Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica is one of the best beaches in Guanacaste for surf, drinks and sunset. It’s only a 30 minute drive from Tamarindo so if you want to see other beaches, head to Avellanas (also called Playa Avellana).
Playa Avellanas is in the Guanacaste province, about a 1 hour and 30 minute drive from Liberia International Airport.
How to Get to Avellanas
Playa Avellanas is 19 kilometers (12 miles) from Tamarindo, about a 30 minute drive. If you plan to stay in Avellanas for a few days, we recommend to rent a car to get around because there isn’t a town center or much around (no supermarkets or anything).
How to get to Avellanas from Tamarindo: The easiest way to get from Tamarindo to Playa Avellanas is to drive, taxi or shuttle. You can find unofficial (pirate) taxis in Tamarindo and they can charge you around $30 USD one way (this was from last we heard so price may have changed). You can arrange transportation back with the same driver, or sometimes there are drivers at Lola’s Restaurant waiting for people. However, it is safest to take a shuttle from a licensed tours/transportation company.
Unfortunately Uber/Didi doesn’t really exist in the Avellanas/Tamarindo area. There are maybe 1-2 Uber drivers in Tamarindo but do not depend on these ride share apps to get around Avellanas.
The main entrance to Playa Avellanas is via Lola’s Restaurant.
As of June 2023, they have closed off the parking area near the restaurant but are working on building a dedicated parking lot. Right now, you can park in the lots outside. There may be some “parking guards” aka locals wearing a reflector vest who will say they will watch your car and charge you to park. You can give them a tip when you leave, like a thousand colones or a couple thousand if you feel like they’re nice.
In the really busy times like Christmas or Holy Week, the charge to park may be “mandatory” and may be anywhere up to 10,000 CRC for the day.
We recommend to use Google Maps or Waze as your GPS. For those visiting for the day, set Lola’s Restaurant as your destination.
Make sure not to leave any valuables visible, roll up your windows and lock your doors as this is not technically an official parking lot.
We also sometimes park at Cabinas Las Olas which is home to the famous mangrove bridge walkway. They don’t charge a fee for outside guests but we’ll get a drink or snack at the bar after surfing.
As of June 2023, the road to Playa Avellanas is nearly all paved/compacted. It is no longer completely unpaved/gravel road. There may be some pot holes here and there and you may see some machines working to fix up the roads.
You can drive a normal car (like a sedan) to Playa Avellanas. However, if you go any further than the entrance to Avellanas near La Esquina/Lola’s, the road does become unpaved (towards Playa Negra). If you are visiting Playa Largatillo, Playa Negra, Playa Junquillal or any further south, it will be more comfortable in a high clearance car as the roads are not paved down there.
There are no public bathrooms, changing rooms or showers at Playa Avellanas. Sometimes there are locals who sell cold drinks/snacks/street food on the beach, mostly during the very busy times of the year. There aren’t any supermarkets/convenience stores on the beach.
If you visit, bring everything. Towels, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, cold water, snacks, etc. if you plan to spend the day. There are a couple restaurants on the beach.
Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica Beach
Avellanas beach is one of a kind with tan sand backed by mangroves, shrubs, trees and misshapen trees. The wild growth of trees are excellent shady spots to lay down under and they create unique and interesting beachscapes.
Since there is no downtown or town center at Avellanas, this laid back beach attracts visitors who want to see a more “local” beach in the area.
Some stretches of beach have rocky patches so be careful if you’re swimming or walking during high tide. You can play and swim in the small waves but do be cautious of all the rocks.
There is a large estuary and river mouth near the middle section of Avellanas. If you walk north on the beach a bit from Lola’s, there is a bridge that goes through the mangroves which is an excellent photo spot that goes to Cabinas Las Olas.
Additionally, the sunsets at Playa Avellanas are spectacular! Sunset surf sessions are so much fun at Avellanas.
