A Central American Surf Retreat
Surf, Relax, Repeat. A Photo Essay From Paradise.
After so many surf trips where my friends and I have “roughed it” through Central America, I decided a more luxurious experience was in order as we planned a trip to Nicaragua this summer. I have camped in the jungles of Panama and Costa Rica before, and while it was fun, we felt like spending our time surfing instead of making food, defending ourselves from mosquitoes, and preparing shelter.I have had my fair share of culture in the region and just wanted to surf.
While looking for places to stay, I came across the nicest hotel in the whole coast that caters specifically to surfers. It’s called Mark and Dave’s Hacienda and it can hold up to 10 surf stoked guests. They take care of everything from airport transfers to all meals, and even include a case and a half of beer per person! When my friends found all this out, and checked out their website, the trip quickly jumped up from 4 to 10 people and we filled the whole resort. The coolest thing for us is that there was absolutely nothing else to do but surf, eat, play some games of leisure like horse shoes or ping pong, and sleep.
When we arrived at Mark and Dave’s we were greeted by a swell that was way too big for the main surf spots that we went there for. Double overhead plus closeouts pounded the shore and their rumbling kept us up at night. For this reason we had to walk down the beach and surf a more sheltered point break. There was still plenty of size though as 8-10ft face lines wrapped around the beautiful lush cliffs.
On our way back from surfing this point we were ruthlessly harassed by what I thought was a single wasp that seemed very angry and territorial. We ran, we jumped in the water, we tried to bat the little demon out of the air with our surfboards. Nothing stopped it from attacking us. As I ran away past my friend it would stop hassling me and switch its assault to my unlucky walking companion as a ran away. “Haha, it’s after you now!” All the way back to the hacienda it gave chase until we could jump in the sparkling tile pool and stay under for awhile. I’m allergic to wasps and bees. Heavy. As it turns out, this was a very large biting fly. No stings. The little carnivore was biting us trying to get a meal out of our flesh. Next time we surfed the point I left a little earlier as the biting flies seemed to come out at dusk. We surfed the point again and again, hoping for the swell to drop so we could surf better waves nearby.
As the swell backed off 3 days later, I finally got to surf the beachbreak that was the star attraction of the region, and the jewel of the country. It was still a bit large, and A-frame peaks barreled and spit in both directions. A paddle out in the riptide was mandatory to get through the pounding tubes. Only two other guys in the group were up for the challenge. After we made it out, one of them decided to go for the first wave of the set, missed it, and got annihilated by the next two larger waves. He quickly went in to shore to take a breather, and then to my delight, charged out again to try and catch a good one. What a trooper I thought. I only got a handful of waves before the wind came up and ruined it, but they were heaving tubes that I did not make it out of. The intensity of those few waves were entirely worth the poundings.
I woke at dawn on the next day (and every day) to see the swell still holding its size. Another go out at the heavy beachbreak was the call, and only two friends joined me once again as the rest of the group decided on taking a boat up to a left point break a 45 minute ride away. I was there to surf the tubes at the beachbreak, so I stayed behind and got drilled on a few more closeout barrels. I made it out of one finally. But the best part was watching local kids completely rip and come out of all kinds of perfect tubes. I lacked the local knowledge of what wave would be best, but was getting the hang of it.
When I came back from the strenuous session at the beachbreak, The guys were already planning another trip on a boat to a left pointbreak to the south, only a ten minute sail away. Although I was completely tired and full from two helpings of breakfast, I decided to go.
The point was as beautiful as the surrounding cliffs on the journey there. Sedimentary layers bursting with lush emerald foliage and purple flowers. It looked like Jurassic Park. The swell was still too large for the breaks in the area and the wave was breaking farther out than it should have, resulting in a mushier version of the proper wave. It was still a blast to surf such a gorgeous place with a few friends, although the heat was intense. The looong paddle back to the boat was brutal.
After surfing each day we had a nice routine going of horse-shoes, ping-pong, sunset viewing and pool swimming, accompanied by many Tona’s (the local beer) and Flora De Cana’s (the local aged rum).
On Wednesday, the crew went back on the boat to a new location while one friend walked down to the beachbreak with me. Suddenly, the winds switched to perfect offshores that the region was famous for. This was the best day of the trip. Just big enough to get your heart pounding, and perfect conditions with sunny skies. On one wave I pulled into a large tube as my ego was inflated after surfing there for two days prior when it was bigger. As I realized I was not making it out, I hit the eject button and my board slammed my forehead and hit my wrist really hard. The swelling knot on my head did not hurt as bad as my wrist and I had trouble moving my fingers and hand. I caught a few more waves before I was finished for the day.
The next three days were magic. Three sessions a day at the beachbreak as it dropped to a more manageable size of head high to a couple feet overhead. The predominant offshores continued and everything was in it’s right place. All the guys in our group joined me at the break for the first time along with 30 other guys. But when compared to crowds at home in California, it seemed a non-issue. Everyone was spread out and there were no hassles whatsoever.