Words and photos by: Daniel Franks
In the midst of the winter doldrums, the travel bug had set in between a group of surfers, brothers and friends. An international jaunt to escape for a bit before the madness of a California Summer was in order and we were left with the task of deciding where to capitalize on a stirring Southern Hemisphere. The willing group eventually came about and when the tickets were finally booked, Steven Thomas of Santa Cruz, Grant and Andy Gold, and the three brothers Franks, Danny, Steven and myself, Dustin were ready to go.
Central America had proven itself time and again, and between the six of us, every nook and cranny of the chain-linked countries had been explored. The last on our collective list was Nicaragua. Surf tourism has been blossoming in the country for the past five years despite a tumultuous past and the expectations of fun surf, good accommodations and enough adventure to keep it interesting looked promising. Recent experiences from friends and fellow surfers had reassured the decision, so we took notes geared up and hopped on a plane set for Managua.
Once off the plane, we rented a 4×4 Toyota, a must on the Nicaraguan roads, and proceeded to head south. We arrived three hours later at the gates of where we’d be staying for the first five days of our trip. Nicaragua has been heralded as being “the next Costa Rica” and for good reason. Since the stabilization of the political climate, international investors have bought up land in prime locations and developed “haciendas” which offer up decked out surf pads, and community amenities. There are two communities, which lie next door to each other and span about a 10-mile stretch of coast.
These 10 miles contain 4 of the best spots in the region. Access is definitely an issue and the vehicle of choice for really being “on it ” in terms of surf is the ponga. The variety of surf crammed into the countries southern stretch of coast is absolutely mind-boggling. With near constant offshore winds from sun-up to sundown, it really becomes a matter of what you feel like surfing that day. A beach break that looked like Puerto Escondido’s friendlier little sister kept us content for the first five days. A big outer reef A-frame down the beach had us bouncing back and forth between the two.
While checking the surf one morning we started conversation with local Nicaraguan surfer Ivan Saballos, who had gotten into the business of running charters throughout Nicaragua. We quickly got to talking about the region’s endless surfing resources and he began telling us about the area’s crown jewel; a shelfy, secluded left point break that changed moods with the tide and offered up the best waves in the area. Ivan Saballos and his partners, Armando Segura and Fermin Guerrero, run www.nicasurfing.com, which offers up five star accommodations at some of the country’s best waves. The trio had a few days before their next crew arrived and offered the utmost hospitality by offering to drive us in to the left point break they had been raving about. We immediately jumped at the opportunity.
We jumped ship the next day to our second destination up the road. The remainder of our trip found us sampling the local cuisine, finding 400 different species of insects larger than a size 9 shoe and figuring out which ones you probably shouldn’t screw with. We made way too close of friends with small primates, drank beer and the finest rum in the land with our new Nicaraguan friends, and found a new shade of pink to apply to our skin. All this in between what little down time we had while absolutely surfing our brains out.
Nicaragua proved to be well worth the trek. We arrived back at the airport itching to change our flights and figure out how to blow off the obligations of home. The good surf, warm vibes, and laid-back lifestyle was nearly impossible to leave. Surfed out, sore, and garnishing trophy sunburns, we hopped on the flight headed back to California vowing to reinvestigate this little nook of the globe again as soon as possible. This name on the list was worth a second look.