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07-18-2011, 10:34 AM #1decal slinger
- Join Date
- Jan 2007
Costa Rica or Nicaragua (early August) which one?
I've been to neither. Looking to plan a trip, hoping to hear about some good experiences or areas that were less than stellar.
I've surfed areas of Mexico, Oregon, Maui, California and looking for something a bit different. Money's not much of an issue within reason. It's more the timeframe, I have a couple of weeks.
Probably looking to fly into Liberia, CR or Managua, Nica. Anyone living down in these areas?
Is a car rental something I should look into at both? Any surf camps to be recommended, breaks to check out? I'm goofy, so prefer lefts.
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07-18-2011, 12:18 PM #2
I have not been to Nicaraugua, only Costa Rica.
I went to Jaco, and spent 5 days there. Went with 5 buddies. We got 3 rooms at the Best Western in Jaco, and it was 50$ per night per person, with that price including all three meals(good food) and beers/rum at the bar in the evening. This was in July 2005, so I don't know what the prices would be now.
We had a great time. We rented a van, and hired a surf guide. He was very helpful, but if we went again we probably would not hire him, as we know the lay of the land now.
Jaco beach does not require a car. It is a fun little beachbreak, that pulls in a fair bit of swell. I would not go to CR just to surf it though, so you will want a car.
Playa Hermosa is about 10 minutes south of Jaco. You will need a car to get there. It is a super consistent beachbreak, always seems to be at least head high. It is a great spot, as it virtually guarantees that you will get surf on a trip. It has a huge swell window. When it gets several feet overhead, it can be pretty meaty, so not what I would call a beginner break. This was the break we mostly surfed, as there was not serious swell when we went.
Esterillos is another spot, about 20 minutes by car from Jaco. Very fun. Softer than Playa Hermosa, peaks break on sand bars well off shore. A nice, long, but slightly soft wave, that reforms on the inside. When we were there, we got 100 yard lefts, albeit without the punch of Playa Hermosa. Like Hermosa, Esterillos seems to be a swell magnet, but I don't know that for sure. From what I have seen, most of the Pacific coast of CR gets hit all summer.
Boca Barranca is the break we really wanted to get. A rivermouth point, with lefts that can go for several hundred yards. Unfortunately, is is heavily shadowed, and it takes a big swell to make it go. It needs to be 2X overhead at Hermosa to make it worth a check at Boca. We checked it on an overhead day at Hermosa and Esterillos, and found Boca to be knee high. It is a fickle treat, but don't count on getting it. It is about an hour drive from Jaco.
Overall, I had a great time there. The great thing about CR, is that because of the big Pacific swell window, you are almost guaranteed waves.
I don't know how good you are, but do be aware that Playa Hermosa can be quite heavy. It knocked me silly a couple of times, and I actually broke a board there.
I wish I could give you more details, but I did not plan the trip. My buddies took care of everything.
Last edited by Long duc dong; 07-19-2011 at 03:36 PM."Have you ever seen a monk get wildly fucked by a bunch of teenage girls?" "No" "Then forget the monastery."
"You ever hear of a little show called branded? Arthur Digby Sellers wrote 156 episodes. Not exactly a lightweight." Walter Sobcheck.
07-18-2011, 03:04 PM #3
Nica and CR have different feels to me. I hit CR in 2005 and Nica in 2007, so data is semi-old but the trips were within a few years to compare.
CR-We hit Playa Hermosa and it was hard to get me to leave. I saw other breaks but Hermosa was a thumping semi-closed out beach break. Board snapping and very delicious on the right swell. Did not hit N. Costa rica but I'm sure it's as good or better. Probably more tourista chicas if you are rolling solo.
Nica-feels a bit more sketch, even though CR has huge thievery problems. They just rob you with a smile while you aren't looking. The Check points in Nica looked as fun as they are in Mex. Luckily we avoided them. Get right behind an 18-wheeler about 5 ft from their tail gate so then you blow past the check points and they don't have time to wave you in, at least on the major roads.
