Surfing Laguna: Costa Rican surfing adventure

Flanked by 11 frothing teenagers, I recently boarded an international flight bound for Costa Rica. We arrived in the bustling capital of San Jose and made our way to the gorgeous seaside town of Playa Hermosa along the Pacific Coast, where the lush resort Terazza Del Pacifico awaited.

Once checked in, the groms and I threw our luggage into our rooms and bolted for the surf. Donning only board shorts, we stood nearly paralyzed in the warm tropical sun, mouths agape as perfect emerald green waves unfurled to shore. As we paddled out the crew and I let out a collective shout for joy, as we had made it to paradise!

As surf trips go, I’ve found there is a certain progression shared by most surfers with regard to surf travel, and Costa Rica typically falls somewhere mid-range on the surf adventure “core” scale. Certainly more feral than Hawaii but less core than Alaska or Madagascar — think grizzly bears and big bugs, respectively.

Costa Rica’s not too far; locals are (generally) very friendly; it’s affordable; and the waves are plentiful on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. The potholes, big rig drivers and slightly crooked cops are of moderate concern, however.


After our initial surf session, the groms and I got cleaned up and went out for a night on the town in nearby Jaco, where the discothèques and neon were in no short supply!

As usual, Laguna local Ryland Thacker led the search for fun and before long we had made new friends at the Jaco Christian Surfer’s compound. Young Costa Rican kids were skating, dancing and having fun and gladly welcomed us into their scene.

We exchanged surf stories with the locals, who wanted to know about Kelly Slater, Rob Machado and what surfing Lowers was like.

We asked them about their breaks, where to eat and the best places to hang out at for the week.


It was a stellar first day on our big surf adventure.

Next week: Monkeys, crocodiles, sloths and iguanas and 10-foot surf.

CHRIS WILLIAMS is a surfing coach and Laguna Beach resident, and father of four surf-crazy sons. He can be reached at or (949) 497-5918.