Surfing in Nicaragua | Best Surfing Spots & Towns

Surfing in Nicaragua is just perfect. If you love surfing, you need to check out Nicaragua asap! Nicaragua has two coastlines, one on the Pacific and the other on the Caribbean. While the Caribbean coastline is great for scuba diving, it’s the Pacific coastline that offers the best surfing conditions.

Surfing in Nicaragua - Beautiful day at the beach in Popoyo, Nicaragua, with deep color in the water and sunny weather

Beautiful day at the beach in Popoyo, Nicaragua, with deep color in the water and sunny weather

For too many years Nicaragua was overlooked as a surfing destination since political unrest ensured that tourists headed for nearby Costa Rica instead. Now surfers the world over are heading for its golden sands and warm blue waters. Come with me as we discover some of the best surfing spots in Nicaragua.

Best Surfing in Nicaragua

The surf in Nicaragua is affected by two large lakes Lake Nicaragua and Lake Managua. These create off-shore winds through most of the year great ensuring a consistent wave. So arm yourself with a Nicaragua surf report and Nicaragua surf spots map and surf those waves in Nicaragua.

Playa Maderas | Nicaragua Surf

Playa Maderas Nicaragua Surf - Maderas beach, Nicaragua. The ocean and horizon, beach and a waves about to break

Maderas beach, Nicaragua. The ocean and horizon, beach and a waves about to break

Playa Maderas, perhaps the best surfing beach in Nicaragua, is also the closest to San Juan Del Sur. A shuttle service runs from the beach to the village several times a day. It takes around twenty minutes.

As you might expect, the combination of easy access and great surf conditions does attract crowds and the small take-off area sometimes feels a little overcrowded.

This beach is mostly sand. Though the small rocky outcrop on the south side does sometimes create left-hand barrels on an outgoing tide when the waves are high. The swell at this beach is only really good on a mid to high tide and it offers both left and right waves.

Beginners may find Maderas a little challenging but those with some experience should have fun especially when the waves are pumping. That said, there are a number of surf schools in the area so if you’re new to the sport you could arrange individual lessons. If you don’t have a board, there is a small restaurant at the beach where you can hire one.

Playa Maderas, Nicaragua surf is known for the most consistent wave in the country. The area boasts more than three hundred days of off-shore winds a year, ensuring a constant supply of ridable waves.


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The Boom

 

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If you’re looking for a quieter beach, head for the Boom. This beach is off the tourist track so you won’t have to contend with crowds.

The Boom is a 45-minute drive from Chinandega in northern Nicaragua. It is known for its quick and powerful A-frames and long hollow waves. It’s a sand bottom beach and the ride are relatively short because the waves break so close to the shore. Still, it doesn’t take long to get back out into the next wave.

The wave at the Boom is best suited to advanced surfers.

Playa Colorado, Nicaragua

Playa Colorado, Nicaragua on the southern Pacific offers you a range of waves from tame shoulder height breaks to stand-up barrels breaking onto the sand beach and river mouth.

Playa Colorado is known for its fast A-frames. During April and May, the river mouth opens due to the rain and will stay that way until September. This is when you’ll find the best waves though Playa Colorado boasts consistent waves throughout the year. This beach is best for advanced surfers on shortboards.

The beach is located just south of Popoyo. In recent years it has become private property and unless you can afford to stay at Hacienda Iguana on the beach, you’ll have to take a forty-five-minute hike from the local town. Alternatively, hire a panga boat and approach the beach from the ocean.

Panga Drops

 

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Fifteen minutes’ walk along the sand from Playa Colorado, Panga Drops offers a similar surfing experience though the surf is often bigger. Most surfers gain access to the water by boat.

This is a deep-water reef break where waves are often triple overhead. Panga doesn’t usually barrel. It is a softer wave but it breaks hard, usually to the right. You will have to take a long paddle out but it’s well worth the effort. This beach is definitely not for beginners, but it is a consistent wave good for a run on any day of the year.


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Popoyo Beach

 

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Head in the right direction from Rivas, and an hour’s drive in you’ll come across one of the best-known surfing beaches in Nicaragua. Popoyo Beach consists of two spots, the inner reef, and the outer reef.

The inner reef has a good wave and when the surf is up, you’ll find a barrel or two. It is best for less experienced surfers to keep to the inner reef.

Don’t venture out to the outer reef unless you’re an expert surfer. The swells can rise to seven feet here and can break at four times overhead.  The waves break right and left and will give any advanced surfer a great workout.

Lance’s Left

Waves in Nicaragua - Ocean Waves Under Blue Sky

A long-left point break, Lance’s Left breaks right in front of an impressive cliff. Though you can take a long hike to Lance’s Lot from Astillero, most surfers hire a boat at Playa Giganta to access the surf from the ocean.

Here, the surf is consistent year-round and is good fun for all skill levels. The waves occasionally barrel and you could bet on a wave of upward of 300 meters long.

Playa El Yankee

Surfing in Nicaragua - Surfer caught in waves in El Yankee Beach, Nicaragua

Located just south of Playa El Coco, Playa El Yankee breaks onto reef and sand. This beach seldom draws crowds so you can relish the isolation. At low tide, the water hits the rocks and forms a wedge but when it’s high the surf looks much like any other surfing beach.

