turning, we suggest traveling during the dry season, which lasts from October to April. During the dry season, Central America’s Pacific Coast receives predominately offshore winds, which groom incoming medium-sized swell into the ultimate canvas for surf progression. 

Surf Lessons, Surf Coaching, or Surf Guiding 

While it may be tempting to paddle out on your own as an intermediate surfer, we recommend continuing your learning with a professional instructor, guide, or coach. Surf lessons, either in a group or private, are ideal for surfers who are starting from scratch or need to refamiliarize themselves with the fundamentals. Surf coaching is best suited for surfers working on specific aspects of progression, like generating speed or turning. Surf guiding is best for surfers who want to maximize their wave count in a new location but feel comfortable surfing on their own. 

Intermediate Surf Destinations 

surfing in Costa Rica

 There are intermediate-friendly waves all over the world. Our three Safari Surf Schools are ideally located for surfers looking to progress their skills. In Costa Rica, surfers can tackle Playa Guiones, a powerful beach break that handles serious size and offers user-friendly, slow-peeling waves. In Play Venao, our Panama surf school is located on a crescent-shaped beach where the middle of the cove is exposed to large swells, and the sides offer smaller, beginner-friendly waves. In Ayampe, Ecuador, our new surf school is on one of the continent’s most consistent beach breaks. Beyond the beach break, guests can explore the miles of untouched coastline and isolated waves with our guides. 

If you’re ready to plan your next surf trip, head to the Safari Surf Website to book your next dream surf trip. With surf schools in Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador, the Safari Surf team has everything you need for your next great surf trip. 

Safari Surf Student Travel the Benefits of Surfing & Travel for Students

kids-camp

Over the years in Costa Rica and now in Panama and Ecuador, our Safari Surf team has hosted several student groups. Whether these groups are sports teams, youth groups, school programs, or just school friends traveling with a chaperone, we’ve noticed that the students who arrive are not always the same when they leave. We don’t mean they physically change. Other than a minor sunburn or a newfound level of paddle endurance, the students are physically the same when they leave. Emotionally, however, travel seems to change the students who visit for the better. We’ve heard from enough parents to know that travel positively impacts students, and we thought we’d take the time to outline precisely why. Continue reading below for Safari Surf Presents the Benefits of Adventure Travel for Students.

Students Who Travel Learn to Communicate

a-typical-day

Students who travel are forced to communicate across language barriers. When our student groups head to the beach or dinner, they must practice Spanish or learn to communicate effectively using their body language. In a world where we often type more words in a day than we speak, putting the device down, looking someone in the eyes, and communicating is a lost art.

Students Travel Introduces Kids to New Cultures & Customs

kids-camp
Kimber and Helberth with the Kids Camp kids!

Beyond working on their Spanish, students are introduced to Costa Rican people and their culture when they travel to Safari Surf School. From learning the true meaning of Pura Vida to understanding how other cultures live, work, and exist daily, there’s real value in this exposure. At the end of the day, the students come away with an appreciation for the slight differences between Costa Rican culture and their own, but ultimately, a deeper understanding that we are all more or less the same.

Student Travel Teaches Critical Thinking

student travel

Travel, even from point A to point B, is never easy. Something always goes wrong, and the unexpected always seems to occur at the worst possible time. Students who travel are often forced to think on their feet, exercise their patience, and problem-solve in real time. In situations where the answers are not immediately at their fingertips with the click of a button or tap of a screen, students learn to think critically.

Students Who Surf Learn Perseverance

Kids Camp - Safari Surf School

Anyone who has visited our Costa Rica Surf School or has paddled out into the ocean to surf knows that surfing isn’t easy. Even with the best surf coaches in the industry, learning to surf takes enormous willpower, patience, and perseverance. For starters, surfing is 90% paddling, 9% waiting, and 1% wave riding. However, the sensation of wave riding is so euphoric that we put up with crowded lineups, strenuous paddle outs, sets on the head, and more for the precious time we get gliding across a wave’s face. When students learn to surf, they know patience and perseverance are rewarded. We’ve found that students who learn to surf are able to transfer the skills they’ve acquired to other aspects of their lives, be it school, home, or with their friends.

At Safari Surf School, our mission is to introduce our guests to the power and joy of surfing. We’ve found that we, and our guests, get so much more out of surfing than what we put in. If you’re considering learning to surf, head to our website to start your surfing journey in Costa Rica.

The Safari Surf Guide to The Best Surfboards for Beginners

surfboards for beginners

If you’re new to surfing and shopping for your first surfboard, you may not know where to start. Walking into a surf shop or browsing online for boards can become overwhelming quickly. With popular online board reviews and surf websites celebrating the latest and greatest shapes the pros are riding, it can be difficult to discern what board models suit an everyday, average Joe surfer. Our team of surf instructors at our Costa Rica surf school put together the ultimate list of surfboards for beginners. Whether you’re shopping for a board to learn to surf, your first shortboard, or something in between, we’re here to help. Continue reading below for The Safari Surf Guide to The Best Surfboards for Beginners. 

The Best Learning Surfboard for Beginners: Catch Surf 9-Foot Log

Catch Surf Log

New surfers often make the mistake of riding boards that are too short for their skill level. Many of our instructors would argue that surfers should stay on longboards until they can perform a proper cutback. Longboards give new surfers ample float and paddle speed, which allows them to catch waves easily and early. Additionally, longboards are the ultimate surfboard for beginners, offering a large, stable surface to pop up on and ride. Traditional surfboards are made of hard fiberglass and can be dangerous in the water for new surfers and those around new surfers, so we recommend first-time riders opt for foam top surfboards, like the Catch Surf Log.

