Nicaraguan Surf Camp: Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast

Nicaraguan Surf Camp: Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast

Surf’s Up, Amigo!

In a land once famous for death squads, drug trafficking, and CIA-backed revolutionaries, a new breed of fanatic has found a home: the surfer dude. Nicaragua was, until recently, not even a blip on the international surfing radar screen. But when Costa Rica’s once-isolated beaches became congested with tourists, surfers cast their eyes toward the undiscovered country to the north. World-class waves, desolate beaches, and ridiculously cheap food and lodging—not to mention the balmy climate—turned this tropical country into surfing’s new hot spot.

Most of the best surfing spots are found on the country’s southern Pacific coast, about 3 hours’ drive from the capital city of Managua, home to the country’s largest airport. Unlike more developed countries, surf lodges here are fewer in number and most are simple affairs with friendly staff but few amenities. It’s not unheard of, for example, to find a lizard in your bedroom, or discover that the camp’s lounge is a thatched hut with a dirt floor and a cooler full of beer. (In other words, if you’re looking for a four-star luxury vacation, keep looking.) Travelers should also be aware that some places calling themselves “surf camps” don’t offer lessons; call or check your destination’s website to confirm that lessons are available.

Fortunately for newbies, surfing is one of the few sports where you can have a blasting good time on your first day out, and most surf instructors tend to be relaxed folks who are happy to spend time getting you up on your board. No surfboard to call your own? No worries—surfboard rentals are available at just about every surf camp.

Nicaragua has earned its newfound reputation as a primo surf destination. A steady offshore wind keeps the waves high, and there is a variety of reef and beach breaks to keep beginners and pros happy. For non-surfers, Nicaragua has a number of other attractions like kayaking, snorkeling, horseback riding, deep-sea fishing, and touring coffee plantations. And if the waves start to get a little too crowded for your “taste,” just think like the adventurous surf god you now are and cast your eyes to the next destination up the shore—in this case, El Salvador. —ML

Tours: Monty’s Jiquilillo Surf Camp ( 505/8884-4461; Chica Brava All-Girls Surf Camp ( 832/519-0253 or 505/8894-2842; The Surf Sanctuary ( 505/8894-6260; Tours Nicaragua ( 505/2252-4035;

When to Go: The biggest surf is usually found from Apr–Sept, and smaller swells (perfect for beginners) can be found from Dec–Feb.


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