The wave consists of short A-frames that favor a left break. This beach is best for surfers with a fair amount of experience. It offers year-round consistency and good summer swells.


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Playa Hermosa

Surfing in Nicaragua - Surfing in Playa Hermosa beach, Nicaragua

Surfing in Playa Hermosa beach, Nicaragua

A short drive from Saint Juan Del Sur, Playa Hermosa has a mile-long beach. The ocean is good for peaks and long walls and from time to time a barrel. This is a great beach for all surfers from beginners to advanced levels. Here you can expect a consistent wave ranging from shoulder high to double overhead.

This long sandy beach has a laid-back atmosphere and few people. Rent a board at the Playa Hermosa Beach Hotel. You can also sign up for lessons at the hotel.

Playa Santana

Surfing in Nicaragua - Santana beach aerial drone view in Nicaragua. Shore line for surfers

Santana beach aerial drone view in Nicaragua.

Though not the most popular surfing beach, Playa Santana offers plenty of fun in the water with many peaks and quick lefts and rights. The swells are not large but the waves do hollow out to barrels.

This is a sandy rock bottom beach with consistent A-frame breaks. The waves are often quite powerful, breaking both left and right. This beach offers a consistent wave that surfers of all experience levels, including beginners, will enjoy.


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Manzanillo

June20ManzanilloCarl

Playa Manzanillo is a left point break, good for any intermediate to expert surfer. The take-off is easy but the wave is unpredictable. It needs a big swell from the south to offer really good surfing conditions. Still, when the conditions are right, you’ll have great surfing fun at Manzanillo.

The only way to reach the beach is by boat unless you stay in the luxury resort right on the beach.

Astillero Beach Break

Best Surf Towns in Nicaragua - Playa Astillero in Tola, Nicaragua

Playa Astillero in Tola, Nicaragua

Astillero Beach Break is at a river mouth and as a consequence, the water is often not clear. The upside of this beach is that it doesn’t attract many tourists so you won’t have to contend with crowds.

The waves here are smaller than in some of the other surfing spots though swells can reach eight feet. If you wait till the tide is up and keep to the right you should encounter some satisfying waves.

Astillero is a small fishing village and you can hike from the village to the surf spot. Still, it takes 30 minutes to walk there and if you want to avoid the walk, you’ll need a four-by-four.


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Best Surfing in Nicaragua for Beginners

Best Surf Towns in Nicaragua - Ocean bay on sunset time aerial drone view - San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

Ocean bay on sunset time aerial drone view – San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

Once even the most advanced surfers were beginners so don’t be shy to get out there on the ocean waves and learn to carve and cut back. There is some surf that you should absolutely avoid as a beginner but Nicaragua has plenty of gentle beaches where you can safely learn to surf. We’ve found some of the best surfing in Nicaragua for beginners so you can plan ahead.

Playgrounds

 

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Vera Cruz also known as Playgrounds is a good choice for any surfer from beginner to advanced levels. The beach is accessible only by boat. Catch a ride from the Astillero Beach Break.

Once in the sea, you’ll manage long runs on the lefts which often hollow into a barrel. Expect shorter right-hand breaks. Playgrounds offer a consistent wave spruced by off-shore winds that blow almost every day of the year. Waves will generally rise from a foot high to double overhead, breaking onto cobblestones.

Stay at the Playgrounds Surf Camp and you’ll get personal surf advice and one on one lessons.


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Playa Remanso

 

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Located just outside San Juan Del Sur, Playa Remanso is not as busy as Playa Maderas. The wave is slow and breaks less powerfully so it is the perfect place for beginners to get used to the water. Offshore winds make for fairly consistent waves but there are days when waves are lacking.

Playa Amarillo

 

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Neighboring the fishing village Playa Giganta, Playa Amarillo is one of those untouched gems with few people and no development. The local town, just a short walk from the beach, offers comfortable accommodation.

The waves are gentle and offer beginners the chance to try both left and right waves. Experienced surfers will find good waves to the north of the beach.

Asuchillo Beach Break

Surfing in Nicaragua for Beginners - huge green wave breaking on a shallow reef

The only access to this beach is through the Grand Pacific Resort and you’ll pay a $15 entry fee with a restaurant voucher and $5 without. The beach is pretty quiet with few people. The ocean creates mostly gentle swells that can, on a good day, reach double overhead.

You’ll ride lots of A-frame peaks and some barrels. This is a good place to learn the ropes as a beginner.


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El Transito

A surfer stands in the Pacific Ocean looking for waves to surf at El Transito, Nicaragua.

A surfer stands in the Pacific Ocean looking for waves to surf at El Transito, Nicaragua.

El Transito is a small beach town to the north of Nicaragua has a beach just perfect for beginners and surfers with a little more experience. The beach is relatively unpopulated and the waves are warm and consistent. Restaurants and accommodation are conveniently close at hand.

Here you can stay in a Nicaraguan surf camp and hire a board if you haven’t brought your own.