The Best Surfboard for Progression

CI Mid

If you’ve mastered the fundamentals of popping up, trimming, and turning on a longboard, it may be time to experiment with new shapes. While we don’t suggest ditching surfboards for beginners and hoping on a shortboard, we would recommend finding a forgiving mid-length shape that allows for more maneuverability than a longboard without sacrificing float, stability, and paddle power. Mid-length surfboards have become increasingly popular, with many high-performance options on the market. Mid lengths range in length from 6’6” to 8,” but we recommend new surfers favor the far end of the length range and ride something like a 7’6” CI Mid.

The Best Beginner Shortboard

Firewire Seaside

If you’ve mastered the pop-up, turning, and generating speed, you may be ready for your first shortboard. While it may be tempting to grab the latest pro model, it’s important to know that not all shortboards are created equal. In the last 10 years, shortboards have become increasingly user-friendly, with shapers opting for more volume to increase paddle power and allow surfers to get into waves early. However, a high-volume shortboard and a high-performance shortboard are drastically different shapes, and newer surfers should stick to high-volume shortboards. When you’re shopping for your first shortboard, look for surfboards with ample volume distributed throughout the shape and a low rocker. We like the Firewire Seaside for its high volume, especially under the chest area. Volume distributed under the chest and towards the front of the board will allow you to paddle and catch waves with ease. The low rocker adds to the board’s ability to catch waves. The Seaside, specifically, is a fast yet forgiving shape that’s fun for all skill levels.

Whether you’re a new surfer or an intermediate surfer looking to explore new waves, our surf schools in Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador have a wave ideally suited to your skill level. Head to the Safari Surf Website to plan your next surf trip and stay tuned to our blog for more surf tips, travel content, and all things surfing.

The Safari Surf Guide to Mastering the Surf Pop-Up

Surf pop-up

When you’re learning to surf, the pop-up is the first thing you’ll learn, whether you’re taking lessons at our Costa Rica surf school or elsewhere. A good surf instructor, like those on our team in Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador, will walk you through the step-by-step mechanics of a proper surf pop-up on the beach before you paddle out. While it may seem like something you can learn on the fly or develop as you progress, mastering proper pop-up techniques is vital to your ability to improve your surfing. Your pop-up dictates how your ride will go. An improper pop-up typically leads to missed waves or, at minimum, an inefficient ride. To find out how we teach our students to pop up, continue reading below for the Safari Surf Guide to Mastering the Surf Pop-Up. 

Position Yourself to Catch the Wave

surfing nosara

Before you pop up and begin your ride, you have to catch the wave. It’s no secret that surfing is 99% paddling and paddling effectively and positioning yourself correctly will ensure you have the best opportunity to catch and ride the wave. As we have mentioned in previous surf tip blogs, catching a wave at its peak is critical to ensuring a successful ride. The peak of the wave is the highest point of the incoming swell, where the wave first begins breaking. While it’s tempting to try to catch a wave on the less steep area of the shoulder, it’s far more difficult. Catching a wave at its peak will ensure you have the best opportunity to get into the wave early and take the easiest drop possible.

Paddle Hard

family surf vacation panama

Once you position yourself at the peak of the wave, paddle hard to match the wave’s speed. A lot of surfers struggle to paddle hard. Dig deep with each stroke, and once you feel the wave lift you, paddle a few more strokes to ensure you’re fully in the wave.

Start Your Surf Pop-Up by Raising Your Chest

surf pop up

The first step to a well-executed surf pop-up is to raise your chest like you’re performing the upward dog yoga pose. Place your hands under your chest like you’re going to do a push-up, and then raise your chest off the board. When you raise your chest, your weight will shift toward the back of your board, stalling you high on the wave’s face, allowing you ample time to get to your feet and drop into the wave.

Look Down Line

surfer dropping in

With your chest raised like you’re in the upward dog yoga pose, turn and look down the face of the wave in whichever direction you aim to ride. If you’re taking off on a right, look to the right before initiating the rest of your pop-up. If you’re taking off on a left, look to the left before getting to your feet. In surfing, the direction of your gaze will dictate where your board goes. If you turn your head and look down the line, your shoulders and hips will follow.

Bring your Back Foot to the Tail of Your Board

surf lessons

With your chest raised off the board, bring your back foot to the tail of the board, bending your knee over the board’s rail.

Push through Your Back Foot & Bring Your Front Foot Forward

surfing pop up

Once your back foot is placed on the tail of your surfboard, push through your foot and raise your whole body to a pushup position with your back foot on the tail and your hands firmly on the deck of the board. Next, bring your front foot forward, plant it under your chest, and rise into a crouched, athletic position. Before rising fully to your stance, look down at your feet and make sure your stance is slightly wider than shoulder width.

Stay tuned to the Safari Surf blog for more surf tips. If you’re a new surfer or an intermediate who wants to brush up on your technique, visit our Costa Rica surf schools and learn from the best instructors in the business.

What are the Papagayo Winds and Why Should You Book a Costa Rica Surf Trip This Winter?

Intermediate waves in Costa Rica

While many serious surfers choose to travel to Costa Rica during the swell season, there’s a strong argument to be made for taking a Costa Rica surf trip in the offseason. Thanks to Costa Rica’s tropical latitude, we’re blessed with warm weather and board-short-friendly water temperatures all year. Despite our tropical location, we still have seasons, just not the same seasons you’re accustomed to in the United States. Instead of summer, winter, spring, and fall, we have a rainy season and a dry season. Just like the visible change in greenery during our two distinct seasons, the surf during each season differs vastly thanks to the Papagayo winds. Continue reading below for What are the Papagayo Winds and Why Should You Book a Costa Rica Surf Trip This Winter?

