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Surf Guide: Surfing in Nicaragua

Surf Guide Nicaragua

Surf Guide: Surfing in Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a country that offers entertainment to basically anyone, as there are some beautiful ancient cities around, you can climb (and sandboard down) vulcanoes and a coast line that stretches on both sides of the country. It’s clear that the country also offers a lot of opportunities for surfers, with especially the pacific coastline which has a couple of surf spots which attract people from all over the world.

Even though there are a lot of surfing opportunities, it is widely agreed that the surf in Nicaragua isn’t as good as e.g. Costa Rica or El Salvador. However, ‘Nica’ does have a lot of great waves and it’s not for no reason that many of the surf-beaches can get pretty crowded. In case you’d like to read more about surfing in Santa Teresa (Costa Rica) or the surf conditions across El Salvador, you can do so as well.

The seasons in Nicaragua

Surfing in spring in Nicaragua

Throughout the spring it can get fairly windy from time to time, making the waves less predictable. Mostly a southern swell will reach the beaches and make their way into the reefbreaks and beachbreaks, which can be found all over. During my visit to Nicaragua I’ve seen waves at Yankee Beach (in the South) getting up to some serious heights.

Surfing in summer in Nicaragua

Summers attract a lot of surfers generally as the conditions can get prety good. The south swell can be at its best and there’s normally a nice off-shore wind.

Surfing in autumn in Nicaragua

During fall the conditions can get pretty good with the larger crowds not being around that much. The only disadvantage is that it can rain quite a lot from time to time.

Surfing in winter in Nicaragua

Winter can have some good waves in store for you but in general it’s not the best time of the year to go surfing in Nicaragua. The winds can get pretty strong.

Surf Nicaragua
A surf beach during low tide in Nicaragua

Surfing around San Juan del Sur

San Juan del Sur, in the south of the country is the best known surf town. SurfaWhile offers the amazing Dreamsea Surf Resort from where all different beaches can easily be reached. The resort itself is located close to the famous Playa Maderas and it’s really easy to get to the town itself as well.

Surfing at Playa Maderas

This beach is one of the most well-known surf spots of the country, as it’s being considered (this can always be interpretable) the most consistent wave of the area. In rainy season the dirt roads can get a bit sloppy so it’s advisable to have a 4×4 taking you there, or any of the shuttles going to Maderas. In general waves are best between mid to high tide and barrels can be present. In general this is a spot for surfers from all levels (including beginners) but from time to time it can get pretty high and more experience is required. However, it’s very convenient to get around to any other beach.

Surfing at Playa Hermosa
Surfing at Playa Hermosa

Surfing at Playa Remanso

Playa Remanso is about a 10 minute drive south of San Juan del Sur and this is the closest proper surf spot. You are best off taking a shuttle but at some spots you can even book a boat-shuttle to this some-what hidden beach. Around 2.5 to 1.5 before high tide (the mid-tide) you will encounter the best conditions in general. In general this spot is amazing for novice surfers but from time-to-time when the swell really hits, you will find experienced surfers here as well.

Read on after the photo…

Surfing Playa Remanso
Surfing Playa Remanso

Surfing at Playa Yankee

This beach is located about half an hour drive south of SJDS and offers chest-high waves. Also here, conditions are generally best during mid- to high tide. But when this beach is pumping, it’s really pumping, with many overhead barrels. This can be very early in the morning and the local surfers will all make their way to Yankee Beach.
It’s important to be aware that there’s nothing at this beach so do not forget to bring all you need with you, including your surf board, water, sun screen and snacks.

Other beaches in the area

There are many other surf spots in the area, such as Playa Hermosa (not to confuse with the Playa Hermosa in Costa Rica) and Playa Tamarindo (also not the one in Costa Rica).

Surfing around Popoyo

Popoyo is located around 2 hours away from Nicaragua’s capital city Managua. This town is pretty popular, mainly due to the surfing. However, there are many beaches around which are also brilliant for surfing.

Surfing at Playa Colorado

This beach is one of the country’s top spots for barrels and it is only a few steps away from the Costa Esmeralda Airport. The beach is pretty private but you can still access. You will also find a restaurant bar where they serve local food and drinks. The wave at Playa Colorado is generally more suitable for the experienced surfer so you are very much advised to keep an eye on the conditions at Playa Colorado when staying in this area.

Read on after the photo…

Olmo surfing in Nicaragua

Surfing at Playa Popoyo

The waves at the beach of Popoyo are (as generally considered) what made Nicaragua a known surf destination. Surfing this reef break, with both left- and right-handers, is something a lot of surfers would want to. It works normally best during high tide. Within Nicaragua you won’t get many waves that are more picture-perfect than the one in Popoyo.

Surfing at Playa Santana

Playa Santana can offer a lot of different conditions, making this quite a fun spot. It ranges from proper barrels to quieter waves. This beach is especially popular with the locals, but that are quite a few so it’s rare to have this beach for yourself. It’s well worth it to go down to Playa Santana to participate or only view the surf at the amazing sunsets.

Playa Santana

Surfing The Outer Reef

This is one of the best big-wave surf spots of Central America. However it’s only working a number of times per year. However, when it’s on, it’s on and people from all around travel to Popoyo to make their way (about 700 meters into the sea) to this amazing left-hander.

Waves can get pretty high

Surfing Las Peñitas

Las Peñitas, together with the bordering Poneloya are fairly famous beach spots for people traveling from the beautiful town of León for just a day trip. However, Las Peñitas also offers pretty good surf and that’s one of the reasons that this town has a lot of surf hostels nowadays.

This spot generally has pretty good conditions throughout the year, with a nice off-shore wind (which is due to the Lago Nicaragua effect). Surfers have to be carefull of the rocks here and there and there can be somewhat of a current, especially when the waves are a bit larger. Las Peñitas has a beach break which is very suitable for novice surfers. In general (some days it can get quite busy) the beach hasn’t too many surfers in the water and surf lessons are widely available.


Co-founder of SurfaWhile, with a passion for travel, surf, cooking, salsa, football and meeting new and interesting people.

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