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Surfing in Nicaragua

Why the Emerald Coast is a favorite among seasoned and beginner surfers. Updated on April 3rd, 2024 What is...

Why the Emerald Coast is a favorite among seasoned and beginner surfers.

Updated on April 3rd, 2024

What is Nicaraguan Surfing?

Few activities in the realm of water sports can match the exhilaration and freedom of surfing. It’s a sport that challenges the body and mind, offering a unique blend of adrenaline and peace as you ride the waves. For those looking to dive into this world, surfing in Nicaragua, especially along the stunning Emerald Coast, presents an opportunity unlike any other.

The Emerald Coast

With its sprawling coastline and consistent offshore winds, Nicaragua has emerged from the shadows as a beacon for surf enthusiasts. The Emerald Coast, in particular, is renowned for its variety of surf spots that cater to all levels, from the novices getting on their boards for the first time to the seasoned veterans searching for the perfect barrel. This stretch of coast benefits from the geographical wonder of being sandwiched between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific Ocean, producing offshore winds nearly 300 days a year. Such conditions are rare and highly sought after in the surfing world, making surfing in Nicaragua a must-experience for anyone with a penchant for wave riding.

Rancho Santana Surf Resort

Among the gems of the Emerald Coast is Rancho Santana, a destination that embodies the essence of Nicaraguan surfing. With over 30 miles of diverse coastline, Rancho Santana offers more than just waves; it provides an immersive experience of the surf culture. The area is adorned with pristine landscapes and a community that welcomes surfers with open arms. Whether you’re paddling out into Beginner’s Bay or taking on the majestic barrels at Playa Colorado, the essence of surfing in Nicaragua is captured in every moment here.

Who Can Surf at Rancho Santana

For beginners, the secluded nature of the Emerald Coast, coupled with Rancho Santana’s Beach & Surf Club, provides the ideal setting to learn. With experienced instructors from the local surfing community, new surfers can safely and effectively learn the ropes, from paddling out to catching their first wave. This supportive environment is crucial for building confidence and skills in the water, making surfing in Nicaragua an accessible adventure for all.

The allure of surfing in Nicaragua extends beyond the waves. The Emerald Coast is a haven of natural beauty, offering surfers and visitors the chance to explore lush landscapes, vibrant wildlife, and serene beaches. After a long day of surfing, there’s nothing quite like relaxing on the beach, watching the sunset over the Pacific, and reflecting on the day’s adventures. Moments like these capture the essence of the surfing lifestyle—a blend of adventure, relaxation, and connection with nature.Surfing in Nicaragua is not just about challenging yourself against the waves; it’s also about connecting with a community that shares a deep love for the ocean. Playa Santana, the namesake beach of Rancho Santana, is a prime example of this. With its barreling peaks and friendly atmosphere, it’s a spot where locals and tourists can come together, sharing waves and stories. However, it’s not just Playa Santana that draws surfers; nearby Playa Rosada offers an advanced left point break, while Playa Los Perros is perfect for those just starting out, with its slower waves and sandy bottom.

If you’re unfamiliar with surfing, you may be wondering where to start. Knowing which break to try, or what board to choose can be confusing and crowded beaches can make learning a little tricky for novice surfers – that’s where Rancho Santana comes in. 

Nicaragua has long been a jewel in the rough, a well-kept secret, and a favorite among experienced surfers or those looking to get started. With over 30 miles of coastline, the Emerald Coast has emerged as one of the premier surfing destinations in the world, and it’s no wonder why. Its location right between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific means the Emerald Coast is one of the few places in the world to enjoy offshore winds about 300 days out of the year.

The friendly culture of the local communities and the pristine landscapes further drive home the renowned surf breaks in the area. From the aptly-named Beginner’s Bay to the magnificent barrels at the neighboring Playa Colorado: when it comes to surfing, the Emerald Coast has it covered. Rancho Santana’s prime location right in its heart with five beaches of its own, three of which are highly popular with surfers, makes it the perfect destination to discover Nicaragua’s best breaks. But don’t just take our word for it, The Ranch is home to many ex-pats who have either made the move completely or work remotely during the surf season. Roger Hochman owns a home overlooking Playa Escondida, he comes down regularly to enjoy the daily surf while working remotely.

