Category Archives: Jaco Surf

Jaco Costa Rica surfing. We also cover Hermosa Beach, Esterillos and Bejuco. The blog includes general surfing information, surfing tips, surf board rental and repair shops and philosophical musings about surfing.

Jaco – Learn to Surf Like Slater

Wow! It has been a terrific week for surfing in Jaco. January and February are typically the smallest months of the year in terms of groundswell, but we have been seeing 3 ft open water swell this past week, which can produce head high waves in Jaco.

superdynamiceditLearning to surf a walled up wave in Jaco

The waves on Playa Jaco tend to run pretty fast and short, in the range of five second and fifty yards or less.  They break pretty close to the shore (100 yards or so) and the currents are very manageable, so all they they are a bit short and fast, its a good beach for beginners to learn to surf. You get a lot of take off practice in Jaco – call it the “Slater effect.” Florida surfers get similar (although not as good) conditions and some attribute Florida surfers’ domination of pro surfing to the relatively high wave count and short rides.

This blogger got 25 or 30 rides in a hour a few days ago, but lately, the waves have been opening up for rare 100 yard 20 and 30 second rides. Fast, but open, occasionally head high…from “weak point training” on multiple rapid close out takeoffs to sweet rippable open walls, it’s been a great week in Jaco!

Jaco Costa Rica FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions about Jaco, Costa Rica.

Q: How far is Jaco from the Airport?

A: It takes about 1 hour and fifteen minutes to drive via the new Autopista Del Sol Highway from SJO – Juan Santamaria Airport in Alajuela near San Jose to Jaco. Here is a map of the route from SJO Airport to Jaco.

Q: What is the temperature like in Jaco?

A: Daytime highs range from the low to the high 80s, with the warmest weather from January to April. Overnight lows on very rare occasions dip to the high 60s but are typically in the 70s.

Q: Does it rain a lot in Jaco?

A: In September and October, the height of the rainy season, it can rain hard for several says. From January to April, it hardly rains at all in Jaco, but central Pacific Costa Rica remains green. May, June, July, and August along with November and December there are occasional rain showers that may last a few hours, but most days are clear or partly cloudy with no rain. We have lots more information on Jaco, Costa Rica weather and climate here and the most accurate current weather forecast for Jaco here.

Q: What is there to do in Jaco?

A: Ummm… Everything? Jaco is famous for its surfing and nightlife but there are also lots of other activities and adventures to have here in The Gateway to the Central Pacific; click below for more details.

Manuel Antonio National Park

Off-shore Deep Sea Fishing


Near shore fishing

Whitewater Rafting

Tortuga Island Boat Ride and Snorkeling

Whale Watching 

Zip Line Canopy Tour

Canopy Tram

Sea Kayak or Outrigger Canoe Trips

Surf and rivermouth fishing

Carara National Park

Horseback Riding

Surf Lessons on Jaco Beach

Crocodile Tour


Turtle Egg Laying and Hatching

Yoga Classes

Jaco Hotel DoceLunas exclusive Waterfall Tour

Mt Biking – beginner to expert

Scuba Diving

As you can see, there are quite a few fun things to do around Jaco!

Q: Is Jaco a good place for a wedding or a honeymoon?

A: Definitely! As you can see  above, there is a huge range of activities so wedding guests or honeymooners can enjoy a wide variety of tropical adventures for all ages and interests. And you are already familiar with the ideal wedding venue – hotel DoceLunas. Check out our affordable Costa Rica wedding package prices here.

Science of surf stoke

What is it about surfing that makes it so much fun from the very beginning? What is it that keeps us coming back year after year? From tiny grommets to geezer legends in their 70s and 80s, just about everybody who gets in the water can feel the stoke.

Surfers  describe the feeling with mystical reverence, and while it has come to have a watered down and non-surf specific meaning (I’m stoked for some unhealthy fast food!), “the stoke” is a great way to describe the feeling that is almost unique to surfing. The stoke is what makes your hair stand on end as you ride to the beach while it is still dark, anticipating those offshore winds and perfect swells you saw in the forecast. The stoke is also what makes you want to hop back on that soft top and try another foamer after you fall flat on your face and bop your nose on the wisely selected forgiving top, making you laugh through the tears.

The stoke is out there, for sure? But what is it exactly and what makes it so compelling? To answer this question, we can look to behavioral psychology, neurology, chemistry, physics, and primatology.  Stay tuned for more. Or just hurry down and come surfing with us and feel the stoke for yourself!

Jaco Surf Contest February 23 and 24

Jaco will host a surf contest next Saturday and Sunday, February 23rd and 24th.

The Copa MAUI is part of the Costa Rica Federation of Surf’s national series sponsored by Olympus and this event is sponsored by energy drink company Adrenaline Rush.

