Playa Avellana, Costa Rica: An Up & Coming Surfer’s Nirvana

Do you enjoy traveling to places less explored? And beach towns that are quaint and up-and-coming? Perhaps, it is the “Pura Vida” lifestyle that attracts you to a location? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Playa Avellana, Costa Rica, is the ideal choice for your next vacation.  

What’s particularly special about this small beach neighborhood, just 25 minutes from bustling Tamarindo, is that it is an untouched tropical paradise referred to by locals as the “little Hawaii.” Most people coming to this area are surfers seeking consistent swells and a laid-back atmosphere where they can rest and rejuvenate.

Playa Avellanas: What to expect 

waves rolling in Playa Avellanas Costa Rica

​​Playa Avellana Beach, Costa Rica, is a 3 km (1.9 miles) beach with beautiful golden sand surrounded by palm trees and mangroves which line the coast. The turquoise water is particularly attractive to advanced and pro surfers who come to surf the offshore swells that can reach as high as 5.5 meters (18 feet).

If you are not a surfer, don’t be deterred. 

With the peace and quiet experienced at this beach, it’s the perfect place to read a book and nap under the abundance of vegetation. There are also spots that are ideal for swimming.

With no city lights in the distance, it’s beautiful at night. You can listen to the howler monkeys in the trees and the waves crashing while waiting for shooting stars. It’s total paradise!

Amenities 

There is no proper town in Playa Avellanas, only a few low-key hotels and cabins primarily frequented by surfers. To find the closest convenience store or supermarket, you must visit the nearest town of Tamarindo.

For bathrooms and shower facilities at the beach, the best option is to head to one of the local restaurants during business hours.  

Restaurants and bars 

two drinks near the beach at sunset

You won’t notice much commercial development at Playa Avellana, Guanacaste, Costa Rica. 

There are a handful of restaurants; Lola’s Beach Bar is the most popular. What opened in 1998 as a place for friends, family, and the occasional surfer has become a well-known spot to enjoy cocktails and relax on the beach chairs. The owners celebrate the local community and have committed to sustainable, eco-friendly dining.  

Pro tip: Keep your eye out for the chance to meet their pigs. The beach bar actually got its name from its former pig mascot—Lola.

Things to do at Playa Avellana 

Surf various breaks at Playa Avellanas 

mangrove sticks and wooden bridge at Playa Avellana Costa Rica

Surfing Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica, is one of the biggest drawcards of the area. 

Due to the swells coming in from both the northern and southern hemispheres, there are eight different breaks to choose from. As a result, there are perfect conditions year-round. 

While there are better surf beaches for beginners, it is possible to take a surf lesson. These will most likely happen at El Parqueo, in front of Lola’s Beach Bar. The waves are smaller, so it’s likely to find people on boogie boards catching waves.  

Popular spots for intermediate to advanced surfers include El Palo, El Estero de Avellanas and Little Hawaii.

El Palo, which means “the stick,” is named after the dead mangroves raised out of the sand, creating left and right beach breaks forming barrels.

El Estero de Avellanas also offers left and right breaks with reefs and sand below the water level, helping to create great A-frames.

Little Hawaii is where the more advanced come, with waves reaching as high as 5.5 meters. Located a 20-minute walk from Lola’s, it’s a world-class surf location popular amongst locals.

Pro tip: Come during high tide for the best conditions when waves form perfect tubes.

Take a wander to spot local wildlife 

howler monkey in trees

As you stroll along the beach in peace and quiet, search for beautiful birds and butterflies and listen to the howler monkeys in the mango trees. But don’t only look up; otherwise, you may miss the commonly spotted iguanas.

If you’re sitting on the beach and spot a splash, you may be one of the lucky ones to witness a dolphin playing in the waves or a humpback whale breaching.

Take part in some of the outdoor activities

2 paddle boarders near the mangroves

So your companion is a surfer, but it’s not your thing. 

Wondering what you can do during your time in Playa Avellana, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica? Get active and try out some water sports.

Depending on what the swells look like when you are visiting, why not hire a paddleboard and explore the coastline? You’ll be burning calories at the same time, so it’s a win-win. If the ocean conditions are not great, you can also explore the mangroves and estuaries as part of a guided paddleboard tour.

Choose a single or double kayak to explore the mangroves and estuaries for a more relaxing option. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife.

Beyond water sports, you can also explore places you can’t reach by foot on an ATV tour. Zip through the jungle as you have a few laughs along the way.

Around sunset is the perfect time to take a horseback ride on the beach. The sand will be glistening as the sun sets in the distance. With most of the surfers gone for the day, you will pretty much have the beach to yourselves.

Day trips from Playa Avellana

Visit the tourist hub of Tamarindo 

happy couple at a spa getting massages

Getting to bustling Tamarindo is an easy day trip from Playa Avellana, as it’s only a 30-minute drive away.

