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The Best Surfing Spots in Nicaragua

Surfboards near San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Surfboards near San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua | © David Dennis / Flickr
Central America may not be as famous as other world destinations that are known for their surfing, but its reputation is growing. There are good reasons why surfers are travelling to Nicaragua in greater numbers than ever before, starting with these amazing surf spots.

Playa Maderas

Just 10 minutes’ drive from the party town of San Juan del Sur lies this famous surfing beach. There are lots of schools here, so it’s good for beginners, but there are also bigger waves that will keep more experienced riders occupied.

Surfing at Playa Maderas, Nicaragua © Mike Vondran / Flickr

Playa Hermosa

Until 2012, this beach was accessible only by boat from San Juan del Sur. Nowadays, it’s more reachable, and busier, but it’s still a beautiful spot with great waves and amazing infrastructure. If you’re in a group with some non-surfers, they’ll probably be more than happy to spend some time here.

Surfboards in Nicaragua © David Dennis / Flickr

Popoyo

This spot is recommended for advanced surfers because of its heavy waves and shallow reefs. Even experienced riders are advised to watch the locals paddle out before trying it themselves, as you can do yourself some serious damage on the coral. To surf the outer reef you’ll likely need a jet ski to tow you in, so you know you’re dealing with some serious wave power!

Playa Colorado

This amazing break has attracted huge investment, and the area is now home to luxurious holiday accommodation that is well out of the reach of most budget travellers. However, you can still surf the waves without breaking the bank if you stay in nearby Playa Gigante. It’s only a 30-minute walk from Playa Colorado, and everything is a lot more affordable there.

Surfing in Nicaragua © Micah MacAllen / Flickr

Panga Drops

In Nicaragua, a panga is a small boat that is used close to shore. This break got its name when a hapless panga captain saw his boat eaten up by a wave and sent to the bottom of the reef. That should give you some idea how unpredictably large sets can come rolling in here, so surf with caution!

Lance’s Left

This is a great wave, but you have to want to surf it. Access is via boat from Playa Gigante, or on foot from Astillero. It’s a varied wave, so keep an eye on conditions.

The Boom

This isolated beach is home to some really tough but rewarding waves. Stay at the bargain basement Joe’s Place, relax in the hammocks and gear yourself up for big barrels. Head for the village of Aseradores, near Chindanega.