Surfing in the waters off Costa Rica’s “Endless Summer” beaches is most definitely world class. Both coasts offer the international surfer an abundance of different types of conditions from one of the longest left-hand breaks in the world at Pavónes to the quadruple overheads of Salsa Brava. The only problem with these and other incredible surfing spots is the fact that they are seasonal, only going off a couple of months a year. This, however is not a problem at Playa Dominical, where year-round good surf and double overheads are the norm.
“Discovered” in the early seventies by a group of intrepid and dedicated surfers, Dominical has steadily gained in popularity over the last 30 plus years. The town has become a haven for surfers with local restaurants offering “Starving Surfer” food specials and nonstop surf videos. This relaxed and laid back atmosphere combines with inexpensive accommodations and great surf to draw thousands of surfers a year like a giant magnet.
The unusual conditions of the beach are what gives its surf size and dependability. The wave is a beach break with a twist, that twist being the mouth of the Rio Baru to the north. The river empties out of the mountains to the east and deposits sediments that form into a sandbar that spreads like a pair of lazy rabbit ears north and south of the mouth. As the swell approaches the beach and forms into a wave, it's wave to depth ratio is the universal 2 to 3. Meaning the size of the wave is directly proportional to the amount of water it is in. So, a 10 foot wave will always be in water that has a dept of 15 feet and so on. The reason this is important is that once this wave meets the sandbar it peals down the length of the bar creating a beautiful left hand break. The best time to surf is from an hour before high tide to an hour after when the sandbar is furthest out and has the greatest effect on the waves break.
Dominical beach has a reputation of being dangerous and it is well justified, as is evidenced by the number of broken boards that litter the ceiling of the local surfer hangouts. Remarkably, the vast majority of surfboards that are broken are actually broken by the best surfers. The reason for this is simple, when the surf is really big and pumping they are normally the only ones out there. Plus, they are the ones that are constantly pushing the envelope and trying new things. Beginning and intermediate surfers should take some time to get acquainted with the water and its tides as there are couple of different rips that have to be taken into consideration. Also, it is advisable to talk to the local surfers and ask them when and where it might be best to start out. They know the beach and it's peculiarities better than anyone else. In an effort to make the beach safer, the town has pooled together to erect a guard tower and staff it during the day with lifeguards.
Dominical is the perfect home base for surfers that want to make the most of their time here in Costa Rica. It has year-round good surf plus, a central location on the Pacific which allows them to get to the other surf spots with relative ease when they are going off. With the weather conditions of area and the relatively small size of the country, it is truly possible for surfers to have an endless summer.