Nica has San Juan Del Sur to the south and it is slightly smaller and less consistent then the Tola region, Rancho Santana, Colorados and the others. This is where it is at. Getting there is a chore, after driving from the airport for a while it's another 1hr+ on dirt road or take the long way when the roads are washed out.
Colorado's is a hammering beachy. I got pinned on the bottom face first against my board, trying to duck dive a gaping pit. It delivers punishment on big swells. On truly huge swells there are some reefs just North that are open ocean gnar wave.
The beach breaks get packed. Each beach breaks on a different tide, so everyone ends up surfing the same beach break because the others simply don't break on the wrong tide. It's weird, it can go from waist high close outs on low tide to pumping overhead gaping pits on high tide. So the masses congregate at the breaks at the same tides.
Last edited by Piggity; 09-19-2011 at 10:36 AM.
07-18-2011, 03:10 PM #4
Gosh, I forgot mention the electricity randomly shutting down mid day. No toilets or running water during shutdowns. Heavy trash in Nica, soda bottles everywhere. I would categorize CR as the touristy good wave spot and Nica as the surf mission spot if you go to Tola. San Juan Del Sur would be more like CR then Tola and would offer more nightlife. Tola has nothing but the local surf camp you are staying at. Rancho Santana is a solid camp and is where we stay at. They are from Florida and will make sure you are safe and score, all else considered.
07-22-2011, 09:37 AM #5
Was in Coasta about a decade ago. Mainland is different than Nicoya. If you are around Hermosa, there is a nice reef breek between there and Jaco. Roca Loca I believe. Hollow right and left into a lava bay. South of Hermosa on the beach road brings you to a beach like Ocean Beach in SF. Not as heavy as Hermosa, but more down the line.
Nicoya had more playful surf. Santa Teresa area was fun and consistent in winter. I think the spots up around Tamarindo prefer winter swells, so you may want to check that before flying into Liberia.
We had a car and it could get us to most spots. Just a sedan. But depending on where you are going, you may want a 4x4.
If you do not mind waiting for south swells with nothing else much to do, check out Pavonnes near Oso. Very long left point break.
Don't know anything about Nic., but I had an okay time in Pananma as a surf camp that claims it is on two islands. Overall, nothing to do once the winds come up (besides drink), but we had about 4 hours on the outer island with for real waves. Many choose the long left point further inside, but this wave was top to bottom, well overhead crushers. Can't remember the names, but it was in the north.
07-22-2011, 10:24 AM #6
^the man knows his stuff. I would get 4x4 if you head to paces further South in CR. It turns into full rain forest at Manual Antonio. Not that you would need it to get to Manual but it would be nice to have if it's monsoon'ing and you go off the the main roads for a surf. The bridge from Jaco to Dominical was completely washed out when we went and it was in October, which is almost the end of the rainy season.
The bridge to get to Manual Antonio was hands down the shadiest bridge I've ever crossed. It looked like an old school railroad bridge and only 1 car could go at a time, so no 2 way traffic. The boards of the bridge were missing every 2nd-3rd one, so they had put down 2 planks for each tire to drive on, yeah not much room for error on the left/right side of both passenger or driver side. Too far to the left/right and the tire would have slipped through the base of the bridge, hard to describe but it was sketch
If you do pass through Player Hermosa to head south then I suggest getting a surf in front of Cabinas Las Olas and then grabbing some grinds at their kitchen. It was some of the best food I had my entire trip, huge servings and finger licking good.
07-22-2011, 10:52 PM #7Registered User
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
Southeast Asia is only a 2-3 hours more in flight time compared to Central America. Flight costs are probably about the same.
