Somewhere in Nicaragua lies one of the most perfect barrelling A-frame beach breaks that I have ever laid my eyes upon. Beautiful but yet unforgiving this break is definitely not for the feint of heart. This short yet powerful wave will often push your barrel riding expertise and the strength of your board to it's limit. Numerous sand thumping A-frame peaks slab randomly up and down this beach for hundreds of meters and this break is often likened by many a surfer to Straddie on the Gold Coast of Australia, Hossegor in France and even a smaller and more perfect version of Puerto Escondido in Mexico. [Continued below]
Thick lipped barrels often throwing as wide as they are high break unforgivingly in waist deep warm tropical Central American waters. Shit I even had one friend snap his board in half mid duck dive before he had caught his first wave of the trip. Do you prefer lefts or rights? Well quite frankly here it doesn't really matter as taking off on these short slabby peaks you can get barreled any way you like and if you are lucky you can even finish the wave with a punchy air section thrown in for good measure.
If the wave is maybe a tad bit to challenging for your liking then there is a more mellow point break and many more sheltered yet fun beaches in the area. There are potential for many more spots in this region as the coastline here is virtually littered with numerous offshore bommie reefs that could potentially fire on their day.
This spot often goes under the radar as it is overshadowed by it's more Southern counterparts. The main reasons for this lack of fame and crowds is largely down to the fact that the region is not subject to the all day favourable off-shores experienced in the South of Nicaragua and the wave itself tends to max out on larger swells. Yet any surfer worth his salt will most likely know of this wave and it's location but I will not be disclosing the location of this gem in order to keep crowds to a minimum suffice to say if you find a small fishing village and a Portuguese fisherman then you have most likely have found your wave.
I arrived here towards the end of the peak season and never had a surf session with more than 12 people in the water and I often had the heavier banks with only myself and a few friends out scoring spitting tube after spitting tube. However, I have been told that in peak season this is rarely the case with the low crowd numbers although the break still manages to attract less than a fraction of the more well known southern surf spots.
The wave is dominated by a small crew of hardcore skilled local surfers who are highly competitive but yet are still humble and extremely respectful in the water. They exhibit great water etiquette and while at times it can prove difficult to get a wave off them but still drop-ins and snaking are not common place which is unfortunately not so much the case in the South of the country. [Continued below]
This spot is surf photographers dream. With the stunning sunrises, perfect morning light and early morning off-shores grooming these flawless barrels your photographic opportunities are endless. I would always take my camera and my board down to the beach and I often found myself in a predicament of which tool I would use. Would I surf perfect slabbing pits or would I swim out and shoot them? I would usually find myself shooting for the first 90 minutes then burying my water-housing in the sand and surfing for the rest of the morning until the onshore sea-breeze would undoubtedly kick in like clock work at midday.
My usual daily routine would consist of waking up at 5am followed by a brisk ten minute walk along wet muddy tracks through villages and forests while doing my best to avoid constant onslaughts from aggressive stray dogs, gigantic mosquitoes and even on the odd occasion ferocious roosters and frenzied pigs all in an attempt to arrive at the spot before the sun had even begun to rise. I would then proceed to surf and shoot photos for the next 3-5 hours until the onshore sea-breeze would kick-in forcing me run the wild yet cliché Central American gauntlet once again in order to return to my accommodation.
The rest of my day would usually consist of a large, very large lunch followed by a long, very long power nap, photo editing, a large jalapeño chicken dinner accompanied by a Gallo Cervezas or two or three before hitting the sack at 9pm in order to repeat the exact same schedule for the next day. A surfer's version of groundhog day. Surf, Eat, Sleep, Repeat! Bliss! [Continued below]
To be honest outside of surfing there is virtually nothing to do when the waves are bad as it is a relatively isolated and undeveloped area (although this is most likely to change over the next ten years or so). Your best bets for alternative entertainment are fishing, romantic walks along the beach or just getting out of the area for a few days in order to keep yourself entertained and sane before cabin fever kicks in.
Nicaragua is a truly beautiful country and there are some truly stunning volcanoes little less than 2hrs drive away to hike or even volcano board if you so wish but maybe make sure you have good travel insurance maybe before trying the later.
While one of Nicaragua's most interesting and historic Spanish colonial cities in Leon is also within driving distance and this historic town is definitely worth a day or two of your time. My advice is to make your visit to the area not only surf orientated but when the waves are bad take some time out for cultural and natural pursuits...you will be all the richer for it. [Continued below]
Looking for a cheap warm water winter escape? If you like fast, heavy barrels, warm water and limited crowds in a beautiful, safe and cheap country with an interesting culture then Nicaragua might just be what you are looking for. I had a truly amazing time during my three months there and as you can see I scored more than my fair share of pumping waves. What are you waiting for? Get those flights booked pronto!