A Quick Central American Surf Safari

Trip Start Oct 10, 2010
Trip End Jun 29, 2011

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Flag of El Salvador  ,
Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ahhhhhhh... my last stop, Central America. I'll be honest, 90% of my days were as follows: wake up, eat, surf, eat, siesta, surf, eat, sleep.... that's it. That really describes it all, but I'll give a little more detail I guess. 

Waldo and I flew into San Jose, Costa Rica and got what we expected; a well developed, highly westernized city with way too many Americans. We immediately got out of the city and headed to a small surf town named Santa Teresa, which is right next to Malpais. (Thanks Ryan for the suggestion!) The town had its fair share of tourists, but nothing like many of the other surf towns in Costa Rica. We were able to find affordable food and accommodation that was about a 1 minute walk to the surf. The town is super laid back and had only one dirt road connecting the few businesses that existed in the town. When we first showed up, the surf at Playa Santa Teresa was max'ed out. The beach had waves with about 10 foot faces and they were mostly closing out. None-the-less, I paddled out and was able to catch a few waves that were really fun. After those bigger days, the surf backed off to about chest to head high for the rest of the time I was there. I was even lucky enough to get myself a decent barrel! Waldo tried surfing, but he is really bad at it. 

After saying good-bye to the awesome town of Santa Teresa, Waldo and I headed to Nicaragua. We had a solid day of travel trying out our really bad Spanish to get to our next destination, Playa Maderas. Playa Maderas is a surf beach close to the town of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. We stayed in a hostel where the waves would literally crash into the hostel. We couldn't get any closer to the surf. The only other building close to us was a restaurant, so it was a pretty secluded scene. We did spend some time in the touristy town of San Juan del Sur, where we just walked around, ate some good food, and enjoyed a post surf contest party. Once again, I was at a beach where the waves were about max'ed out. I spent a few days in decent sized surf where it was tough to find a good ride. Nicaragua is know for its consistent offshore winds, but because of a storm down south, the wind was onshore and screwed up the surf. The swell did back off after a couple of days and wind cooperated and I was able to score some great rides. Waldo and I were able to meet some great travelers in Playa Maderes, and we had a solid group of new friends to share the fun with. One of these friends, Fabien from France, was interested in seeing some new surf so we took off to another spot in Nicaragua, Popoyo. 

In Popoyo, we met up with another surfer in search of perfect waves, Jef from Belgium. Popoyo could hardly be called a town. On the dirt road there was about a dozen buildings that were either places to eat or places to sleep. We stayed in a hostel that was only 5 bucks a night, right on the ocean, and about as close as you could get to the surf break of Popoyo. The surf in Popoyo was amazing. Popoyo can handle just about any size and any tide, is usually the biggest wave around, has offshore winds about all day, and you can even time it to be in the water with only a few other surfers to share the wave with. The waves I surfed at Popoyo ranged from shoulder high to almost double overhead on the biggest day (solid 12 foot faces). One day we decided to take a taxi to a surf break I was planning on going to a couple years ago, but a head injury prevented me from going... Jef, Fabien and I went to Colorado, a beach break wave known to have lots of barrels. After a long taxi ride and a short hike, we had a fun day surfing chest to head high waves at Colorados. It wasn't epic, but it was fun. We surfed again at Playa Amarillo before heading back.  

On the way back, our beat up taxi got a flat tire. The problem was we replaced the flat with a flat. The difference was that the driver didn't care about the rim of the second flat tire. The driver would get out, pump the tire up with a hand pump, and have us quickly get in the car. We would drive as fast as he could while the tire continuously lost air and Jef would be hanging out the window telling the driver how low the tire was. Once it was really low again, we'd get out and repeat the process until we got back. On top of that, the lights on the taxi didn’t work, so he used his blinking indicator lights (only one worked) to see the muddy road we were driving. Luckily, we hit a large rock that somehow made the lights work again... until we hit another large rock 5 minutes later and it was back to the blinking indicator light! We made it back fine and headed out the next day to the city of Granada. 

After a fun night out in Granada, Jef, Fabien, Waldo and I decided to go to El Salvador. We didn't spend any time in any of the cities of El Salvador. We went straight to an area that would be cheap and easy for us to surf a handful of world-class waves. Our first stop was a small town of El Tunco to surf a beak called Sunzal. Sunzal is a slower, mushier wave, but the size was up... way up. The surf for the first few days in El Salvador was anywhere from solid overhead to double overhead. The face of the waves were anywhere from 8 to 14 feet those first handful of days. Because we were surfing point breaks, the size was manageable and a ton of fun. We had our moments of getting punished by the big sets, but the worst thing to happen was just some board dings and I got a black eye... at least it made me look tough! We jumped into the back of a truck and headed to a really small “town” of El Zonte. We ended up spending most our time in El Salvador here, where there was another great wave right in front of our hostel and a couple breaks a short ride away. We got around by a “taxi” that was just a truck with a lumber rack we held onto. One of the nearby breaks is K59. Although more crowded, it was one of my favorite waves. Just a really fun, ripable, right hand point break. We rarely saw surf under head high and we seriously scored in El Salvador... it was a great grand finale to my little trip around the world. 

I didn't use much of the GoPro because there were areas we were surfing where you didn't want to stand out, especially with a high-def camera. Crime rates are high and we had plenty of scary first hand accounts of beat downs, muggings and thievery. I was fully anticipating some kind of “incident,” but I was blessed enough to only have a few smaller things stolen from me. I did find a guy who stole my Sanuks (shoes) and when he gave them back he told me the crazy dog took them and brought them to his room...haha... at least I got them back! Most the locals we dealt with were always extremely kind and helpful and I'm already looking forward to my next trip down to Central America. 

I am blessed to have had the opportunity for this little trip of mine and the many people I met along the way. Like I said before, I was ready for, and expecting some serious trouble along the way, but I only had to deal with minor little incidents. As you can judge for yourself, the trip was everything I was hoping it would be and more. I fully plan on seeing much more of the world, but I need to go home-sweet-home for now and recharge.You only live once and we have an amazing world out there available for us to go and experience, you just need the drive to make it happen. Remember, “A journey of a thousand miles began with a single step.”

Thanks for reading my blog! 
Walker out! 

PS – PLEASE, when you see me, don't ask me what country was my favorite... 
PPS – Where's Waldo?

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