Chase Swells in Central America

Nov 2, 2018 | Surf, Travel Guide

Pro surfers don’t have nine-to-five jobs; they set their schedule based on swells, competitions, and training. Surfers can chase a swell in the blink of an eye, follow the forecast just by booking a flight, and catch the best surf no matter where it hits. For those with a desk job, finding the perfect wave takes a lot more effort. We have to complete our monthly to-do list, ask for vacation time off, save money, and cross our fingers hoping the waves will be ready for us when we arrive. If you want to chase and score a perfect swell, booking a flight well in advance is very risky. Of course, most people plan ahead to make surfing work with their schedules.

If you have the chance, your best bet is to book your flight to hit the high season of swells in Central America. Each south swell that comes from the Pacific lights up the coast from Mexico to Panama. These waves come from different directions, with different degrees of difficulty, sizes and winds. Often, these south swells are easily found but not easily predicted. In some places the swell may be epic, but head up the coast a ways and you may be disappointed. Luckily, once you’re here, it’s easy to hop from place to place by car or short flight.

For those of us non-professional surfers, the best solution is to save money by landing in a places that has a solid high season: Puerto Escondido for example. Stay there for a while to increase your chances of having a great surfing session. My suggestion is that when you book this kind of trip, make sure it’s a place that can offer you epic waves and book it during the right season. Like any surf trip, there will be days when the waves are just not firing right. Do a little research before hand to anticipate the forecast and give yourself a better chance to catch perfect swells.

This past winter here in Central America, I spent the most time in Costa Rica, where there were plenty of spots to choose from. Here, when the south swells are big in the Pacific, you can get amazing waves from a variety of surf spots – both point breaks to great beach breaks. Before I arrived, a good friend of mine told me about a very cool place to stay called Selina. They are known for having locations right at some of the best breaks in Latin America, plus the most cool people ever stay there. It was perfect for me. I stayed at Selina Jaco first, then moved north to Selina Santa Teresa and Selina Tamarindo. Each spot just had its own magic and the surf breaks were on fire.

When I was in Costa Rica surfing in Santa Teresa, suddenly a very promising swell started showing up on the charts. I had to choose to catch it in Pavones, one of the longest and best left handers in the world, or continue up north to Witches Rock next to Tamarindo. Witches Rock is one of the best beach breaks with frequent barrels. The group I was with wanted to go north to Witches Rock, and then catch the same swell later on in Nicaragua. On the way up, I was a little bummed to miss a very promising swell that will be lighting up one of the best left point breaks in the world. But, when we arrived in Witches Rock, I surfed a good-to-epic swell (by surfline) ithat pumped for three days with offshore winds, barrels, and an amazing view! Later on we heard

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