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19 Best Beaches in Nicaragua for Surfing, Relaxing, and Snorkeling 2023

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Welcome to the beautiful beaches of Nicaragua! From white sand shores and crystal-clear waters, to stunning sunsets and incredible surf breaks, Nicaragua’s coastal towns offer something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful place to relax or an exciting spot to improve your surf skills, there are plenty of amazing beaches in Nicaragua that will suit your needs. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best beaches in Nicaragua.

Our family recently spent 3 months living in Nicaragua and exploring every possible beach that we could. We’re obsessed with the ocean and are pretty picky when it comes to finding beaches that we love. Along the way we found a combination of Nicaraguan surf beaches, quiet beaches for relaxing, and some amazing Nicaraguan snorkeling beaches as well. We fell in love with so many of these places and hope that you do too!

Recommended Read: San Juan del Sur with Kids

Best Time of Year to Visit Nicaragua Beaches

In Nicaragua, there are really just 2 seasons. Wet season and dry season. Wet season runs from May-November and you can count on rain daily (even if just for an hour). The wet season in Nicaragua is also known for being the best big waves for surfing. Dry season in Nicaragua runs from December-April, and it’s normally warm and sunny (with an almost constant ocean breeze to cool you down). If you want to just learn to surf or plan to hang out on the beach a lot, go during the dry season.

How Cold Is The Water in Nicaragua?

In many parts of Nicaragua, the water is about 72 degrees year round. It’s a fantastic temperature for both swimming and surfing. The one exception to that is the Southern Pacific Coast during the dry season. In January a cool current comes in and drastically drops the water temperature until about April. This occurs in most areas south of Popoyo, impacting the areas of Popoyo, Tola, and San Juan de Sur.

We were there and felt the change overnight. One day the water was warm, and 2 days later, the temperature dropped about 15 degrees. We had read about this, but were shocked at how quickly it happened. The water continued to hover around 60 degrees for the duration of our stay. While you can still get in the water, if you want to spend much time, you’ll likely want a wetsuit.

Best Surf Beaches in Nicaragua

If you’re like many Nicaragua visitors, ourselves included, you are coming to Nicaragua for the surfing. Amazing surf breaks and affordable living make many of these Nicaragua beaches the best places to surf. Combine that with surf lessons that cost $25-35 and it’s not just a place for expert surfers – Nicaragua beaches are even great for beginners. Here are some of the best Nicaragua surf beaches.

Playa Colorado – Best Surf Break in Nicaragua

Playa Colorado is probably the best surf break in Nicaragua. It is one of the most famous surf breaks in the country, and it attracts surfers from all over the world. Colorado is a powerful beach break that can produce barrels and long rides, especially during the wet season (May-October). It is known for its consistent, fast and hollow waves that are suitable for intermediate and expert surfers.

The Colorado surf break can be accessed directly from shore which is part of the appeal since there is no need to hire a boat each day to get out to the waves. If you want to see the best surfers in Nicaragua, head to Playa Colorado to watch them surf.

Punta Miramar

Punta Miramar is a sandbar wave that is fun and powerful. During the rainy season, it’s one of the best surf breaks in Nicaragua. The waves are powerful and can reach up to 10 feet or more, making it a challenging spot for beginner surfers (though at the beaches right out of town, there are good beginner waves).

Punta Miramar can be accessed by boat since it’s nearly impossible to walk there thanks to a jetty that was recently constructed. There are several local surf shops and surf schools that offer guided tours and surf lessons in the area.

While Punta Miramar is a popular surf spot, it is also relatively uncrowded compared to other surf destinations in the region. The town of Miramar peaked around 2017 and since then has become less and less crowded. This makes it a great destination for visitors looking for a more secluded and exclusive surf experience.

We spent a month living in Miramar and once you get used to having very little in terms of restaurants and shopping (even groceries), you’ll love it there. The best spot for shopping nearby is to head 45 minutes into Leon. There are some small shops that sell absolute basics but nothing more.