What is Costa Rica’s Surf Season?

just another Safari Surf School day at the beach

Costa Rica has a distinct swell season that falls in line with the rainy season, which lasts from May to September. During this window, large winter storms form off the coast of Antarctica and travel north to the Americas. These large south swells travel for thousands of miles before hitting Central America. During that time, they organize into long interval swells, so when they collide with the various points, sand bars, and reefs in Central America, they produce world-class waves. Large swells are typical for most of the rainy season. If you’re on a Costa Rica surf trip during swell season, you’ll find the best surf in the mornings and late afternoons when the winds are light. During the dry season, smaller south swells produce user-friendly waves and the occasional large north swell can bring fun surf. If you’re visiting during the dry season, you’ll likely be able to surf all day since the winds blow predominately offshore. 

When do the Papagayo Winds and When do They Blow? 

costa rica surf map
Blank physical map of Costa Rica.Equirectangular projection

The Papagayo Wind or Papagayo Jet is a weather phenomenon that affects Costa Rica and the surrounding areas during the dry season. This localized weather phenomenon occurs in the Gulf of Papagayo, located in Northwest Costa Rica in northern Guanacaste, but affects areas north and south along the coast. The strong offshore winds that blow in this region during the dry season are a result of a high-pressure system that forms in the Caribbean and forces air through the mountains in Central America, where it picks up speed in valleys and canyons before hitting the Pacific Coast. The Papagayo Winds are most prominent from December to April, lining up almost exactly with the dry season. The Papagayo winds blow straight offshore and groom waves, creating epic and often hollow conditions. These offshore winds typically last all day, allowing surfers the freedom to surf all day without worrying about the winds changing. 

Why Take a Cota Rica Surf Trip During the Off-Season 

surfing nosara

Rainy or dry season, Costa Rica is a tropical paradise with year-round swell. If you do find yourself traveling in the dry season, you’ll enjoy days of cloudless blue skies with all-day offshore winds and fun-sized waves. The dry season is often preferred by beginner and intermediate surfers who favor small to medium-sized waves. 

If you’re a new or intermediate surfer who wants to make the most out of the fun, clean surf in the dry season, head to our website and book your next Costa Rica surf trip. 

The Safari Surf Guide to the Best Intermediate Waves on the Planet

Slow breaking wave

Not all waves are created equal. While there’s no denying that there are good and bad waves, it’s not always binary. What may look like a fun wave to one surfer could be impossible to surf to another. Every surfer is different, and depending on their skill level, not all surfers are looking for the same thing. While the waves that make magazine spreads and dominate your Instagram feed may look visually stunning, they’re usually highly difficult to surf. Sure, there is a caliber of surfer looking specifically for steep, hollow waves that hold serious size, but most surfers in the water just want an open face to do turns. If you’re an intermediate surfer, don’t spend your surf trips chasing waves that are too difficult or dangerous for you to ride. Instead, look for waves that will help you progress. Continue reading below for The Safari Surf Guide to the Best Intermediate Waves on the Planet.

Intermediate Waves in the US

Upper Trestles- San Clemente, California 

Upper Trestles

Lower Trestles is the pinnacle of high-performance surfing in the US. The wave offers an open wall to carve, launch airs, and hack. It’s not unusual to spot pros in the lineup, going toe-to-toe with the best young up-and-coming surfers. Uppers, just north of the famed Lowers, offers a similarly long-walled wave without the competitive lineup. Compared to Lowers, Uppers is a mellow, slow-breaking right. You’ll find a wide variety of skill levels in the lineup on all different types of boards. 

Intermediate Waves in Latin America 

Playa Guiones- Nosara, Costa Rica 

Intermediate waves in Costa Rica

We couldn’t make a list of the best waves on the planet without including our home break—Playa Guiones. Playa Guiones is a 4-mile-long beach with dozens of reliable sand bars that help disperse the crowd. The wave at Guiones breaks slowly and has a gently sloped face that makes it user-friendly at any size. 

Playa Venao- Pedasi, Panama

Beginner Waves Playa Venao

Our other home break in Panama offers a similar ride to that in Guiones. Playa Venao is a crescent-shaped cove that faces completely south. While the beach does pick up a ton of swell, the sides of the cove always produce smaller, weaker waves that are ideal for learning. The middle of the cove has a fun right and left peak that beaks quickly and is favored by advanced surfers. 

Chicama- Peru 

Chicama Peru

Northern Peru is home to some of the best waves on the planet. There are world-class barrels, long reeling points, peaky beach breaks, and much more. Chicama is home to the longest left in the Western Hemisphere. It takes a massive northwest swell to begin breaking, so most people travel there from other waves nearby rather than take a trip to Chicama. The wave peels for multiple kilometers and is so long that it’s physically impossible to paddle back against the current. Instead, surfers are ferried back to the peak by boat. 

Intermediate Waves in Asia 

Lazy Lefts & Right- Weligama, Sri Lanka 

Lazy Lefts Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a great destination for intermediate waves. While the Indian Ocean island nation receives ample swell, many of its most celebrated waves are longer points, not top-to-bottom hollow waves. Two great examples can be found in the southeast corner of the tear-drop-shaped island, right next to each other— Lazy Lefts and Lazy Rights. Lazy Lefts and Rights are complimentary points separated by a wide bay that breaks towards each other. The right is a slow-breaking, long ride, and the left is a bit faster and steeper. The combination is ideal for progression and allows surfers to build confidence on the right and work their way towards the left. 

Old Man’s – Batu-Bolong- Canggu, Bali 

Old Mans Canguu

Bali is one of the world’s most popular surf destinations for a reason—it’s full of world-class waves. While the iconic lefts off the Bukit Peninsula may be well suited for advanced surfers, there are still plenty of intermediate waves on the island. Old Man’s is a cruisy right-hander that bends around a lava reef and forms a picture-perfect wave for longboarders and new surfers. 

