Curious about the best surf spots in Nicaragua? We’ve got you covered!
Nicaragua is one of the top surf destinations in the world, with world-class surf practically year-round, affordable accommodation, delicious local food, laid-back locals, and warm water. You’re most likely not going to want to ever leave.
I initially came to Nicaragua to work for a few months before settling down in Costa Rica. Upon getting here and slowly falling in love with the surf, way of life, and people, I began extending my stay time after time until finally coming to terms with the fact that I wanted to stay indefinitely.
Although I haven’t surfed every break on this list (yet), I’ve confided in friends and locals (better than any google search) who have, and will give you a breakdown of all of the information I’ve gathered from what I believe are the top 7 best surf breaks in Nicaragua!
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1. The Boom
Located in Northern Nicaragua. It is 45 minutes from the city of Chinandega and has been known to be one of the most popular surf spots in Nicaragua. It was pioneered back in the late 1990s by an expat surfer from Miami who later founded the only resort located directly at the break, Chancletas.
This is a hollow A-frame beach break wave that breaks close to shore, doesn’t need much swell to work, and from what I’ve heard, it’s almost hard not to get barreled (even for the average surfer).
The consistency of this wave brings in surfers from all over the world, but if you time it right, the crowd factor is pretty moderate and you can often find yourself scoring with only a few other people in the water.
Unlike southern Nicaraguan surf spots, The Boom works best on mid to high tides and usually goes onshore in the afternoons, so it’s best to surf it in the mornings before the winds kick in. If you’re an advanced surfer and you’re looking for a tube into an air section, you may find yourself surfing in the afternoons anyways.
The Boom isn’t the only wave to surf in the immediate vicinity, Powder Puffs is located just south, and Coconuts to the north. There’s not much else to do in the area besides fish and explore due to the remote location of the wave, but after getting some of the best waves of your life, you may just want to kick back and relax anyways!
2. Lance’s Left
This is a go-to left-hand point break when the swells get big. Accessible by boat or walk from the local town of Astillero, this rippable wave works best on lower to mid tides and offers consistent 300+ yard rides.
It’s a popular break for surf camps and is best suited for intermediate to advanced surfers when it gets pumping due to the sharp reef bottom and prominent sea urchin population. Big waves (10+ ft) can also bring surging currents which require having some solid paddle strength to get through.
I suggest getting a few friends together and taking a panga from Astillero which will set you back a total of about $80 bucks. If you have your own transportation, you can usually park at the local restaurant for $5, but be careful leaving things in your car as petty theft is a thing here.
The small fishing town has a few spots to eat and grab snacks/beer, but most people stay in the nearby towns of Guasacate or Popoyo. If you decide against the boat, make sure you bring sandals for the walk as the black sand will burn your toes off!
3. Popoyo Reef
Located in southern Nicaragua, just north of San Juan Del Sur, lies Popoyo, one of the most consistent waves in Nicaragua. Popoyo is Nicaragua’s trestles, a reef break with a large channel to the south that works best on mid tides and offers long left and rights.
With offshore winds that blow 300+ days out of the year, you can surf this wave anytime during the day until the tide gets too low or too high.
It’s best suited for intermediate to advanced surfers as crowds can get pretty aggressive and you may have to battle other tourists and locals to get waves, although I have scored some really fun sessions here mid-day when the sun is blazing and people prefer to stay in the shade. Just be sure to hydrate, pack on that sunscreen and cover up a bit with a shirt or surf hat if you’re looking for a mid-day sesh.
There is tons to do in the surrounding area such as dining at delicious beachfront restaurants, renting motos and cruising around, enjoying the hot springs in the evenings, skating the bowl in Guasacate (a short walk north of the break), or cruising to one of the local fiestas at night.
If you’re looking for a place to stay close to the break, Guasacate is probably the closest and most affordable spot to stay in. You can also stay in Downtown Popoyo, which is a longer walk away from Popoyo Reef but has access to other breaks like Santana and Beginners Bay if you want to add variety to your surf trip.
4. Beginner’s Bay- Best surf spot in Nicaragua for beginners
Walk south down the beach from Popoyo Reef, and you will find a friendly, rock-bottom point break. Perfect for longboarding or for beginner to intermediate surfers, Beginners Bay is probably the most mellow wave within Southern Nicaragua on this list.
This spot has a right that works best on lower tides and a left off the point that works around mid to higher tides, making it surfable throughout the day!
This is my favorite wave to longboard, although it is important to be mindful of the rocky reef below you and make sure you’re good at re-directing and surfing around people as many are catching their very first waves.
The Bay sits in between Guasacate and Downtown Popoyo, so there’s plenty to do and plenty of places to stay within proximity. If you are learning to surf and don’t have a surfboard, you can rent one from the surf tent situated directly on the beach at the bay! They also offer lessons and will help you navigate the lineup.
5. Playa Santana
Down the beach from Beginner’s Bay lies yet another beach break called Santana, another of the best surf spots in Nicaragua. A quick, barreling break offering different A-frame peaks that love a mid to higher tide. When there isn’t a ton of swell in the water, Santana is the perfect spot to go as the wave starts small and builds to double the size quickly, often throwing tubes and allowing for fun, rampy air sections.
When it gets big, it usually closes out pretty quickly and is not super rideable, but you will usually still see a few locals or more advanced surfers out there hunting down corners.
