Beautiful paddling in Costa Rica. | Photo: Shutterstock
If any sport represents peace and happiness, it would have to be cruising along on a Standup Paddleboard. The one country that has cruised its way to having a reputation of peace and happiness is Costa Rica and the SUP lifestyle seems to fit pretty nicely with the pura vida vibe you find while paddling there. For SUP Surfers, they love the energy they get from the locals in the line-up, flat water SUPer’s are awed by the flora & fauna found on the many lakes and lower elevation rivers, and those few whitewater River SUPer’s enjoy some of the most scenic and adventurous river suping you will find anywhere. All of this SUPing paradise is within the small country the size of Vermont, Costa Rica!
Caribbean side of Costa Rica is perfect from September to November. | Photo via: Tom Ranieri
The season for SUPing in Costa Rica is one that few are really in tune with. Your more traditional tourism information will say that the dry season runs from January to August, and the rest of the year is rainy. This is true but only for certain the country's Pacific side while other parts of the country have entirely different seasons. For example, from August through November, the Caribbean side of Costa Rica is a flat pool great for touring and visiting the many white sandy beaches along the coast. So if you know how to play the seasons down here in Costa Rica, you can have epic world-class paddling all year round.
The list of hotspots for paddleboarding in Costa Rica is endless, as you would expect a country with a Caribbean and Pacific coast should be. You first need to decide which board you want to bring out. Costa Rica is home to some of the best whitewater River SUP a paddler could ask for. As most know by now, it has some of the best and consistent waves on the planet. If you are looking for a little less adventure, the flatwater paddling is great from lowland rivers through the rainforest, multiple lakes near volcanoes, and picturesque coastal, flatwater SUP on both the Caribbean and the Pacific.
A favorite area for river sup would be the valley town of Turrialba. Here you will find multiple rivers with easy access and driving distance, offering you rivers for all levels from Class I to Class IV sections. If you are looking for the perfect SUP Surfing experience, then you will want to visit both coasts. The Caribbean hotspot is the little local break at Playa Grande just north of Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge. It is pretty much where the road ends, heading south before arriving in Panama.
SUP Surfing on the Pacific, you have several choices, but if you hit a swell at Pavones on the southern Pacific, it will be hard to replicate one of the longest left breaks in the world. Moving north on the Pacific and staying away from Dominical and Manuel Antonio's crowds is a secret spot called Playa Linda, Matapalo. This beach is cared for by the local community and is perfect for SUP Surfing and having those that don’t SUP Surf hang out in the shade at the immaculately well kept grounds. No crowds and no infrastructure, just a really well-kept beach for you and your board. Heading farther north up into the Guanacaste region, you can play it safe and go with consistency at Playa Guiones or Ostional in the Northern Pacific. Playa Guiones will have the crowds, and Ostional will be pretty much paddling alone, other than a few thousand turtles certain times of the year.
Paddling on Arenal Lake with the backdrop of the Arenal Volcano. | Photo: Shutterstock
For the flat water paddlers looking to experience some really unique paddling, you will have to take your board out at the base of the Arenal Volcano. This is a beautiful paddle, and when the weather is perfect, it's one of the most scenic paddles you will experience in your life. Another spot for flatwater paddlers we love is Rubber Lake, which is actually SUPing in an old volcanic crater surrounded by primary rainforest. This is located on the backside of the Poas volcano, and if you are looking for it on a GPS, you will use the Spanish name “Lago de Hule.”
With many more great spots for flat paddling inland, you will never beat the Caribbean side of Costa Rica from September to November. The waters are calm and crystal clear, and the wildlife is everywhere under you and above you as you float along the edge of where the coral reefs meet the jungle on land.
Punta Monta (left) and Playa Grande (right). | Photos via: Tom Ranieri
The POC, Pacuare Outdoor Center, are paddling junkies in Costa Rica. They operate flat water, rivers, and a Costa Rica SUPSurf Academy on both the Pacific and Caribbean coast, adjusting to the conditions. The POC has their warehouse in Turrialba and a private lodge on the Pacuare River. The POC is always excited to meet new paddlers in-country and will sure to treat you like family.
WOW, Surf is located in Jaco beach and has been around since the surf boom here in Costa Rica. This is a shop with some passionate SUP Surfers led by owner Chuck Herwig. Stop by. Chuck will treat you like he has known you for the last 40 years.
Marcel Oliveira is a professional Venezuelan surfer and now calls Costa Rica home. Marcel is a recognized SUP Coach that can be found on any beach in Costa Rica with waves and competes on flat water, so during the Caribbean summer months, he is usually the one with the race board. If you have a few extra days and want to surround yourself with good vibes, a great guy, and a very knowledgeable coach, then check in with Marcel.
Beautiful sunset in Costa Rica. | Photo: Shutterstock
To explore more SUP destinations click HERE.