The Ultimate Guide to Surfing in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Surfers come far and wide to experience the waves of San Juan del Sur. There are plenty of options to choose from, each catering to a variety of skill levels. This guide is here to help you figure out which place is right for you.

Funny thing is, the beach that San Juan is located on, is probably the worst in the area for surfing. But at least you can come back and party after a long day of surfing.

This page is going to be pretty long, so skip to what section you need:

  1. Why Go Surfing in San Juan del Sur
  2. When to Go Surfing in San Juan del Sur
  3. Where to Go Surfing in San Juan del Sur
  4. Renting Boards
  5. Transportation
  6. Learning to Surf in San Juan

Why Go Surfing in San Juan del Sur

The great thing about surfing in San Juan del Sur is that there are just so many options. The surrounding area caters to people who have never surfed in their lives, to basically olympian level pros. Also, with the wide range of beaches that you can check out, you won’t ever get bored with the scenery. New day, new beach is what I always say, probably.

It is important to know that these waves are all from beaches. There aren’t any coral swells here.

Need more reason to come surf here:

  • Well, it’s cheap. Especially compared to the southern neighbours of Costa Rica and Panama. I don’t mean just beer and food. You can find some of the cheapest surf lessons in all of Central America.
  • There’s plenty of partying to be had. Especially the infamous Sunday Funday.
  • There’s a ton of lovely Canadians! Plus Caesars. Mostly Caesars. 
  • Variety! Remember when I said there’s a lot of variety? Well, I’m saying it again.
You can do this if you join a Surf Camp

When to Go Surfing in San Juan del Sur

Now, the best times of the year depends on your skill level, and resilience to colder water.

If you’re new to surfing January – February and September – October is your best bet. The latter months being the warmer of the two. These months will give you smaller swells to train on. 

For all of you seasoned veterans out there, try aiming for anything between April and September. This will give you the swells that you’re looking for. I mean probably at least, I’m not you idk what you’re looking for.

As far as time of day is concerned, 2 hours before and after high tide are the prime surfing times in San Juan. There be time posted somewhere with tide information. It’s a surf town, after all, they know why you came.

More In San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Where to Go Surfing in San Juan del Sur

Remember in the intro when I said the beach where the actual city of San Juan del Sur is located isn’t the best for surfing? Well, here are the best spots to check out, ranked by skill level.

Playa Hermosa

20 – 30 Minutes | $7 Round Trip | Beginners – Intermediate

This beach is large so there’s a lot of room for surfers to not get in each other’s way. While it is more catered to beginners, there are also some portions for more intermediately skilled boarders.

Having your own space to practice really helps you progress, and not get nailed by someone else’s board. 

Playa Remanso

5 – 10 Minutes | $4 Round Trip | Beginners – Intermediate

The closest surfing beach to town. Wave height depends on the swell but they are typically mid-sized. A good place to go for newer surfers as well as some who have a bit of experience already.

Subscribe To Our Mailing List

Get updates and learn how to party

Playa Yankee

30 Minutes | $10 Round Trip | Beginners – Advanced

A quiet beach that offers waves for all surfers. There won’t be much exciting activity here, but at least you’ll get to shred in peace. Surfer no fight other surfer.

Playa Maderas

20 Minutes | $7 Round Trip | Intermediate – Advanced

Unfortunately, getting access to this beach can be rather difficult. Fortunately, that means if you can get there, you’ll find that it’s not super busy. It’s a great beach to go to if you’re used to surfing and have some skill under your belt.

Renting Boards

What’s that saying, throw a rock and you’ll hit a surfboard rental shop in San Juan? Idk it’s something like that. Anyways, there are surf rental shops are far as the eye can see. Your hostel does it, a shop will do it, the random guy on the beach will run you one, hell, even the taxi drivers have your back. My point is, there are a lot of ways to rent a surfboard. You’ll have no problem getting your hands on one.

Depending on how long you’re planning on surfing for, it might be a good idea to buy a secondhand board then resell it afterwards. This is something that happens all the time. You’ll have to do the math yourself, as I am too drunk right now to even know what numbers are.

Surfboard rentals are typically $10/day.


Again, surf shops, hostels, random people on the street. If you want to get to a beach, there are 20 people that are willing to take you at a moment’s notice. 

