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Costa Rica Surf Weather Patterns
For some reason, Costa Ricans call December-March summer, even though they're not in the Southern Hemisphere, but for the purposes of this guide, we'll use Northern Hemisphere seasons, i.e. December-March is winter and June-September is summer.
Summer is the most consistent season for surf on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, as any Southern Hemisphere storm will light up its points, river mouths, reefs and beaches. It's also the wet season -- though it's always drier in the north while areas in the south around Pavones and over on the Caribbean side can rain all year -- and can be sticky and humid for weeks on end. And with water temperatures in the 80s, you're lucky to feel refreshed, ever, unless of course you've splurged on A/C. In addition to the real possibility of sweating to death, mucho rain means swollen rivers, and swollen rivers mean washed out roads -- there are more then a few folks who have been stranded at places like Roca Bruja because they were, like totally sure their rented Rav-4 would be able to drive through a 4-foot deep torrent. It's also pretty crowded with surfers in the summer, as many Americans and Europeans take their yearly holidays here. Winds in summer are generally light and variable -- except during frequent storms -- but it always pays to get up early.
Fall is when the rains start to let up a bit, and though Southern Hemi swells are less consistent, a dozen or so swells will sneak though from September-November. This is also when west and northwest swells start up, making the north Pacific coast an appealing option. An added bonus is that the schoolies have gone back to class and holiday crowds haven't shown up yet, leaving many lineups considerably lighter. Winds are variable, and as winter approaches, you'll get steady offshores in the morning, especially in the north.
Winter is Costa Rica's dry season. Well, the Caribbean side gets mucho rain all year, but the Pacific side stays pretty dry from December through March. The Pacific side also sees plenty of offshores in the winter, which is kind of a shame as the south swells it needs to really turn on are generally weak and infrequent. The Caribbean side, on the other hand, can absolutely cook on for weeks on end from December through February, ranging from head high to triple overhead -- definitely Costa Rica's heaviest time for surf, though the Caribbean is more susceptible to local storms and the winds that accompany them, which can hack a decent swell to bits in a manner of 5 minutes.
March showers bring April south swells. Or something like that. Springtime on Costa Rica is of course a time of transition, with wintertime offshores blowing less frequently but summertime south swells starting to gear up. It could be a really good time of year and it you could get skunked, in other words. Feeling lucky?
Costa Rica Weather
For more about Costa Rica Surfing see these articles:
Costa Rica Local Takes 2nd Places in Competion. more
Jaco Beach: Surfing on the Central Pacific of Costa Rica
Surfing Costa Rica's Southern Pacific Coast
Surfing Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast
Costa Rica's Surfing Maps & Locations
Global Surf News
Buoyweather.com - Has four virtual buoys for Costa Rica that show sea and surf heights, wind directions, and forecasts to 96 hours -
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