Normally this beach is not too crowded but it does get very busy on the weekends, during Christmas, New Years and Easter Week. Avellanas is getting more popular among city Costa Ricans so while weekdays may be quiet empty, weekends are busy.
Playa Avellanas Surf
The biggest draw to Avellanas is the surf. The stellar waves attract surfers from every corner of the world who wants to experience some of the best breaks in Costa Rica.
Avellanas has good waves all year round and are suitable for advanced beginners and intermediates. Yeison and I have surfed at Avellanas many times and it’s one of our favorite surfing beaches.
Our favorite spot is the Palo Seco surf spot for longboarding. When it’s good, waves are long, fun and open.
You can take lessons at Avellanas but we don’t recommend to surf there on your own if you’re a first timer or beginner. A good surf school at Avellanas is Rapture Surf Camp and many surf schools in Tamarindo will take their students to Avellanas on the last day of camp.
Avellanas Surf Spots
There are five main surf spots at Avellanas: Purruja, Estero, Palo Seco, Little Hawaii and Parqueo. Parqueo and Palo Seco are great for longboarding, advanced beginners and intermediate surfers. Purruja is seasonal and Little Hawaii is where the pros go all the way on the other side of the beach.
Since Tamarindo is a much more accessible beach for surfing, you’ll find more dedicated and seasoned surfers at Avellanas. It creates a great atmosphere for those who are determined to improve their skills!
Playa Avellanas Hotels
There aren’t too many hotels and you’ll find more small cabinas and modest rooms in the area. Some recommended hotels in the area are Cabinas Las Olas, SoulShine Hotel, and Las Avellanas Villas. You can find some nice Airbnbs and vacation rentals in Avellanas. Cabinas Las Olas is pet friendly.
There is also a property that offers camping in Avellanas right on the beach called Nieves Surf Camping. Ideal for surfers who want to be able to get up, check waves while having coffee and then go!
This area is growing quickly so I’m sure in the next few years, it will have developed to the point where there will be many more hotels and cabinas to stay at for tourists.
Playa Avellanas Restaurants
There are a few good restaurants at Avellanas: La Purruja, Lola’s, Blu, SoulShine, Avellanas Beach Burger, Barumis and Il Rustico. Lola’s is right on the beach and it’s a great place for happy hour and sunset drinks. Barumis has great sandwiches and burgers. Their bread is delicious!
SoulShine also has great breakfast and brunch that are very fresh and hearty. Kon tiki on the way to Playa Negra has really good pizza and pasta. Cafe Corazon near Negra has great coffee, breakfast and dinner.
La Esquina de Avellanas is a plaza that has various stores, shops and food stands.
Things to Do in Avellanas
Besides surfing and enjoying the beach there isn’t too much to do at Avellanas itself. However, a really fun thing to that’s in the area is visit the goat farm, Rancho Avellanas. Play with over 100 cute goats, try goat milk, cheese, yogurt and learn about Costa Rican farming life. Excellent for families!
Avellanas is a great beach to visit for the day, especially if you’re staying in Tamarindo. It is a must see!
Playa Avellanas is growing rapidly and this beach won’t be a “hidden” treasure anymore. Many condo complexes are being built, more restaurants and hotels are popping up, a ton of vacation rentals are there and the road is fixed.
Read about other surfing beaches in Costa Rica below!
Jaco: Most popular surfing beach for beginners. Only 1.5 hours from San Jose and the most developed beach town.
Esterillos Oeste: A surfing beach about 30 minutes south of Jaco. The town is very small and undeveloped, great for intermediate surfers looking to get away from crowds.
Playa Cocles: Surfing beach by Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast. Best times for surfing are January through March, good for beginners and lessons.
Negra: Long beach about 30 minutes south of Tamarindo with nice surfing waves. Kind of rocky, more for intermediate surfers.
Dominical: Popular surfing beach in the South Pacific, can take beginner surf lessons. Small hippie town. Can get big during swells.
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