20 Nov When is the best time to go surfing in Central America?
When is the best time to go surfing in Central America?
Looking to get barrelled or travelling to surf your first waves? Some may say that the best time to go surfing is actually when you decide to make time for it (or when you psychologically need it…!). In fact, it’s always a good time when you can make the time, but here’s some info based on weather patterns of the Pacific coast of Central America (between the south of Mexico (Oaxaca) and the north of Peru (Mancora) that may help you decide when is the best time to go surfing in Central America. Hopefully it helps you decide when to book your next trip at the best timing of the year for the experience you are looking for.
Surfing Central America from December to May
The “dry season”- The best time for sun & small waves, ideal for beginner or intermediate surfers
‘’The dry season’’ – You’ll be more likely to find smaller fun waves and sunshine. It’s a great time for beginners and intermediate surfers to come practice & progress. The water can be quite cool in southern Nicaragua (between San Juan del Sur and Pochomil) and northern Costa Rica (between Witches Rock, Tamarindo, Playa Grande, Nosara, Samara, Santa Teresa, Malpais Jaco, Playa Hermosa) in the months of January, February and March, so bring a wetsuit top of 1 or 2mm. You won’t need a 3-4mm wetsuit to surf like on the US East Coast – much easier to paddle! Wearing a top 1-2mm will also help your ribs and skin if you are just starting or haven’t surfed for a while. Otherwise the friction with the board can make your belly have rash and irritation if you’re not used to it.
The good news is that during this period there is a phenomenon of offshore winds which makes the waves glassy! The wind can be strong sometimes but usually calms down towards the end of March, after which you can leave your wetsuit at home. Until the end of April, the water is warm and the weather is nice! So, if this is your first time surfing and you’re looking for good weather first, opt for a trip between January and April.
Not too fancy about wearing a wetsuit?
If the idea of wearing neoprene during your vacations gives you the chills, don’t worry because our surf camp in Costa Rica is located in the south of the country, where the water temperature is always tropical warm. You will be able to surf in bikini or board short during your holidays, even if you are coming between December and March, unlike the North of Costa Rica and the south of Nicaragua. (Note: Girls: we recommend bringing a pair of leggings to prevent irritation to knees and inner thighs and it will protect the back of your legs from the sun- oily sunscreen on the back of your knees won’t be your best friend, it will make the rails of your board slippery.)
Going on a surf trip from the end April to the end of August
The “green season”- The best time for consistent swells, ideal for all levels of surfers
“The green season” The best and optimal period to “score” big waves with sunny days and occasional rain. This season is called the “green season” because the trees and vegetation become lush, which creates breathtaking photos! The rain usually begins to be more present around the end of June, throwing occasional rain at nights and from time to time, during the day. During these months, the waves are more regular and the winds usually calmer. The water is warm everywhere so no need for a wetsuit. If your priorities are to get steady waves and more probabilities for big swells, this is the best time to travel. It is between the last week of April and the first week of May that the Pacific coast usually receives the first large S-SW swells. So if you are an experienced surfer, keep an eye on the surf forecast via magicseaweed.com and surfline.com and start training! After the first big swell, the conditions become regular for all levels to enjoy. There will be about ten other big swells during the May-November period.
Here is the kind of waves that we get at one of our beginner surf spots during a medium swell in Costa Rica. Long, slow and smooth waves.. perfect to adjust your position on the board and practice taking a direction on an unbroken wave, to learn to generate speed to eventually start making turns up and down the face.. Not bad for someone who had never surfed in her life!
Surfing from September to November
“The true rainy season” – ideal for uncrowded sessions in big surf
“The real rainy season’’ aka the most intense period of the rainy season. Either we avoid it, or we take full advantage of it! It’s often during this time of the year that the best surfers travel to Central America. The waves are more powerful and there is hardly anyone in the water. Advanced surfers usually prefer to sacrifice their tan for intense surf session with less crowd in the water. But 3 weeks without the sun can be a bit intense. Also, a little advice: bring your earplugs because heavy rain will make the rivers in the agricultural areas spills a lot of dirt in the water and an ear infection is never pleasant. We recommend 2 brands: Mack’s * earplugs (disposable and affordable – it’s a silicone that molds to your ear) and Surf Ears “(several sizes available, expensive, but good for the pros- let the sound pass but blocks the water) So be warned! Personally, we are not in operation during these months of the year because the waves and the weather are not optimal to give surf lessons.
Anyone you will meet that has spent some time in Central America will have an opinion on when and where to go. It’s almost impossible to perfectly predict the weather with the climate changes nowadays. For example, we received a big swell (like we would normally get in July) in February each year for the last 2 years in the south of Costa Rica. There is also more swell in March than before. The patterns are changing a bit. So, another good advice some may give you is to choose a region or a spot that offers multiple options of waves. Depending on swell, wind directions & waves size you will have a better chance of finding the desired conditions for your comfort level and objectives. It’s fair to say that it’s difficult to predict what mother nature is going to bring when booking a surf trip. There is one thing for sure though; surfing is always a good time. If you feel like joining one of our surf expeditions to have a good surf technique foundation, knowledge & safe practice, you can check our surf travel calendar.
See you in the water!
* We have no compensation agreement with these companies. These are just brands that we like to use.