The Best Surf Spots in Nicaragua

The secret is out: Nicaragua is the new frontier for world-class waves. Swells from South Pacific storms pound Central America from June through September. The shape of Nicaragua’s long, isolated shoreline helps form these pushes of water into perfect overhead barrels.

Most surfers head straight to San Juan del Sur, where lake-generated offshore breezes blow year-round, and many surf shops offer shuttles to nearby beaches, as well as lessons for beginners. There are plenty of breaks to explore up and down the Pacific coastline. Do your research at Nicaragua Surf Report and NicaSurfing.

Surfer near Popoyo, Nicaragua. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.
Surfer near Popoyo. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Best Surf Spots

  • Popoyo: You can’t come to Nicaragua without hitting the Popoyo break on Playa Sardinas. It’s great for all skill levels but can get crowded. Near Popoyo is the Outer Reef break, which has huge waves dependent on the swell coming in. Base yourself in Guasacate for easy access.
  • Santana: Find consistent but crowded waves at Playa Santana. Stay in Jiquilite.
  • Colorado: Get barreled at this private beach near San Juan del Sur. Be warned: it gets crowded. The Panga Drops break is at the north end of the beach. Stay at Hacienda Iguana.
  • San Diego: This surf spot is in front of the Gran Pacifica Resort complex, one hour from Managua. You can park in the community outside of the resort, and walk five minutes to the beach.
  • El Astillero: The beach in this small fishing village isn’t frequently visited. Stay in El Astillero or drive up from Guasacate and park your 4WD right in front of the wave.
  • Hermosa: This mile-long beach south of San Juan del Sur doesn’t get too crowded. Rent a boat to access the best waves.

Surf Camps

If you’re looking to explore the north coast, Rise Up Surf in Chinandega offers fully guided surf tour packages to Nicaragua’s central and northwest Pacific coast. Women surfers check out ChicaBrava based in San Juan del Sur, the first all-girls surf camp in the country. The second is pro-surfer Holly Beck’s Surf With Amigas on the northern coast.

Surfboards stacked in the grass near the beach at Amigas Surf Retreat in Nicaragua.
Loaner boards waiting and ready to go for women at Surf with Amigas. Check out more photos on their Instagram: surfwithamigas.
Maps - Nicaragua 6e - Nicaragua regional

Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Nicaragua.