Sun, sand and surf. If you’re after the lazy beach lifestyle, yet still chasing an adventure, Playa Maderas in Nicaragua has much to offer. It’s all about hanging out at the beach, surfing super fun waves and enjoying a relaxing, well deserved beer (or two) on the beach.
This is exactly what I did for a month. By the end, I was surfing over 5 hours a day and loving every minute (I’ve never been so fit).
Where is Playa Maderas
Playa Maderas is on the west coast of Nicaragua, roughly a 20-minute drive north from San Juan Del Sur.
How to get there
It’s easy ‘to get to Playa, the best and easiest is by bus (small truck with wooden benches in the back), the drive takes roughly 20 minutes. The journey is along some unsealed roads but this is part of the adventure.
It’s cheap and you catch the bus from the Hostel Caso Oro. The bus operates several times a day. Costing $3 one way or $5 round trip. First bus leaves Caso Oro at 7.30 am, last bus at 4pm from Caso Oro. There is heaps of room for your luggage and surfboards if needed.
When’s the best time to visit?
- Hot Season: April-May
- Rainy Season: June-October
- Dry Season: November- March
Surf season: you can surf 300 days of the year however May -December is considered the best surf season in Nicaragua.
Surfing Playa Maderas
The main activity for me was the surfing. Nicaragua is awesome for surfing. Offering warm climate and offshore winds all day for most of the year.
The surf is an average 3-6 ft most days. With a few 10-12ft days in-between. The tides in Playa Maderas does impact the surf conditions.
Generally, low/mid tide offers great barrels, while high tide offers fatter waves that are better to learn on.
- On the left of the bay the wave brakes left in front of a large rock. On a low/mid tide. You can easy find the green room (get barrelled)
- Straight in front of the restaurants is a peak the breaks both right and left offering long waves both directions.
- On the right of the bay is another surf break. The wave breaks both left and right. Both barrel at low-mid tide. The left gets close to some rocks but offers some punchier sections.
Surfing Lessons Playa Maderas
If you’re a beginner to surfing, Playa Maderas is a great place to learn. The beach breaks in front of the main beach offer a super easy learning wave. Then when your more confidant, its safe and easy to paddle out the back.
If you are after surf lessons. There is a surf school with friendly instructors located on the beach. Right behind the main building (Hostal 3 Hermanos). Cost is $25 per lesson.
Also, many of the hostels or hotels can arrange surf lessons upon request.
Surfboard are also easy to find. If you want to rent a surfboard there are many to choose from. Costing $10 for a day hire, though just ask around for the best deal. Also, the longer you hire the surfboard, the better the hire rates will be.
You can also buy, cheap used surfboard on the beach or from any of the locals in their make shift surf shops on the road towards the beach. They also do repairs if needed.If you are chasing a new surfboard, it’s better to buy in San Juan Del Sur. Not much on offer around Playa Maderas.
I purchased a used surfboard in San Juan Del Sur since I was there for a month, so I wanted my own board. There are many surf shops in town, so have a good look around. But they can be a little pushy. I ended up with a nice little 5’10 AL MERRICK. One tip though, is to buy surfboard wax in San Juan Del Sur. It can be a little hard to find in Playa Maderas.
Swimming Playa Maderas
It’s safe to swim at the main beach or even near the rocks. Though if the main beach is too busy with surfers, you can walk down the beach and easily find a relaxing bay to yourself.
Alternatively go for a small walk south to Playa Marsella. There is no surf here, it’s a great place to relax and go swimming.
Yoga in Playa Maderas
You can easy find yoga classes in the area. The most popular is at Maderas Village located on the top of the hill behind the beach.
They have a massive open-air studio located in the jungle, offering a unique experience. It fits 40 students and cost $10 for group sessions. Class run every day in the morning. And sporadically in the afternoon. Also, private class are available upon request.
Playa Maderas Accommodation
For a month I lived in a blue jungle shack, located on the hill behind the beach. The blue hut was part of Hostel Clandestino, owned by a young German couple. It was paradise for 30 days, offering a bathroom, large mezzanine bed and a hammock on the porch. It even came with pets, Luna (Best dog ever) and Mimca (mischievous little kitten).
The Maderas Village offers more comfort. From dorms to bungalows, restaurant and WIFI (though you can still go without staying there).
On the beach, the Hostal 3 Hermanos. Offering the constant beach life style. With restaurants, bars (with cold beers) and many hammocks to spend your days on.
In San Juan Del Sur, I stayed at the Buena Onda Backpackers. The accommodation was clean and the rooms where big. It also offered an amazing view, especially in the afternoon at sundown. The hostel is just a 5 minute walk from the main part of town
It’s fun being in town, San Juan Del Sur is a party destination. It’s fun, but its loud at night. So staying a little way out is a good option is you like your sleep.
Rapture Surf Camp is only 15 minute walk from Playa Maderas beach. Offering great accommodation overlooking the jungle onto the ocean. They have their own surf school, surfboard rentals, transport (they shuttle you everyday to the best surf spots), infinity pool and restaurant.
There are three restaurants on the beach offering many a tasty fish taco and other yummy treats. Its Nicaragua, so their menus are not expensive.
- Tacos Locos
- Hostal 3 Hermanos
- Maderas Sunset bar
The Hostel Clandestino has a kitchen, so self-catering meals is easy.
A food truck comes twice a week (ask locals on times) it’s a small truck with heaps of vegetable loaded in the back. Just choose what you want. They even have chicken and occasionally cheese.
Once a week, I make the journey back into San Juan Del Sur for groceries not available from the food truck. Also, it’s nice to enjoy some cafes and restaurant in San Juan Del Sur.
El Gato Negro is a café that offers good food and friendly environment in town (worth checking out).
There are no ATM is Playa Maderas, so make sure you have enough cash to last until you head back into San Juan del Sur.
Playa Madera is very sleepy, so it’s quite safe. But San Juan Del Sur is a party town, so it’s best to be cautious, especially at night.
Nicaragua is a developing country, so, it’s always important to do some research before travelling to the area.
Like anywhere be mindful your belongings and safety. Sometimes thing happen, so it’s best to be prepared, get travel insurance. I use World Nomads and have found that they are quick to respond when I’ve had travel emergencies and pay claims quickly and easily.