We’ve all heard about Costa Rica and it’s surf but the inundation of American tourists, which has hiked up the prices, often pushes this stunning country out of reach for the meagre backpacker. Here Andy tells us why it’s next door neighbour, Nicaragua, is just as worthy of a visit for surfers, and is much more affordable. Go there now before it becomes too popular!
Dawning on us that we were fast running out of time in beautiful Nicaragua, we started to realise that we hadn’t yet caught a single wave. Both of us being very keen surfers (albeit still learning), we decided that the next day would be a trip to the surf. San Juan del Sur itself doesn’t have any waves and at first we were wondering what all the fuss was about with this surf spot without any surf. It seemed that in order to catch any waves you had to drive a few miles north or south of the town. The most popular of these destinations being Playa Maderas, which you had to catch the collective to. This was a pretty exhilarating and back jiggling experience in itself! The ‘bus’ was open on all sides and you sat facing out of the truck sides with boards above your head and under your feet. The unpaved road we travelled along was inundated with huge pot holes and natural made speed bumps that threw you out of your seat (and if you were lucky into the roof). It certainly was one way to wake yourself up at 8am on route to the beach.
On arrival at the beach, it was obvious that this Central American country was a real mecca for those wanting to live the “Point Break” life. The waves were the best that I have seen, also the biggest that I have encountered. The line-up was busy with many fighting for each wave. We decided to obey the surfer etiquette and leave the bigger waves for the more advanced surfers and stay in the smaller waves; still trying to ascend through the ranks of this sometimes frustrating but very exhilarating sport, yet hoping that one day we will be of a standard to navigate our way along the barrel of a double overhead wave, like the ones on offer here. Sat at lunch enjoying a lovely bowl of Pad Thai and a number of beers, it was decided that we were not actually ready to move on from Nicaragua. The command decision was made that our 8 day stay was to be extended to 14. For the next 7 days, we religiously caught the morning collective and surfed the whole day, needless to say each night, it was rare that we would see the late hour of 8pm.
Although the surf at Playa Maderas was the easiest to reach, there were other popular spots close by. Many of the group travellers had a jeep or yute that they would jump in and head off down the road to Playa Yankee, Colorado or Panga Drops. We were pretty contented with our set up and didn’t feel the need for a move as the waves were the most consistent we had ever come across. We were able to rent boards which suited us fine from the beach; saving us the hassle of lugging them through the town in the morning. On days when the weather was bad we would wait it out at our favourite café; ‘El Gato Negro’, which was an organic food/coffee/book shop. Annie was pleased as she was able to pick up a copy of a hippy book she had been hunting down for months.
During our stay at the rather basic house, we were visited by a young but very affectionate cat. With my love for animals, especially cats, I was most happy with this new addition to our home. Anneliese on the other hand was a little more apprehensive…until about two days in when it was suggested (not by me) that the cat looked thirsty and that I should give it some milk. Voicing the fact that once we took such a committed step, we would probably never be able to get rid of our little feline friend, I was overruled and the cat’s thirst was satisfied. In return, the little cat (now named Nica by Annie) became more and more affectionate, particularly liking lying with me in the hammock! As the days went on the cat would appear randomly, not as often as I had predicted but I also noticed cat food appearing in the shopping basket. The cat had performed that well practised art that every cat has bred into it and exploited the kindness that Annie has in her heart. On leaving the house at the end of our time in San Juan Del Sur, there was rather sad few minutes when we had to say goodbye to young Nica and then we made our way down the path, both refusing to look back.
In the last couple of days of our time in Nicaragua, we had arranged to meet up with a friend of Anneliese, Georgina. Georgina had taken time out to travel before making the move to Australia. We met up for dinner on the second to last night and had a wonderful evening of eating and drinking, with us soaking up the new chat. Georgina also joined us surfing the next day and Annie took her for her first ever surf lesson. Enjoying some beers at the end of our final day and watching the sunset, we sat on the beach our minds fixed on what a beautiful place Nicaragua is and how in the future, we would very much like to come back for an extended period of time.