The 6 Best Beginner Surf Beaches in Nicaragua
Last Updated: 14 June 2020
If you’re just learning the ropes when it comes to surfing, Nicaragua is most definitely a must-visit destination. The waves on a whole are incredibly beginner-friendly, the cost of living for many westerners is relatively affordable and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to meet likeminded people.
While it may not be as popular as Costa Rica in terms of surf tourism, Nicaragua is definitely no slouch when it comes to quality waves and unbelievable weather. Complete with wide-open beaches, great local beers and a friendly vibe that’ll appeal to just about any keen surfer with saltwater in their veins.
We’ve put together this handy guide to help you find where the best beginner surf beaches in Nicaragua are located including some information that you might find useful in case you’ve never been to Central America before.
What’s it like to surf in Nicaragua?
The Pacific Coast is the dominant coastline for waves, with the best time of the year for swell is undoubtedly from March to September. Truth be told though, Nicaragua is spoiled when it comes to surfing conditions. There’s pretty much always a wave if you’re only a beginner and the wind blows offshore over 330 days of the year.
If boardshorts or a bikini is your preferred surfing attire, you’ll be pleased to know the ocean temps here never drop below the mid-twenties. As is the case with every country located close to the equator, the air temps also oscillate between a balmy 26˚C and a scorching 31˚c depending on the time of year. This means casual clothing is the way to go and sunscreen will become somewhat of a second skin.
Should I buy, rent or bring a surfboard?
You can either buy a surfboard in one of Nicaragua’s surf towns such as San Juan Del Sur then sell it again if you don’t want to take it home, rent one from us at the Rapture surf camp at Maderas or bring your own sleds on the flight over – the choice is entirely yours. Our advice to beginners though is to save some money for surf lessons or flat-day activities and simply use the boards at our camp.
We have longboards, twin fins and shortboards with extra volume where it counts that’ll help you catch plenty of waves when the swell is up. The best thing about this is that you can chop and change as the conditions swing or try a surfboard that might be completely different from what you normally ride.
If you’re an advanced level surfer who prefers to bring their own board or boards, we suggest packing a performance stick plus something fun to ride for the smaller days. Note that you’ll be subject to oversized baggage fees for bringing your own surfboard on flights to and from Nicaragua. You can also only get away with bringing up to 3 surfboards into Nicaragua for personal use, with additional boards tagged as imports, meaning customs will slap on a fee of $100 US per board.
What should I take with me on a surf trip to Nicaragua?
As we’ve already mentioned, the sun here could melt a steel girder on the hotter days of the year. To ensure you don’t spend the duration of your vacation hiding in the shade or bandaging third-degree sunburns, pack a couple of bottles of 50+ sunscreen.
A rash vest or a sunhat you can wear in the water will also serve you well. As will bug spray, tropical water wax and some type of antiseptic lotion for small cuts. An extra pair of fins and a legrope if you’re bringing your own surfboard or surfboards won’t go astray either.
Even bringing along some surf magazines is a great idea, given that you can share them around our surf camp at Maderas or give them to some of the local grommets as a gift.
If you’re planning to explore the country and surf on your own, before you book your flight, have a look at our list of the 10 items you shouldn’t leave home without.
Which are some of Nicaragua’s best surf beaches for beginners?Here are the best surf spots for beginners in Nicaragua:
#1 Playa Maderas
- Pros: Close to our surf camp, waves for all skill levels, three beach bars
- Cons: Can get crowded, stingrays
Located only a 15-minute walk from our surf camp in Nicaragua, Playa Maderas is the bee’s knees for surfers of all skill levels. For this reason, it’s considered one of the more popular surf beaches in Nicaragua. With friendly rollers close to shore that are perfect for those just learning to stand up. In addition to multiple peaks out the back plus a lefthander that sometimes breaks off the rocks for more experienced wave riders to enjoy. We reckon you’ll spend a lot of time here when you stay with us, ether surfing the awesome beachbreak waves or enjoy some cold beers at one of its three beach bars.
2# Playa Hermosa
- Pros: Somewhat secluded, waves for all skill levels, laidback vibe, wide-open beach
- Cons: So pretty you’ll never want to leave, the road in can be a little bit sketchy after heavy rain
Hermosa is the Spanish word for beautiful, which is a fair indication of what this surf beach in Nicaragua looks like. Long, wide and with scenery that’ll have your chin hanging somewhere around your knees, Playa Hermosa is one of those rare beaches that never ceases to amaze. Oh… and the waves aren’t half bad either. Smaller days will see gentle peelers running left and right near the shore, while bigger days will deliver tubing waves up and down the beach.
3# Playa Remanso
- Pros: Close to town, lots of peaks to choose from, righthand pointbreak in bigger swells
- Cons: Close to town, lack of beach on high tide
Playa Remanso might be considered the perfect surf beach for beginners in Nicaragua. The reason being that there’s plenty of peaks to choose from which means you can always find a spot away from the crowds. It also picks up a lot of swell, making it’s worth a look when everywhere else is flat. Scenic, manageable and great if you don’t feel like hunting for waves too far out of town, we recommend visiting Playa Remanso at least once while you’re staying at our surf camp at Maderas.
#4 Playa Santana
- Pros: Different breaks for different skill levels, scenic location, consistent
- Cons: Resort right on the beach, can get crowded
This predominately lefthand wedge is one of the better-quality beginner surf beaches in all of Nicaragua. In addition to being a playful beachbreak, Playa Santana is also nearby Popoyo, Playa Rosada and Outer Reef. This means you can find more challenging waves as your skills progress. As for the location, it’s a stunning beach in a bucolic area with rocky outcrops at either end, which gives it a feeling of raw remoteness… despite the resort that’s located smack bank on the shore.
#5 Playa Colorado
- Pros: World-class wave, consistent, private
- Cons: Somewhat overdeveloped, can be dangerous for true beginners
The secret is out – Playa Colorado is a heaving wave that tubes regularly and works from waist high up until well overhead. Of course, this means it’s far from one of the best beginner surf beaches in Nicaragua. We’ve included it on here for the sole reason that it’s good to have something to aim for if you’re a novice. These days, Playa Colorado is accessible only by boat or by people staying at the nearby Hacienda Iguana, so crowds are kept relatively tame. Not exactly a place for budget travelers, but keep it in the memory bank for when you start learning how to ride the barrel.
6# Playa Amarilla
- Pros: Gentle waves, relatively uncrowded, beautiful scenery
- Cons: The nearby town of El Gigante is expensive, rips
Located just north of El Gigante and south of Playa Colorado, Playa Amarilla is a learner surfers dream. With clear waters, lefts and rights that break over a sand bottom plus verdant forest that runs all the way to the sand. Given its proximity to Playa Colorado, you’ll most likely never have to contend for waves with more experienced surfers. That being said, El Gigante is a popular place for tourists, which means it often attracts a small crowd when it working. Since the beach is quite long with multiple peaks though, you should be able to find your own sandbank to surf on. Can be surfed on all tides, however, it’s better on the mid-tide going high.
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