Playa Grande Guanacaste
You'll find something to love in Costa Rica
Playa Grande is a small, quiet awesome beach town on the Guanacaste Pacific coast of Costa Rica just north of Tamarindo. Surfing Grande is incredible and has attracted surfers from all around the globe. Although many skilled surfers have descended upon Playa Grande it is also a great family beach and is considered one of the better places to learn to surf or improve surfing skills.
This international beach is very popular as one of Costa Rica’s best surfing spots as well as home to Parque Nacional Marino Las Baulas, the nesting ground of the Leatherback Turtle. Playa Grande is the second largest nesting area for the Leatherback and Ridley Turtles in the world. We’ll talk more about that later.
Downtown Playa Grande
Grande’s convenient to just about everything… kinda, sorta and in respect to the turtles, it’s pretty quiet at night, except at Kike’s Place. Grande doesn’t have a traffic problem on the road or on the beach, except during Semana Santa, or Easter Week, which is one of the busiest times of year in Costa Rica.
Playa Grande has an eco funky vibe and is a little more laid back than Tamarindo and Flamingo. Aside from its breathtaking beauty, this beach offers a bohemian lifestyle while surrounded by neighboring Guanacaste beaches. There are a number hotels, restaurants, surf shops and camps, mini-market, and activities to do while hanging out at this beautiful beach.
There are great hotel accommodations available in the area at affordable prices. Although no rooms can legally face the ocean by law, the ability to lodge within a protected area is a rare luxury in Costa Rica.
There will be no late nights partying around a beach fire on the beach at Grande. It’s in a national park and protected area for our beloved Leatherback Turtles and we not permitted to go out on the beach after sundown.
Watch out for the Howler Monkeys especially those across the street from Kike’s…they been known to have fun with the tourist by hanging in the trees throwing foul debris and making the most horrifying howl. Their sound makes them sound 10 feet tall, but they are the cutest. They are small and stay in the trees with their families.
There is much more to the town of Playa Grande. The surrounding area known as Palm Beach is an exclusive owner occupied neighborhood nearby that you can walk to and through to catch the boat to Tamarindo.
Palm Beach Estates, the southern end of Grande, is a gated community with its own atmosphere and quality restaurants and hotels. It also has a dock that allows quick boat rides to Tamarindo…I think it takes about 5 or 10 minutes to get there… keep your eyes open because on a good day you might see a crock, as in crocodile, in the water.
Now based on this picture, I don’t remember how it goes when you see a crock in the water, but you either act big or play dead – not dumb…I didn’t have a chance to ask this guy how it worked out for him!
Breaks are moderate and constant, earning Grande a reputation of one of Costa Rica’s premier surf destinations. In fact, nearby Tamarindo and Grande host several international surf competitions, a testament to the quality of surfing available at this beach and the surrounding Guanacaste Beaches Top Surfing Hub “neighborhood” beaches.
The following info is for the true surfer, otherwise skip over this next part and find the link to make your hotel reservations!
Playa Grande is one of the most consistent breaks in the area, and often holding more size than Tamarindo Beach. This quality beachbreak is located on the north side of the rivermouth from Tamarindo (about 25 minute drive/30 minute beach hike), focusing anything from the Southern Hemi, especially SouthWest swells. There are outer reefs, which make low-tide not ideal (close-outs mostly). Mid tide is best, offering fun A-frames, ripable rights and lefts, and barrels.
A big high tide will often produce backwash. If everywhere else is flat, Playa Grande will have something to ride, and it’s especially good when an off-season Southern Hemi swell combines with winter-time offshore winds.
This area is the closest surfing beaches to Liberia International Airport (LIR), about 1 hour drive on all paved roads.
Playa Ventana is an amazing family beach to the right of Playa Grande. When you walk to Grande, just keep walking to the right and you’ll be at Ventana beach. Fun place for the kiddie-bops.