Known as the country of Lakes and Volcanoes, the southern coast of Nicaragua is no exception to the charm and beauty of this central american gem.
Wave Quality: One of the best kept secrets of San Juan Del Sur, it is a fun spot that can be surfed by any skill level. The beach features lots of peaks, long walls and barrels with a sand bottom and beach break. It is famous for it’s perfect consistent waves ranging from fun to down right scary double overheads. It is also one of the less crowded spots that you can have a line up all to yourself.
Location/Access: Playa Hermosa is located south of the town of San Juan del Sur. It’s a mile long beach accessible from Nicaragua by boat or car through a coastal route bordering Costa Rica. If entering by car, expect to pay a few dollars to park.
Best Places to Stay:
Wave Quality: Produces Left and Right beach breaks, picking up north and south swells and can hold decent length waves of up to 50 meters on normal days and up to 300 meters on good days.It may not produce the meanest waves but there are frequent big swells to get an experienced surfer’s adrenaline pumping without scaring the newbies.
Location/Access: It is the most popular beach, frequented by tourists & locals alike, located approximately 15 minutes by car from San Juan Del Sur. Playa Maderas is also known as Punta Quilla and is fairly easy to find. Although a fairly crowded spot, Maderas has a cool atmosphere, friendly tourist crowd and local surfers, plus it is easily accessible.
Best Places to Stay: Selina, Dreamsea Surf Resort
Wave Quality: Manzanillo produces very long left hand point break waves, bending around the southern cliff at Manzanillo Bay. On a good day with ideal SW swell direction, the rides at Manzanillo can easily extend up to 200-300 meters. While the majority of the wave is mellow and open faced for big turns, there is one barreling section about half way down the point. Beware of rocks. Make the long paddle back up the point or walk along the point and jump off the rocks if you are feeling brave.
Location/Access: Manzanillo Bay is located in front of the gated community of Guacalito, so unless you are staying inside the hotel or one of the rentals, access is by boat only.
Best Places to Stay: Hacienda Iguana or Gigante Bay are only about 20 minutes away by boat so any of the rentals or surf camps will be within easy reach.
Wave Quality: Average beach break with the occasional good barreling section. Amarillo is located just around the headland south of Playa Colorado and is usually a good spot for beginner surfers or when the swell is too big at Colorados.
Location/Access: From Hacienda Iguana, walk south along the beach and around the headland. Because of the rocks, this walk is easiest at low tide. From Gigante, walk north through town and behind the hill at the north end of the bay.
Best Places to Stay:
Wave Quality: Rivermouth beach break with right and left barrels, works on all tides, all year. Producing world class waves, Colorados is not for the faint of heart. It is meant for experienced surfers with a penchant for danger. Producing consistent rivermouth /beach breaks, epic swells and peaks perfectly groomed by consistent offshore winds.
Location/Access: Accessible by boat with a mile long stretch of private beach off Tola road on Hacienda Iguana. There are condos available on site or one can easily travel by boat.
Best Places to Stay: Hacienda Iguana Costamar Condos, Mark and Dave’s
Wave Quality: Panga Drops is an offshore, horse-shoe shaped rock reef that amplifies any swell. Produces left and right swells with long open-ocean reef break. It is a shifty wave that offers big take offs, long rippable walls and big barrels on the inside section. Panga Drops breaks best on a lower tide and can handle any swell that hits Nicaragua. The break requires a long paddle out and requires a bit more skill than that of the regular surfer. A bigger board is best for paddling and braving the breaks but both long and short boarders alike will love this wave. Rarely a crowded spot, this is not for the novice surfer.
Location/Access: Panga Drops is located just a few hundred meters north of Playa Colorado in Hacienda Iguana.
Best Places to Stay: Mark and Dave’s, Costamar Condos
Wave Quality: Los Perros is a fickle right hand point break that only really breaks a few times a year on the largest SW swells. Because of its direction, the point needs a lot of west in the swell to bounce off the rocks and peel down the point. Keep your eye on this point when the swell is too big for most other places and you could be rewarded with empty right hand waves.
Location/Access: Los Perros is located about ½ kilometer north of Panga Drops. Access is best from Hacienda Iguana or Rancho Santana.
Best Places to Stay: Mark and Dave’s, Costamar Condos
Wave Quality: Playa Rosada is a lefthand rocky reef break producing rippable walls and the occasional barrel in a secluded bay of Rancho Santana. On a good South swell, you can catch this boiling mini point break with only a few other people out. While the wave is not as long or as hollow as some of the surrounding breaks, Playa Rosada is usually a forgotten spot along this coast. If you can navigate the boil off the take off and avoid the shallow rocks, you will be treated with a sweet ride all the way to the pink sand beach.