Probably the biggest attraction is the consistency of the conditions. The prevailing wind being offshore 300+ day x year is something you don’t find many other places in the world. That alone pretty much covers one of the 3 main factors for good waves. Conditions, Swell & tide. Nicaragua is pretty well situated in the Southern Hemisphere swell path, so during that season (March – Oct) there is very little shortage of swell. Basically, you only have to check the forecast models to know how much swell is in the water and pick your place to surf based on wave height and tide. Oh, and 82° water is a big bonus too.

Gray Gardner – Full-time Resident and Owner at Rancho Santana

What are the Different Types of Nicaraguan Surf Swells?

Nicaragua’s surf swells primarily originate from the Southern Hemisphere, especially during the North American summer months, from May through October. These swells travel thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean before reaching the Nicaraguan coast, growing in size and power along the way. This period is often considered the prime surf season in Nicaragua, attracting surfers eager to tackle the consistent and often sizable waves.

Types of Swells

Southern Hemisphere Swells: These are the most prevalent and significant for surfing in Nicaragua. They generate the largest and most powerful waves, ideal for experienced surfers looking for a challenge. The beaches facing directly into these swells, particularly along the Pacific coast, see the best action during this period.

Northwest Swells: During the winter months (November through February), the Northwest swells can also impact Nicaragua, albeit to a lesser extent. Winter storms in the North Pacific generate these swells and can provide an alternate surf season, particularly beneficial for beaches oriented to capture this swell direction.

What is the Lake Nicaragua Effect?

A unique feature enhancing the surf conditions in Nicaragua is the “Lake Nicaragua effect.” This phenomenon involves the lake’s role in creating offshore winds that blow across the country to the Pacific coast. These winds, known as Papagayo winds, help to groom the incoming swells into cleaner, more perfect waves by holding up the wave faces. This effect is most pronounced during the dry season (December through April), contributing to the offshore conditions that can last all day, a rarity in many surf destinations where winds typically turn onshore by midday.

What is the Lake Nicaragua Effect’s Impact on Surfing Conditions?

The consistency and quality of the swells, combined with the offshore winds, create a surfing paradise in Nicaragua. The variety of waves means there’s something for every level of surfer:

For Beginners: Gentler swells at beaches with sand bottoms provide ideal conditions for learning and improving surfing skills.

For Intermediate Surfers: A variety of point breaks and reef breaks offer the opportunity to tackle more challenging waves without the intensity of the biggest swells.

For Experienced Surfers: The largest swells hitting a reef and point breaks create perfect conditions for advanced surfing, including barrel riding and performing high-level maneuvers.

What Types of Surf Breaks Does Nicaragua Have?

Nicaragua is blessed with abundant surf breaks that cater to every level of surfer, from beginners taking their first tentative steps into the waves to seasoned professionals looking for challenging barrels. The variety of beach, point, and reef breaks combined with the country’s consistent offshore winds and swell conditions make Nicaragua a premier destination for surfers seeking quality waves. Here’s an overview of the types of surf breaks found in Nicaragua and some of the most notable spots.

Types of Surf Breaks in Nicaragua

Beach Breaks: These are found where waves break over a sandy bottom. Nicaragua beach breaks are ideal for beginners and intermediate surfers because they typically offer softer, forgiving waves. However, they can also provide some fast and hollow sections for advanced surfers, especially when the swell is right.

Point Breaks: Point breaks occur when waves hit a point of land or rocks, peeling along the coast for a longer, more defined ride. Nicaragua has several point breaks that offer long rides and are excellent for surfers looking to improve their wave-riding skills.

Reef Breaks: Waves breaking over coral or rocky bottoms are known as reef breaks. These can produce some of the most consistent and hollow waves, appealing to experienced surfers seeking a challenge. Reef breaks in Nicaragua are known for their power and can offer exhilarating barrels when conditions align.

Nicaraguan Surf Culture at Rancho Santana

The surf culture in Nicaragua is deeply intertwined with the local way of life, creating a vibrant community that supports and celebrates the sport. At Rancho Santana, this culture is alive and well, with expats and locals mingling, sharing stories of their surf adventures, and enjoying the laid-back lifestyle that surfing embodies.

We have the perfect trifecta – Offshore winds almost every day, warm water and many spots that produce a variety of waves for everyone from beginners to hard core chargers.

Roger Hochman – Part-time Resident and Owner at Rancho Santana

Rancho Santana Surf Experiences

What is a Surf Butler?

