Nicaragua is blessed with an array of world-class spots along its coast, but not many are super suitable for the aspiring beginner. Discover a few that are...
The path to learning to surf is a ridiculous long journey (a Paul Bunyan roadside attraction sized understatement), and oftentimes what is most needed along this journey is patience. The patience to not give up, the patience to stay on the bigger boards (more volume = more wave count) longer, the patience to learn to read the ocean, the patience to maneuver, understand, and not get demotivated by the politics, chaos, and order in today's lineups. Yeah, surfing can be hard for beginners, so much so that we even have an unwelcoming kook culture ingrained within the last few decades of surf history. Wait, maybe we should save that rant for a future post...
A lack of patience on this sometimes insurmountable learning path translates to a lot of beginners attempting to advance before they are really ready, be it by trying out shorter/lighter boards quicker than necessary, or by moving up to more advanced breaks. Sometimes this is necessary to challenge yourself and learn, but a lot of times can backfire and cause experiences and frustrations that will cause you to quit. What you most need, is wave count, experience or flight hours catching and riding waves—take it slowly.
Personally, we have been there. Truth be told, it is one of the reasons why we decided to start Wavecation. In our initial path towards an ocean centered lifestyle we made the mistake of booking our first surf trip in Playa Santana, Nicaragua. Why was it a mistake? Well because for total beginners taking off on perfect powerful little barrels (when the swell was small) meant making almost no waves and being forcefully introduced to powerful spin cycles and large unrequested doses of sand power washed into all orifices. Definitely a lesson of respect! But with that in mind we wish you a high wave count with waves of smaller consequences on the start of your journey, so without further ado here we have some great surf breaks you can explore in Nicaragua.
Las Peñitas is a small and sleepy coastal village in Leon, Nicaragua. The tradeoff here is simple, more waves while foregoing the scene or crowds to hang with that some might look for— personally we pick the waves. Las Peñitas is a mellow and consistent right and left point break. It is a great wave for beginner surfers and intermediate surfers who prefer fun waves at a relatively lesser known break. The smaller crowds in the water will translate to less people to socialize with outside of the ocean, but there is a growing scene here and a few bars where you can enjoy the sunset while sipping on your Toñas.
It is crazy to us that this gem exists only 30 to 40 minutes south of the bustling surf town of San Juan del Sur! It's currently top on our bucket list, with an array of different breaks within a short driving or walking distance depending where you are staying, like Playa Yankee. Playa Escameca is a small coastal/jungle village with a super laid back vibe that has not been overrun by tourism and development. It offers mellow beach breaks along with a few point breaks as well. In general Playa Escameca looks like the ideal place to surf, read a few books, and get a few yoga sessions in kinda place.
Check out two of our favorite remote stays near this break. For when you do not need to sacrifice quality for remoteness, and for when you are looking for something that includes meals. You can rent surfboards, get lessons or coaching at both of these amazing stays.
The most famous, and for this reason also the most crowded, beginner friendly spot in Nicaragua is Playa Maderas. Playa Maderas is a short 30-minute drive from San Juan del Sur, a backpacker friendly party town, that has grown a lot over the last decade. Playa Maderas is a beautiful small cove, and can sometimes feel more crowded due to the small shore space. You will find a lot of schools and beginners in the waters here. Mellow waves roll into this cove offering plenty of forgiving lefts and rights.
Check out a variety of places to stay in Playa Maderas.
Another well known beginner break, with a ton of beach break peaks along this long and secluded beach, Playa Gigante also has a good scene in town, so it makes sense why beginners tend to flock here. For those more intermediate or advanced surfers you are always only a 15 minute boat ride to world-class waves at Playa Colorado and Panga Drops.
Check out Giant's Foot Surf Camp for a peek into one of the best surf camps in Playa Gigante.
El Transito is a small, quiet fishing village in Leon, Nicaragua. It's a little bit off the beaten path, which as we know (and love) means less crowds. This crescent-shaped postcard beach is home to four different breaks for every level, El Transito or Panga's is a mellow normal beach break that goes right and left and is perfectly suitable for beginners. This is where we wish we had learned to surf and one of our favorite places that offers all-inclusive learn to surf packages can be found here.
While the area is more well known for Punta Miramar, a great left point break better suited for intermediate to advanced surfers, there is also a great beginner beach break here right in front of Miramar Surf Camp, which makes this another great place to learn to surf or to improve your current level. An all around great consistent spot away from the crowds with a world-class surf camp available to help. Check out their beginner to intermediate all inclusive 7-day surf package here.