Intermediate Waves in Europe 

Baleal Island- Peniche, Portugal 

Portugal Waves

Portugal is Europe’s wave mecca, and Peniche is home to one of the country’s many crown jewels, Super Tubos. Super Tubos is the European Pipeline. It’s a beach break that packs a serious punch and produces some of the best tubes in the Old World. Just down the road from this barrel haven is a mellow beach and reef break that peel perfectly and offer ample room for turns. 

The best way to progress your surfing is to travel. Join us in Costa Rica, Panama, or Ecuador to surf our favorite intermediate waves. Head to our website to book your trip today!

The Safari Surf Guide to the Best Beginner Waves on the Planet

Beginner Waves Playa Venao

If you’re a new surfer, looking to improve your fundamentals with professional coaching, or trying out surfing for the first time, taking a surf trip and immersing yourself in the surfing lifestyle may be the best thing you can do. Nothing beats traveling to a far-flung corner of the world where the water is warm the sun shines bright in the sky, and palm trees sway effortlessly in the breeze. You be under the impression that surf trips are for experienced surfers chasing massive swells at advanced breaks, but there are thousands of waves around the world ideally suited for progression. If you’re on the fence about pulling the trigger on a surf trip as your next vacation, continue reading below for The Safari Surf Guide to the Best Beginner Waves on the Planet.

Our Favorite Beginner Wave and Home Break: Playa Guiones- Nosara, Costa Rica

surf Nosara

Our home break, Playa Guiones, is a wide-open sandy expanse that stretches for nearly 4.5 miles in front of a backdrop of dense mangrove forest and tropical jungle. Unlike many of the beaches in Costa Rica, Playa Guiones is bordered by state-protected land, meaning that there’s nothing built on the sand. Instead, the beach is lined by massive trees that are bisected by a trail system. The wave at Playa Guiones is ideally suited for new surfers. It has a gently sloping face and, even at size, breaks rather softly. Additionally, the four miles of sand bars allow surfers to spread out.

Playa Venao, Panama

Surf school in Panama

Home to our second Safari Surf School, Playa Venao, on Panama’s Pacific coast, is the perfect beginner wave. Playa Venao is a south-facing, crescent-shaped cove that picks up an enormous amount of swell. The sides of the cove, however, are sheltered. So, even when overhead waves are breaking on the sand bars in the middle of the cove, the sand bars on either side of the cove provide gentle peeling beginner waves.

Waikiki, Hawaii

Waikiki Surfing

Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing, and Waikiki is steeped in surf lore and tradition that dates back centuries. As the birthplace of modern surfing and the home of the iconic Waikiki Beach Boys, surfing at Waikiki is like riding a wave through time. The wave at Waikiki is soft and peels for what feels like an eternity. While there’s definitely a crowd, there’s no denying that Waikiki is one of the best longboard and beginner waves on the planet.

San Onofre, California

San O Surfing

San O was once the most coveted wave on the California coast. Back when all surfers rode single-fin logs, and getting toes off the nose was the pinnacle of high-performance surfing. Now, San O is to longboarders and new surfers what Trestles is to the high-performance crowd. Located in Camp Pendleton, just outside of San Clemente on the northern edge of San Diego County, San O provides surfers with plenty of room to spread out and practice the fundamentals. The main peak is best suited for intermediate and advanced surfers.

Lagos, Portugal

Lagos surfing
Algarve Where to Surf – Best Surfing Beaches in the Algarve

Lagos, located in the south-facing Algarve region of Portugal, is perhaps Europe’s best beginner wave. Tucked away in the southern reaches of the Western Iberian Peninsula, Lagos’s main stretch of coast is protected from Europe’s large northern swells. Instead of producing pumping surf in frigid water, like the rest of Portugal, Lagos is home to gentle peeling waves. The water is still a bit chilly, but the air temperatures in Lagos are much warmer than the rest of the European continent.

Beginner surfers rejoice. Safari Surf now has three locations across the globe where our expert coaches share their passion for surfing with students in Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador. To book your surf trip and discover the best beginner waves on the planet. Click here.

Meet Our Safari Surf Ecuador Team

Safari Surf School Team

If you’ve visited us before, either at our Costa Rica Surf School or in Playa Venao, Panama, you have an idea of what separates Safari Surf from other surf schools, resorts, and hotels. While our surf schools are located in beautiful, tropical locations with world-class waves, it’s our staff that makes the Safari Surf experience so special. Every year, guests return to our Costa Rica surf school, not because we’re nestled in the jungle of Nosara with direct access to Playa Guiones, but because our coaches and managers make a lasting impact on every guest they interact with in Costa Rica, Panama, and now in Ecuador. After searching far and wide for the right crew to man the helm in Ayampe, Ecuador, home of our newest surf school, we have found the perfect duo. I sat down with Safari Surf founder Tim and the Ecuador team to learn about the new Safari Surf location in the wave-rich Ayampe, Ecuador. Continue Reading for our interview with our new Safari Surf Ecuador team, Trisha and Caesar.

Trish and Caesar, tell me a bit about what led you to Ayampe. 

Trisha: Caesar and I while studying in Hawaii in 2016. I’m from the States, and Caesar is originally from Ecuador. After getting to know each other, we realized they wanted the same things out of life—mainly to find a piece of land somewhere beautiful where they could pursue their passions and live sustainably. 

Caesar: I’m originally from Ecuador. I moved to the States when I was 17. I would always go back to Ecuador on surf trips, and after living in Maui, we decided it was time to go back to my roots. Surfing is my passion. I’ve been surfing since my childhood, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

 Tim, tell me a bit about what drew you to Ecuador and Ayampe specifically. 

Tim: One of my goals with Safari is to offer my clients a variety of places to learn to surf. I worked with Nico in Costa Rica before he moved to Ayampe. After a visit to see Nico and his wife Tam, my wife and I fell in love with Ecuador and Ayampe. I see Ecuador as an off-the-beaten-path option for clients, especially experienced surfers. 

