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Osa Costa Rica

Peninsula de Osa Costa Rica is considered the beginning of the southern third of Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. Only more adventurous tourists and surfers will go here. The scene is much different than the more traveled areas like Tamarindo, Playa Hermosa and Mal Pais, etc., and different also than places like Jacó Beach, which is within close proximity to the Capital of San José, and is a favourite destination for locals to party and surf. The Osa Peninsula is much more wild and remote and surfers will find little or no night life, much less infrastructure and few amenities. There is quite a bit of eco-tourism here, and you will likely see several different types of monkeys, scarlet macaws, and anteaters. Once you get to Cabo Matapalo, you will find great waves, and also some beautiful hiking trails, and a must-visit waterfall. If you are you looking to beat the crowds and surf camps, and immerse yourself in nature, then you should keep reading.

Cabo Matapalo is home to three world-class surfing breaks. Surfers in the know make this area a destination throughout the year - maximum exposure to swell keeps things consistent. Cabo Matapalo is directly across the Gulf from Pavones, one of the longest left pointbreaks in the world, and one of my favorite all-time surf destinations. Beginners can take surfing lessons here is the mellower waves of Pan Dulce (Pan Dulce means “sweet bread” in Spanish) Beach in Matapalo. Here the waves are big enough, the rides are long, and the surf is not heavy - so good for lessons and beginners. The waves at Pan Dulce Beach are tide dependent, so check with your surf tour operator to find out when to arrive. Public transportation from Puerto Jiminéz is available to the beach and departs at 6 am., returning in the evening. Taxis hitch hiking and rental vehicles can all make the trip as well.

Those three World Class Surfing breaks I mentioned before are also in Cabo Matapalo - about 12 miles from the nearest town of Puerto Jimenez. Stock up food and supplies in Puerto Jiminez as you wont fin any restaurants or stores once you arrive. Access is by dirt road, which should be in good condition most months. There is one river crossing you might have trouble with during rainy season. The Matapalo surf spots are two rocky right points that get surfed the most, and a “cloudbreak” type setup that breaks only on bigger swells. The “cloudbreak” break is reputed to be quite “sharky,” - so enjoy - you won’t see me there. During big swells, all of these breaks are suitable for expert surfers only, and generally it is recommended to ride a bigger board. The two points are located in the bays before you get to the huge landslide. The third spot is just in front of the landslide itself.

The best time to surf Matapalo is on a west or south swell, during the prime season for waves - April to October. Expect on average about 150 good days of surf per year in this region. Also - prepare to get skunked if you are only visiting for a few days. Osa Peninsula suf is less consistent and more fickle than places like Playa Hermosa, Mal Pais and Tamarindo. Visit at the right time and the rewards can be huge!

You will need a 4×4 with adequate clearance to get to the waves. There are three small rivers to cross and the road from Puerto Jiminéz to Cabo Matapalo can get difficult. There is also a “collective” taxi departing from Puerto Jiminéz at 6 am, or if you can’t get up that early (like me) take a taxi - which will run you about $25-30. The drive from Puerto Jiminéz to Matapalo should take you about 30–40 minutes. about 35 minutes into the drive you pass a small school on your right. After that- there is one last little river crossing and a left turn right after that. Climb up this road - curving right - and look for the left turn, and you will see beach trails to take you to the waves.

Getting there is pretty straightforward. Traveling south along the coast from Quepos, take the Interamerican highway as far as Chacarita (eat here - only restaurant for miles…) then continue on paved/ dirt road all the way to Puerto Jiminéz. Arriving in the Osa is possible from Pavones by car ferry across the Gulfo Dulce to Puerto Jiminéz. You could also drive around the Gulfo Dulce if you miss the ferry, or are scared of ferries. Take the ferry you fairy.

Ranchos Alemendros is a beautiful lodge located right on the break. All meals are included and you can expect to pay $60/person/night. Most people book in this Osa Peninsula hotel paradise if they plan to stay and surf Matapalo for a few days.


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