10 Best Surf Spots in Central America

South of the boarder is a haven for surf—there is nothing better than barrels, beers, warm water, and sultry senioritas—and the ten best surf spots in Central America are only a short plane ride away. Get ready to charge.

  1. Puerto Escondido, Mexico. The sandbars off Playa Zicatella produce some of the most powerful and hollow barrels in the world. Widely considered the best beach break on the planet, you will get the best barrel of your life here, but be prepared to break a few boards, and even a few bones.
  2. Salinas Cruz, Mexico. This region isn’t so much a secret as it is a hassle. Aside from the big port-town, this region of Southern Mexico is largely undeveloped. If you’re into uncrowded, perfect, right point breaks it may be time to rent a 4×4 and go explore some of the least crowded, best waves in Central America.
  3. Punta Roca, El Salvador. This perfect right point break is the queen of the El Salvadorian coastline. Punta Roca is a long, fast, and powerful rocky point that is often called the J Bay  of surf spots in Central America. The wave can be heavy, and the local vibe in the water, and on the beach, is nothing short of manic. Watch your back, and don’t get caught alone after dark. What El Salvador lacks in safety it makes up for in economy. Try to spend more than $5 USD at a local restaurant and you’ll probably explode.
  4. Playa Colorado, Nicaragua. This stretch of beach break is quite similar to Puerto Escondido, but with much smaller crowds. Nicaragua is virgin territory compared to most of its neighbors. It’s cheap too, and there are lots of secrets around for those willing to explore.
  5. Ollie’s Point, Costa Rica. This classic right point break, named after Oliver North, is near the Nicaraguan border. Accessible by boat only, the wave here gets surprisingly crowded for a surf spot in Central America, but with good reason, as Ollie’s point is one of the most rippable rights you will ever surf.
  6. Witches Rock, Costa Rica. Made famous in Bruce Brown’s “The Endless Summer II,” Witches Rock is a classic beach break that offers perfect lefts and rights. The beach is a national park, so land visitors are limited, and everyone else needs to boat in.  Waves break on both sides of the giant iconic rock looming off-shore, and the beach is big enough for everyone to spread around.
  7. Pavones, Costa Rica. This place used to be a secret, but good things rarely stay hidden. One of the best left point breaks in the Northern Hemisphere lies on a tiny peninsula near the Panamanian border. The fact that incoming roads are nearly impassible during the wet-season helps keep crowds down.
  8. Santa Catalina, Panama. Like many of the best surf spots in Central America, Santa Catalina is a right point. Santa Catalina breaks over lava reef for more than 200 hundred yards. One of the more consistent waves in Panama, Catalina can hold some serious size. On the rare occasion that the Pacific goes flat, you can occupy yourself with world-class fishing, so there won’t be any need to hang yourself by your leash.
  9. Bocas Del Toro, Panama. The Mouth of the Bull is a tiny cluster of islands on Panama’s Caribbean Coast. Bocas offers several world-class reef breaks and beachies that are easily accessible by water taxi, as well as a slew of the best secret surf spots in Central America that  involve some serious tact to access.  The rasta vibe in Bocas is a nice break from the rest of Central America. Just don’t drop in on anyone with dreadlocks.
  10. Salsa Brava, Costa Rica. Heading North from Bocas Del Toro into Costa Rica brings you to Salsa Brava. This Caribbean gem is often compared to pipeline. Literally translated as brave or wild sauce, this shallow reef break can be hollow and fierce. Yes, the Caribbean does get swell, especially in this region. It can be a dangerous wave, which explains the amount of helmets in the lineup. Although not as consistent as the Pacific, this Caribbean gem is certainly one of the best surf spots in Central America.
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