What’s the wave like in Ayampe? What can Safari Surf guests expect on an Ecuador surf trip? 

surf Ecuador

Caesar: Ayampe is exposed to year-round swell. It’s a small town near the popular surf mecca of Monatanita. Unlike Montanita, which is a popular backpacking and party destination, Ayampe is more laid back. The wave in Ayampe is a powerful beach break. North and South of Ayampe, there are dozens of waves. The surf travel potential on this coastline is insane. Ayampe prefers north swells but will still break during the south swell season. 

What can travelers expect from Ecuador weather-wise? 

Ayampe Ecuador

Trisha: The high season is from December to mid-May. During the high season, expect sunny skies and tropical temperatures. The period of mid-May to mid-December is known as Garúa. During Garúa, Ecuador experiences perpetual gray skies and cooler temperatures. 

What can Safari Surf Ecuador guests expect beyond the surf? 

Trisha: Ecuador has a bit of everything. There’s obviously the mountains and the Galapagos. In Ayampe, we have whale watching, jungle tours, surf trips by car and boat, hiking, mountain biking, and more. Ayampe has grown a lot in the last five years. When we first got here, there were only a handful of restaurants, and most of them closed seasonally. Now, there are lots of places to eat and stay, but it still has that small-town feel.

Whether you’re a new surfer looking for a bit of adventure or an advanced surfer chasing swells in South America, our Ecuador surf school has everything you need for the trip of a lifetime. Book your Ecuador surf trip here.

These Waves Put Costa Rica Surfing on the Map

barrell

Over the years, Costa Rica has become synonymous with surfing and surf travel. Like Hawaii and other famed surf destinations, the reputation of Costa Rica’s waves is far-reaching. If you tell friends or family you’re traveling to Costa Rica, they’ll likely ask if you plan to surf or take surf lessons. While surfers first arrived in Costa Rica searching for waves in the 1960s, the sport didn’t take off in the country until decades later. Movies like The Endless Summer II popularized Costa Rica’s iconic waves and introduced the world to a country with year-round swell, warm water, and too many world-class waves to count. If you’re wondering why so many surfers call Costa Rica paradise, continue reading below for These Waves Put Costa Rica Surfing on the Map. 

Our Favorite Wave in Costa Rica Surfing: Playa Guiones

Costa Rica surfing

We couldn’t write an article about Costa Rica’s fabled waves without mentioning our home break, Playa Guiones. Located in Northern Costa Rica in the Guanacaste Province, Playa Guiones is a 4.3-mile stretch of sandy perfection. With reliable sandbars scattered up and down the beach, there’s room for surfers of all levels to spread out and make the most of a swell. Playa Guiones faces slightly southwest and works well with a south or southwest swell and an east wind. While Playa Guiones can hold serious size, it’s not a particularly heavy wave. The take-off is easy, and the wave’s face is sloped, making it ideal for progression.

Pavones

pavones surfing

Pavones is one of the longest lefthand point breaks in the world. Located in the Puntarenas province of Southern Costa Rica, Pavones attracts surfers from all over the world. With a proper south swell, the wave at Pavones peels for what feels like an eternity, offering surfers rides up to three minutes long. The wave begins breaking at the river mouth and continues along for several sections. Each section has a distinct personality. Some sections are hollow and speedy, while others are fat and sloping.

Witch’s Rock

surfing Witch's Rock

Witch’s Rock, named for the foreboding rock formation that sits just behind the surf lineup, is one of Costa Rica surfing’s most recognizable waves, in part due to Endless Summer II. The Wave is easiest accessed by boat since it breaks in a protected Santa Rosa National Park in Guanacaste. Witch’s Rock is a beach break with a reliable, picture-perfect left and right that breaks in front of the iconic Roca Bruja. There are other peaks along the beach (Playa Naranjo), but none are as perfect as the wave that breaks in front of the rock.

Ollie’s Point

surfing Ollie's Point

You can’t have a conversation about Costa Rica surfing and leave out Ollie’s Point. Ollie’s Point is located by an abandoned CIA airfield and named for the Notorious US Lt. Col Oliver North, who spearheaded covert military and CIA operations in the Nicaraguan Contra. Like Witch’s Rock, Ollie’s Point is located in Santa Rosa National Park and is best accessed by boat. This rocky point break reels down a jungle-clad coastline mimicking Santa Barbara’s Rincon but without the crowds. This famed right-hander takes a massive southwest swell to break into true form, but when it does it’s well worth traveling halfway around the planet to surf.

Salsa Brava

Surfing salsa brava

Located on Costa Rica’s Caribbean Coast, Salsa Brava is a fearsome reef break with a reputation for breaking boards and manning surfers. Salsa Brava breaks during the winter with a solid north, northeast, or east-by-northeast swell. Salsa Brava is easily Costa Rica surfing’s heaviest wave. This hollow, thick-lipped wave breaks over a shallow reef shelf. If you stick the steep drop and pull in, you’ll score the barrel of your life. If you miss it, you may take one of the worst beatings a wave can dish out.

If you’re considering taking a surf trip, head to the best surf school in Central America to get the most out of your Costa Rica surfing experience. Head to our website to book today! 

How to Take Your Surfing to the Next Level with These Intermediate Surf Tips

Panama Surfing

At Safari Surf School, we teach hundreds of new surfers every year. For many guests, surfing becomes, not just a lifelong hobby, but a passion. We have guests return year after year to further improve their surfing. Playa Guiones isn’t just the ultimate beginner wave, it’s a great wave for progression, where intermediate surfers can learn to generate speed, carve, and turn. If you’ve learned to pop up, bottom turn, and ride cleanly down the wave, it’s time to take your surfing to the next level. Our team at Safari Surf School has put together a list of surf tips to help you achieve your goals in the water. Whether you’re gearing up for a surf trip, prepping for winter swell season at home, or just looking to improve your overall surfing, continue reading below for How to Take Your Surfing to the Next Level with These Intermediate Surf Tips. 