Las Penitas Nicaragua

Las Penitas is located about 25 minutes west of Leon, and is a popular beach town with the locals. Leon is much hotter and drier than a lot of the rest of Nicaragua, so make sure to plan a visit to Las Penitas while you’re there so that you can escape the heat and cool down.

The town’s main attraction is its beautiful beach, which stretches for several kilometers and is known for its golden sand, warm water, and great waves for surfing.

The beach at Las Peñitas is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and taking long walks along the shore. There are several restaurants and bars along the beach where visitors can enjoy fresh seafood and drinks while taking in the ocean views. While it’s not as built up as San Juan del Sur, it felt much more charming and relaxed. We also love that you can surf right from town which is something that you can’t do in San Juan del Sur.

Surfing is very popular in Las Peñitas, and the town is known for its consistent and challenging surf breaks. Surfboard rentals and surf lessons are available at several surf shops in the town, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding those.

Las Peñitas is also a great place to relax and enjoy the laid-back lifestyle of the Nicaraguan coast. The town has several small shops and markets where visitors can buy souvenirs, snacks, and other necessities.

While you’re there, plan to also take some time to kayak into the mangroves at the Isla Juan Venado Nature Reserve. Plan to go when the tide is going up, and you can easily spent several hours kayaking there. We did this with all of our kids and it was a great Nicaragua family activity.

Best San Juan del Sur Beaches for Surfing

The town of San Juan del Sur got its popularity because of all the great nearby surf beaches. In fact, most of the best surf beaches in Nicaragua are congregated around San Juan del Sur. If you want to surf in Nicaragua, San Juan del Sur beaches are one of your best options for variety!

Also Read: Best Places to Stay in San Juan Del Sur

Playa Maderas – Overall Best San Juan del Sur Surf Beach

Playa Maderas is easily the best beach in San Juan del Sur for surfing and perfect for all abilities (and where we personally did most of our surfing). There is a large area for surfing and at high tide, the surfing can be excellent for advanced surfers. The waves off of Machete rock should only be surfed by experts. When the tide is going up, it’s great for intermediate surfers in most conditions. Beginner surfers can have good waves starting 2 hours after low tide as the tide is rising.

At Playa Maderas you can easily find surf lessons and surfboard rentals. Just up the road from the beach is Rebelde Surf school and Juan Carlos there is one of the best Nicaragua surf instructors we’ve found. He’s great at teaching intermediate and advanced surfers, which many instructors struggle with.

Playa Maderas has a few restaurants on the beach, but for a real treat, stop by the Maderas Cafe, 1 black back from the beach. They have a delicious menu and their smoothies are some of the best in the area. For a meal after surfing, head up the hill to HUSH for Taco Tuesday, homemade pasta Wednesday, or grab pizza on Friday night at Machete Cafe.

Playa Remanzo – Best Beginner Surf Beach in Nicaraguas San Juan del Sur

Playa Remanzo is the best San Juan del Sur beach for learning how to surf. Generally, the waves are small to moderately sized and predictable. Anywhere from three hours after low tide to three hours after high tide is a good time for surfing this Nicaragua beach for beginners. This was the best beach to teach kids to surf at.

Playa Hermosa – Best Hang Out Beach with a Side of Surfing

Playa Hermosa is a paid beach, and unless you’re looking for a great hang out atmosphere, which the beach has in abundance, plan to save your money and go elsewhere. The waves are on the smaller side and are only good around high tide.

Playa Yankee and Playa Escameca – Best Remote Beaches in Nicaragua for Surfing

Playa Yankee and Playa Escameca are both Nicaragua beaches that are off the beaten path and amazing. If you want large beaches that are good for both surfing and swimming, you really can’t go wrong with either of these beaches. There are no facilities at either so plan on being fully self-sufficient.

Playa La Flor – Best Nicaragua Beach for Wildlife

Playa La Flor is a Nicaragua beach located south of San Juan del Sur, near the border with Costa Rica. It is known for being one of the most important nesting sites for Olive Ridley turtles in the world. Every year, from July to January, thousands of female turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, and then, about 45 days later, the eggs hatch and baby turtles emerge from the sand and make their way to the ocean.

