While Jenine was doing her 200 hour yoga teacher certification in Costa Rica, I was left alone for 3 weeks in Nicaragua. My goal was to surf and Nicaragua is full of awesome surf spots. There are more surfers than ever in Nicaragua, so crowds are the norm, but I managed to find some awesome spots that weren’t too crowded. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of pics as I didn’t have my normal surf photographer!
Popoyo & Playa Santana
Before I could surf, I had one important job to do, which was figure out how to retrieve my new drivers license from the DHL “office” in Granada, which Jenine’s mother had just shipped. Turns out the DHL office in Granada Nicaragua is the bedroom of a 18 year old kid, who works his own hours. I spent an entire day trying to track this kid down as he was just not picking up his phone. Around 7pm on a Friday, I decided he was going to be unreachable until Monday, so I headed to the first surf spot on my tour Playa Popoyo.
I arrived late at night at an awesome surf hostel called Nicawaves about a 5 min drive from Playa Popoyo. Popoyo is one of the best spots in Nicaragua, and Nicawaves is a great spot to be based. I surfed two great days at Popoyo, then I moved back to camping in Titus on the beach in the parking area of the Hotel Jiquiliste (thanks for the tip Cory @bigfoottracks!). This was just $5/night, and had great surfing (Santana Break) right in front. Additionally, on Sunday I got a message that the kid from DHL wanted to meet. I raced back to Granada and met him on his moped in front of a firestation, but he had my ID! Now I could actually get Titus into Costa Rica without Jenine needing to come back to the border (phew!).
Ever since my short board melted in Mexico (a Santa Cruz brand epoxy board), I’ve only had my long board. It has been surprisingly hard to find decent surf boards in central america. Luckily, I found a board for sale in San Juan Del Sur. Since I was already running around retrieving my drivers license, I decided to continuing driving to San Juan Del Sur to meet this guy. The board was good enough, and the guy selling it to me also gave me a great surf recommendation. He told me that to get off the beaten path, I should head to Playa El Transito about 5 hours away to the north. So, I hopped in Titus and started driving. I had emailed the only surf camp I could find, Solid Surf & Adventure – before I left and I was hoping they would have room for me.
As I was about to get to El Transito, I was pulled over by the cops for crossing a double yellow line to pass a scooter going 20 miles per hour. I was not alone though, this was a classic police trap and they had 3 other cars pulled over. They demanded my drivers license, so I gave up my old expired one. Instead of asking for a bribe, the cop just hands me a paper with scribbles on it and tells me I have to pay this fine ($20) and then pick up my license at his local police station. To pay the fine, you have to go pay it at a bank, then take a photo copy of the payment receipt to the police station that is holding your license. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to figure out what police station is holding your license. No digital records are kept in Nicaragua, and I checked with a bunch of people, and apparently nobody pays these fines. You just order a new license, or better yet, have some disposable licenses to give away to the cops….
After the police ordeal I arrived at Solid Surf, and the place was awesome. I highly recommend checking them and Playa El Transito out for great uncrowded surf. The camp is right in front of the waves, which is rare for Nicaragua where boat and 4×4 trips are the norm. Plus, a 20 min drive north is Miramar, which is an awesome point break. Solid Surf definitely made sure I had a wonderful time there. I also got to hangout with a great group of guys from Florida. We had a fun night out together in Leon where they skated with the local kids and they gave away skateboards to kids during their trip.
After a great week in El Transito, I really wanted to get back into Spanish Lessons. Luckily, in Nicaragua there is a great place to combine good surf, good spanish instruction, plus cheap home stays. This place, Playa Gigante, is a bit of a paradise, and one of my favorite beaches in Nicaragua. Every day I surfed for several hours at nearby Playa Colarado (one of the most famous waves in Nica) and did 4 hours of spanish class. I stayed the week with an awesome family and Playa Gigante is a beautiful relaxed place. This whole package (7 nights housing, 3 meals a day, 20 hours of spanish) only cost $200 for the week. This is definitely the cheapest option I have found to combine spanish and surfing!
In between El Transito and Playa Gigante, I spent a couple nights camped on the beach at Playa Maderas near San Juan Del Sur. This is the perfect spot if you want to combine good surf, amazing sunsets with a beach front party. It was a lot of fun for a few days.
Finally, before I left Nicaragua I ventured over to Ometepe Island on Lake Nicaragua. There are two massive volcanos on this island, and since it is in the middle of the Lake the wind is normally very good for Kitesurfing. I headed to the main kite surf beach Santo Domingo, but I discovered that beach camping is not allowed anymore on this beach (new this year), however I was able to camp on the property of a beach front restaurant. Unfortunately, there were massive awful swarms of non-biting but extremely annoying bugs so I didn’t really enjoy the beach. I decided two nights was enough for Ometepe. I contemplated heading back to Playa Popoyo because I still had a week before I was to meet Jenine, but I wasn’t feeling Nicaragua anymore. I decided I would head to Costa Rica a bit early, and I scored an amazing week at Witches Rock, which I’ll do a quick post on next.