Intermediate Surf Tip #1 Surf the Right Board for Your Skill Level

Happy smiling faces of the Safari Surf crew

One of the worst things a surfer can do for their progression is to ride the wrong board. Our number one surf tip is for surfers to spend ample time learning before changing boards. While it may be tempting to jump on the latest shortboard model once you have mastered the basics. You still have a long way to go. Shortboards lack the float and stability that new surfers need. We teach our new surfers on beginner-friendly soft top surfboards. Eventually, those students progress to traditional longboards that allow them to trim, turn, and carve. If students have a desire to downsize further, they then progress to a mid-length, which has plenty of stability and float with increased maneuverability. Once a new surfer has learned to generate speed, carve, and turn on a longer board, they’re ready to move to a high-volume shortboard.

Look Down the Line

Team Inara

Intermediate surfers who struggle to ride on the upper portion of the wave’s face can do so by looking down the line. This surf tip will help surfers who struggle to make fast-breaking waves. When you’re surfing, your head and shoulders essentially act as a steering wheel. Where you look while riding dictates where you go. So, as you get to your feet during your pop-up, turn your head and shoulders and look down the line. Where your head and shoulders face, your hips will follow, and you’ll be riding cleanly down the line.

Surf With Your Whole Body

surfer pumping down the line

As you progress as a surfer and begin to ride shorter boards, you’ll need to learn to generate speed. Surfers generate speed by climbing up and down the wave’s face, finding pockets of speed in the wave’s steeper sections. The most effective way to pump for speed is to utilize your entire body. As you drop into a wave and come off your bottom turn, throw your weight towards the wave’s face by extending your body and arms up towards the wave. This shift in positioning and weight will pull you up the wave face. As you rise up the face, compress by bending your knees to lower your center of gravity and descend the wave face with ample speed. 

Lead Your Turns

surfing turning

Just like when generating speed, turning requires our whole bodies. Doing a proper cutback requires several steps. Step 1: compress and shift your weight towards your back foot. Step 2: Start your turn by leading the turn with your hands. Move your leading arm in the direction you want to turn by rotation at the hips and shoulders. Step 3: Follow your lead arm with your gaze, turning your head as you rotate. Step 3: Engage your outside rail as your board rotates through the turn. Step 4: rebound off the white water and continue surfing in the packet.

Surf on the Top Two-Thirds of the Wave  

surfing in Ecuador

The top two-thirds of the wave contains 90% of the wave’s speed and power. As an intermediate surfer, you want to increase your time riding on the top two-thirds of the wave. When you surf on the lowest third of the wave, you can’t generate speed or climb the wave face, and the wave will often outrun you. Surfing on the top two-thirds of the wave allows you to use the wave’s power and steepness to generate speed and set up maneuvers.

Whether you’re new to surfing or an intermediate surfer who wants to continue improving, our surf coaches in Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador have what it takes to help you accomplish your surfing goals. Nothing is better for your surfing than an immersive surf trip to a world-class wave. Head to our website to book your trip today!

Surf Forecasting 101: How to Know When to Go

Perfect Wave

Have you ever looked at the surf forecast that you thought was favorable, grabbed your board, and raced to the beach only to find onshore slop? Surf forecasting isn’t the guessing game it was decades ago before the likes of Surfline and live stream beach cameras, but it still takes a well-trained eye to make sense of the data you’re presented in a typical forecast. Whether you’re looking at the surf forecast of your next surf trip destination or your local beach break, it pays to know how to decipher the science behind the forecast. To learn the basics of surf forecasting, continue reading below for Surf Forecasting 101: How to Know When to Go.

The Many Components of Surf Forecasting

surf forecasting perfect wave

Whether you use Surfline or one of the many other surf forecasting providers, you’re likely looking at some combination of the same forecasted data either taken from government weather data or calculated from that weather data. A typical surf forecast will display surf height, swell height, swell direction, wind spend, and wind direction, along with primary, secondary, and tertiary swell info. While all that information can be overwhelming, once you know what to look for, it will help you understand your home break on a whole new level.

Surf Height     

         

surf height

Surf height is an approximate measurement of the face of the wave. Surf height differs from While surf height may seem subjective, depending on where you’re traveling. A two-foot wave in Hawaii and a two-foot wave in California are drastically different. For the sake of surf forecasting, however, surf height is an objective measurement of the wave’s face from the top of the cresting lip to the trough of the wave.

Wind (Direction & Speed)

wind speed

Besides, swell height, wind direction, and wind speed are two of the most critical variables in surf forecasting. Ideal winds for surfing are gentle, between 0 and 5 kts, and blowing directly offshore. Surf forecasting platforms present both the wind direction and the speed, which can give surfers insight into the wave’s current and future conditions. If you’re surfing the west-facing Playa Guiones in Nosara, a gentle east wind is preferred. If you’re surfing a sheltered cove or a jetty break where a landmass blocks the wind from one direction, you may be able to find clean waves with a cross or even onshore wind.

Swell Size, Interval, & Direction

swell interval

To create the surf height metric, forecasters use a combination of the swell size, swell interval, and swell direction data points. The swell height is the measurement of an open ocean swell from the crest to the trough. The Swell interval is the distance between two swells and is given in seconds. The swell direction, given in North, South, East, West, or a combination of directions, tells surfers which direction the swell is traveling from. Surfers generally seek out solid-sized waves with longer intervals. The longer the interval, the bigger the surf. For example, a 2-foot swell at an 18-second interval at Playa Guiones will produce overhead surf. Where a 2-foot swell at 9 seconds could be barely chest height. The longer the interval, the more powerful the swell, and the more time the swell has to build in size. Each break has a forecast that brings it to life in its best form. A combination of the perfect swell direction, an ideal interval, and a swell height that’s just right will create perfectly sculpted waves without a drop of water out of place. Learning to read a surf forecast and knowing a spot’s preferred conditions takes an enormous amount of time and effort, but it pays off dividends when you score the waves of your life at your favorite break.