The Olive Ridley turtles have a unique behavior called “arribadas” where thousands of them come together to lay their eggs on the beach. This increases the chances of the hatchlings surviving as they emerge in large numbers. This is one of the largest turtle hatchings worldwide.

To see the turtle hatching at Playa La Flor, visitors can participate in guided tours that are organized by local conservation organizations. These tours take place at night and are led by trained guides who explain the nesting and hatching process while ensuring that visitors do not disturb the turtles or their nests.

In addition to the turtle hatching, Playa La Flor is also a beautiful beach with clear waters, white sand, and lush vegetation. The beach is located within a protected area and is surrounded by a tropical forest that is home to a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, iguanas, and birds.

While the beach is stunning, it is important to note that it is a protected area, and visitors are expected to follow strict rules and regulations to ensure the preservation of the nesting turtles and their habitat. This includes restrictions on the use of flashlights, cameras, and other sources of light that could disturb the turtles.

Yemaya Little Corn Island – Best Tropical Beach in Nicaragua

Picking the best beach on Little Corn Island was incredibly hard because, truthfully, they are all SO BEAUTIFUL! We took a few laps all around the island and the beach that we kept wanting to go back to was at Yemaya because it was just STUNNING and we always had it all to ourselves.

Yemaya Beach is a secluded beach located on the northeastern coast of Little Corn Island, which is a small island off the eastern coast of Nicaragua in the Caribbean Sea. Little Corn Island is pretty far off the beaten path and is never very busy, and Yemaya is one of the most secluded areas there. The beach is known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, soft white sand, and palm trees that provide natural shade. The Yemaya resort is there, but there is easy beach access and walking either to the east or west from the resort is absoutely stunning. You’ll want to bring your snorkeling gear there since the offshore snorkeling here is AMAZING!

There are no cars on Little Corn Island, so you can access the beach via a 30 minute walk from town or by boat. The beach also has a beach bar and restaurant, where visitors can enjoy local cuisine and tropical cocktails while taking in the stunning views.

Sally Peaches Beach, Big Corn Island Nicaragua – Best for Snorkeling

If you’re headed out to the Corn Islands, don’t just skip Big Corn Island, but plan for some beach time there instead. We went all over Big Corn Island Nicaragua looking for the best beach and it was hands down at Sally Peaches. There’s a good sandy area right at shore, but the best part about it is the snorkeling. We could snorkel right off of shore, and we saw a surprising variety and number of fish. Best of all, it’s almost never crowded so you’ll likely have the beach all to yourself. Sally Peaches beach is on the north end of Big Corn and can get windy, so mornings are the best time to visit there. On your way there, stop at the Island Bakery and Sweets. Everything there is good (we tried A LOT of things), but the carrot cake is INCREDIBLE!

Note: This is not a beach you’ll find marked on any tourist map, but the locals all know about it. To find the exact location, go here.

Playa Guasacate, Popoyo Nicaragua

Playa Guasacate is right at the charming Nicaraguan surfy town of Popoyo. The town has its roots as a small fishing village, but it’s quickly developing into one of the best beach towns in Nicaragua.

The beach at Playa Guasacate is known for its long stretches of golden sand, crystal-clear waters, and consistent surf breaks, making it a great destination for surfers of all levels. The beach is also home to a vibrant and diverse marine ecosystem, and visitors can often spot dolphins, sea turtles, and other marine life while surfing or swimming.

The village of Playa Popoyo, located just a short walk from the beach, offers several restaurants, cafes, and bars where visitors can enjoy local cuisine and drinks while taking in the ocean views. There are also several small shops and markets where visitors can buy souvenirs and other items, but no grocery stores for supplies, so plan to stock up in Rivas.

One of the most unique features of Playa Guasacate is the nearby Tola Colonial Church, which was built in the 18th century and is one of the oldest churches in Nicaragua. The church is a popular destination for visitors interested in history and architecture.

Playa Miramar – Best Tide Pool and Salt Water Swimming Pools in Nicaragua

Miramar is a small coastal town located on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, about 100 kilometers northwest of Managua, the capital city. The town is home to several beautiful beaches that are popular among locals and tourists alike. The nearby Punta Miramar is popular with expert surfers, but the small beaches just in front of town have lots of great beginner waves on them.

