January
11

Surf Guide: Nicaragua

Can you picture a place that has over 300 days of offshore winds, grooming perfect, surf-able warm waves?

Welcome to Nicaragua, the “Land Offshore Winds.” MI OLA brand ambassador Amanda (@Amanda_Strube) has spent a majority of the past five winters surfing in this country and has had countless “that was the best wave of my life” experiences. Check out her surf guide to her favorite spots to surf in Nicaragua below!

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda – @Amanda_Strube

 

A Bit about Nicaragua:

Located in Central America, between Costa Rica and Honduras, Nicaragua is quickly becoming a top travel destination.

You may have heard Nicaragua is unsafe. This could be due to its turbulent history from the Nicaraguan Revolution, which ended almost 30 years ago, and which many people think of when they think of Nicaragua.  

The reality is much more pleasant.  Nicaragua is beautiful, tropical, safe, has good waves, offshore winds, and can be pretty darn inexpensive.

Nicaragua’s tourism business is starting to grow amongst surfers, hikers and history lovers. Nicaragua is mostly Catholic and is home to the biggest cathedral in Central America. The main language spoken is Spanish. Their currency is the Cordoba with 1 Cordoba equaling .032 of a USD. Most places will accept the American Dollar — but it has to be a small bill and not ripped or crinkled. Smaller towns and villages will not have ATMs or take credit cards so bring enough acceptable cash.

Nicaragua is accurately known as the Land of Lakes and Volcanos, but is also quickly becoming known to surfers as Land of the Offshore Winds.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda – @Amanda_Strube

Where to Surf:

El Transíto
I have called El Transíto “home” for the past five winters. This place is a gem. There are not many tourists and the ones that are there are there to surf. El Transíto has some of the most consistent and fun waves all year long throwing out lefts and rights.  Most accommodations like SOLID Surf Adventure and Surf Hostel Nicaragua are located right on the beach, with at least 3 spots you can check while drinking your morning coffee. This spot is a beach break that works best mid to high tide. There is also a secret barreling wave within walking distance that you might get lucky enough to be told about! You’ll be surfing with more locals and fishermen than tourists. El Transíto is a quiet town with friendly locals and not much to do but surf. There are few restaurants in this town with authentic Nica food of rice and fresh fish, but more are popping up.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda – @Amanda_Strube

Playa Colorado
This spot is very well known and can get crowded, for good reason. People flock to this wave for the barrel. However, it is located on a private beach and golf course called Hacienda Iguana so you either have to stay there or take a boat to get to it. You can score waves on any tide here, but nasty wipeouts are also a frequent occurrence.
Popoyo
This spot is super crowded, but powerful as it breaks both left and right over reef. You can also surf at any tide here, but always be aware of the reef. Popoyo is a great place to find a nice Air BnB, as well as surf camps and hotels/resorts. It is one of the more built up parts of Nicaragua with plenty of good places to eat.
Punta Miramar
A twenty-minute drive down the bumpy dirt road from El Transíto, this left point break has a steep and fast take off and barrels over rock. This spot works best on the incoming tide and is the spot to be when big south swell rolls through. As with any point break the paddle out is fairly easy. When it’s smaller there are a couple spots on the inside that are fun. Miramar is a bit more of a town than El Transíto and has some beautiful Air BnB’s as well as plenty of surf camps like Miramar Surf Camp, Puerto Sandino Surf Resort, Casa Sirena Surf Lodge and Surf Tours Nicaragua.
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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda – @Amanda_Strube

