The movie that made Costa Rica surf famous

In Costa Rica, every year feels like an Endless Summer.

It’s hard to imagine now, but Tamarindo was once a sleepy and remote village known only to local Costa Ricans and a handful of hardcore surfers.

While Costa Rica’s tourism boom began in the late 1980s, Tamarindo specifically earned international fame in 1994 with the release of the movie Endless Summer II.

Robert August, one of the world’s best-known surfers, joined Robert “Wingnut” Weaver and Pat O’Connell as they explored the wonders of Tamarindo and northern Costa Rica. The now-famous surf spots of Witch’s Rock and Ollie’s Point also featured in the movie.

Click here to watch “The Endless Summer II” on YouTube. The Costa Rica segment starts at 16 minutes. 

As Wavelength Magazine writes:

The film’s depiction of friendly, fun-loving locals and empty, pumping waves unsurprisingly helped open the flood gates on tourism to the region and the flow of visitors hasn’t slowed since.

Tamarindo’s tourism boom was further stimulated by the development of Liberia International Airport (LIR), which in 2002 received its first permanent scheduled flights from the United States.

Nearly 30 years after Endless Summer II, Tamarindo is nearly unrecognizable — for better and for worse. As Lonely Planet so eloquently explains:

If Patrick and Wingnut from the 1994 surfing movie Endless Summer II surfed a time machine to present-day Tamarindo, they’d fall off their boards. A quarter-century of hedonism has transformed the once-dusty burg into ‘Tamagringo,’ whose perennial status as Costa Rica’s top surf and party destination has made it the first and last stop for legions of tourists.

Two fun facts before we go:

  • Robert August stayed in Costa Rica, where he represents Witch’s Rock Surf Camp. Here’s a Los Angeles Times story from 2019 detailing the surfing legend’s life in Tamarindo.

  • The plane crash featured in Endless Summer II is real, and it was an accident. The plane was chartered to fly the surfers (and film crew) around Central America. But while improvising for the cameras, the pilot flew into the Playa Grande estuary and crashed onto the beach. Robert and Co. weren’t aboard the plane at the time, but repairs to the plane took more than a year. While the crash was no doubt a disappointment to the surfers, it meant Costa Rica got more screentime.

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