What if I told you there was a region that experienced a constant onslaught of swell and all day offshores for 300 days of the year? Sounds to good to be true? Feeling skeptical? Well my friend welcome to Southern Nicaragua. Welcome to the promised land and welcome to perhaps the holy grail of surfing regions. I'm sure you will enjoy your stay. [Continued below]
From March to October of each year Nica is in the direct firing line of the large and consistent swells that march up the Pacific coast from Chile in South America all the way to Mexico in the north of Central America. There is by no means any shortage of swell here to say the least. These bountiful swells arrive on the shores of Nicaragua perfectly groomed by all day offshore winds generated by the Great Lakes of Nicaragua. When I say great lakes I mean it as any lake large enough to fit a big island housing two large volcanoes has to be pretty damn big right? Basically the lakes attract the Papagayo NE/E trade winds that blow in the adjacent Caribbean Sea and almost magically draws the winds across Nicaragua to blow offshore towards the Pacific Coast. Thus generating the all day offshore winds of which Southern Nicaragua is famed for. A strange but yet highly beneficial phenomenon indeed. [Continued below]
In this blessed region you do not have a shortage of world class surf spots to choose from. Whether you like perfect sand thumping beachbreaks, sucky reefs, long point breaks or heaving offshore bombies....there is definitely a wave for everyone's tastes in this region. The more notable spots include the likes of the mini Puerto Escondido esque Playa Coloradas, Popoyo reef, Lance's Left and the left hand pointbreaks in the Puerto Sandino/Miramar region.
There are a host of other spots in the region that absolutely fire on their day and predominately go under the radar here but hey I aim to keep it that way so go do some research for yourself and you just might score some epic waves with only you and your friends for company. As they say fortune favours the brave. [Continued below]
Perfect pumping waves, constant swells and all day offshores? When things almost seem to good to be true then they usually are. So what is the catch I hear you say? Well the catch is that the word on the surf in Southern Nicaragua has been out for a long time now, someone let the cat out of the bag many, many moons ago. In recent times a large array of surfers from around the globe flock to this blessed region in order to take advantage of the ridiculously perfect surfing conditions on offer. During the peak surf seasons these popular spots can be stupidly crowded at times....but hey can you really blame people for wanting their slice of the juicy Nicaraguan surf pie?
However, if you are patient and respectful you should still be able to get more than you fair share of waves especially when the conditions really turn on and the waves get a little more serious/heavy. My best tip is to hit the waves on first light whenever possible as people can get a little lazy here due to all day offshores and often enter the water an hour or two after the sun has risen. So if you are an early bird then this means many, many more worms..uh waves for you. Also monitoring the crowds and choosing to enter that water once the crowds start to thin a little is another good tactic to maximise your wave quota. [Continued below]
In regards to accommodation there are plenty of options in the regions to suit everyone's tastes and budgets ranging from all inclusive surf resorts, holiday homes, cabanas and backpacker hostels. The majority of accommodation is located at Playa Guasacate, Playa Gigante or in the exclusive walled town housing Playa Coloradas. While in the Popoyo region I stayed at the Barrel Hostel which offered affordable, clean and friendly facilities right on Playa Guasacate and less than five minutes walk from Popoyo beach, a good central location. While further North AST Adventures (www.astadventures.com) and the ThunderBomb Surf Camp (www.thunderbombsurf.com) offer great accommodation options further afield. [Continued below]
In regards to visiting Nicaragua for surf and travel; well the former turbulent country has left the horrors of it's Civil War well behind it and now boasts the reputation as being the safest country in Central America. However, while violent crime is highly uncommon unfortunately petty theft is common place here and also the Capital of Managua is best avoided if possible.
Nicaragua is rapidly emerging as one of the most popular tourist locations in the Central Americas especially among traveling surfers and a young backpacking crowd. And why not with the abundance of world class surf, a strong adventure tourism market, low costs of living and being a country that is relatively small, safe and easy to negate. The forementioned are all highly favourable factors that are strongly contributing to Nicaragua's rapid rise on the world travel scene. Whats not to love in a country where you can spend the morning surfing and the afternoon hiking stunning volcanoes or exploring vast lakes?
Furthermore, in the very South of Nicaragua lies the infamous party town of San Juan Del Sur where scores of young backpackers from across the globe flock by the thousands to get their party on. If partying with thousands of gringos and virtually no locals is your scene then this place is definitely for you although I personally kept as far away from this scene as possible. Maybe I am just getting to old? Saying that you can definitely have a lot of fun here and it is a good flat day option.
In regards to flat day options there is definitely no shortage of things to see and do in Southern Nicaragua. Why not spend some days or even a week exploring the stunningly beautiful island of Ometepe that houses two jaw droppingly large volcanoes in the heart of the great lakes.
Venture a couple of hours north of Ometepe and you will stumble apon the historic Spanish colonial city of Granada which is arguably the crown jewel of Nica's colonial heritage. It is definitely worth investing a number of days to roam the old and vibrant cobbled streets here .
From Granada you can take a half day trip and literally drive into the mouth of an active volcano named Masaya. Here you will literally witness a lake of hot molten lava violently boiling away below....think Frodo and Mount Doom without the orcs...a spectacular sight indeed. There are numerous Volcanoes, lakes and jungles to visit in the region and if you are brave enough you can try your hand at Volcano boarding near the Northern town of Leon. Just maybe double check you have your travel insurance down pat first.[Continued below]
So there we have it. Fancy an alternative surf trip away from the tried and tested surfing meccas of Hawaii, Indo and Tahiti? Want to surf in a cheap, safe and beautiful country with a unique culture and world class surfing conditions then look no further than Nicaragua as your next surf destination. Any surfer worth his salt has to visit Nicaragua at least once in their life so get those tickets booked pronto and you sure as hell won't regret it.