Curious about the different Nicaragua surf seasons? Similar to its neighbors, Nicaragua has a dry season and a rainy season. Both seasons create an array of surf conditions which I will touch more on in this article.
Nicaragua’s growing popularity in the surf world continues to be on the rise. Following a very public ongoing political crisis, more and more surfers have taken the chance to explore this Central American paradise within the last three to five years.
And it’s not difficult to see why- the Nicaraguan coastline is riddled with incredible waves that work year round, stretching all the way from its northern coast all the way down to the south, where it shares a border with Costa Rica.
If you’re planning a surf trip to Nicaragua and wondering where to go- you’ve come to the right place! Here’s our complete guide to the surf seasons in Nicaragua:
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- Surfing in Nicaragua during the dry season
- Surfing in Nicaragua during the rainy season
- How Lake Nicaragua affects the surf
- The best time to surf in Nicaragua
- Where to stay
- Best time to surf Nicaragua- FAQs
- Nicaragua surf season: final thoughts
Surfing in Nicaragua during the dry season
Nicaraguan surf and swell seasons vary each year, however, the dry season usually begins in November and ends towards the middle of April. This is when we get the least amount of rain and more offshore winds blowing off Lake Nicaragua.
Swell usually comes in from the South Pacific Ocean, making the waves much smaller around this time. This is a great surf season for longboarders, beginners, and even intermediate surfers. In fact, Nicaragua is one of the best places for beginner surfers to go in February.
Additionally, if you are hoping to score some barrels, the dry season will be your time to shine! The sandbars created after the rainy season will finally begin to settle, and coupled with favorable winds, will result in makeable barrel sections at most beach breaks.
Though the winds do not affect the shape of the surf much, during the windy season (January-March), they can make it harder and a bit frustrating to get into waves as you are consistently battling against the wind and spraying water.
Wind speeds can get hazardous at times, especially in January. However, you can usually find windows in the morning and afternoon where it mellows out.
Be sure to pack a 1-2mm jacket if you are coming to Nicaragua around this time, as water temps can drop at random, though never cold enough for a full suit.
Best places to surf during the Nicaragua dry season:
This beach break is perfect for beginners and intermediate surfers. It prefers a mid to higher tide and with some size, can create hollow sections for some tube action. On smaller days, it is a perfect forgiving wave for longer boards and less advanced surfers to enjoy.
It’s also one of the top Nicaragua surf spots.
Check out our Playa Maderas surf guide!
A shallow and fast barreling beach break with multiple peaks. It is more suitable for intermediate to experienced surfers as positioning and speed generation is key to surfing this break. Santana prefers a mid to higher tide and is often a go-to spot for locals.
A hollow beach break located within a gated community called Hacienda Iguanas, which can make access a bit difficult unless you are staying there. This wave is fairly sought out by surfers worldwide and known for its quick, hollow sections and consistent barrels. The peak itself is quite shifty so even though this place gets crowded, everyone is usually pretty spread out.
This is a small surf town just North of San Juan Del Sur that offers a variety of surf spots all within a short drive or walk to each other. From quick and hollow beach breaks to soft, protected point breaks; this town has a lot to offer surfers from all levels.
Check out our Playa Popoyo surf guide!
Surfing in Nicaragua during the rainy season
The rainy season months are May to November, although some months see more rain than others. Nicaragua’s rainy season starts out with light morning showers and stronger rains overnight, although the real storms don’t come in until late September/October, which are also known to be hurricane months. Ground swells increase in frequency and size and winds die down almost completely offering glassy and consistent surf. The river mouths begin to open up resulting in the forming of sandbars which usually solidifies the shape of the waves. This is the season Nicaragua attracts more experienced surfers from all over the world which can often mean more crowded, competitive lineups.
Best places to surf Nicaragua during the rainy season:
When the waves are pumping and some of the local spots are too big or closed out, there are a few options that do well with big swells.
is a reef break immediately south of Popoyo Reef. A quick walk from Quasacate or downtown Popoyo, this left-hand peeler works better on higher tides and is usually a lot less crowded than the main reef of Popoyo. It holds a lot of swell and has a large channel next to it making it easy to paddle out when the surf is big.
Lances is another wave that holds big swells really beautifully. A go-to for surf camps when it gets big and only accessible by panga, boat or a long walk from the closest town of Astillero. The long left is set up like a point break. It works well on lower tides and offers a few different take-off points for different levels of surfers. There’s a large channel at the north end of the break giving your arms a little break when the sets roll in.
If you’re a big wave surfer and are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Popoyo Outer Reef is one of the heaviest waves in Nicaragua.
Offering steep take-offs and massive spitting tubes, this wave brings in some of the best surfers from around the world. Most wear helmets and a jacket due to the shallow reef and long hold downs. If you’re looking to surf this wave, make sure you are well-equipped and know what you’re doing; wipeouts can get pretty dangerous and there is not a lot of room for mistakes here.
How Lake Nicaragua affects the surf
Trade winds from the Caribbean consistently blow over Lake Nicaragua and into the Pacific coast creating year-round offshore conditions.
These winds tend to groom the sea instead of making it choppy. They also push against the waves, keeping faces open longer, and is often the best time of the year for barrels.
You can usually surf during all times of the day, not just morning and evening like in other places around the world.