Because it is part of the national series, many of the best surfers in the country will be competing.
You can enter as a competitor for $10 on they day of the event and advance entrance is possible
at Jass surf shop in Jaco.

Come check out the surf contest! February 23rd and 24th in front of Morgan’s Cove, just one mile from Jaco Costa hotel DoceLunas.

Meditation for surfers

I just read an article in Scientific American entitled “why is it impossible to stop thinking?” The response, penned by professor Barry Gordon, was that evolutionary biology is to blame: you can’t stop thinking because your primitive ancestors needed to be always alert for threats and opportunities, and that turns out to be pretty good for you, since “As social animals, we must keep track of who’s on top and who’s not and who might help us and who might hurt us.” Yikes! What fun to have a brain in this guy’s world.

It’s also possible the person asking the question can’t stop thinking because they haven’t practiced mediation. If you want to stop thinking ( maybe because you are tired of performing Dr Gordon’s threat/dominance assessments of all the people around you! ) simply sit quietly and observe your breath. If you have a thought arise other than observation of your breath, let it occur and pass. Don’t worry about having the thought, just try to avoid responding to it with another thought, and if you do, bring your attention back to your breath. Eventually you will find your thoughts are less frequent and your concentration on your breath is more perfect. Once you have mastered focusing your mind on your breath, you can begin to stop thinking about your breath and let your mind be silent.

This simple technique of breath mediation is a great way to pass the time while you are surfing and gazing out onto the horizon looking for a wave. I like to substitute concentrating on feeling gratitude for the ocean and being able to be in it for concentrating on my breath sometimes. I find this to be a good way to prepare for an excellent wave.

Surf tip – be here now!

Surfing offers a great opportunity to live in the moment, to be here now. When you are paddling as hard as you can to get outside that third big set wave and avoid getting caught inside, you are probably not anywhere but where you are, and not anywhen but now. When you are taking off on a steep drop, you probably don’t need to tell yourself not to think about your past mistakes or your future worries. But sometimes, when the pressure is not on, you might find your mind wandering into a recent or distant past or future. I think you will find its better to keep your mind with you, where you actually are, in the now.

For example, today I was getting ready to take off on a wave and it looked like it might be my first nice long ride of the day. Someone was paddling out from inside me, and while they should have paddled around to my left, toward the curl, they paddled toward the right, toward the green water where I wanted to take off. I was pretty sure the guy was experienced enough to know better too. And that is what I was thinking a split second after I was unable to take off. I was thinking about blaming and judging someone else over something that wasn’t even happening. It was in the past, and I should have left it there.

If I had, and if I had allowed my mind to remain in the present, I would have had the sense to check behind me, paddle another two yards out, and catch an even better wave. But instead I allowed my attachment to the first wave and my tendency to judge and blame to dominate my experience. It only took being a second away from now to miss that wave. Now is a very short time, but we have it forever if we are always here now.

I am here now, writing about something in the past, but I am writing now, so I think that is ok. And maybe the next time I miss I wave, I will miss the wave while I am missing the wave and when the wave is gone, I will remain, now, aware, and ready for the next wave.

Life is a series of waves. There are plenty for everyone. Forget about about the wave you just missed, and don’t worry about the wave you might get. Concentrate on the wave that is here now. Be here now with your wave!

Surf tip – what to do when you are caught inside

Many of our guests at Jaco hotel DoceLunas come to Jaco in part to learn to surf, so we like to provide some surfing tips to help you get started. Beginning surfers may face the challenging situation of being “caught inside” a set wave with a longboard. By “caught inside” we mean being in between the whitewater of the broken wave and the beach. A little whitewater is easy to handle, but a big wall of whitewater can be pretty intimidating and even potentially dangerous. The approach you take to handling this situation depends on the size of the wave, your experience, and your upper body strength.

For a small wall of whitewater where you can touch bottom, you may simply hold the board near the nose to one side of your body and slightly to the beach side so it doesnt get pushed onto and beat you up. If you are a little more confident, you might be able to simply lie on the board and let the whitewater wash over you. When the whitewater is a little more powerful, this can be tricky.

The “turtle roll” is a common technique for negotiating whitewater. Turn your back to the wave (but look over your shoulder and keep an eye on it), hold the board with both hands on either side of the nose with your body closer to the whitewater and the board closer to the beach, and as the wave reaches you, allow yourself to sink below the water and pull down on the nose. The board will flap in the whitewater around the pivot of your hands on the nose and allow the wave to pass under.

After you get a little more used to the board, you might be surprised to find that instead of turtle rolling, you can simply sit or lie on top of the board facing into the whitewater. By scooting up the board a little if you are sitting, or pushing down the nose you can miminize the amount of force the wave can put to surf the board towards the beach and hold your position. If you are really feeling confident, you can even push one side of the board down a little and knife the board into the water, leveling it out and pressing the nose down. You cant really duck dive a longboard, but if you get the nose underwater and put all your weight on it, you may be surprised how well you can hold your position, and you are still on top of the board ready to paddle.

