Known to be one of Nicaragua’s most precious gems, the Playa Maderas surf break has gone from being a mere day-trip spot for surfers and beach-goers who are staying in San Juan Del Sur, to a sole travel destination.
With numerous trendy hostels, restaurants, and surf camps popping up along its breathtaking coast, this spot continues to attract a variety of surfers.
Aside from the town itself, Maderas is home to a renowned beach break for the more intermediate/advanced surfer with a reform section on the inside that is perfect for beginners and first-timers.
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Are you planning a last minute surf trip to Playa Maderas?
If you’re planning a last minute surf trip to Playa Maderas, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best surf hotels, surf camps, and more!
Best surf hotels in Playa Maderas
- Buena Vista Surf Club (Only an 8 minute walk to the beach)
- Hush Maderas
- Hostel Clandestino (Affordable Playa Maderas surf hotel)
Best surf camps in Playa Maderas
- Dreamsea Surf Camp (beautiful surf camp for all levels, breakfast, dinner, yoga included)
Want to learn to surf in Playa Maderas? Click here to book the best surf lessons in Playa Maderas!
Need a car to explore all the surrounding surf breaks? Click here to check best car rental rates in Playa Maderas! Or, skip the car and book a shuttle to Playa Maderas, especially if you’re visiting in the rainy season when the roads are bad.
The best tours and activities for when you’re not surfing
How to get to Playa Maderas
Whether you are traveling from the Costa Rica Border or from Northern Nicaragua, you will need to make sure your form of transport is 4 x 4. Although it is a beautiful drive through the raw Nicaraguan jungle, it is also a rugged dirt road which, during the rainy season, can get quite muddy and swampy. Also, certain hostels will be more difficult to get to than others, so be sure to do some research on this before booking your transport or ask for 4 x 4 as a preventative method.
Getting to Playa Maderas by bus
If you are coming in from anywhere in Northern Nicaragua, you can take the bus to Rivas, then hop on the next bus to San Juan Del Sur. If you are coming in from the Costa Rica Border, you can also take the bus directly to SJDS.
Once you arrive, I highly recommend doing a pitstop in town to get groceries, alcohol, etc. because prices are going to be much lower here than in Maderas.
Once you arrive in San Juan Del Sur, you will have a few options on getting to Maderas.
You can take one of the public shuttles (usually around $3 one way or $5 round trip) or book your own private shuttle through one of the hostels/hotels. You can also get a taxi anywhere around town which will cost around $15 and will take you directly there, just make sure the car is equipped for the road situation I mentioned earlier.
Lastly, you can rent a moto and return it at the end of your trip, though I recommend doing this if you have experience riding motorcycles for safety reasons due to road conditions.
Playa Maderas Surf Overview
Playa Maderas is one of the most popular surf spots near San Juan del Sur. Here’s everything you need to know:
Playa Maderas is home to a solid A-frame beachbreak. It is best around mid to higher tides and is a great wave for beginners and intermediate surfers when there is not much size, which usually coincides with the dry season (December-May). This is also when crowds are most prominent, so be sure to prepare for that.
The rainy season (May-November) usually brings in consistent groundswells which result in a more powerful, rippable A-frame wave for the more experienced surfers.
Even when it is bigger, Maderas has a fun reform section on the inside that is perfect for catching your first few waves and getting the basics dialed before paddling all the way out.
Where to stay for a Playa Maderas surf trip
⭐️ RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | 💸 Cost: $$$ | 🌊Availability: Check here!
The Dreamsea Surf Camp is an 8-day Surf Camp located in San Juan Del Surf and includes just about anything you could need if you are looking to focus on improving your surfing and meet likeminded folks along the way. The base rates include two meals a day, daily surf theory,
10 hours of surf lessons, 3 hours of yoga classes, access to all amenities (board rentals, wifi, pool, bar, etc.) all throughout your 7 night stay. Rates range from $300-$1,200/week depending on room occupancy and privacy.
“My partner and I just had the best week at Dreamsea -the set up of the camp is beautiful and our private room was super comfortable -the food was absolutely delicious and we loved having family dinner every night -the additional activities are all super fun and allowed us to get really close with our fellow campers -the surf instruction was beneficial and we saw some great improvement in our surfing abilities -the staff are SO KIND -mostly the community that was created was loving and we will miss every person we met.”
-Shon (read more reviews)
⭐️ RATING: 9.2 out of 10 Stars | 💸 Cost: $$ | 🌊Availability: Check here!
Buena Vista Surf Club is a secluded eco-lodge tucked away in the Nicaraguan jungle. You will have access to wifi, free parking, and free breakfast as a part of your nightly rate.
It is located on a hill above Playa Maderas, making it the perfect spot to enjoy those ever-so-magical Nicaraguan sunsets.
It is also conveniently located a short 8 minute walk (downhill) from the beach. Rates are within $130-$200/night, which is definitely on the more expensive side, but worth it if it is within your budget. You have the option to rent boards and purchase surf lessons onsite, which is also quite convenient.
