“Liittle Hawaii,” or Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica is one of the best beaches in Guanacaste for surf, drinks and sunset. This remote beach near to Tamarindo has gained much fame and attention for its world class surfing waves, stunning coastline and resident pig called Lolita.
If you’re looking for a quieter beach in Southern Guanacaste, head to Avellanas. It’s one of our favorite beaches to go when we get tired of the crowds in Tamarindo.
Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica map
How to get to Avellanas
Playa Avellanas is 19 kilometers (12 miles) from Tamarindo and 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Liberia International Airport. Avellanas is about a 20 minute drive from Tamarindo and 1 hour and 30 minutes from Liberia International Airport.
Playa Avellanas is about a 1 hour and 30 minute drive from Liberia Airport. You will drive to Tamarindo but instead of turning right into Tamarindo, keep going on the main road and turn right towards Hacienda Pinilla. Keep to the left when you see the sign for Hacienda Pinilla and continue on this road. You’ll see signs for Avellanas on the way. The main and most popular entrance is by Lola’s Restaurant at the south end of the beach where there is a large parking lot. You can set Lola’s as your destination if you use GPS.
If you go by bus, there is a bus (Bus 571) from Santa Cruz to Avellanas/Negra. You pay for the ticket at the bus station in Santa Cruz.
Once you turn to the right off the main road from Tamarindo, the road becomes unpaved with lots of pot holes. We recommend a high car to get to Playa Avellanas to be more comfortable. 4×4 isn’t absolutely necessary in dry season however. A sedan or compact car will make it, you will need to go slow. However in rainy season, we recommend a high car as the pot holes get way bigger.
Entrances and Parking
The main entrance is by Lola’s Restaurant. You’ll see a sign for it and you’ll turn right. There’s a small parking lot right by Lola’s and there is a “parking guard” there and you can give him a little something. Sometimes it gets very busy and full so you may have to park along the street.
There is no parking fee but we usually give 500 colones to the parking guard.
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 aren’t looking for parties or crowds. Instead, they’ll be greeted with the sound of crashing waves and the sight of surfers and pelicans out in the water all day. At night, all they’ll hear is the chorus of frogs and crickets chirping along to the music of the ocean.
Some stretches of beach have rocky patches so be careful if you’re swimming or walking during high tide. Swimming is not the best at Avellanas during high tide but during low tide, it is fun for swimming.
There is a large estuary and rivermouth near the middle section of Avellanas. It’s also an excellent surfing spot.
Avellanas is the perfect home base to come back to if you’re looking for a quiet beach near Tamarindo. It’s also a great day trip from Tamarindo, Conchal, Flamingo or surrounding beaches. The sunsets there are spectacular!
Playa Avellanas Surf
But the biggest draw to Avellanas is the surf. During certain times of the year, the nickname of “little Hawaii” is appropriately named as waves can get up to 5 meters high (16 feet). 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 more suitable for intermediate surfers. You can find classes going on but most are for those who have already surfed before.
Yeison and I have surfed at Avellanas several times when there were no waves at Tamarindo and had a blast. I gained a lot of confidence after we surfed at Avellanas the first time and it helped my surf skills a lot!
Avellanas Surf Spots
Want to know where the best surf spots are at Avellanas?
There are five main surf spots at Avellanas: Purruja, Estero, Palo Seco, Little Hawaii and Parqueo. Parqueo and Palo Seco are great for longboarding, 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
Where should you stay in Avellenas?
There aren’t too many hotels at Avellanas and you’ll find more small cabinas and modest rooms. Most of them are within walking distance to the beach.
If you want to stay at an eco-friendly, comfortable, cozy and nice hotel with a pool in Avellanas, definitely stay at Drift Away Eco Lodge. This is a brand new hotel right across Playa Lagartillo but it’s super close to Avellanas, about 10 minutes walking or a 2 minute drive. When it comes to a nice, clean and more comfortable place to stay, this is an excellent option. Great for families or friend groups. Get 10% off your booking here using our promo code MyTanFeet!
There is also a property that offers camping. It’s on the way to Avellanas before you turn right, you’ll see a sign on the left.
Playa Avellanas Restaurants
There are a few good restaurants at Avellanas: Lola’s, Blu, Avellanas Beach Burger and Il Rustico. Lola’s is right on the beach at the main parking lot and it’s a great place for drinks during sunset. Closed Mondays.
Things to do
Besides surfing, 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.
There are many day trips you can do in the area which you can read about in this post: Day trips from Tamarindo.
Visiting Playa Avellanas
Avellanas is normally a chill beach but it can get super crowded during the holidays (Christmas, New Years, Easter) since a lot of city Costa Ricans like to go to that beach.
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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