Meat Grinders/Hemorrhoids
This world-class spot is for experienced and advanced surfers only as it barrels over a shallow reef. It’s a left that is super-fast and hallow. This wave is best to get to by boat as it’s located in front of a private golf resort (Gran Pacifica) that charges per board if you drive and park there. If you find yourself in over your head at this wave you can surf the beach break a little further up the beach, known as Asuchillo. This wave occasionally barrels, but is less intimidating. However, it is near a river mouth so watch out for crocodiles and dirty water. This beach is completely empty as there is barely a town around, just the resort, so pack your lunch. There is a really good burrito place down a long dirt road owned by an American expat called Burrito Bandito, if you can find it.
Playa Maderas
Located just north of San Juan del Sur, this wave is a great spot to learn, as there are a lot of surf schools around the area. This wave also offers both lefts and rights and is fun for more advanced surfers if there is swell in the water. Another beach break, this wave works best on a medium to high tide and though it may get a little crowded by Nicaraguan standards, there are still plenty of waves to be had by everyone. Any of the hostels located in San Juan del Sur offers daily shuttles to this beach. If you’re looking for a fun night out, SJDS has plenty of fun restaurants and bars to go out dancing at. It is also infamous for Sunday Funday, basically and all-day hostel bar crawl that ultimately leaves the waves empty on Monday mornings. SJDS is a populated town with loads of places to eat and stay.
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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda – @Amanda_Strube

Playa Hermosa
Also located near San Juan del Sur, this is another beach break that offers both lefts and rights with plenty of room to spread out. Rarely crowded, this break is perfect for any level of surfing and works best on a mid to high tide. Playa Hermosa Eco Lodge is located right in front of the break and is 100% owned and run by Nicaraguans with everything you need right there on the beach.
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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda – @Amanda_Strube

Playa Santana
This break can offer everybody something and because of this is always crowded. Depending on the swell size the waves are either punchy and rampy or barreling. Rancho Santana and Buena Onda Beach Resort are great places to stay. This wave is most fun on a mid to high tide.
The Boom
Located near Chinadega, this wave is peaky and hallow. This beach break can turn into a heavy and powerful barrel, but is totally empty. You should only find locals and strong surfers out in the lineup. The best places to stay are Chancletas Surf Resort and Rise Up Surf Camp. These places offer their own menus as there is not much around town.

 

Not Just Surfing:

Nicaragua has over 19 volcanoes. Each volcano offers something fun to do like hiking, bird watching, zip lining and coffee tours. My favorite is Cerro Negro, located near the city of Leon. Cerro Negro is still active and is about a 45-minute hike to the top. However, instead of hiking back down, you sled down. Start your hike around 2 pm so you can be at the top for sunset.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda – @Amanda_Strube

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda – @Amanda_Strube

 

Leon is a fun city to spend the night as there are loads of bars and clubs for dancing, with both locals and tourists and plenty of good restaurants like Carnivero, El Sesteo, Pan y Paz, Azul Restaurante and Del Norte. The largest cathedral in Central America is located in the center of Leon and families, school kids and tourists all gather here.

Granada is another popular city to visit and has a very colorful city center and a lot of restaurants and cafes to choose from. There is also a very good leather shop called Soy Nica where you can watch everything being hand made. Nicaragua is definitely a place to come to surf but offers many other reasons to stay.

 

When to Go:

May through November is the rainy season and also the bigger wave season, leaving November through April as the dry season with smaller swells, but always fun waves. Nicaragua is hot all year long, with temperatures ranging from 25-28 C (77-82 F). The Pacific Ocean water temp hovers between 25-30 C (70s-80sF) — MI OLA bikini weather!! The sun is very strong so wear a lot of sunscreen or a rash guard to protect from the sun and wind. Also, be sure to pack a 1mm wetsuit top as the water can get a little chilly from the strong offshores!

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda – @Amanda_Strube

How to Get There:

Nicaragua is easy to get to from the US with plenty of flights coming in through Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Houston, Texas. The airport in Managua is small and can easily be navigated. Most surf spots are easily accessible through rented cars, the chicken busses (the local buses), taxis or shuttles. However, some spots are better accessed by the local panga boats.

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Photo by MI OLA Ambassador Amanda – @Amanda_Strube

Now go on and book your surf trip to Nicaragua already!

Interested in joining the MI OLA Ambassador Program?

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