If the whitewater is really big and you know it will knock the board out of your hands, you can flip the board around so the tail is closest to you and the nose is pointing toward the beach and grab the rail saver strap where the leash attaches to the board. Take care not to get your hand pinched and pull down on the tail to prevent the nose from getting pressed into the water and firing the board back at you. Flex your arms so that they are bent and the board is close to your chest and prepare to let your arms extend to absorb the shock of the whitewater impact. The whitewater will drag you and the board toward the beach, but you will still be holding the railsaver strap, so you can get quickly to the surface.

Only if you can not manage any other option, you can “tether” the board, that is just let it go and hope the leash does not break. If you do this, you risk severly injuring anyone withing about 20 feet to the beach side of you because you have around 10 feet of board and 10 feet of leash. Make sure no one is behind you! If someone is behind you, tethering is not an option. You don’t want to hurt someone, so just grab that strap or hold the nose tight and hope for the best.

You will find that if you stay on top the board and try to duck dive instead of turtle rolling or hold the strap instead of tethering, you will get back to the surface much faster and you will be able to get outside the impact zone where you want to be much quicker. Give it a try. Good luck, and have a happy and safe surfing experience!

Surf tip – paddle downhill to the lineup

Paddling downhilll is a powerful concept to help you get out to the lineup faster and easier.

Surfing near Jaco hotel DoceLunas on Jaco beach, its pretty easy to get out into the lineup. The waves break fairly close to the shore so the paddle out is not a super big deal, although when they are at maximum size and walling out its definitely not a project for beginners. On some beaches, such as Esterillos Centro and Este to the south and Playa Bejuco south of them, the paddle out can be pretty epic. Beginning longboarders may find it easiest to turtle roll and conserve energy at first, but will eventually need to learn to take the hits on top of the board and keep paddling. We will talk about how to avoid losing ground while getting clobbered by whitewater another day. Today we are going to talk about an idea I just came up with last week – paddling downhill.

What do I mean by paddling downhill? Well, when you paddle out you may have to paddle up the face of green waves or may be able to punch through a little fading or incipient whitewater at the top of a wave. Then the wave passed under you and you go down the back face of the wave. If the wave is pretty steep when you paddle up the face, you can be paddling almost straight up. When you hit the top of the wave, you are in motionless spot with regard to gravity momentarily – no upward momentum or downward momentum, and then you begin to fall, sliding down the back face of the wave.

But unless you really work at it, you won’t harvest the downhill portion of your paddle to the lineup. Why? Because you were paddling straight up the face of the wave toward the sky almost. At the same point when you are at the top of your trip, lifted by the wave, and have the opportunity to charge down the backside of the wave to speed your trip to the lineup, you have almost no forward momentum – its all upward momentum that then turns into down instead of out.

To harness the potential energy of your elevated position in the wave, you need to create new forward momentum as soon as you crest the wave. Use a forward body position to bring the board into trim down the wave and take short strokes to accelerate. You will find yourself getting moving much faster if you establish this rhythm: longer strokes up the face of the wave followed by a quick flurry of short accelerating strokes down the back to re-create momentum when you that brief chance to paddle downhill. When the wave backs are three feet or so, you can really feel the difference. Give it a try!

No shame in being a buoy

The lineup in Jaco Costa Rica can get pretty crowded on the weekends, but that doesn’t mea

n you will have a hard time getting waves; a lot of people are just floating out there like buoys. I have heard some other surfers refer to buoys with contempt, and it’s true that sometimes I wish there were a few less people do dodge, but

I think there is no shame in being a buoy.

Consider that a lot of surfers in Jaco are beginners and on the weekend, lots of people from San Jose who are just starting surfing and don’t get to practice every day are out there. They have paddled out to the lineup where they have a chance to catch a wave and where they can see up close what other surfers are doing and what works and what doesn’t. But they have enough sense to know they are not ready to charge in a crowd, so they are just sitting their floating and that’s fine by me. Better to be a buoy than a kook!

If you watch and wait, eventually you will find an opportunity where you are confident you can take off and get a good ride without endangering your fellow surfers. Pura Vida!

Watch Jaco area local Carlos Munoz Surf Live at Pipeline Pro

Local surfer Carlos Munoz earned himself an invitation to the Volcom Pipeline Pro this year. He will be surfing at about 5:30 PM Eastern Standard Time, 4:40 PM Jaco Costa Rica time tonight.

You can watch the watch Jaco local Carlos Munoz surf in the Pipeline Pro live here. Check it out!

Go Carlos!