Salinas Grandes

If you’re looking for seclusion, Salinas Grandes, Miramar, offers plenty of solitude and long grey sand beaches. Salinas Grandes is itself a fishing and salt mining village a little under an hour’s drive from León.

Though best from September to February, Salinas Grandes offers a consistent wave throughout the year. The wave can get quite big but breaks gently. Beginners can practice both left and right waves.

Book a Nicaraguan surf camp in the area. There are plenty of them and you can learn to surf like the pros.


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Playa El Coco

Playa El Coco is not up there with the best beaches to surf in Nicaragua but the gentle wave makes it an excellent place to learn to surf. The sandy bottom ensures a reasonably soft landing and the off-shore winds create a consistent wave.

On a good day, you may even find some overhead waves striking the beach and you can practice on waves from both left and right.

Here, you can hire a surfboard for $20 per day and take a 2-hour lesson for $25.

Best Surf Towns in Nicaragua

Nicaragua has plenty of lovely surf towns many of them home to Nicaraguan surf camps. These camps draw loads of surfers as the rates include accommodation, food, surfing lessons, and the use of a surfboard. Here are just a few of the best surf towns in Nicaragua. The camps generally run for five to ten days.

San Juan Del Sur

Best Surf Towns in Nicaragua - Scenic beach near San Juan del Sur Nicaragua

Scenic beach near San Juan del Sur Nicaragua

San Juan Del Sur is a young and vibrant party town close to some of the best surfing beaches in Nicaragua. The town has everything that you could want after a good day of surfing. Here restaurants and pubs draw party lovers throughout the day. When you’re not in the water, no reason not to join the fun.

Accommodation is affordable and almost everyone speaks English.

The town is well known for Sunday Funday when everyone comes into town looking for a party.

San Juan Del Sur is close to Playa Marsella, Playa Maderas, Play Romanso, Playa Hermosa and Playa Yankee. You can access some of these beaches by a shuttle that runs from San Juan Del Sur throughout the day.


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Playa Gigante

Best Surf Towns in Nicaragua - Surf adventure at Playa Gigante Nicaragua

Playa Gigante Nicaragua

If the party atmosphere of San Juan Del Sur isn’t for you, you may prefer the more laid-back town, Playa Gigante. Here you can surf on solitary beaches and buy fresh fish for supper on your way home.

Most homes in the area rent out rooms to tourists. On the downside Playa Gigante is expensive. It costs more than most other Nicaraguan destinations for accommodation and supplies so come prepared.

Book surfing lessons with the locals. They give one on one guidance at Playa Amarillo and Playa Colorado.

El Astillero

Nicaragua Surf Spots - Playa Astillero in Tola, Nicaragua

Playa Astillero in Tola, Nicaragua

El Astillero is a small fishing village with much the same layout as San Juan Del Sur. It is however a lot quieter. Most of the population of El Astillero depends on fishing to make a living. Yet, the burgeoning interest in surfing has led to a growing hospitality industry including a hostel, restaurants, and beach resorts ready to accommodate visitors.

The town is close to Lance’s Left, the Playgrounds, and the Astillero river mouth. Locals run powerboats through the surf taking surfers to their favorite playgrounds.


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Best Time to Surf in Nicaragua

Best Time to Surf in Nicaragua - A beautiful wave breaking beneath blue sky, forming an epic barrel as the sun catches water droplets across the frame.

Nicaragua has a tropical climate so it’s warm through most of the year. You can expect temperatures of between 70° and 94° Fahrenheit. The weather is dry in the summer months but it rains from May to October.

Nicaragua is a year-round surfing destination and the best time to surf will depend on what kind of wave you prefer. The most powerful waves happen between April and November when winter storms drive larger more regular swells. In the winter or green season, you can expect swells of between 4 and 12 feet.

With the exception of the Easter weekend, there are far fewer people on the beach so you get the benefit of good waves and quieter beaches.

Seasonal rainfall will start in May. Water temperatures will drop considerably. Rain peaks in September and October. During the season offshore winds will ensure consistent swells.

Though you can expect heavy consistent rain in October and even some tropical storms, during the rest of the rainy season the rain often happens in the early evening or late afternoon with little to no rain in the day. The air temperatures are also a lot more bearable than those experienced in the summer months.

Waves will reduce in size when the dry season returns in November. Though you can expect some waves in November, by the time it gets to January and February, the surf will definitely not excite experienced surfers. If you’re learning to surf, the tamer water may offer you the best chance to make a start.

Planning your trip to the best surfing spots in Nicaragua

Surfboard. Mount for surfer board. Rest for surfer - Planning a surf trip to Nicaragua

Whether you’re planning to escape the winter in the north or take on the Nicaraguan surf in the winter months when the waves are at their most exciting, you should plan ahead.

Nicaragua is a surfer’s paradise, but some of the beaches take some transport planning. Examine your options and choose the beach breaks to suit your level of surfing expertise and the type of holiday that you would prefer. Join the party at Saint Juan Del Sur or enjoy the laidback atmosphere at Playa Gigante. The waves beckon.

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