We spent a month living on the beach in Miramar and it was GLORIOUS. The sunsets were out of this world, there was great beginner surfing right out our door and the pace of life there was slow and quiet.

One of the things that makes the Miramar Nicaragua beaches unique are the tide pools and swimming pools. Right in town as well as about a mile south at the end of La Flor are incredible tide pools. We found everything there from sea stars and crabs, to lobsters and octopus. It was absolutely AMAZING. In those tide pools, several large swimming pools have been carved. Visiting them at low tide is the best and you could easily hang out there for hours – I know that we did on several occasions.

One of the most popular beaches in Miramar is Playa Miramar, a long and wide beach known for its clear waters and soft black sand. The beach is great for swimming, sunbathing, and taking long walks along the shore.

Redonda Bay – Best Nicaragua Beach for Relaxing

The beach at Redonda Bay Nicaragua is known for its clear blue waters, soft sand, and lush greenery that surrounds the bay.

One of the unique features of Redonda Bay is that it is actually a series of small coves and beaches that are connected by walking paths and footbridges. This gives visitors the opportunity to explore and enjoy different areas of the beach, each with its own unique charm.

The water at Redonda Bay is calm and perfect for swimming and kayaking. The beach is also known for its excellent fishing, and visitors can rent fishing gear or take a guided fishing tour with local fishermen.

In addition to its natural beauty, Redonda Bay also offers several amenities for visitors. There are several restaurants and bars located on the beach, as well as several shops and markets selling souvenirs and basic necessities.

For visitors looking to stay longer, Redonda Bay is home to a luxury resort called Aqua Wellness Resort, which offers private villas and suites nestled in the lush hillside above the beach. The resort features an infinity pool, a spa, and a restaurant serving healthy cuisine. If you’re looking for an amazing place to relax on the beach in Nicaragua, Redonda Bay is one of the best options.

Best Beaches in San Juan Del Sur

As a coastal beach town, life in San Juan del Sur revolves around the beach. Whether you’re on a Nicaragua surf trip, want to swim in the Pacific Ocean, or just want to hang out at a beachside restaurant, you can find anything you’re looking for in San Juan del Sur’s beaches. San Juan del Sur is also a great place to go with kids. Here is a short description of what each beach near San Juan del Sur is like.

Playa Majagual – Perfect for swimming. There’s a small restaurant there and some nearby vacation rentals

Playa Matilda – Good for swimming, basic restaurant, with a good hostel and options for camping

Playa Maderas – This beach has it ALL. It’s one of the best beaches around San Juan del Sur. It’s great for surfers of all abilities (the surf difficulty changes as the tides change during the day), it’s good for swimming at low tide, there are several beach restaurants there, and there’s also a nearby hostel and options for camping.

Playa Marsella – This beach is rarely crowded and is fantastic beach for swimming at. There are 2 small restaurants as well as a nearby hostel.

Playa San Juan – Great for swimming and easy access from downtown. Since it’s the in town beach, you can get access to fantastic restaurants and a huge variety of accommodation at this San Juan del Sur Beach.

Playa Remanzo – Best San Juan del Sur beach for learning how to surf. Only a couple of miles from town, with several nearby vacation rentals, but no hostel. There are several good restaurants on Playa Remanzo.

Playa Hermosa – 100 Cordoba entrance fee per person to get into this San Juan del Sur beach. Okay surfing, great for swimming and hanging out. There are good restaurants there and a nearby hostel.

Playa Yankee – Remote beach with fantastic options for both swimming and surfing.

Playa Escameca – Remote Nicaragua beach with great surfing and swimming.

Playa Coco – Farther south, good for swimming with several nearby restaurants.

Playa la Flor Nicaragua – Best place to see turtles hatching. No surfing or swimming allowed, but camping is permitted here.

Ostional – More remote beach. The surfing is just okay, but it’s good for swimming. There is a basic restaurant and hostel nearby.

About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

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