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Overlooking Ostional

I caught an amazing session at Playa Ostional yesterday, the kind of session that makes an entire trip. The waves were in the waist to shoulder high range, with a few bigger sets. I caught 21 rides, with four of them going longer than 100 yards. The wind was calm and the conditions were clean. I've now surfed this place a few dozen times, so I think it's worth a Surf Report and Review.

Most surfers who visit Costa Rica have never surfed Playa Ostional. It's often overlooked because it's a small fishing village without much more than a few cabinas and a food store. It probably won't stay that way for very longer given the massive crowds at the nearby beaches. Any surfer seeking more solitude could easily stumble onto this beach. You can see it from the road driving south down the Nicoya peninsula as you get close to Nosara. It's a solid beach break with some reef/rocks on the south end. When the swell is big in the summer, don't go here for any protection, this break is very exposed to the southern hemisphere energy that dominates those months. ​​

Ostional works year-round but it mainly picks up the south-angled swells during the rainy season. I actually like to surf here when the swell is down because I feel it's always a little more sizable and powerful than other spots to the north. I've caught several shoulder to head high sessions here when the surf reports were calling it 1-2 feet. A good indicator is to look at the Nosara surf cams. If you see a decent wave when the reports are saying it's small, head to Ostional for some uncrowded fun. Guiones and other beaches in the Nosara area will have the same type of wave, but with a lot more people on it... I wouldn't say Nosara is terribly overcrowded because the breaks are very manageable with peaks up and down the beaches to spread things out. But Ostional is empty compared to it's neighbor to the south.

Ostional is best on a mid tide pushing high, but I have surfed it at lower tides as well. The reef and rocks are more exposed on the low and it can be a little treacherous if you surf right off the rocks to the south. There's actually a pretty sizable rock that's hidden on the higher tide, so be careful going right on the inside. The sand can be scorching hot on a mid summer day, and there isn't much shade for hanging out on the beach. I recommend a pair of old flip flops to hide somewhere just above the high tide line, or just run really fast. I must also warn you about the ants. While a lot of beaches have ants, this one is littered with them. They seem to be mostly under trees that line the beach, so when you're seeking shade, look down to make sure you aren't standing on a pile, or you'll be in a scratch-fest later on. For this reason it's not a bad idea to add calamine lotion to your costa rican first aid kit... it can take the edge off the itching.

Parking can be tricky in Ostional. Don't just park at the beach access. Mainly costa Ricans live here, not ex-pats, so it's not cool to park your rental vehicle right up front along the access roads. If you throw the restaurante owner a few bucks to park, and then eat some lunch there, you should be good to go. People are very friendly in Ostional. There's also a nice old lady who owns a farm house in the area, she'll take a few bucks to park on her land. As for actual surf locals, there aren't much here, mostly just younger costa ricans who don't have cars to drive elsewhere. I've been vibed by the youngins a few times, but nothing serious, so just be respectful.

Another cool thing about this beach is it's reputation for Olive-Ridley Sea Turtles. For a peak period each summer, right before a new moon, hundreds, sometimes thousands of sea turtles come to Ostional to dig their eggs into the black, volcanic sand. Olive-ridleys are one of only two species of Atlantic sea turtles that synchronize their nesting in mass emergences or Arribadas as the locals call it. The word in Spanish means arrivals. You'll know when the nesting is close to beginning because you'll literally see a ton of turtles congregating near the surf zone, peaking their heads above water like submarine periscopes. After they hangout for a few days, waiting for the rest of their turtle friends to arrive, the flotilla as it's called, is given some secret turtle signal and they all head for the beach. Each arribada ritual can last about a week depending on the year and amount of turtles that show up. There's also more than one arribada during a rainy season, so figure out when the new moon is happening and set your alarm clock for 1am. If you're there after sun-up, all you will see are the turtle trails... which can be pretty cool as well.

Playa Ostional - July 30, 2018

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