Central America
LAST UPDATED 27/11/2007
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Level of surfing


Quality of surf


Call code


Net code





910 km


Tropical in lowlands, cooler in highlands


Extreme Heat, Difficult Access, Coup / Civil Unrest

Best Months

October - December




Cordoba (NIO) gold cordobas per US dollar - 17.582 (2006)

Time Zone


Special Requirements

Private Beaches, Lengthy VISA Process


Granada: Playa de Marsella san Juan del sur Nicaragua; 2006

A pitching deck, the creak of well worn timbers, the cracking of sail and canvas...tied to the mast.  Things have changed a little I guess from when Jack London and  Josef Conrad wrote their haunting Pacific infused epics but it hasnt changed everythwhere. There are corners of this earth where that mythos still holds true, and most of those  corners are here in the South Pacific.

The main source of swell here is from the intense lows that circle the earth south of Australia, these lows spin off northwards with blessed regularity, peppering the entire region with generous SE to SW groundswell from March to September. Australia and New Zealand see the bulk of these swells. These countries cast a very tall shadow across the rest of the Pacific and hence many other islands in their wake can suffer from swell difusion. December to February is cyclone season. Unpredictable cells can deliver swell in a 360 radius, lighting up rarely breaking reefs and points facing every conceivable direction. 

The South Pacific trade winds are some of the most consistent in the world, generally from the East with slight seasonal variation. This is the largest Ocean on the planet and these winds easily generate regular rideable swell. Onshore conditions can be a problem on east facing coastlines but peeling yourself out for an early surf will usually bring some relief.

In the North Pacific it is the intense lows descending from the Aleutians that deliver NE to NW swells from October to March. Hawaii is ideally placed to make best use of this energy but other coastlines in the region have their own less publicised and far less crowded gems.

Jun to October also sees rarer hurricane swell radiate out from southern Mexico. This energy is often felt right throughout Polynesia. With so many energy vectors at work it is very hard not to find a wave in Nicaragua. It's just a matter of finding the right one. 

Once the archetypal. Central american country in conflict, Nicaragua has opened her doors to surfers, lots of them. Fortunately both coast offer excellent surfing potential for visitors. The pacific coast offers the most reliable surf with a near year round swell window from both the North and South Pacific.

The Atlantic Coast has a very tight swell window around July-August, whilst mostly windswell, it can still be very rewarding to sample some of the rarer and less croewded waves of the Carribean. It is only around 200 kilometres from coast to coast so keep one eye on the weather forecast whenever there is a hurricane passing through the carribean, you could be in for a rare treat.

what to pack

Fir0002: Umbrellas with raindrops; 20 January 2005

There is a rainy season from May to October (so take an umbrella and pack accordingly) and a dry season from November to April.The coast is hot all year, so cotton shirts or blouses are best. Make sure you take a good sunscreen (SPF 30+) and a good insect repellent. Hat and natural fabrics (such as cotton or linen) clothes will be very useful. Light coat can become handy since some nights are fresher or you might get a bad weather. Raincoat and rubberboots with light, long trousers if you plan on going to the numerous cloud forests. Waterproof bag will be great for the rainy season.  

You won't regret swimming and snorkelling gear! Don't forget a backpack, that might be usefull if your planning to travel around or sail. Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots are essential.

Especially in the remote villages, electricity is rare and the streets can be really dark and so can your room be. So take a good torch with you. And as usuall, better to bring on the medicines you are used to take.

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