Finding the Perfect Surfing Spots on Vacation in Nicaragua

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It used to be the case that serious surfers vacationed in Costa Rica. More recently, though, its neighbor to the north, Nicaragua, has been vying for the title of the best vacation destination for surfers.

This will come as no surprise to anyone who has been to Nicaragua. The country boasts better beaches, fewer crowds, and over 300 days of off-shore winds each year. Before buying tickets and packing a bag, surfers can read on to find out what they need to know about finding the perfect vacation spots in Nicaragua.

Where to Surf

Nicaragua boasts some of the best reef breaks and sandbars in Central America along with 250 km of shoreline, which means finding great surfing spots is easy. The most popular beaches for surfing can be found near San Juan del Sur, but there are fewer crowds the farther North visitors go. While Playa Maderas and Playa Majagual can get somewhat crowded during the tourist season, Playa Gigante and Popoyo offer decent breaks with less competition for waves.

When to Surf

One of the amazing things about surfing in Nicaragua is that visitors can catch waves at almost any time of the year. Summer has arguably the best swell, which peaks in July and August, but visitors can almost always expect crowds at the beach as a result.

The ocean cools down in the fall, but the winds still tend to blow a consistent SW-W offshore and there are plenty of decent southerly swells. Autumn may be the rainy season, but it’s still a decent time to hit the waves, especially since there are fewer visitors.

The southerly swells that characterize summer and fall become smaller and less consistent in the winter, and strong off/side-shore winds can cause upswelling. The water also cools off, and most serious surfers find that it’s not worth the effort of donning a wetsuit to hit unimpressive winter waves.

Spring brings back southerly swells into the beach breaks and reef breaks, but the water will still be chilly and the winds tend to blow stronger. The action starts for real in mid-march as the winds calm down and the swells pick up.

Best-Known Surf Breaks

It’s common for surfers to travel the world looking to hit all the best breaks. People who want to check some boxes off their lists will enjoy exploring the beaches and checking out these well-known surf breaks:

  • Playa Colorado

Panga Drops

Playgrounds

Popoyo

Playa Santana

Playa Maderas

Manzanillo

Coco Loco

The Boom

Most of these beaches are best reserved for serious surfers. Beginners who want to dip their toes in without committing to riding serious waves are better off checking out spots like Aposentillo and Rocky Point.

Why Not Stay a While?

Anyone who has visited the beaches of Nicaragua and gotten to know the local culture will understand why American ex-pats are drawn to the country. Surfers may be competitive about waves, but most appreciate the laid-back lifestyle and gentle cost of living they find on land.

Book a Trip

There’s no wrong time to book a trip to Nicaragua, but summer is the most popular surfing season for a reason. Even during the height of the busy season, the beaches tend not to be too crowded, and surfers of all levels will have an easy time finding the perfect place to hit the waves.