Going on a Surfing Trip? Surfing Safety in Costa Rica

Hawaii is the ancestral home of surfing. Costa Rica bears the affectionate name of the ‘Hawaii of Central America’. If you want to experience some of the best waves in the world, Costa Rica is one of the best places to go. There are also Costa Rica surf camps for beginners who want to get into the sport.

Just like any part of the world, safety is of paramount importance. Travelling to a country with an extraordinarily low crime rate isn’t an excuse for leaving your intelligence on the plane. Here are some tips for surfing in the country’s major hotspots like Montezuma, Santa Teresa, and Mal Pais.

Riptides

 A riptide, or undertow, is a strong current which occurs when one current flows over another. Getting caught in a riptide will pull you away from shore. Experienced surfers intentionally surf in them to catch waves, though. Watch out for them by obeying any signs or asking a local about the conditions.

If you get caught in a riptide, remember not to panic and swim parallel to the shore. Riptides are generally only about 150 feet wide. When you escape the current, swim back to shore.

Crocodiles

 The big danger with surfing in Costa Rica is the crocodiles. Certain break points which feed into river mouths may have a large crocodile hiding underwater. It’s rare for someone to get hurt by these huge reptiles, but it’s best to be safe. Ask locals about where the crocodiles hang out and check Internet surf guides for spots to avoid.

Jellyfish

 This country does have a problem with jellyfish. You’ll encounter these regularly. Most surfers report finding them during the early morning and late evening when they tend to float closer to the shore.

The best way to know if there are any jellyfish in the area is to watch out for other surfers. Beaches full of surfers are likely to be safer than isolated paradises outside of town.

 Rock Bottoms

 Most areas where surfers frequent have nice sand bottoms. Some break points might have rocks on the floor. Wearing a wet suit can stop you from sustaining any cuts and bruises on your next wipe out.

Surfing Conditions

 Costa Rica has one disadvantage; storms. Storms regularly cross this country which is only 50 miles in width at its widest point. The last thing you want is to get caught in a lightning storm. Watch for weather signs and mind the surfing conditions. The conditions can change for the worst in just a few minutes.

If you’re unused to surfing in Central America, join a Costa Rica surf camp where they’ll teach you how to spot signs of changing conditions.

Wear a Leash

The law on most Costa Rica beaches is to wear a leash. These leashes keep your surf board firmly attached to you. On beaches where wearing a leash isn’t required by law, it’s important to do it anyway because a runaway board can quickly become a hazard for other surfers.