San Juan del Sur is the undisputed party capital of Nicaragua, where every night’s bigger than the last and you’re likely to wake up hung over to within an inch of your life after “Sunday Funday” with a new tattoo courtesy of your drunk friends who somehow got their hands on the tattoo gun. In seriousness we spent about as much time in the tattoo shop as we did on our surfboards. In addition to (or despite of) the party scene the town is beautifully situated in a picturesque bay and is close to some of the best surf spots in Nicaragua.
Although I never intended to spend much time there I couldn’t seem to break away from the black hole like gravitational field surrounding the place. It really does offer something for everyone, thus making it a good choice when travelling with a group. We exclusively surfed the spots south of town as the north spot (Playa Maderas) is more crowded and the road is bad. The routine in San Juan was more or less to cram the camper with as many friends as possible and hit the road armed with breakfast burritos to go looking for waves.
Everything we surfed was beach break. Playa Remanso is beginner friendly and where the surf schools go so it can be crowded with beginners. It can also go off with the right swell direction and we had some good surf here. The beach here is a good spot to sleep.
A 20 minute walk to the south is the gem Playa Tamarindo, where usually there’s either no one else or just a few people in the water to share the waves with. Long rights and lefts can be had. We had some great sessions here.
The next beach south is Playa Hermosa, it’s kilometers long and has several peaks. Access is privately owned and costs 3 USD, but you get access to palapas and hammocks. The food at the resort is mediocre and overpriced, and the service is terrible. I recommend packing lunch. The surf here can be outstanding, but it can get crowded when land cruisers packed with tourists from the party hostels arrive later in the morning.
Next stop south is Yankee, a wedge wave that spits out fast hollow lefts. It’s the favorite of every local I talked to and the place to get barreled. We surfed it once on a small day, no barrels but still super fun. The road in is steep and pushed The Little Camper That Could to the limit.