“Llittle 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 an experienced surfer or simply looking for a quieter, more remote 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 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.
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 but a sedan or compact car will be uncomfortably bumpy and you can easily hit the car since there are a lot of holes. This road is especially bad in rainy season when the pot holes get bigger!
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.
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 gently enough for bathing.
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 and we highly recommend it as a day trip as well. The sunsets there are spectacular!
Playa Avellanas Surf
But the biggest draw to Avellanas is the surf. With waves up to 5.5 meters high, the nickname of “little Hawaii” is appropriately named. 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.
We did a surf camp with Iguana Surf in Tamarindo and they took us to Avellanas on our last day after 4 days of classes. Yeison and I have surfed at Avellanas several times when there were no waves at Tamarindo (December) and had a blast. I gained a lot of confidence after we surfed at Avellanas the first time, I felt like I could conquer anything after that 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, Little Hawaii and Parqueo. Parqueo is best for less experienced surfers (right in front of Lola’s by the main parking lot), Purruja is seasonal and Little Hawaii is where the pros go.
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.
Some recommended hotels are Cabinas Las Olas, El Oasis, Motmot Surf, Las Avellanas Villas and Drift away eco lodge. You can also find some nice Airbnbs and vacation rentals in Avellanas. We do recommend a car though because there is no public transportation and there is no town center so you will need to drive to go to the supermarket, bank, etc.
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 2 good restaurants at Avellanas: Lola’s and the Avellanas Beach Club. Lola’s is right on the beach at the main parking lot and it’s a great place for drinks during sunset and they serve food like burgers, wraps, etc. They have a great relaxing atmosphere and we love having drinks on the beach. Closed Mondays.
Another thing to do at Avellanas is visit the goat farm. Play with over 100 cute goats, try goat milk, cheese, yogurt and learn about Costa Rican farming life.
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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.
Marbella: Local surfing beach about 40 minutes south of Tamarindo. Not crowded, mostly locals who are intermediate to pro surfers. Rocky.
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