Surf Etiquette and Safety

web-photos-frijoles03Surf safety and surf etiquette are paramount to an enjoyable surf session for everyone involved.

Surfing is fun, it’s adrenaline-pumping and life-changing.

Surfing can also be dangerous to you, and those around you- like any sport, or activity, there are guidelines for best practices. Keep reading, to discover how you can minimize the chance of accidents, conflicts with other surfers and maintain good vibes and good karma!

  1. Select the most appropriate location for your skill level. If in doubt, ask your local surf shop.
  2. Surfer closest to where the wave broke has priority, or in some places, it’s the person first on their feet.
  3. Stay out of the way of other surfers- when paddling out, paddle towards the broken part of the wave so you avoid interfering with surfers on the green face.
  4. Don’t be a wave hog- take turns, encourage others.
  5. Be observant, pay attention at all times.
  6. Assist a fellow surfer in trouble or distress.
  7. Spend a little time speaking to locals before surfing- figure out the local vibe, how best to fit in.
  8. Your board is a missile and has the potential to harm another person. Never ditch your board when a surfer is behind you- hold onto it like a life depends on it. Remember a 9ft board with a 9ft leash has a reach of close to 20 feet…. and your fellow surfer on a similar board has the same… try and keep a good 40ft from other beginners.
  9. Relax, have fun, don’t be a jerk. Smile, share and lift the spirits of those around you.

4 Key Tips for Beginner Surfers

surf lessons playa grande costa rica

Surf Lessons with Frijoles Locos, Playa Grande,                                   Costa Rica

Shakas and surf. Surf Lessons.

Shakas and surf. Playa Grande near Tamarindo.

How Beginner Surfers can Stand Up on a Wave their First Time Surfing

No doubt about it, learning to surf is hard! Here are 4 tips for beginner surfers, to ensure you stand up on a wave the first time you surf.

1/ Determine if you are goofy or regular foot.

Goofy foot surfers have their right foot forward and regular foot surfers have their left foot forward. If you snowboard or skateboard, you should already know which of these you are. If not, have a friend push you from behind and whichever foot you step forward with first, becomes your front foot.

2/ Practice pop-ups on the beach.

Draw a cross in the sand and lay down on it so your chest rests on the center of the cross. With hands in a wide push-up position, at chest level, draw your tummy in, to create space for your front leg to come through and plant your front foot at the center of the cross. Your back foot remains behind. Both your feet should be perpendicular to the vertical center line, not parallel as if you were skiing. Repeat, as many times as needed, until you nail the pop-up.

3/ Keep your hands flat.

Think stable table. Hands flat on the surfboard will keep the surfboard steady. A common beginner surfer mistake is to grab the edges of the surfboard like reading a book- it will rock and roll and you will fall off.

4/ White-water first.

Stay in the area of the beach where the waves have already broken. This area is referred to as the white-water. Allow the white-water waves to push you toward the beach, and stand up as soon as you feel the power and speed of the wave.

Safety tips:

  • Jump off the surfboard before the shallows, to avoid breaking the surfboard fins (and to avoid knee injury!)
  • Always cover your head with your arms before coming up for air after you fall off the board. This will help you avoid hitting your head on your board or fins.
  • Never surf alone.
  • Surf only where you would be also confident swimming.
Final words of advice: Invest in a surf lesson from a professional surf instructor. A good surf instructor will help you choose the right location, learn safety tips, improve faster, identify your mistakes, and make the whole experience more fun and rewarding. We look forward to taking you surfing.
Email us NOW to make your surf lesson reservation [email protected]



Surfing Costa Rica- Playa Grande and nearby surf breaks

Surfing Costa Rica- Playa Grande and nearby surf breaks

kid surfing playa grande costa rica

Although our 6 year old charges these waves, doesn’t mean they are just for beginners! Something for everyone in Playa Grande.




Surfing Costa Rica- Playa Grande’s best spots and nearby surf breaks…To surf Playa Grande, Costa Rica you will need to access the beach at one of a few options. The main public beach access is at the end of the road straight down from Frijoles Locos Surf Shop, where Hotel Las Tortugas is, and 200 meters north of here known as ‘the palm trees’. Palm trees are great for families, offering good shade. Both places have guarded parking for $2 per vehicle. Don’t leave anything in the car anywhere, ever!

Palm Trees surf spot is closest to Casa Costa Palmera, Casa Sylmar, Casa Blanca, Villa Siempre, Villa Olivia and Casa Mirage.

Nearby the rock there is a wedgy beach break but not good for beginners. Beginner surfers should stick to Palm Trees or between Casa Mirage and around 100m north of Hotel Las Tortugas.

There is parking in front of RipJack Inn also, but not guarded. No matter what, never leave anything in your car. Ever.

Playa Grande surf trip Costa Rica

Head high to a 6 ft surfer. Double overhead to a 6 year old.

It takes a good 25-30 minutes to walk to or from the Tamarindo estuary to the main peak in front of Hotel Las Tortugas. Main peak has plenty of crowd, plenty of vibe, and should only be surfed by competent strong intermediates and up.

Palm Beach Estates to the south end of Playa Grande has a long stretch of beach with breaks all along. Sandy bottom… tends to have more walled up waves but can be fun on the right day.

Casitas is at the very south of the beach before the river-mouth.

Other nearby breaks include Playa Avellanas (all levels of surfer), Playa Frijolar (Marbella), Junquillal and Playa Negra (truly advanced surfers only).

Check out our Driving Directions blog to access information on how to get to some of those other surf breaks mentioned.

Rent your surfboards from Frijoles Locos and ensure that you have something great to ride, that the airlines haven’t damaged en-route or charged you a fortune to carry!