07-26-2011, 10:31 AM #8
^Which island you mentioning is only 2-3hrs longer? LA to Tahiti was 8 hrs and LA to Western Samoa was 10 hrs. Just wondering where you are thinking about, but yeah I would definitely take either of those locations over CR, Nica in a nano-second. But I think SE Asia would be further. Then again, this is from LA and not Alberta like the OP is located
07-31-2011, 02:59 PM #9Registered User
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
From Alberta, you'd need to transit through probably 2 or 3 airports getting to Central America, likely taking 8-12 hours total travel time. If you are bringing equipment, each time the equipment is offloaded, it gets banged and dinged.
Alternatively, for 200-300 bucks and 2-4 hours more flight time, you can get to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand. Phuket is basically a cheap Cancun with good surfing waves. Hugh Conway would know about spots in Indonesia more. I am inclined to say that the cost of living in Indonesia or Phuket would be cheaper than Central America in balancing out the total cost, probably ending up cheaper overall in Asia.
08-08-2011, 04:48 PM #10
Surfed Nica and El Salvador. Your in the wet season now. I would steer clear of El Salvador due to the river mouth dead pigs and urban bacteria. El Salvador is the land of rights.
If your goofy, charge Nicaragua. Some powerful left point/reefs and decent -epic beachbreaks. Central America is kind of a April/May best timeframe to catch early southern hemis.
August - INDO. Just go it is the best.Set waves, powder days
08-31-2011, 05:55 PM #11
Never cared for that Tamarindo area, Playa Grande is pretty good on low tide though.
09-01-2011, 05:49 PM #12Registered User
- Join Date
- Aug 2006
I think you would need to go to Indo for a month before it would become better value for your dollar over Central America, and what a great month that would be.
09-02-2011, 09:11 AM #13
09-02-2011, 11:57 AM #14
Pretty sure the top pic is the northern point at Iguana, maybe a quarter mile from Panga Drops. I surfed PD's four days ago, maybe 6-8'. The wave pictured was maybe a foot that day, just for some scale."Yo!! Brentley! Ya wanna get faded before work?"
09-02-2011, 12:54 PM #15Registered User
- Join Date
- Nov 2006
Depends what you're looking for out of a trip. If you want something that is easy, then go to CR. Fly to Liberia and quick drive to Tamarindo. Plenty of different breaks in the area. Playa Grande was my least favorite spot. Witches Rock is a good one day excursion worht doing.
Nicaragua is a little bit more of an adventure and not as many expats (yet). Even so, San Juan Del Sur is much like CR. Up North is a bit different but I liked it better (Penitas/Peneloya).
Me, I'm looking to go to Panama next year.
09-02-2011, 10:04 PM #16
09-18-2011, 08:49 PM #17devon
- Join Date
- Apr 2010
Flying to Managua is pricey--much more than San Jose. If you want to go to San Juan del sur in nica I,d look ay flying into Liberia and taking a taxi to the board and another to the beach. Only a few hours if I remember correctly. If you are considering going further north, it might be better to fly to managua. Parque masers isna great place to stay north of san Juan del sur--Tyler the owner Has a great spot.
09-25-2011, 10:20 AM #18Registered User
- Join Date
- Apr 2006
- Girdwood AK
San Juan Del sur is no place to stay and surf, 1 lame wave with tons of people on it, if you want to be nearby stay at the surf camp near Maderas, but really head south from there, there are plenty of good breaks with no people. We rented a boat and driver for 40 bucks and scored some nice and empty waves . Yankee beach is fun , just avoid the landowners henchmen trying to keep you off the public beach with machettes. Managua is sketchy. Yeah Rancho Santanna area is super sweet.
07-25-2012, 10:12 AM #19UT Wedged between NV & WY
- Join Date
- Dec 2007
I'm looking at a beach south of San Juan Del Sur http://www.vrbo.com/231794. Is this somewhere I can bring the ol lady and the kids, or do I have to be worried about machetes?
07-29-2012, 03:41 PM #20"Yo!! Brentley! Ya wanna get faded before work?"