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Playas Avellanas & Negra/Costa Rica

Introducing Playas Avellanas & Negra

These popular surfing beaches were made famous in the surf classic Endless Summer II, and Playa Avellanas is still an absolutely stunning, pristine sweep of pale golden sand. Backed by mangroves in the center and two gentle hillsides on either end, there's plenty of room for surfers and sunbathers to have an intimate experience even when there are lots of heads in town. The wave here is decent for beginners and intermediate surfers. Little Hawaii is the powerful and open-faced right featured in Endless Summer II, while Beach Break barrels at low tide. Still, advanced surfers get bored here.

Playa Negra is also undeniably romantic. Though the sand is a bit darker and the beach is broken up by rocky outcrops, those gorgeous dusty back roads link tidepools of expat shredders who picked this place to exist (and surf) peacefully. Though there isn't much local soul here, it's still a stunning nook blessed by a world-class right that barrels. Further south is (hush hush) Playa Tortuga, an epic break for advanced surfers only. The waves are best between April and November, but start getting good in March.

The beaches begin 15km south of Tamarindo. To get here backtrack from Tamarindo 5km to the village of Villareal, and turn right onto the dirt road. This road gets progressively worse and usually requires a 4WD. If you’re not coming from Tamarindo, head west on the paved highway from Santa Cruz, through 27 de Abril to Paraíso, then follow the signs. While you’re at the beach, be absolutely certain that nothing is visible in your car as professional thieves operate in this area.

Part of the Playa Negra Hotel complex, Playa Negra Surf Shop rents boards, and sells T-shirts, sunglasses and other beachy accessories. Café Playa Negra has a laundry service (US$7 per load) and internet access (US$2 per hour).