August 24, 2021

Playa Guiones: Surf Etiquette and golden rules

By Peter "abuelito" Lewis

When traveling or visiting a new beach, like Playa Guiones in Costa Rica, practice surf etiquette.

Quality surf spots are a valuable commodity in our ever-growing world. As surfers, we all have a stake in the way we preserve and care for these amazing salty resources.

In all my years of surfing

I have never encountered a surf break as consistent, mellow, and welcoming as Playa Guiones in Nosara Costa Rica. There are a lot of reasons for this. The sweeping expanse of white sand beaches which extends for more than four miles is framed by definitive headlands on each end.

This geographical architecture attracts deep ocean swells from multiple directions. They meet up with hard-packed sandbars to create a variety of ever-shifting peaks up and down the beach. It is possible to keep surfing “down the line” as your right-hand peeler morphs into a left slide and then back into a curling right.

Playa Guiones has been described as ‘soft and fun,’ but do not be fooled. This place can hold some serious size and power, so please be careful! Overall, we have a fantastic wave machine here, and it certainly contributes to the positive vibe and abundant smiles. Not everywhere is lucky enough to have such consistent conditions.

Throughout the surfing world, various factors sometimes lead to more aggressive and competitive attitudes in the lineup. In fact, “localism” prevails in many well-known surf zones, setting a tone of tenseness, territorialism, and even violence.

“If you don’t live here, don’t surf here” was the definitive mantra in a particular surf mecca of San Diego, where I went to college.

In Hawaii, underlying all the love and aloha of paradise, a rigid ethnic code of resistance still exists towards visiting blond-haired ‘haoles.’

How can we contribute to keeping our local beaches positive, safe, and stoked?

  • Above all, acknowledge that we are visitors here. Whether on vacation or living the expat dream, we must always respect the environment and honor the locals (most who are surf instructors!). Gratitude goes a long way.
  • Know your abilities in and out of the water. Surfing is an extremely physical endeavor; eating well and staying in shape is key.
  • Take a moment to watch the lineup, assess the wave size, crowd factor, riptides, paddling channels, equipment choice, and the overall ‘tone’ of the action in the water.
  • Paddle out with caution, don’t get caught broadside, your board should always be pointed at the waves. Extend a wave, a smile, and a polite attitude.
  • Observe The Right of Way.
  • The paddling surfer should yield to surfer riding a wave.
  • Furthest Outside: The surfer that is furthest out in the water, and in position, should get dibs on the next wave.
  • Peak Position: the surfer closest to the peak of the breaking wave should get dibs (often forgotten in Playa Guiones).
  • First to Feet: the first to their feet or first up on the wave should get priority in most cases.
  • Communications: signal which way you are going: “left” or “right”.
  • Don’t: drop in, snake, ditch your board, or hog waves. Cutting in front of other surfers who are up and riding is           a quick way to spread negative vibes. If you accidently make a mistake, APOLOGIZE!
  • Gender Equality: The incredible number of talented women surfing in Playa Guiones today should make this clear!

The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as would have them do unto you”. Let this mantra be your guiding light in the water and on the land.

No locals in California
Locals only.  Let’s avoid this.

Would like to visit or learn to surf in Playa Guiones in Nosara, Costa Rica?  Visit or contact us at

Enjoying the moment at Playa Guiones
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