It’s like driving from LA to SD for a swell except just a little bit better….
There are really nice waves all around us in the North, including a few within walking distance, but sometimes when you see a big swell coming you just want to surf somewhere different. I first surfed this spot something like six years ago when there was just one local hotel and just one little local restaurant. The hotel proprietor proudly boasted that the wave out front was “the best surf spot in Nicaragua”.
“Yeah right,” I thought, “of course the hotel owner is going to claim that.” After a long muddy walk, a sketchy paddle across a shipping channel, a quick hop across a sandbar, and then another long paddle out to the shallow sandbar in the middle of a harbor that makes a super long and sometimes very hollow lefthander, I decided I agreed with her.
The first few times I surfed it, we were there alone and we made that long paddle each way. On one big lumpy and murky day, we saw a shark fin cruising through the face of a wave and made the return paddle to the beach very quickly. I didn’t surf it for about two years after that, deciding it was too sketchy. By the time I went back everyone was using boats to skip the paddle and there were several surf camps in the area. With at least six surf camps filling the lineups these days, I think the crowds must have scared off the sharks. Still, the wave can be so nice that all the hassles are totally worthwhile.
I have a few recommendations for accommodations depending on your preferences. The Miramar Surf Camp has the best location, situated right in front of Miramar – a shorter semi-hollow left breaking on a rocky shelf that’s good at high tide, and just down the beach from Pipes – a punchy beachbreak. (The photos below don’t really show the waves, but you get an idea of what the area looks like). The boat ride to the main wave – Sandino – is just under 10 min.
Surf Tours Nicaragua is another good option for accommodation in the area. They offer package tours that include all your meals and surf guides to take you to a variety of surf breaks by 4×4 and boat including Miramar, Pipes, Sandino and a few others. They have rescued a baby deer (really wish I had gotten a photo!) which is good for petting.
If you want to hang out in a more quiet and mellow environment with an awesome vibe and incredible food, I recommend Rise Up Surf Tours. They are located in Salinas Grandes which means a longer boat ride to Sandino (about 25 – 30 min), but they are the only surf camp in an area of awesome and totally uncrowded waves which they will happily share with just you and your crew. They also offer all-inclusive surf-guided tour packages. There are mini fridges and coffee makers in your room, plus a living room and kitchen with fridge stocked with snacks and drinks from which you can help yourself anytime!
Rise Up is into eco-tourism and participates in a sea turtle protection project. They took us on a sunset estuary tour where we fished, saw many varieties of birds, and even three big crocodiles! Bonus!
When planning your trip, if you want to try to score Sandino, choose a week with low tide mornings. Central Nica doesn’t benefit from the lake-effect all day offshore winds, although in the three days we were there, the earliest the wind turned onshore was 2pm.
For help planning your trip, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org