From there, you can join one of the many tours on offer. For example, head out on a boat trip to take in the beautiful views of the coastline while also having the opportunity to snorkel. Or choose a sunset tour to enjoy all the benefits of a day trip while relishing in a few drinks and snacks as the sun sets.  

Leave time to wander around the town, where you can find plenty of shops to browse, restaurants serving a range of cuisines, and a selection of water sports. You can even unwind at a spa.

At the end of the day, you’ll be quite happy to retreat to the quiet and laid-back Playa Avellanas.

Spend the day beach hopping

Playa Langosta in Costa Rica

​​There’s no better way to spend your time in Costa Rica than beach hopping. Playa Negra and Playa Langosta are the closest to Playa Avellana, so don’t miss out.  

Playa Negra

Yes, this beach is another popular one amongst surfers. Famous for its right-hand barrel waves, Playa Negra is located 4.6 kilometers (2.9 miles) from Playa Avellana.

Even if you’re not a surfer, come here to check out the dark sandy beach featured in the movie Endless Summer. There is even a calmer place for swimming 100 meters (328 feet) from the main surf break.

Feel like you need more to do? Visit Pargos Adventures and hire bikes and paddleboards or organize a snorkeling tour. Otherwise, stop by Villa Deevena, which features an extensive menu if you get hungry.

Playa Langosta 

As Playa Langosta is only 2 km (1.24 miles) from Tamarindo, it’s worth combining these two in a day trip.

While the beach has soft tan sand, there are rocks and strong currents, so it’s not the best beach for casual swimmers. Surfers, on the other hand, will love it.

During your visit, check out the tidal pools at low tide.

Weather in Playa Avellana

surf board in the air

Playa Avellana, Costa Rica weather experiences two main seasons. 

The dry season and the rainy season. 

Luckily, with its location in the Guanacaste region, temperatures remain warm all year round, with a maximum of 32°C (90°F) and a low of 24°C (75°F).

The dry season occurs from December through to April, and it’s generally the best time to visit. However, keep in mind this falls across the Christmas and Easter periods when tourist numbers peak.

The rainy season lasts from May to November, with most rainfall occurring in September and October. One of the most picturesque times to visit is from May through August, when the surrounding nature is green and blooming, but you will likely experience afternoon thunderstorms.

If you are coming to surf, the conditions are perfect year-round. If a little rain doesn’t bother you, a trip during the rainy season will mean less competition for catching waves.

Packing list essentials for Playa Avellanas

two feet laying on a coconut

Packing for a trip to Costa Rica is actually pretty simple. There is no strict dress code, so you will be well prepared as long as you pack light clothing and a few swimsuits. 

Of course, if you are visiting during the rainy season, it’s essential to also pack a rain jacket or an umbrella. Keep in mind that temperatures during the rainy season remain warm. 

Below are a few additional items you may want to pack:

  • Water shoes/sandals – these will come in handy if you are planning to visit the tidal pools at Playa Langosta. They can also double up for walks along the beachfront at Playa Avellana. 
  • GoPro – you will want to show your friends and family the epic waves you caught, so make sure to bring a GoPro and any accessories that will help to capture the surf. 
  • Dry bag – great for kayaking trips or when you have wet clothes and need to protect your valuables from water damage. 
  • Refillable water bottle – with limited convenience shops near Playa Avellana, bring your own water bottle to remain hydrated throughout the day.
  • Water resistant 50+ sunscreen – Costa Rica is hot year-round, so if you are planning to surf for a few hours daily, you will need to, as us Aussies say, slip slop slap that sunscreen on. 

How to get to Playa Avellanas

sunset in Playa Avellana Costa Rica

There are two main airports in Costa Rica, one in San Jose and the other in Liberia

From San Jose Airport to Playa Avellana, you can take a standard minivan or bus. The journey time will take approximately five hours. 

If you are planning to hire a car, arriving at Liberia Airport involves less travel time overall. One of the easiest options is to take a standard bus or minivan from Liberia to Tamarindo. This will take you one hour and 25 minutes. From there, you can rent a car for the duration of your trip and drive to Playa Avellana, which will take approximately 30 minutes. 

FAQ

What is the closest airport to Playa Avellanas?

Liberia Airport is the closest and is 76 km (46 miles) away. 

What is the closest town to Playa Avellanas?

Tamarindo is the largest nearby town, with access to everything from convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and hotels. By car, it will take you 30 minutes to get there. 

Is Playa Avellanas safe?

As with many places in Costa Rica, Playa Avellanas is reasonably safe. Just be careful walking during high tide as there are some rocks in the shallows. Also, keep your valuables in sight. 

Can you swim at Playa Avellanas?

While there are spots to swim at, this beach is primarily visited by surfers. 

Want to travel across the land and sea?

Get inspired with more stories by travelers, for travelers

Panama City coast and reflection

What to do in Panama City, Panama

Wondering what to do in Panama City, Panama? From exploring the famous Panama Canal to strolling around Casco Viejo, we have you sorted!