A Surf Butler at Rancho Santana is a unique service designed to enhance your surfing experience on the Emerald Coast. It offers a personalized approach to surfing, ensuring you have everything you need, from the right gear to expert guidance. The service includes private transportation, a selection of surfboards, daily surf reports, and a tailored surf plan. Additionally, you’ll enjoy unlimited surf sessions, a surf boat charter experience, and a wellness massage. The package, designed for up to four people, aims to maximize your surfing adventure with convenience and luxury. For more details, visit Rancho Santana’s Surf Butler page.

view of two surfers taking surf lesson on playa los perros at Rancho Santana

What is Taking a Surf Lesson Like at Rancho Santana?

Taking a surf lesson at Rancho Santana on Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast offers private and group options at Playa Los Perros, perfect for beginners. More experienced surfers can also enjoy off-site lessons at locations like Magrock, Popoyo, and Amarillo, with transportation included. Each lesson, lasting around 90 minutes, is conducted by professional, English-speaking instructors and includes surfboard use. Additionally, professional photography can be added to capture the experience. For more details on starting your surf journey, visit Take a Surf Lesson at Rancho Santana.

Does Rancho Santana Have Surf Retreats?

The Surf Retreat with Kassia Meador at Rancho Santana, set for July 14th – 21st, 2024, offers a unique immersion into surfing and wellness. Led by the professional surfer Kassia Meador, participants will experience expert coaching, daily surf sessions along Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast, and the luxury of staying in beachside condos. The retreat includes farm-to-table meals, breathwork sessions, a surf trip, group transportation, and professional photography to capture the week’s memories. It’s an opportunity to enhance your surfing skills and connect with the surf community in a beautiful setting. For more details, visit Surf Retreat with Kassia Meador at Rancho Santana.

Kassia Meador surfing at Rancho santana

What is Surf Coaching?

Surf coaching at Rancho Santana is designed for surfers looking to elevate their skills with the guidance of professional instructors. It offers private and group sessions, customizable to include transportation and a selection of up to two surf locations daily. Additionally, photo and video analysis can enhance the learning experience. Participants are advised to bring their surfboard, swimsuit, sunscreen, and water. For more details, visit Get Surf Coaching at Rancho Santana.

What is a Surf Trip Like at Rancho Santana?

A surf trip at Rancho Santana is like embarking on a surf safari, where you and up to eight companions can explore the waves along Nicaragua’s coast. This four-hour boating excursion, heading either north or south, is guided by an English-speaking surf expert and includes soft drinks. Optional add-ons include roundtrip transportation to Astillero and surf photography. Participants are reminded to bring their surfboard, swimsuit, rashguard, sunscreen, and water. For more details, visit Surf Trip at Rancho Santana.

Does Rancho Have a Surf Summer Camp?

The Summer Surf Camp at Rancho Santana is a five-day intensive program led by former pro surfer Kali Artavia, tailored for surfers aged 12-20 years old with an intermediate skill level. The camp focuses on advanced techniques, including video analysis and on-land training, to significantly enhance participants’ surfing abilities. It’s scheduled from June 24th to 28th, 2024, and includes professional coaching and daily lunch, and requires participants to bring their swimsuit, hat, and water bottle. For more information, visit Summer Surf Camp for Teens at Rancho Santana.

summer surf camp at rancho santana

What is Surf Photography?

Surf photography at Rancho Santana allows you to capture your surf adventures with professional photography or videography. Your photographer will document your experience, from paddling out to catching waves, ensuring you have memories to bring back home. This service is available for the duration of your surf lesson or can be booked for 4 or 8 hours if you’re not taking a lesson. It’s a fantastic way to keep a visual record of your progress and experiences. For more details, visit Add Surf Photography to your Lesson or Session at Rancho Santana.

Surfing in Nicaragua at Rancho Santana

In conclusion, surfing in Nicaragua, particularly along the Emerald Coast, offers an unparalleled experience for seasoned surfers and those looking to step onto a board for the first time. The Emerald Coast is a premier surfing destination with its perfect blend of consistent winds, warm waters, and a welcoming community. Whether you’re seeking the thrill of a challenging wave, looking to connect with fellow surf enthusiasts, or simply wishing to enjoy the beauty of Nicaragua’s coastline, the Emerald Coast awaits. So grab your board and dive into the adventure that is surfing in Nicaragua—a journey of waves, wonder, and endless possibilities.

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