About Backwash (Golfo Dulce)

Just south of Drake's Bay is the Osa Peninsula and the Golfo Dulce, home of Matapalo, an occasionally brilliant righthander. On the other side of Golfo Dulce is the world-class lefthander, Pavones. Unfortunately, Matapalo does not enjoy the consistency that Pavones does, but can offer righthand bliss. There are a few different options at Matapalo: Playa Matapalo, Backwash and Pan Dulce. Each are moody righthanders that vary in quality and size depending on swell. S-W is the ticket.

Source: Backwash (Golfo Dulce) Surf Guide

Ability Level

Intermediate - advanced

Beg Int Adv

Intermediate to advanced

Local Vibe


Welcoming Intimidating

A dozen expat locals will claim sovereignty, but the Costa Ricans who come to visit get priority. Humility and respect expected.

Crowd Factor


Mellow Heavy

It's an hour crawl over potholes and through flooding farm ditches from the nearest town, and that helps to keep the tourists away. Many times you'll be surfing with only one or two other board-riders. It does get packed on holidays, when the San Jose crowd flocks there to camp for the week.

Spot Rating


Poor Perfect

This is actually a series of waves scattered around. Inside are the points which are fairly tame. The outer breaks are for well experienced surfers.

Shoulder Burn


Light Exhausting

Depends on where you are surfing, the inside points are pretty mellow but out around the corner you better be in good paddling shape.

Water Quality


Clean Dirty

Beautiful water.

Additional Information


Underwater boulders at the outer breaks.


The 4x4-only road leads to a beachside campsite, and there are sparse accommodations in the area. Most people park along the road and follow a winding trail to the three breaks: Cabo Matapalo, Backwash, and Pan Dulce. A few private houses are popping up and blocking access to Pan Dulce from the road, but you can reach the break by walking along the beach. You can also hire a boat from Pavones.

Bring Your

Shortboard, fish, gun


Sand, rocks

Best Season


Swell Consistency and Wind Overview

Photos & Videos