Beach days and surfing in the Pacific | Nicaragua7 min read
Days in Leon and Granada were absolutely great but due to hot temperatures, we felt a desperate need for the beach. During the dry/hot season (December-April) the climate in Nicaragua becomes more dry, dusty and sometimes it can be a bit too much when you are backpacking. On the Pacific coastline, you will find some remote places ideal for surfing, especially for beginners. Between January and March waves tend to be smaller than usual and for that reason, we decided to give it a go.
While searching for beach spot we only heard about party town San Juan Del Sur but ultimately decided on this hidden gem – Popoyo Beach.
In order to reach Popoyo first, you will have to go to Rivas which is a travel hub between various locations in the south part of Nicaragua. Before heading there it would be a good idea to read a couple of blogs about backpacking in Nicaragua – for example, beware of popular there are no more buses scam.
To get a basic view about bus connections and approximate timings have a look on bus travel guide www.centrocoasting.com
Unfortunately, there is no direct public transport to Popoyo as it’s a very remote beach. Once in Rivas, you can take a bus towards Las Salinas but then you will be dropped off with the distance of ~7 km from Popoyo hostels. Here you decide either walk or hitchhike. Not really convenient when you are carrying a heavy backpack and it’s 35°C. That said, we booked a minivan from Granada to Rivas.
However, the minivan was terminating in San Jorge so we had to get off earlier than the main bus station. Obviously, a random taxi driver appeared out of nowhere and offered his service for roughly 50$ (~37£). In this case, you gotta learn how to politely say no gracias and just walk away. So, guess how we made our way to Popoyo? That was fortunate because we spotted a minivan and without expectations asked about the destination. The driver said he is heading to Popoyo and it took us to our hostel for another 10$ (~7.5£) each.
Depending on what are you looking for there are many places to stay in Popoyo. Our hostel Ola Verde wasn’t the greatest but at least had a minimal number of guests and a relaxing atmosphere. Food was just ok to be exact. Thankfully we could buy fresh fruit and veggies from the food truck passing the village almost every day.
The closest shop or restaurant was about 25 minutes walk but who does mind to walk such a distance along the beach?! Popoyo was one of these places where there are no vegan restaurants at all. Viento Este Pizza is a cute little restaurant on the beachfront where you can have either sunset view, cold beer or wood oven pizza. So why not to have it all at once? Our favourite place to eat for sure. During the day pizza place was closed but they are still serving iced coffees and vegan ice creams.
It seemed like each time we woke up for the sunrise the colours merged into perfection.
We were really pumped up for everyday jaunts, tanning and sipping local kombucha. One day we ventured off path and found tidal pools which are not so widely known by tourists. It wouldn’t be us if we didn’t make friends with local dogs. Pirata and his sister were following us during our long walks until the sun was going down. Finally, we had enough time and space to test our drone skills without any worries that the area is unsafe!
Popoyo stretches for over a couple of miles and it really feels like still untouched paradise. This place is perfect for those in search of a decadently quiet spot. That’s how we felt while tanning naked not far away from tidal pools, there was literally no one around for hours! Like many other Nicaragua’s beaches, Popoyo is home to sea turtles, returning to the same coast where they were born to hatch their eggs. Once we witnessed how turtle was making its way to the ocean. We almost cried because it was so fascinating to see this animal in the wild!
Interesting fact: Did you know the sex of the sea turtle is determined by the heat of sand incubating their eggs? Climate change and warmer temperatures can turn in the future sea turtle populations female only. We were shocked when we discovered this!
One of the coolest things we did was to take a surf lesson. Look for Surf Popoyo Lessons right next to Viento Este Pizza. Everyone around knows Morrie and Jennifer for their passion for surfing. They are incredibly committed to everyone who’s willing to get up on their board. At the beginning of three hours lesson, Morrie acknowledged us about theory, types of waves, where they are coming from and how to survive rip tilde. Next, we took a short yoga class with Jennifer to warm up and stretch our bodies properly. Then, Morrie led us through his technique before we finally headed into the water. He made sure we feel confident and most importantly understand the safety aspects of surfing. Don’t get fooled by the heat because the ocean water can be really cold. Give it a try and don’t forget the sunblock!
What can we say – if you are looking for secluded beach and want to try your skills at surfing you can’t pass Popoyo. It’s one of these places in Nicaragua from where we have amazing memories and wish to come back one day.