San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Surf inn offers all the comforts in Marbella

On a remote stretch of Pacific coast in the northwestern province of Guanacaste, about halfway between Junquillal and Ostional, sits Marbella, a surfer’s paradise of sandy beaches with perfect waves, surrounded by virtually untouched nature. 

The 1.5-kilometer walk from the town of Marbella to the beach is a promenade through rural Costa Rica, with howler monkeys hanging from the trees and friendly neighbors smiling at passers-by along the road. This same road is home to one of Marbella’s few hotels: Marbella Surf Inn, a beautiful six-room hotel with all the comforts, in a laid-back beach setting. 

Marbella 1

Beach at Marbella.

Karla Arias Alvarado

The hotel’s owner, Joe Martella, fell in love with the town of Marbella back in 2002. The avid surfer came to Costa Rica from Huntington Beach, California, with a friend, looking for the best waves they could find. The two traveled up and down the Pacific coast from Tamarindo to Dominical, and then visited the Caribbean side as well. At the end of their road trip, both men agreed that Marbella had been their favorite spot. They found the waves they were looking for and also loved the rural lifestyle that set the place apart from busier beach towns.

Martella knew he had found the place where he would start a new life, he said. Shortly after, he moved to Costa Rica. He started out living in the Central Pacific surfer’s mecca of Playa Hermosa, but Marbella was always on his mind. He bought property there and started working in real estate until he could finally afford to make the move. In 2010, he built Marbella’s first hotel, he said. 

“I’m 40, and I want to live in a comfortable place with first-class amenities, but I also love the rural life and being able to surf. This is the lifestyle I want to portray in my hotel,” Martella said.

And he has succeeded. Marbella Surf Inn’s six guest rooms have all the comforts – air conditioning, satellite TV, comfy beds, refrigerator, coffee machine, microwave oven, hot water and wireless Internet – all just a kilometer from the beach and its awesome surf. 

“It’s a place where surfers like me can be happy because not only do they have the best waves, but their families have all the comfort they need,” Martella said. “Their children have a great pool to play in, there’s good food and everything that makes our lives easier.” 

Marbella 2

Guest room with air conditioning and patio.

Karla Arias Alvarado

The hotel’s beautifully landscaped setting includes a rancho-style lounge and restaurant, a bar and a large pool. The restaurant offers a variety of dishes for all tastes, from perfectly cooked burgers to pasta with lobster and tomato sauce, and every dish is served with a smile.

“Here you get the real feel of the pura vida lifestyle, and our guests get to enjoy that during their stay,” Martella said. 

Martella and his staff are happy to arrange surf classes for guests, as well as a variety of other tours and activities, including yoga lessons, horseback riding tours and visits to other area beaches such as Ostional, world-famous as a sea turtle nesting site. Martella said that in the future he would like to offer Spanish classes combined with yoga and surf lessons. 

The tranquillity of Marbella is an attraction in itself, but for guests looking to enjoy some nightlife, Martella said he can arrange transportation and a night’s stay in the tourist town of Tamarindo to the north, where they can do a night’s partying and then return to the peace and quiet of Marbella.

Going There

From San José, take the Caldera Highway (Route 23) west to Caldera and then the Inter-American Highway north toward Liberia. Turn left at the sign for the Tempisque/La Amistad Bridge and follow signs to Santa Cruz. Once in Santa Cruz, follow signs to Tamarindo until you arrive at an intersection indicating Tamarindo to the right and Ostional to the left. Turn left toward Ostional. Once in Marbella, turn right on the road toward the beach. 

Room rates start at $70 during low season and go up to $125 during high season. For more information and reservations, call 2682-8206 or 8348-7855, email or see Marbella Surf Inn’s Facebook page (website under construction at

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