One of our Salty Club ambassadors, Marie Donaldson, is presenting her soon-to-be home surf break. Born and raised in Quebec, Canada, she started surfing only five years ago – and already is a total ripper! Throughout one of her several surf trips she met her boyfriend, who is living in Costa Rica. She will be moving there as soon as she finishes her studies in a couple of months. After reading more about El Pico, you’ll understand why she is so stoked she’ll get to surf that wave on a daily basis!
The first time I surfed El Pico in Esterillos Oeste, I was lost.
I was sitting in the water trying to figure out how that wave worked; how it was breaking, where it was breaking and where to position myself to catch a perfect wave. I could see locals catching waves after waves like it was nothing. I remember watching the waves unfold and telling myself “ wow, those waves look perfect! I just need one and I’ll be happy”, but somehow I still couldn’t catch any…until I told my boyfriend (who was guiding me through it, since it is his home break) that I was going in because I was getting fed up. And that’s when I caught my first wave at El Pico and did one of the best turns I had ever done at this point in my life. Since that moment, I have been hooked.
I can strongly say that El Pico is now one of my favorite waves that I’ve surfed. Yes it took me A LOT of time to start understanding how this wave works, and I still don’t read it as well as locals, but I can now catch so many AMAZING waves while surfing El Pico.
This surf spot is located in the town of Esterillos Oeste, Puntarenas in Costa Rica, which is a 20 minute drive from the popular town of Jaco and a 10-15 minute drive for the famous surf spot Playa Hermosa. Esterillos Oeste is a quiet fishing town located at only an hour and a half from the San Jose airport.
El Pico is basically an A-Frame type of wave with a long right and a left. The wave almost always breaks at the same spot with only one peak (thus is why it is called El Pico), but has a quirky change of direction before breaking, which makes it so tricky. El Pico, depending on the swell can offer perfect barrels as well as lonnng lines.
Right next to El Pico, on the same beach, there are also a few a different surf breaks. One of them is called Escuela, which is right in front of the local elementary school. This wave is perfect for intermediate surfers as it is a bit more fat and slower. Escuela is also ALWAYS working as it does not take a lot of swell to break. It can be surfed on a shortboard and a longboard. Then, a little further down the beach, there is the reef where all the longboarders surf. The reef is also a perfect spot from beginners and where you can catch extremely long and mellow waves.
Surf Spot type: A-Frame with sand bottom
El pico works pretty much all year round, but mostly between March to December. Bigger swells are between April to October.
El Pico works only at mid to high tide
- Intermediate : 2-4 & 3-4 feet
- Advanced will love anything between 3 to 6 feet. Over 6 feet El Pico rarely works as it’s a spot that can’t handle much swell.
El Pico works more often than not, and if it doesn’t work, the breaks around will be working. In other words, Esterillos Oeste is an amazing surf destination.
It’s a sand bottom, so no worries of hitting a rock or getting a reef cut.
There are no crowds, EVER. Apart from the few locals that are extremely friendly, you will never be surrounded by an overwhelming amount of people in the water.
Water is super warm year round
El Pico offer and amazing long right as well as a left that tends to barrel.
The view of the coastline when you’re in the water in breathtaking
Endless number of fun surf break within a 20 minute drive radius. Ok, maybe not endless, but there are A LOT.
Right in front of El Pico, you will find the Hotel Rancho Coral which serves amazing food the the best wood oven pizza in the country 🙂
If you are looking for accommodation super close by, you can check the company Esterillos 506 which has countless airbnbs as well as rooms in the Hotel Rancho Coral that is directly on the beach and in front of the break. To get in contact with them you can text them through whatsapp at +506 8877 5774 or check them out on Facebook and AIRBNB.
On bigger swell there can be a bit of current which tends to drag you, although it is an amazing workout 😉
Over 6 feet, El Pico can’t handle the swell and will not break properly.
El Pico is pretty tricky and takes a while to read it properly. However, you can always ask the friendly locals who will gladly explain to you the mechanics of the spot so you can understand better and catch more waves.
During rainy season, there might be some crocodiles out in the water 😱! Just be vigilant and surf with other people in the water… You will be fine 😉 !
During midday the sun get super strong, so wear lotsss of sunscreen 🙂
Finally, if you want to get surf ready before your next surf trip, check out the Salty Club. Short, high-intensity, surf-inspired workouts to keep you at the top of your game, in and out of the water.