Take the guesswork out of surf travel by booking a trip to Safari Surf School in Nosta, Costa Rica, Playa Venao, Panama, or Ayampe, Ecuador. With friendly instructors, world-class waves, and accommodation for any budget, a trip with Safari Surf is the ultimate form of surf travel. Head to our website to book today!

The Safari Surf Guide to the Ecuador Surf Season

Ayampe Surfing

Surf travel is not the adventure into the unknown that it was just a few short decades ago. With today’s advanced surf forecasting and the modern ease of travel, a willing surfer can spot a swell online, book travel, and be halfway around the world surfing within a day. Still, even with today’s comforts, planning a surf trip to a new destination can feel a bit overwhelming. With all the available resources online, how do you know who to trust? Despite advancements in surf forecasting, every spot is different, and sometimes, forecasts are just plain wrong. When planning a surf trip, it’s improtant to know what time of year the waves are best. It always helps to talk to fellow travelers who have been to your desired destination to get a feel for what the place is like before you commit to a trip. If you’re thinking of planning a surf trip, we’re here to help. Beyond our surf school in Costa Rica, we have surf schools in Panama and Ecuador that are ideally located by world-class waves. If you’re looking to shake things up and head somewhere new for your next surf trip, head south to Ecuador. Continue reedling below for the Safari Surf Guide to Ecuador’s Surf Seasons. 

Surfing in Ecuador

Ecuador surfing

Ecuador is known for its charming backpacker towns, towering mountain peaks, and the Galapagos Islands. Few of the travelers who make the journey to Ecuador are there for the waves, but for those in the know, Ecuador is a premier surf destination with a diverse selection of quality waves. Ecuador has four surf regions: North (Mompiche to Bahia de Caraquez), Central (Manta Zone), Baja Manabi, and South (Las Salinas to Montanita). Our Ecuador surf school is located in the Baja Manabi Zone, just south of Parque Nacional Machalilla. Ecuador has comfortable water temperatures ranging from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and sees year-round swell, so you can likely leave the wetsuit at home for your Ecuador surf adventure. 

Best Ecuador Surf Season for Beginners

jungle surf with Safari Surf

While Ecuador has year-round swell, there’s a definitive surf season from December through April when Northwest swells are dominant in the Pacific, and winds are predominately light and offshore. Beginner and intermediate surfers may find it preferable to surf in the offseason from May through November. During this time of year, the winds can be predominately on shore, but the mornings are still glassy. With thin crowds and glassy, smaller surf in the mornings, May through November is ideal for new and intermediate surfers. 

Where to Surf Year-Round in Ecuador 

surfing Ayampe

While most of the region’s waves crave the northwest swells and offshore winds that prevail during December through April, there are plenty of breaks that work well with south swell and even a few that work with either swell direction. Ayampe, home of our Ecuador surf school, is a tranquil hideaway on the coast, located in the Baja Manabi zone with a reliable wave that breaks year-round. 

How to Get to Ayampe

Ayampe, Ecuador Travel

Ayampe may be off the beaten path, but it’s well worth the trip. To get to Ayampe from the States, you’ll first fly into Quito. From Quito, you will connect on a domestic flight to Manta. From Manta. you can take a bus or a taxi to Ayampe. The journey may be long, but it is well worth it. Ayampe reminds us of what Nosara was like 20 years ago— quaint, charming, and full of natural beauty. 

If you’re considering taking a trip to South America, visit our Ecuador surf school in Ayampe for a once-in-a-lifetime surfing experience. Head to our website for more information. 

Safari Surf Presents the Ultimate Ecuador Travel Guide

Ecuador Travel

Ecuador is a one-of-a-kind travel destination that needs to be seen to be believed, home to the Galapagos Islands, towering snowcapped mountains, charming colonial towns, world-class surf, and the dense Amazon jungle. While Ecuador is one of our favorite surf trip locations and home to the newest Safari Surf iteration, our Ecuador surf school, there’s much more to the country than just the waves. If you’re looking for a buck-list trip that’s full of adventure, good surf, and friendly locals, head to Ecuador. Continue reading below as we outline the ins and outs of Ecuador travel in Safari Surf Presents the Ultimate Ecuador Travel Guide.

How to Get to Ecuador

Flying to Ecuador

Ecuador has two major international airports, Quito International Airport and Aeropuerto Simon Bolivar in Guayaquil. Most major international airlines fly to Ecuador via Quito. Once you’re in Ecuador, traveling around the country is easy by plane, especially if you plan on visiting the Galapagos islands or the Amazon. Regional flights can be booked through TAME, LATM, Avianca, and a few other regional airlines.

Where to Travel in Ecuador

Mountains in Ecuador

If you’re looking to travel to Ecuador, you’ve got options. Ecuador has it all, from surfing and mountain climbing to scuba diving, historic colonial towns, and the Amazon Rainforest. Ecuador offers a diverse selection of travel experiences that are unique to the country, and it would truly take a lifetime to tackle them all. If you’re traveling to Ecuador, pick a region or activity and dive deep.

To Discover Darwin’s World

Galapagos Islands
Image Credit: Travel & Leisure

Ecuador is perhaps most famous as the home to the Galapagos Islands. Located roughly 600 miles off the Ecuadorean coast in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Galapagos Islands are a volcanic archipelago of 127 tropical islands that house some of the world’s most unique endemic species, like the Galapagos Penguins, Giant Tortoises, and Sea Iguanas. The many endemic species across the Galapagos Islands helped Charles Darwin propose his theory of evolution in 1859.

