Salsa Brava is a surf spot that is not for the faint of heart or those lacking advanced-level skills. It is renowned as Costa Rica's most perilous break, attracting challenge-seeking surfers from around the world. Located in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca on the vibrant southern Caribbean coast, Salsa Brava will either reward you with one of the juiciest barrels of your life or spit you out and slap you down over razor-sharp coral reef.
The drive from San José to Salsa Brava takes around four and a half hours via Highway 32. You can also take a Sansa flight to Limón, then drive the remaining 57 minutes south to Puerto Viejo. It will be apparent where the wave is when you are viewing the beach a couple hundred yards in front of Lazy Mon Beach Bar.
Salsa Brava is a predominantly right reef break that sometimes also breaks left. It's a treacherous break over shallow urchin-covered coral reef. Be forewarned that this is no place to surf unless you truly know what you are doing. Even experienced surfers break boards, bones, and spirits here.
While this wave can be all-time epic, it is actually very fickle. Especially when it's good, you can expect all the local surfers to be out, and it is in your best interest to be respectful and wait your turn in line. This powerful wave can be double-overhead and rides can range between 50 and 150 meters. It is critical that you watch where the locals paddle out and follow suit through the narrow channel to avoid getting racked on dry reef.
Puerto Viejo is home to a delicious selection of restaurants and cafes, cute boutique hotels and eco-cabinas. You will also find surf camps, yoga retreats, Spanish learning opportunities, and an exciting collection of adventure and nature tours and activities.
Lazy Mon at Stanford's, Tasty Waves Cantina, Stashu's Con Fusion, Koki Beach, and Lidia's Place are a few highly recommended places to eat and drink. Hotel Banana Azul, Samasati Retreat and Rainforest Sanctuary, Azania Bungalows and the Tree House Lodge are four places in particular that are sure to make your time in the Puerto Viejo area sensational and comfortable.
Swell Surf Shop and Surf Rentals and Tours, both just a few hundred meters from the break, can help you with all of your surfing needs. While Salsa Brava is not for beginner or even intermediate surfers, there are several other friendlier breaks nearby.