One of Central America’s hidden gems, it has a little bit of everything. From epic volcanic landscapes to stunning colonial architecture, there’s something here for every type of traveller. And it’s affordable too!
While Nicaragua is known by some as the land of lakes and volcanoes, it’s beaches shouldn’t be overlooked. Its Pacific coast gets some of the most consistent waves in the world from April to November - meaning it’s a surfing mecca! Not only that, thanks to the low cost of travel here, you’ll have plenty of money left over for extra surf lessons or beers on the beach.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the best surfing experiences you can have in Nicaragua. Hopefully, it’ll make it easier to plan your trip and choose the right beach for you.
#1: Surf by day and party by night at Playa Maderas
San Juan del Sur is one of the tourist hotspots on Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast, and Playa Maderas is just ten minutes away by car. The good news is that the surfing here caters to a range of levels. Beginners can get their first lessons at one of the many surf schools or camps in San Juan, while those with a little more experience will appreciate tackling the bigger waves on their own.
After a day of surfing, head back to this cosy fishing village which is packed with awesome places to eat, drink, and go out with new friends you’ve made on your surf camps. One of the most popular nights out is a Sunday where there is a huge pub crawl aimed especially at backpackers. If you’re looking for something a little classier, there are several bars on the beach where you’ll be able to enjoy a cocktail and watch the sunset.
This might be better suited to travelers who want to give sunrise yoga a go!
#2: Get off the beaten track at the Boom
For every traveller that wants to meet other backpackers and have a wild night out, there’s one who would prefer a quieter evening getting to know local culture. And both are equally as valid! If you find yourself in the second camp, you might want to skip San Juan del Sur and Playa Maderas, and point your board towards the Boom.
It attracts fewer gringoes than many of the other resorts, but there are still a couple of surf camps in the area where you can hone your skills. The Boom has one of the hollowest waves in Nicaragua which breaks close to shore. Rides here are short but intense, and are guaranteed to give you an adrenaline rush.
Due to its remote location, accommodation at the Boom is usually either a surf camp or a homestay.
#3: Try SUP surfing at Playa el Yankee
When you cross surfing with stand-up paddleboarding, it takes a little getting used to at first. So, it’s a good idea to head for one of the less crowded beaches in Nicaragua - bringing us nicely to Playa El Yankee. Though it’s quieter, it still gets consistent waves so you won’t be disappointed - whether you’re surfing or SUPing!
If you’re new to SUPing, it may be a good idea to use the beach’s calmer waters to master the art of standing up on your board. SUP surfers won’t want to risk damaging their paddle boards on the left hand wave which breaks at the Southern end of the beach!
One of the big pluses of Playa El Yankee is that it’s 35 minutes to San Juan del Sur. Therefore, it’s close enough if you want a night out, but staying nearby means you can properly relax too.
#4: Trek through the jungle and jump straight into Playa Colorado’s waves
One of the most popular beaches in Nicaragua is Playa Colorado - with some surfers making their way here just to test their mettle on this beach!
Most tides have great waves, though it’s easy to make big mistakes due to the combination of offshore winds, steep take off, and the need to make a quick bottom turn. Get it right though, and you’ll be wanting to catch waves again and again!
The fact that this is a private beach which is only accessible via a jungle trek or by boat should be enough to put off any beginner surfers - who in all likelihood will find the waves here too difficult on early attempts.
#5: Stay with a family in Popoyo and get to know Nicaraguan culture
Another town that can get busy and crowded but is worth it for the great surfing is Popoyo. Close to Playa Colorado, it offers a lot of places to eat and drink, as well as varied accommodation options.
Unlike San Juan del Sur, this isn’t a great place to begin surfing. In fact, even advanced surfers are encouraged to watch locals attacking the waves before they have a go themselves.
#6: Final Thoughts on Surfing in Nicaragua
Now that you know more about the best surfing experiences in Nicaragua, you’ll want to book your trip. Whether you want to dance the night away on Playa Maderas, combine the world’s fastest growing water sport with surfing on Playa el Yankee, or just get away from it all at the Boom, Nicaragua has something for you.
And while you’re in Nicaragua, you may as well take advantage of the low costs and rich history and culture and see surrounding countries such as Honduras, Costa Rica, and Belize too!