From the moment I arrived at Hacienda Iguana for a scouting trip, I was in love. The sun was just coming up at Playa Colorado, beautiful, organized sets were breaking right outside my front door, and the white sand beaches were empty save for a few early morning surfers. In a word, it was magical, and I knew this was the experience I wanted to share.
Nicaragua is one of my top choices for a surf and yoga retreat. This Latin American country is an absolute gem – near-perfect surf breaks, warm water, incredible wildlife, friendly locals, and fresh markets overflowing with tropical fruit. While one of the beautiful things about Nicaragua is that it’s an ‘up-and-coming’ destination, it remains relatively unfamiliar to a lot of people. So, here are my top 10 reasons to consider a surf trip to Nicaragua:
1. The world-class surf breaks
Photo credit: hmmlargeart
My passion for surfing significantly outweighs my ability, so when I travel, I’m looking for clean, friendly waves – not gigantic barrels. Even when there is a big swell and the main breaks at Colorados and Panga Drops are huge, there are almost a dozen other breaks in the Playa Colorado area offering fun, smaller waves for beginner to intermediate surfers.
2. The pristine environment
El Hoyo Volcano, Nicaragua – Photo credit: Tim Foster
There are 78 protected areas in Nicaragua, covering around 17.3% of the total land area. This means abundant wildlife, lush jungle, and pristine beaches. It is stunningly beautiful.
Photo credit: kierstenbryant
While Nicaragua feels authentic and wild, the country is emerging as one of the top luxury ecotourism destinations in the world. Since the opening of Mukul, the country’s first five-star resort, in 2013, a number of boutique hotels, luxury resorts and yoga retreats have opened their doors to visitors seeking safe and comfortable accommodations. The Hacienda Iguana, where we run our surf camps, is a private, gated community with miles of private white sand beaches.
4. Consistent surf conditions
Surfing San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua – Photo credit: Paul Biondi
In most parts of the world, surfers have to wait for optimal swell and weather conditions – not in the Playa Colorado area of Nicaragua! Thanks to a year-round deep-water swell and 300+ days a year of 24-hour offshore winds blowing in from Lake Nicaragua, there are beautiful waves sun up to sun down – a surfers’ dream! And if you want to get barreled, Playa Colorado is the break you want to visit.
Ometepe Volcano, Nicaragua
There are canyons, waterfalls and volcanoes to explore, miles of white sand beaches, snorkeling, scuba diving, and of course amazing surf. One of the country’s claims to fame is ‘volcano boarding,’ which is essentially riding a snowboard down the side of a volcano!
6. Fresh, tropical food
Every day, I drank fresh coconut water to rehydrate after my surf sessions. Trust me, there is nothing more refreshing or delicious than pure coconut water. You will definitely work up an appetite after a day of surfing, and the food in Nicaragua is so delicious. Fresh oysters, fish and lobster are brought in daily from the ocean, and avocados, bananas and mangos are picked right off the trees. Oh, and did I mention excellent rum and organic, local coffee? Paradise!
7. Culture and history
León Department, Nicaragua – Photo credit: Hermes Rivera
Though I could not quite tear myself away from the waves, the cities of Granada (one of the oldest cities in the Americas) and León are rich with history and culture. Colonial-style churches, art galleries, local shops, fresh markets, coffee shops, cathedrals, and restaurants showcasing traditional cuisine are all part of the charm.
8. Few crowds
Photo credit: jeffr_travel
One of my favorite things about visiting Nicaragua was the lack of crowds in the water. Surf etiquette is really important for safety, especially at busy breaks. But it’s blissfully wonderful to put all that aside and just focus on catching the next wave…which you can do if you’re the only one going for it!
9. The people
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
One of the things I love most about traveling alone is the amazing people I meet from all around the world. Everyone I met in Nicaragua – from Pedro who brought out fresh coconuts every morning, to the other guests who were staying at Hacienda Iguana – were wonderful, interesting people with a shared passion for adventure, surf and travel. Whether it was out in the waves, back at the Beach Club, or over an impromptu dinner, sharing stories and experiences with the people I met was a highlight of the trip.
Playa Santana, Nicaragua – Photo credit: Sam Hull
We all need a break from our busy schedules and lives in order to rejuvenate, and the beaches of Nicaragua are a perfect place to do that. The bliss that comes with trying something new, being physically active, connecting with water, eating fresh local foods, and making new friends is invigorating for the body and soul. After a week of surfing in Nicaragua, I returned home full of energy, determined to share this incredible experience with other women.
*Cover image credit: SwellWomen.com
This article was originally published on SwellWomen.com.
Nicaragua is a year-round surfing destination, and there’s no better time to check it off your bucket list than now. Go to BookSurfCamps.com and book your next surfing vacation in Nicaragua!