To Conquer Mountains

Cotopaxi
Image Credit: Much Better Adventures

While most people think of Ecuador as a tropical paradise and home to the Galapagos Islands, it’s also one of South America’s premier mountaineering destinations. Ecuador is home to 1,289 named mountains, the tallest and most prominent of which is Chimborazo (6,268m/20,564ft). Ecuador’s tallest mountains can be found within the Sierra region of the country, which includes the provinces of Zamora Chinchipe, Loja, Azuay, Cañar, Chimborazo, Tungurahua, Napo, Carchi, Imbabura, Pichincha, Cotopaxi, Bolívar, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas, and Los Ríos. Cotopaxi National Park is one of the country’s most popular mountain areas offering hiking and mountaineering. Parque Nacional Cotopaxi contains eight mountains, the highest of which is Cotopaxi, standing at a whopping 19,347 feet.

To Explore the Amazon

Ecuador Amazon
Image Credit: Explorers Away

To explore a wealth of biodiversity deep in the Amazon jungle, head to the Yasuni National Park, located in Napo and Pastaza provinces. The Ecuadorian Amazon sits at 1300 feet above sea level and stretches over a vast swath of the eastern part of the country, spanning six provinces and 40% of the entire country. The Ecuadorian Amazon is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Visit the Peruvian Amazon between December and May to see the region with slightly less rainfall.

To Surf Ecuador’s World-Class Waves

Ecuador surfing

It’s no secret that Ecuador is home to several world-class waves. Travelers planning on going surfing in Ecuador can choose from four surf regions: North (Mompiche to Bahia de Caraquez), Central (Manta Zone), Baja Manabi, and South (Las Salinas to Montanita). Our Ecuador surf school is located in the Baja Manabi Zone, just south of Parque Nacional Machalilla. While Ecuador has year-round surf, the primary season for surfing in Ecuador falls between December and April, when northwest swells are abundant in the Pacific. Winds during the swell season are predominately light or offshore, making it the ideal time of year for clean conditions. Our Ecuador surf school is located in the tiny, charming town of Ayampe, where lively tropical waters collide with stunning beaches, a dense jungle, and friendly locals and ex-pats. Ayampe is an idyllic laid-back surf town in the Baja Manabi Zone that is home to one of the country’s most consistent beach breaks. Ayampe reminds us a lot of how Nosara was 20 years ago. The wave at Ayampe works well during both north and south swells, making it the ideal destination for surfing in Ecuador at any time of year

To learn more about our Ecuador surf school, head to our website. Stay tuned to the Safari Surf blog for more surf and travel news. 

Panama Surf Seasons: Decoding the Best Time of Year to Surf Panama

playa venao surf camp

Surfers have been chasing waves in Central America for decades. The sliver of land that connects North and South America has two dualling coastlines that each produce flawless surf and attract traveling surfers from all over the world. While most travelers focus their wave hunting on Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Panama has proven to be a worthwhile surf trip destination with world-class waves on both the Pacific and Caribbean Coasts, friendly locals, an incredible amount of biodiversity, and some of the most immaculate beaches in the world. While Panama has quality surf all year, each season brings something different. If you’re wondering when you should plan your Panama surf trip, continue reading below for Panama Surf Seasons: Decoding the Best Time of Year to Surf Panama. 

Best Panama Surf Season for Beginner and Intermediate Surfers 

Panama surf classes for kids

If you’re traveling to Panama’s Pacific Coast to learn to surf, visit during the Dry Season, which falls between October and April. During the Dry Season, you can expect cloudless blue skies, gentle offshore breezes, and small to fun-sized surf. While there’s still plenty of swell during the Dry Season, you’re unlikely to encounter overhead and above the surf, which would sideline most beginner and intermediate surfers. In addition to friendlier wave sizes, the Dry Season also sees cleaner wave conditions, thanks to the gentle offshore breeze that blows nearly all day during the height of the Dry Season. If you’re after learner-friendly Panama surf, head to Panama’s Pacific Coast during the Dry Season. 

Panama Pacific Coast Swell Season 

Surf School Panama

If you’re a high-level intermediate or advanced surfer looking to make the most of the Panama surf, head to Panama during the Rainy Season to chase large south swells on the Pacific Coast. The Rainy Season falls between May and September and is considered Central America’s official swell season. During the Rainy Season, powerful south swells form in Antarctica and travel up the Pacific Coast to Panama’s south-facing coastline. Premier waves on the Pacific Coast, like Playa Venao and Santa Catalina, come to life during the summer months. New surfers traveling to Playa Venao during the Rainy Season won’t be out of their league, thanks to the protected corners of the cove that have learner-friendly waves all year long. 

Panama Caribbean Coast Swell Season

Bocas Del Toro Surfing
Image Credit: Surfline

Panama’s Caribbean Coast is home to the world-renowned surf destination, Bocas del Toro. Bocas Del Toro is an archipelago in the Caribbean Sea, home to white sand beaches, pristine coral reefs, and world-class waves. Bocas Del Toro is an ideal surf destination for advanced surfers looking to chase warm water barrels that break over lively reefs. Bocas is an island community where you travel by water taxi to and from different islands and waves. Because of its location in the Caribbean Sea, the swell season in Bocas coincides with the Dry Season and the North American winter. During the winter, storms form off the coast of Canada and travel down the coast of the United States before reaching the Caribbean Sea, where they collide with the reefs in Bocas to form world-class surf. To chase Panama surf in the Caribbean book a winter trip and follow a swell down to Bocas del Toro. 

To book your Panama surf trip and learn more about our Panama surf school in Playa Venao, head to our website. Stay tuned to the Safari surf blog for more surf and travel news.