Month by month breakdown of the surf in Nosara:
Our season begins here in November as it is the start of summertime here in Costa Rica. So, we will start in November and work our way through the calendar. We have broken down each month with details about the swell size, direction, quality, weather and winds you can expect in Nosara.
November the surf can be hit or miss, because you don’t know what day the winds and weather will switch back around to the offshores and when the rain will subside. Basically, this is right when our season turns into summer, and when that happens our surf takes a turn for the better, as well. So, by mid-month summer has arrived. Typically, in November it’s around the chest high range, but we can get a few big North swells as well, which we did this year. Later in the month though, the likelihood of those bigger swells decreases.
Historically, December produces pretty small waves. Also, late December until mid- January is actually the most crowded and most expensive time of year here. The size is usually around chest high and the wind typically stays offshore until about mid-morning this time of year. It is usually perfect for a retro twin-fin or longboard. This year, however, we saw some really good North swells in December as a result El Nino. These North swells are our best bet for big waves in December. We had about eight North swells this year from November to January but normally we only have about three or four.
Generally, January bring very similar conditions as December, maybe even a little bit smaller. Our offshore winds start to pick up in January though. They are known here as the Guanacaste winds and they can howl all night and morning. So, we have some mornings in January that can be super blown out, but if there is a decent size swell in the water and the wind is not on it too hard it can be really fun! These offshore winds are a result of cold fronts on the East Coast of the US, and we feel the winds here shortly after the fronts pass over Florida and the East coast. So, we can usually predict within a day or so when we will get those strong offshores. Since it was a harsh winter for the East Coast this year, we had some strong Guanacaste winds in January.
Historically, February our smallest month, and we still have those winds too. The size and swell period will remain fairly similar to January, because the south swells haven’t started to heat up yet. However, you could see a North swell or two in February, but it’s not too likely. This all starts to change though towards the end of the month.
March is when our bigger South swells start to show, coming in from around 215 - 220 degrees. This direction is our bread and butter here in Nosara. By mid to late month we are full on into our big swell season. Then, late March into early April brings our most consistent and best surf. So, if you are planning an all out surf trip down here, this is the time you should come.
April brings us the best surf here. This is the most favorable swell size, swell direction/angle and periods for our local break here. Our swell periods are longer in April too, because those swells come from very far away and generate a lot of power by the time the hit here. The swell direction is still from around 215-220, but we can also start to see the real Southerly swells show a bit towards mid to late April.
So, April can bring some really fun, punchy surf. Our winds are consistent as well, but at some point during the month we start to switch back to our rainy season.
The month of May can really be hit or miss for us. It can be choppy and sloppy or it can be great and similar to some of our best days in April. The reason for this is because we are between seasons in May, and we start to get more rain this time of year. The swell size still remains big though, in the chest to overhead range. The winds and rain are just a little more unpredictable, which make it a “mas o menos” type month for surf here.
The Pacific Ocean starts to light up in June! We start to really feel a lot of energy and power to the swells during June and July. This is because those swells are closer to us and the periods are not as long, therefore they have more power. As a result, there is a lot of water moving around and it can get pretty heavy out here too. This can provide for some heart pounding paddle outs and drop ins! We also get our Veranillo around this time. Veranillo means “little summer” in Spanish, and we get a few weeks where it won’t rain and we’ll get our strong offshore winds again. So, it resembles our summer (Nov.-May).
In July we have very similar conditions as June. We still have the strong South swells with the shorter periods and a lot of water moving around. The Veranillo can also occur in July, so it could be a bit rainy or it could be dry like the summer season here. So, that is what makes July a roll of the dice, but if you catch it good it could be epic. We have seen some great days here in July. Also, both June and July have the tendency to be pretty rainy, which can sometimes make the water a little cooler in the morning.
August is more unpredictable and can also be similar to June and July, but it can also be worse. Again, we are still getting our big South swells in August, but we get more rain as well. Often times in August, all the rain and the swirling wind makes the surf choppy, messy and hard to ride in the morning. August has its days for sure, but typically there are not as many of them as June and July.
It can rain a lot in September, and some days it will rain all day long, but we can still get a few days of good, clean surf. It is a big gamble to plan a surf trip at this time, BUT if you do catch it good, you will be one of only a few people in the water. Surfing alone (or close to it) is the plus side. So, if you like to gamble and you can’t make it down here any other months, then give September a try. You will get the cheapest rates of the year for rental homes and hotels. However, a lot locals leave town for September and October and as a result many businesses shut down in September because of the rains and lack of tourists. So, town is quiet, but there is not much to do and the weather can be pretty ugly. That being said, last September was unusually good as you will see in some of the archive surf reports below.
The worst month for weather, surf and business here is October. It is really rainy, but we may get 4-5 days of good surf mixed in there. Also, the offshore winds can start early towards the end of the month, so if you’re here and lucky you may catch a couple waves. It is hard to tell if the winds are going to switch offshore, but if they do you could score big, firing surf!