Surf Lessons in Playa Grande, Costa Rica

Surf Lessons in Playa Grande, Costa Rica

Taking a surf lesson or a series of surf lessons while on vacation is a great introduction to surfing- a sport the whole family can enjoy!

Why Frijoles Locos for your Surf Lessons in Playa Grande?

  • Safety is #1
  • Focus on fun
  • Professional, experienced, mature-minded instructors
  • Quality equipment
  • Max of 4 students per instructor for group surf lessons (less if kids involved)

Frijoles Locos Surf School, provides quality surf classes, with safety the highest priority. Undoubtedly, the fun, excitement, laughs, and all round great physical work out will boost endorphins and leave you feeling like you achieved something while on your Costa Rican vacation.

Playa Grande, located in the province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, is a long sandy beach, with no rocks or reef and consistent waves, suitable for all levels of surfer. The beach has many surf spots to utilize, to escape the crowds and find your very own area on which to practice.

Surf lessons with Frijoles Locos Surf School include 90 minutes of professional instruction, the use of the surfboard for the duration of the lesson, quality long-sleeved rashguards to protect your skin against abrasions/ rash from the surf board, and transportation within Playa Grande.

Frijoles Locos Surf Shop offers surf classes for all levels. Our most commonly requested lesson is the beginner surf lesson. Intermediates or those wanting to get comfortable at a new break can request a surf coach to accompany them for a surf session. Advanced coaching is available upon request.

Budding young surfers can enjoy a lesson, from age 3 and up. These menehunes as they are called in Hawaii, or Groms as the Aussies call tiny-tot surfers, will require one-on-one instruction and advance notification will be necessary. There is nothing like seeing your little one enjoying the beauty and natural rush of catching a wave.

Parents of younger children have expressed interest in having an introductory surf lesson for kids as young as 3 years old. We take each child on a case-by-case basis and with the parent’s involvement, can create a fun start to surfing for these little ones too. The tide will be very low, the water very shallow, and safety paramount.

We have taught hundreds of visitors to surf, with instructors who are CPR qualified, mature minded, and with years of ocean experience. Safety is #1 priority, and we use the best equipment (Gnaraloo soft surfboards), the best surf instructors, and select the best part of the beach to learn to surf on any given day.

Many of our customers come from the Papagayo region, as Playa Grande is one of the closest and best surfing beaches in relation to the Papagayo area. Playas del Coco, Ocotal, Riu Guanacaste, Westin, Playa Danta, and the Flamingo area are all within easy driving distance to Playa Grande for surf lessons. Call us if you would like transportation arranged or require driving directions. Driving directions can also be found in our Blog.

Check out these photos of surfers of all ages having the time of their lives and we look forward to seeing you here doing the same.

Contact us to pre-book your surf lessons for your next visit.


Your Playa Grande, Costa Rica Surfing vacation

Your Playa Grande, Costa Rica Surfing vacation

Playa Grande, the Ultimate Costa Rica Surfing Vacation Destination

Probably one of the most consistent of all Costa Rica surf spots, Playa Grande is a quality beachbreak, especially on a good south swell. There are outer reefs which make low-tide not ideal (close-outs mostly), but from mid-tide on, it is A-frame, tube rides, fun, playful lefts and rights. On south swells, often double the size of Tamarindo waves, and worth the 25 minute drive it takes to get there from Tamarindo. The closest surfing beach to Liberia International Airport (LIR), being a 1 hour drive on all paved roads. 75 minute drive from the Papagayo Penninsula and Four Seasons resort. Only 15 minutes drive from Reserva Conchal and the Westin, 25 minutes from Flamingo and 30 minutes from Potrero, it is the place to surf in the area. If everywhere else is flat, Playa Grande will have something to ride, and it’s especially good when an off-season south combines with winter-time offshore winds.

Best Tide:

Mid-tide. Around 3 hours before and up to 3 hours after high tide. At dead high-tide there can be some strong backwash on full-moon high tides.

Best Swell Direction:


Best Size:

Head high to a few feet overhead.

Best Wind:




Ability Level:

Beginner to advanced

Best boards for Playa Grande:

Longboard, shortboard, fish, anything goes!

Best Season:

Dec, Jan, Feb for perfect (but smaller) offshore waves. The rest of the year for bigger, more consistent swells


Public beach accesses at the end of the road from Frijoles Locos Surf Shop, where Hotel Las Tortugas is, and 200 meters north of here known as ‘the palm trees’. Palm trees are great for families, offering good shade. Both places have guarded parking for $2 per vehicle. Don’t leave anything in the car anywhere, ever!

Parking in front of RipJack Inn also, but not guarded.

Takes a good 25-30 minutes to walk from Tamarindo estuary to main peak in front of Hotel Las Tortugas.

Crowd Factor:

Playa Grande at the main peak can get very crowded- 100 plus surfers in the high seasons. The beach is long, with peaks everywhere, and if you have a little motivation for lonely waves, you will find them.

Local Vibe:

There is plenty of attitude in the line up, and a lack of surfing etiquette from some. Don’t add to the problem- use your common sense and paddle away before you find yourself in a predicament.

Be aware of surf etiquette/ the rules- set the standard for everyone else.

Paddle power requirement:

4 out of 10 (10 being an ironman strength required)

Water cleanliness:

9 out of 10 (10 being cleanest)

Shark Danger:

2 out of 10 (0 being a swimming pool and 10 being shark infested)


Surfing where the crowd is, if you are not competent, can be dangerous for you and others. Beginners need to find a spot away from the crowd. The beach is sandy, no rock hazards, and apart from the occasional sting ray or shark spotting, Playa Grande is one of Costa Rica’s least hazardous beaches. Like all beaches with waves, you must know what to do in case of getting stuck in a rip current. Read up on it or stop at Frijoles locos to get some info.