In this article, I'll share my personal experiences and give you the inside scoop on the best longboard waves in Central America.
As a longboarder, I have been fortunate enough to travel to some of the best surf spots in the world.
And of all the places I've been, Central America stands out as a true paradise for longboarders.
From the crystal-clear waters of Panama to the breathtaking beaches of Costa Rica, this region has it all.
But what really sets Central America apart are the world-class longboard waves that can be found in countries like Belize, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
Best longboard waves in Central America
1. Longboard waves in Costa Rica
As a longboarder, I have been fortunate enough to surf some of the best waves in Central America.
Costa Rica, in particular, stands out for its incredible beauty, rich biodiversity, and thriving tourist economy.
I have had the pleasure of visiting several of Costa Rica's most popular surf spots, including the ultra-popular Tamarindo and Puerto Viejo, as well as the beginner-friendly Jaco and Playa Pavones.
Each of these spots offers a unique surfing experience, with varying conditions and waves suitable for surfers of all skill levels.
However, it's important to note that surfing in Costa Rica tends to be more expensive, crowded, and hard to book than other Central American surf destinations.
This is due in part to its popularity as a tourist destination, which has led to the development of a thriving hospitality industry and higher prices.
Additionally, Costa Rica's well-established infrastructure and developed tourist infrastructure means that it is often more crowded than other surf spots in the region.
Despite these challenges, Costa Rica is a truly stunning country that is well worth a visit for any surfer.
With its beautiful beaches, rich biodiversity, and diverse surf spots, Costa Rica offers something for everyone.
Whether you're a beginner looking to learn the basics or an advanced surfer seeking challenging waves, you're sure to find a surf spot that suits your needs in Costa Rica.
2. Longboard waves in Guatemala
Despite its off the beaten path status, Guatemala offers a hidden gem for longboarders.
With its excellent surfing beaches and largely uncrowded waters, Guatemala is a great destination for surfers who are looking for something a little different.
The best time to visit Guatemala for surfing is between March and June, when the waves and weather are at their peak.
I've personally had great experiences surfing at Sipacate, Iztapa, Champerico, and Monterrico, though these spots can be difficult to reach due to their remote location and lack of transportation options.
One of the benefits of surfing in Guatemala is the affordable cost of accommodations, restaurants, and other services.
As a lesser-known tourist destination, Guatemala offers great value for money and a more authentic experience than more popular destinations.
However, this also means that many parts of the country are relatively untouched by tourism, which can be both a blessing and a challenge in terms of accessibility and authenticity.
If you're looking for a unique and uncrowded surf destination, Guatemala is well worth considering.
With its world-class waves and affordable prices, Guatemala offers a truly unique surfing experience that you won't find anywhere else.
3. Longboard waves in Panama
Panama, in particular, stands out for its diverse range of surf spots and year-round surfing opportunities.
With two coastlines facing the Pacific and Caribbean, there's always a good wave to be found in Panama.
One of the best places to surf on the Pacific side is Playa Venao, where Beach Break Surf Camp is located.
This beautiful region is known for its reliable southern swell, bi-directional breaks, and a variety of waves suitable for surfers of all skill levels.
In fact, Playa Venao has hosted multiple surfing championships and is considered one of the top surf spots in Central America.
In addition to its world-class waves, Playa Venao also offers a laid-back beach atmosphere and a diverse community of travelers and surfers from around the world.
Santa Catalina is another popular surf spot on the Pacific coast, while the beaches near Panama City offer decent surfing depending on the time of year.
On the Caribbean side, Bocas del Toro is a favorite destination for more advanced surfers, as well as backpackers and travelers looking for a party vibe.
Although Belize is not traditionally known as a top surfing destination in Central America, it does offer a few select spots for longboarders.
One of the main reasons for this is the Belize Barrier Reef, which is the second longest barrier reef in the world.
The reef blocks much of the swell that would otherwise reach the country, making it difficult for waves to form.
Additionally, many of the areas that do receive swell break over live coral, which can be dangerous for surfers and ecologically disruptive if they land on it.
Despite these challenges, Belize does have a few spots that are worth checking out.
The most notable of these is Glover's Reef, a point break driven by year-round trade winds.
With an average 4-6 foot drop, Glover's Reef is not recommended for beginners.
While you're unlikely to encounter many tourists in the water at Glover's Reef, you will see a lot of locals in the line-up, as it is one of the country's few surfing beaches.
Overall, Belize offers a unique and relatively uncrowded surfing experience for those willing to seek it out.
5. El Salvador
El Salvador is a great place for surfers who are looking for something new and exciting.
It has really long waves and special spots where the waves break in a special way.
The best time to go surfing in El Salvador is during the rainy season, from May to October.
The most popular surf spot in the country is La Libertad, which is close to the airport.
Another popular spot is Oriente, which is about 100 miles from La Libertad.
If you visit El Salvador, you should be careful and stay in safe places.
Even though there is some crime in El Salvador, it's still a really cool place to visit for surfers.
Nicaragua is often overlooked as a surfing destination in Central America, but the country has a lot to offer for longboarders.
With its unique landscape and excellent surf breaks, Nicaragua is well worth a visit for surfers looking for something different.
The best surf spots in Nicaragua are in the Rivas province, which enjoys southern swells nearly year-round that average around 3-5 feet.
Playa Maderas, Playa Majagual, Playa Gigante, and Popoyo are all popular surf beaches in this region.
The best time to visit Nicaragua for surfing depends on your preferences.
If you want to surf big waves, summer is the best time to visit, though you'll also have to deal with heavy crowds.
Autumn is a good compromise, offering reliable waves and significantly fewer crowds.
You should avoid going to surfing in Nicaragua in the winter, when the waves can be non-existent.