This is a plus when it comes to avoiding crowds, especially during mid-day sun when most people choose not to come out.
The best time to surf in Nicaragua
You can surf in Nicaragua year-round, although the dry season offers fewer, smaller SSW swells (although each year, we get a few solid runs of swell).
This season is perfect for beginners and intermediate surfers who are still finding their groove in the lineup and prefer smaller waves.
The rainy season produces larger, more consistent swells which are usually best for intermediate to advanced surfers.
Every now and then during this time, the waves can get up to 10-15ft in size.
Big Wave Surfing has made its way to Nicaragua during this season as some of the World’s best and bravest fly from all over the world to surf breaks like Outer Reef, which has been coined the Nicaraguan Pipe-line due to its critical take-off section, perfect shape, and shallow bottom.
Where to stay
With a booming surf scene, there are several fantastic options for accommodations on your surf trip to Nicaragua. From surf hostels that cost $10/night to all-inclusive surf resorts and surf camps, Nicaragua has it all!
Here are the best surf camps and surf hotels in Nicaragua:
Best surf camps
⭐️ RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | 📍Playa Maderas | 🌊Availability: Check here!
Dreamsea Surf Camp is an 8 day surf camp includes 10 hours of surf lessons, lunch and dinner, surf theory classes, accommodations in their beautiful surf lodge, two meals a day, and access to all amenities through your stay (surfboards, bar, pool, wifi, etc).
“My partner and I just had the best week at dreamsea -the set up of the camp is beautiful and our private room was super comfortable -the food was absolutely delicious and we loved having family dinner every night -the additional activities are all super fun and allowed us to get really close with our fellow campers -the surf instruction was beneficial and we saw some great improvement in our surfing abilities -the staff are SO KIND -mostly the community that was created was loving and we will miss every person we met.”
-Shon (read more reviews)
⭐️ RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | 📍Leon | 🌊Availability: Check here!
Miramar Surf Camp, located in Leon, offers their guests the opportunity to surf the uncrowded surf breaks in Northern Nicaragua.
The camp includes daily surf equipment and lessons, all meals, accommodation, and transportation from the airport.
Miramar Surf Camp also gives its guests the opportunity to take a few boat trips!
“Everything about my stay at Miramar was incredible, from the decor and art, to the food and company. I was in touch with Brittney throughout my travel to Nicaragua, and everyone on staff made me feel like I was part of the family. Traveling solo the extra support & safety is so essential! I joined other guests on boat trips and dinners, sunset swims & surfs, as well as long morning walks exploring the coastline. The food was healthy and locally-sourced, and my surf instructor Caio was incredibly knowledgable and patient. Grateful for this experience and looking forward to going back.”
-Rachel (read more reviews)
⭐️ RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | 📍San Juan del Sur | 🌊Availability: Check here!
Located in the fun San Juan del Sur surfing area, Costa Dulce retreat is the perfect surf camp for surfers who also love yoga.
The camp includes daily yoga classes, surf lessons, guided jungle hikes, a sweat lodge ceremony, all organic meals included, along with accommodations.
“The location was perfect (semi private beach, lots of areas to hike around, jungle meets beach) The staff makes you feel like family. The food is soooo good. All of the experiences, yoga, surfing, temazcal, jungle hike and spa were more than I hoped for. The private ocean view cabin was worth the extra money 100%. It was really hard to leave actually!”
-Stephanie (read more reviews)
Best surf hostels
⭐️ RATING: 8.8 out of 10 Stars | 📍Leon | 🌊Availability: Check here!
Surfing Turtle is a fun, beachfront surf hostel in Leon, close to excellent Northern Nicaragua surf spots. The hostel has a restaurant, bar, mix of private and affordable dorm rooms, and more.
⭐️ RATING: 8.6 out of 10 Stars | 📍San Juan del Sur | 🌊Availability: Check here!
Hola Ola is a lively surf hostel in San Juan del Sur. If you’re interested in a mix of surfing, partying, and lounging by the pool, this is a great option.
⭐️ RATING: 7.8 out of 10 Stars | 📍Playa Popoyo | 🌊Availability: Check here!
The Barrel Hostel is located right in Popoyo on the beach, just a short 10 minute walk from the Popoyo wave itself. The hostel has a communal kitchen, restaurant, and a very relaxed atmosphere.
Best time to surf Nicaragua- FAQs
What is the best month for surf in Nicaragua?
If you are still determining which season or month to visit, November has been coined one of the most beautiful months to surf in Nicaragua. During this time, the sand bars settle from the rainy season and consistent medium-sized swells begin to show up, which results in beautiful conditions for both advanced and beginner surfers.
Overall, Nicaragua in November is a fantastic place to be for a surf trip.
Nicaragua surf season: final thoughts
Nicaragua’s surf season is year-round. We are blessed to have waves for the majority of the year and a variety of options for all skill levels. The dry season is probably the best time to visit if you are a beginner/intermediate surfer still finding their groove.
If you consider yourself more advanced or even intermediate wanting to push yourself out of your comfort zone, I recommend coming during the rainy season but avoiding late September/October as these tend to bring in the heavy storms.
Either way, you will have a blast! This country is incredible and the surf will make you want to stay forever. As always, be safe, respect the locals, and enjoy!