However, my highest recommendation would be Casa Oro. They have daily shuttles going to many different beaches. They offer round trips and are located near the centre of San Juan. You ride there in the back of a large, bench-style seating shuttle so you can make some new surfer buddies if you want as well. Oh, they also rent out boards too.

It’s best to simply go to Casa Oro and check out the accurate times, as they may have changed since we were there, but here’s what we know:

Playa Maderas

The first one leaves at 8 am and the last one returns at 6 pm. The price for this trip is $5 for a return ticket and only $3 if you feel like getting stuck there overnight.

Playa Remanso

There’s only one shuttle to this beach per day – leaves at 11:30 am and returns at 4:30 pm. Return trip will also cost $5.

Playa Hermosa

This beach has an entrance fee so the round trip price is a little more expensive, coming to $8. This includes the entrance fee. It also leaves at 11:30 am and returns at 4:00 pm.

Learning to Surf in San Juan

Again, surfing in San Juan del Sur is among the cheapest you’ll find in all of Central America. If it’s something you want to do while you’re visiting this part of the world, you should do it here. With the wide variety of surf that you can find, you’ll be able to make great and noticeable progress as you jump between beaches.

You essentially have two ways you can learn: Surf Lessons or a Surf Camp. In my humble opinion, doing a surf camp is the best way to go about it. It may take up more of your time and cost a little more, but you’ll get a lot more out of it and have much more fun along the way. If you’re serious about surfing and have the time, Surf Camp.

You can expect to pay around $30 for a lesson.

Surf Lessons

Almost anywhere you walk in San Juan, you’ll see places offering surf lessons. We don’t have one that we specifically recommend, but I’m sure most of them will be near to the same. As we always suggest, ask your hostel! That way you know what you’re getting is legit and good. 

If you’re on a backpacker’s budget or short on time, this is definitely the better option for you. The camps can get a little pricey and set you back.

Surf Camp

There are plenty of Surf Camps that you can find in San Juan del Sur. These camps are typically 5 – 10 days long and include your accommodations, lessons, food (sometimes), gear rental, and transportation.

The best part of the camp in my opinion is that you’ll be stuck with a bunch of other backpackers also learning to surf. You get to grow your skill together and make new friends. Sound cheesy but it’s a great experience. Learning with other like-minded people will help push your skills further. Plus you can get drunk with them and go wild during Sunday Funday (I had to make this National Litographic worthy somehow).

Of course, these will set you back way more depending on which camp you end up choosing. Here’s a few for you to look at:

Selina Surf Club Casa Maderas Your Choice

  • Surf Hostel – No fixed periods of time/camp offerings

Dreamsea Surf Camp – 2 Days | $180

  • Surfing lessons
  • Daily surf theory
  • Transfer to the surf lesson spots
  • Surfboard rental and free access to equipment
  • Daily breakfast and dinner
  • 1-night accommodation
  • Yoga lesson

Surf Ranch – 3 Days | $470

  • Daily group surf lesson
  • 2 nights accommodation
  • Food & Drinks
  • Transportation
  • Board Rental

Costa Dulce Hotel and Retreat – 8 Days | $1,080

  • Surf clinic
  • Daily surf instruction and guidance
  • Bonfire, guided jungle/waterfall tour, and a trip to San Juan del Sur
  • Intro to turtle conservation project and opportunity to see the release of baby turtles
  • Fresh fruit juices and smoothies served with every meal
  • 4 delicious meals per day
  • 7 nights accommodation

These are our suggestions for surf camps, but these sites have other options as well.

Surf Holidays | Book Surf Camps

Did You Shred Some Gnar Waves, Bruh?

Tell us all about it! Which beach was best? Which rental shop didn’t screw you over? How many beers did you crush? We want to know it all.

After a full week of surfing, you know you have to check out Sunday Funday. Good thing we wrote an article detailing everything that you need to know.

Subscribe To Our Mailing List

Get updates and learn how to party

Share This Post

Troy Woodbeck

Troy Woodbeck is the Founder of National Litographic. He thought the world needed to learn how to party travel and decided to do something about it. He's also a drunk idiot, so who cares what he thinks.

Leave a Reply