Location/Access: Playa Rosada is one of the couple private beaches within the community of Rancho Santana. If you are not staying within Rancho Santana, good luck getting past the gates and over the hill to the parking lot. You can still access this spot by boat, but because of its location and consistency, most people end up taking a boat to one of the other local spots.
Best Place to Stay: Rancho Santana Hotel, NSR Vacation Rentals @ Rancho Santana
Wave Quality: Santana is a beach break with lefts and rights. Hollow, fast, fun and powerful waves with the sandy rock bottom beach consistently. There is a beach break with a take off point called Perfect Peak, a one spot take off area. Santana is consistent in providing wave after wave on the incoming tide. It is ideal for all skill levels and though the crowd can get thick at times there is no reason to fight over, just get in line and take the next wave.
Location/Access: There is private access through Rancho Santana Resort or through a village called Limon 2 then use a turnoff at the sign Buena Onda resort and follow the road to the beach. Direct beach access.
Best Places to Stay: Rancho Santana Hotel, NSR Vacation Rentals @ Rancho Santana
Wave Quality: Beginners Bay is a very mellow mushy left point break that goes into a beach break. For true beginners or children, this was is perfect as it breaks for a long time without any risk. Grab a big foamie and get out there. During the biggest swells of the year, Beginners Bay can produce some more rippable (still mushy) waves when everywhere else is maxing out.
Location/Access: Park at Magnific Rock and head down the dirt trail.
Best Places to Stay: Magnific Rock, Cafe con Leche
Wave Quality: Some people like to refer to Popoyo Outer Reef as the “Nicaraguan Pipeline”. Producing very heavy slabbing barrels, this spot is for experts only. For the average surfer, grab a beer and a long lens camera and marvel at these helmet-wearing psychos. While plenty of the chargers will paddle in with big rhino chasers, there are a few tow guys that will put on a show with their jetskis. If you are seriously looking to pack some bombs at the Outer Reef, book a trip with Surfari Charters as their surf guides are some of the best surfers out there on big days.
Location/Access: 1.5 kilometers out to sea from Popoyo. Very long paddle from the beach or jet ski assist.
Best Places to Stay: Surfari Charters
Wave Quality: World Class waves, rights and lefts with rocky reef breaks. Waves are hollow, fast and powerful going as long as 50 tp 300 meters and swells can hold up to 12 feet. The surf has wonderful A frames, powerful reef breaks and perfect waves that put Nicaragua in the map in the first place. This popular beach offers long, powerful walls and one or two thick barrel section. It’s very consistent and magnifies even the smallest swell. Being popular as it is, there is always quite a crowd which is best for safety sake.
Location/Access: Located north of Mag Rock and south of Playa Guasacate. You can either walk the beach from either direction, or you can take a car to Finca Popoyo (128 Calle Popoyo, Las Salinas). If you are buying food/drinks, you can access the parking lot and the beach is directly out front.
Best Places to Stay:
Wave Quality: Astillero has regular to powerful point-breaks with decent lefts and rights. Waves range from 50 to 150 meters with swells holding up to 8 feet. Astillero is known for its hollow waves, double overheads and point breaks best left to experienced surfers. What’s best about this beach is there are no crowds, the water is warm and the waves are perfect.
Location/Access: Astillero is a small fishing village in the border or Carazo and Rivas, it can be accessed by car, but it’s best to rent a 4WD and park right at the point, avoiding the long hike. Travel to the little fishing village of Astillero, follow the path till you reach the end of the road, in front of the river mouth and you’ll be one of the least surfed beach breaks in Nicaragua.
Best Places to Stay: Any surf camp or lodge in the Popoyo area.
Wave Quality: As you could imagine, Lance’s Left produces some world class left hand point break waves. Long lines break around a mellow curve in the coastline. With an easy takeoff and mellow speed down the line, this wave is very functional for almost any surfer or surfboard. Even on small days, you will find long consistent waves at Lance’s Left, making it one of the premier spots along the coast.
Location/Access: Lance’s Left is located a few kilometers north of the boat launch at Astillero. While most people will take a boat right to the channel, surfers on a budget have been known to make the somewhat brutal walk all the way along the rocks.
Best Places to Stay: Surfari Charters or anywhere with access to a boat
Wave Quality: Playgrounds is exactly what you would imagine a place called Playgrounds to be like. Plenty of people like to compare this wave to Trestles in Southern California, because of its fun bowling waves, allowing for critical turns at a playful location. This spot is mostly a left hand break but there are the occasional against-the-grain rights if you are looking for them. Playgrounds break over deep cobblestones and is generally an easy wave for surfers of all levels.
Location/Access: Playgrounds is about a 25 minute boat ride from Astillero. If you are coming from Hacienda Iguana or Gigante, you can take a boat all the way to Playgrounds but be prepared for a 1 hour ride each way. When the wind is stong offshore, expect closer to 1.5 hours.
Best Places to Stay: Anywhere, boat access only