Surf Spot Witchs Rock

This beautiful, secluded and world-class surf spot backed by the mystical rock formation known as “Roca Bruja”, Witch’s Rock, is legendary. Its waves have been documented in such films as Endless Summer II, where its epic tubes were showcased to the world. Since then, people from all over come to enjoy the perfect barrels groomed by offshore winds most of the year.

HOW TO GET THERE

Getting to Witch’s Rock is half of the fun, as it’s either a short boat ride from Playas del Coco, a longer boat ride from Tamarindo, or a long 4×4 trek via the Santa Rosa National Park. If you take a boat, you will also get to surf some other really fun waves in the area, and you will get to experience Witch’s Rock up close and personal as your boat can take you right up to the rock where you can snap some pics. You can even climb up the rock and jump off! You can enjoy multiple surf sessions with breaks in between on the boat with your friends, sharing beer, food and good times in between surfing the perfect waves.

There are many boat operators in the area, and it’s just a matter of asking around to find one. Typically the trip costs between $360 – $500 for the boat, and split between 5 friends, it’s an affordable way to get out on the ocean, surf great waves, and see the coastline.

The other way to get into Witch’s Rock requires a 4×4 vehicle and a 3-4 hour drive from Tamarindo. You need to bring in all your supplies (and bring it all out again). You access the road through the Santa Rosa National Park which is about 30 minutes north of Liberia. There you will need to pay the park entry fee and the camping fee (if you plan to stay the night), and you may have your car searched before entering. They are looking for fishing gear, hunting equipment, and even perhaps your ganja stash—so be warned. Also no animals are allowed in the park. The drive from there takes around 2 hours, on one of the worst roads you will ever experience. Watch out for wildlife as deer, monkeys, and even wildcats can be seen in the park. Often in the rainy season the rivers are so high that you can’t get through so it’s recommended to call the national park in advance to check on road conditions. Once you arrive at the parking lot, you have reached the campground and can set up camp or get ready for the hike down the beach to surf.

WHERE TO SURF

The campground is about a 30-minute walk from where the waves break towards the north end of the beach. Bring lots of sunscreen, water, some food, and whatever else you may need while surfing your brains out for hours on end.

There are 3 main places to surf at Witch’s Rock. The first spot you will come to is nicknamed “El Burro” (The Donkey), which is a fast tubular wave that also breaks at lower tides. A combo swell will really light this place up. Quick drops into long, fast barrels is the name of the game. It can get heavy, so make sure your surfing is up to par with the quality of the waves otherwise you may face brutal wipeouts, broken boards and lots of sand in places it doesn’t belong!

The other breaks are found near the rivermouth. There’s the south side and the north side, each with its own peaks which break both left and right. This wave can vary from long, big barrels to mellower waves for turns and cutbacks depending on swell size, direction and tide. And of course respect the locals, which also include giant croc’s that roam the lineup frequently!

SURF TIMES

Its best to surf Witch’s Rock between mid and high tides. However, if you are camping and really want to surf the low tide, you can do so at El Burro and The Rivermouth depending on the swell direction.

LOCAL COMPANIES

There is nothing here, so bring your supplies. Stock up in Tamarindo or Coco. Find a boat at Playas del Coco or ask around. There are many boat operators in the area.

FOOD AND DRINK

Bring your own. Most boats supply a simple lunch of sandwiches, fruit and drinks. However it’s a long day and most people choose to bring additional snack food and beer.

Surf Science

The ongoing theme of this column has mostly focused on the science surrounding wave mechanics ,surf-forecasting meteorology,etc.This month Ive decided to take a small hiatus from this theme and focus on a more cerebral topic with its roots grounded in physcology.The Science of Stoke!

What keeps us paddling back out? While sunbathers, frisbee throwers and margarita drinkers prefer their view from the sand,surfers face whatever elements mother nature can throw at them for the yearned-after reward of (in the words of Spicolli).

I’ve had a handful of surf sessions this past Summer (Dec – March) that had me shivering. And not just a “this isn’t so bad” shivering, I’m talking about teeth chattering, lips turning blue, nipples hard enough to cut glass, type of shivering. As my mind wanders between waves, I can’t believe that I am surfing in this tropical paradise only 10 degrees latitude away from the equator while still freezing my huevos off!

How is it possible that the water can go from a bathlike 85 degrees Fahrenheit to a chilly 65 overnight? A more complex explanation would take us deep into the world of hydro and thermodynamics, but that is a little further than my saltwater brain is willing to go right now.

The simple answer can be explained by the phenomenon of upwelling. Imagine this: If there was no wind, our ocean layers would be heated very uniformly— warmest at the top where the most sunlight hits, and cooler as you increase depth. But once you add surface wind into the mix, our perfectly layered package starts to lose its normalization.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), when the surface wind blows strongly from land to sea, warm surface waters are pushed offshore and water is drawn from below to replace the water that has been moved away.

The upward movement of this deep, colder water is called upwelling. Instead of the water temperature dropping 20 degrees, the water is simply replaced by water 20 degrees cooler. And as we learned previously in the article focusing on the Papagayo winds, the strong offshore breezes between December and March is the culprit behind the phenomenon in Northern Costa Rica.

Not only is the replaced water much cooler, it is also nutrient-rich. The Costa Rica Thermal Dome is an area of water located directly off the coast of Northern Costa Rica and Southern Nicaragua. Cooler waters from lower depths are rich in nutrients like nitrate and phosphate. As the cooler water rises to the surface, the phytoplankton concentration increases exponentially, thus generating a great concentration of fish, marine mammals, and other organisms. Interestingly enough, the connectivity between habitats in the the coastal areas in Central America is critical for migratory species such as sharks, cetaceans, rays, billfish, and sea turtles.

It’s a fair trade overall. I can deal with some cold water if that means offshore winds and an all-day surf session. I’d rather be shivering all day doing what I love than watching the wind switch onshore at

 

For this week we will have southwest swell in the water, Wednesday is the best day of the week, then the swell will continue until Thursday with great energy, and start dying on Friday. We will have great conditions for Witches during the weekend, and at Sunday afternoon we will received a new swell for Ollie’s Point,

Boats available!