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Mal Pais

Mal Pais, or “Bad Country” couldn’t be a less accurate namesake. The name actually refers to the lack of fresh water in the area, which made it tough for people to settle many years ago. Well, thank god they figured that one out and nowadays, Mal Pais is one of the coolest places in the country to visit. Infrastructure has rapidly been built up in the last ten years as the surf travel industry has boomed. Now everything you need is right there; grocery stores, boutique shops, surf camps, amazing restaurants, bank machine, and an internet café. The actual town of Mal Pais is a small fishing village where you can buy fresh seafood right off the boat - bring back to your hotel and ask them to cook - drive 3km south on the dirt road and you will find it.

The main Mal Pais Surf beach is Playa Carmen, which is several miles long and offers up mellower beach break, and also some rock reef/sand bottom surf breaks slightly north up the beach. There are other spots in the area such a the left point in front of hotel Mar Azul (great place) at the southern end of the beach. Mal Pais’ sister town of Santa Teresa Costa Rica is about a 15 minute drive north along a dirt road, where you can find heavier, more high performance waves.

Surfing is king in Mal Pais, and there are quite a few surf camps there. Mal Pais Surf Camp has been running a great service for years, offering lessons, rentals, camping, cabinas, great food, and nightly entertainment. For $30 you can get a 1 1/2 hr surf lesson. Mal País Surf Camp has an open air bar that continuously runs surf videos and has open mike and live music on Wednesday and Saturdays; there’s ping-pong, foosball, a pool table. one night a week they have a mini rodeo with a mechanical bull. You will never find yourself bored at night here, as all of the camps, clubs and hotels in the area coordinate their entertainment so that there’s always a party, disco, or bonfire beach party every night. There are also several Women’s Surf Camps here that cater specifically to the needs of our surf sisters. Playa Carmen is a great beach for surf lessons, and beginners can find space to themselves to learn the ropes and catch that first wave.

Mal Pais Costa Rica is one of my favorite places in the world. Go there. You won’t regret it. The vibe is friendly and its grown as a surf destination without ruining the natural beauty of the place.


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