“Beautifully located, relaxed yet luxurious property 5 minutes walk from playa maderas. Breakfast was amazing and enjoyed the options of family dinner, yoga and a great surf lesson. The wildlife on the property was amazing.“
-Tom (read more reviews)
⭐️ RATING: 8.3 out of 10 Stars | 💸 Cost: $ | 🌊Availability: Check here!
Hush is yet another surf lodge located on the hills that lie above the main Maderas surf break, making it accessible by foot.
The rooms are absolutely beautiful and there is an infinity pool that extends into the horizon and faces the sea.
They offer surf lessons and other activities (snorkeling, yoga, horseback riding, etc.) I would say this place has some of the best rates for the quality of accommodation you’ll be getting ($35-80/night), and they include a delicious continental breakfast for the entirety of your stay!
“Amazing place with the most beautiful views and sunset of the area. The stay was very deluxe and the dorm is an option with a very good value for the price. Staff was lovely and helpful and there was a broad variety of food and drinks.“
-Jimena (read more reviews)
⭐️ RATING: 9.2 out of 10 Stars | 💸 Cost: $ | 🌊Availability: Check here!
If you want to maximize your surf experience, Hotel Clandestino is for you! Aside from free wifi, a shared kitchen, and garden views, they’ve got a number of unique amenities that, I believe, stand them out from neighboring hostels.
For example, there is a fully equipped surf skate bowl on the property that guests are free to use at any time. Each cabin is built differently from the next and they’ve even got a vintage VW bus you can stay in as one of the room options!
While they do not offer board rentals or surf lessons, it is stated on their website that they are happy to set you up with a local surf school or camp on the beach. I would recommend this place for more independent surfers that are comfortable paddling out and catching waves on their own as well as traveling with their own equipment.
“Amazing place! we had to prolong our stay several times because we couldn’t leave. best thing about it for us was the beautiful open kitchen overlooking the jungle. It’s super spacious and welcoming, and everyone just sort of hangs out there. makes it a really good hostel to socialise. great yoga deck from which you often can see monkeys playing in the tree tops.”
-Rachel (read more reviews)
⭐️ RATING: 8.0 out of 10 Stars | 💸 Cost: $$ | 🌊Availability: Check here!
Selina Hostels are well known across the globe as a trendy high-end hostel chain that tends to attract digital nomads. This particular Selina location has free reliable wifi, a large pool area + volleyball net, AC in most rooms, and a beautiful yoga pallapa to recharge in between surfs. Prices for this Playa Maderas surf hostel vary depending on dates but is very affordable and has a lot of options in terms of surf lessons, transportation, rentals, etc.
“The place looks amazing, feels more like a resort than hostel. Rooms are nice. I got a free upgrade to a smaller female dorm. Kitchen is available with all equipment. Location to Playa Maderas, to surf, is great. Free yoga every morning. Good internet to work”
– Ellen (read more reviews)
Best swell(s) for Playa Maderas:
The best swells for this area will be the SSW swells coming from storms and hurricanes in the Caribbean which tend to show up most consistently during the rainy season. The dry season will bring shorter periods and less size, while the rainy season will do the opposite-long periods (up to 25 seconds), and consistent size.
Playa Maderas surf seasons
Dry Season (December-May): If you consider yourself a beginner surfer or simply prefer riding smaller waves, the dry season will be more suitable for you! This is when size tends to be smaller, although there are always a few exceptions, and more manageable. Additionally, this season goes hand in hand with the windy season, so be sure to prepare for some howling offshores.
Rainy Season: (May-November): Nicaragua’s rainy season brings some of the best consistent groundswells from the north. If you are hoping to score some bigger surf, I would definitely come within this window. The only downside is that the wind can switch to onshore randomly throughout the day, though it is not common and only happens a few times a year.
For more information on what the surf in Nicaragua is like each season, check out our ultimate guide to the Nicaragua surf seasons.
Playa Maderas FAQ’s
Is Playa Maderas safe?
Nicaragua continues to have a bad rep following the recent political crisis and the socioeconomic state of the country. However, recent research has shown that Nicaragua is actually one of the safest countries in Central America, holding a lower crime rate than Costa Rica, Panama, and other neighbors.
You also can hardly feel any presence of this unrest in coastal towns as they tend to fester around main cities. I have lived here for a little under a year and visited several times before that and have never had any sort of negative interaction with a local.
People here are quite wonderful; they help tourists out selflessly and are incredibly kind. Although there will always be those rotten apples of course. So, just be sure you are making safe calls.
Beware of your surroundings, try not to drive too late at night, etc. The same precautions you would take in your hometown!
Is Playa Maderas a good surf spot for beginners?
As long as there is not a lot of swell in the water, Playa Maderas is the perfect A-frame for beginners to start or continue their surfing journey. When it gets bigger, I would always recommend sticking to the white water or reform sections on higher tides.
Playa Maderas surf guide- final thoughts
To wrap things up, Playa Maderas is a rad up and coming destinations for surfers from all around the world. Wherever you find yourself in terms of surf experience, you can enjoy this affordable surf spot as long as you come at the right time!
The town is alive and filled with community and surf culture, which will add value to your experience and sometimes make you not want to go home.