It can be a finicky wave but when it works, it works well; especially when the river mouths open up and shape the sandbars to perfection. Make sure you know how to read waves well, get to your feet quickly, and can generate speed or you will get tossed over the falls more times than you would want.
Santana sits at the north end of Rancho Santana, one of the most luxurious gated housing developments in Nicaragua. In my opinion, this spot is super pricy and doesn’t reflect Nicaragua’s natural charm. I always recommend folks to stay somewhere in downtown Popoyo so you can experience the laid-back vibe of the town while also enjoying quality accommodation.
Just south of Playa Santana, located in front of Hacienda Iguana’s private beachfront, lies the popular break of Colorados, another of the best surf spots in Nicaragua. A punchy and hollow beach break that works best on South West swells and brings in hundreds of tourists from all over the world, usually from April to September when the swells are most consistent.
The only way to access this wave is to either stay in Hacienda Iguana, take a boat, or make the long rocky walk from Santana Beach. This wave is more suitable for intermediate and advanced surfers as it can get heavy on bigger swells. It’s best to bring an extra board or two just in case.
The wave offers some of the best left and right barrels in Nicaragua and is surfable on most tides, but can get a little dumpy and sketchy on lower tides.
The Hacienda Iguana Golf and Beach Resort is one of the fancier areas in Nicaragua, a gated community with its own restaurants, shops, and golf course. It’s often referred to as the “Newport Beach” of Nicaragua and is often flooded with frothing groms who don’t really like to share waves.
If you want to score this wave without the boats or crowds, it’s best to stay inside the gated community so you can keep your eyes on it and hop in on your own time.
If Colorados is too heavy for you, or you’re looking to dodge the crowd, you can always check out Panga Drops at the north end of the beach.
7. Playa Maderas
Playa Maderas is a small, remote, “boho” beach community 25 minutes from San Juan Del Sur. It is located down a rocky dirt road which is only accessible by your own wheels, taxi or the $5 shuttle bus.
Maderas is filled with backpackers, digital nomads, and, of course, surfers. Many people take day trips to Maderas, as there isn’t a whole lot to do there except surf and chill.
There are plenty of places to stay and eat, but due to the secluded location, the prices are a bit higher than staying in San Juan Del Sur. If you want to save some bucks and enjoy nightlife, shopping and have all-around more options, I suggest staying in SJDS and taking the shuttle or taxi in for a day trip.
As far as the surf in Playa Maderas goes, this is a great place for all levels of surfers as the waves are friendly with unintimidating sandy bottoms. You can rent boards here, take surf lessons, or just hang out in nature and sip on some Toñas from the local beach bars.
When it’s small you won’t find many advanced surfers wanting to head to Madera’s for the surf due to the mellow waves and crowded lineups, unless they are just looking to kick back and relax on one of the most beautiful beaches Nicaragua has to offer.
When bigger swells hit, however, Maderas becomes a favored destination for advanced surfers as the gentle A-frame can get heavy and sometimes even throw some makeable barrel sections! Big days also usually tend to dissolve the crowd factor a bit, which is a plus if you can navigate heavier surf.
With its consistent waves, and excellent shape, Playa Maderas is easily one of the best surf spots in Nicaragua.
Best Surf Spots in Nicaragua FAQS
Where is the most consistent surf spot in Nicaragua?
The crown jewel of consistent Nicaraguan surf has to be Popoyo. This renowned spot boasts consistent waves throughout the year thanks to its location in the southern part of the country, catching both northern and southern swells.
With both a left and right break, both the goofy-footed surfers and the regular riders will be stoked here.
Does Nicaragua have good surfing?
Absolutely, Nicaragua has some of the best surf in the world. Blessed with consistent offshore winds due to Lake Nicaragua, the country offers excellent wave conditions throughout most of the year.
It’s renowned for its warm water, and world-class surf spots such as Popoyo, The Boom, and Colorado. Whether you’re into point breaks, beach breaks, or reef breaks, you’ll find a variety of wave options to choose from. If you’re on a budget, Nicaragua is fantastic because it’s also one of the cheapest surf destinations in the world.
What is the best time to surf in Nicaragua?
The great thing about surfing in Nicaragua is that there’s rarely a bad time. The surf is pretty consistent year-round, but if you’re looking to catch the biggest swells, you’ll want to visit between May and October. This is the rainy season when the southern swells are at their peak, providing spectacular waves.
Don’t worry too much about the “rainy” part though – showers tend to be brief and often happen in the late afternoon or evening, so your surfing schedule won’t be heavily disrupted.
Check out our guide to the Nicaragua surf seasons for more info about the best time to surf in Nicaragua.
Is Nicaragua surf crowded?
While Nicaragua’s surf scene has been growing, it’s still less crowded compared to popular surf destinations like Hawaii or Australia.
Some of the more famous spots like Popoyo or surf spots around San Juan Del Sur can get busy, especially in peak season, but there are plenty of off-the-beaten-track spots where you can find uncrowded waves. It’s all part of the adventure and charm of surfing in Nicaragua!
Best Nicaragua Surf Spots: Final Thoughts
If you’re planning a surf trip to Nicaragua, you will have a wonderful time! It is a beautiful country that is nearly untouched with some of the best and most consistent surf in the world.
The locals are kind and helpful, and will welcome you with open arms as long as you respect them in the water. Make sure to bring sunscreen, wax and a leash, and get ready for the trip of a lifetime!