Puerto Viejo - Salsa Brava & El Barco
Type of Break - Submerged Reef
Bottom - Dead Coral
Swell Window - North/Northeast
Tide - mid to high
Wind - South
Marker - Puerto Viejo
Puerto Viejo is one of the most unique places in Costa Rica. First of all, as in all the Caribbean Zone, much of the population are descendents of railroad workers who came to Costa Rica from Jamaica about a century ago. They maintain much of their original colorful culture and give the area it's distinct flavor, including their . Because of this, it's remoteness, and it's surf it has attracted laid back "bohemian" types from around the world.
There is little in the way of the typical tourist activities and while there is plenty in the way of accomodations, the big multi-star hotels with golf courses, and water parks are absent. For the people who love the place that is a big plus. The natural beauty of the area is breathtaking and pace of life simple and relaxed.
The food of the area is distinct in it's Caribbean influence and quite different from the rest of Costa Rica in it's use of coconut and Caribbean seasonings - delicious!
Salsa is a big, hollow, screaming righthand reef break when there is a swell. With a big north/northeast swell it pumps out some of Costa Rica's biggest most powerful waves. However, it is fickle.
Salsa Brava breaks best between January and March, Costa Rica's "winter". With the right swell it is great, and crowded with locals. The way to the wave is through a narrow channel in the reef and can be tricky. If you don't find the right spot you will end up on dry reef full of sea urchins. Take the time to watch the locals paddle out and be sure.
Salsa Brava will always be considerably bigger than it looks from the beach.
El Barco is down the beach from Salsa Brava where you will find an old barge that ran aground. Next to the barge is a small peak that is great for beginners.
North of the barge is a beachbreak that is also a good beginner spot and breaks small at high tide.