Surf Trip of a Lifetime: Nicaragua
It’s not just about the path you choose but the people you meet along the way.
5000 miles driven, hundreds of memories and a shed load of waves has brought me and my partner Ben Hall, along the dramatic coastline from our starting point in California to Jiquilillo, Northern Nicaragua, which time wise, marks the half way point into our 4 month long surfari.
Since continuing through Mexico, stopping off at Puerto Escondido, we encountered somewhat of a flat spell. I was so eager to test out my new short board skills at this world class big wave spot, however Mother Nature had other plans.
Because of the lack of swell, we decided to continue down the coast in search of more waves. We headed straight for Guatemala, which was the most chaotic border crossing so far. Camping in the parking lot of a random chinese restaurant, we stumbled across a Guatemalan Circus which we decided to venture into along with the rest of the village and local police force.
Since the main roads don’t hug the coast in Guatemala, we bee lined it in half a day to El Salvador. The first beach we rocked up to was a coconut palm oasis where a kind lady known affectionately as ‘Tia Tita’ (Aunty Tita) greeted us with a prime spot to park up at. Later we had dinner with the whole family, sharing the fish that we caught that afternoon. Small but fun waves gave us a sweet taste of what was yet to come in El Salvador.
After a farewell to our El Salvadorian hosts, we continued south to the surf capital – El Tunco, a tropical version of Newquay, Cornwall, with all the familiar hustle and bustle. Seeking a more tranquil vibe, we ended up in El Zonte and sessioned a clean right hander until the sun went down.
While living out of the back of a truck, the people you meet can shape the course of the whole journey. We were lucky enough to be invited to stay at a lovely couple’s pad, where they set up a space tent for us in the back garden, introduced us to pulpas – the local version of a pizza pocket. (YUM), put on an outdoor cinema night and showed us around the best local breaks.
Just when we thought we couldn’t get any better luck with the humans we encountered, one morning during a dawny, I shared waves with a local ‘G’ – Jamie.. After chatting for a while it was apparent we were on the same wavelength, given our mutual love for the ocean.
Without any hesitation, he invited us on his trip to the southern beaches of El Salvador, where he spoke of un-surfed beaches, fishing trips and villages that seem to have been frozen in time.
On arrival, it became clear that his description of the area was spot on. We were welcomed into his friend Vadimir’s palace, an incredible ranch overlooking the Pacific. Pool, showers, icy beers, uninhabited beaches and freshly cooked food were all on the menu. It turned out Jamie and his friends were having an old school reunion and made us feel like we were a part of it.
Parting ways with the guys, we sailed through Honduras in four hours on half a tank of fuel in anticipation of the swell that had been predicted to hit the Nicaraguan coastline.
Half way down a rocky dirt track, we blew a tire, right out front of a perfect A frame – what are the odds!!!? – After wrestling with spare tires, jacks, wrenches and sweating our brains out, we grabbed the boards and dived into the fresh ocean.
We spent a few nights camped up on the beach by a Pan de Coco hut (Cocunut bread) where we made ourselves at home.
Having roughed it for a while and Ben getting a bad case of the diahreas, we treated ourselves to a wholesome hostel in Jiquilillo, where hammocks, coconut cinnamon popsicles, a library full of books and a nearby disc golf course kept us entertained for days.
Having bumped into old friends and meeting new ones, El Salvador and Nicaragua have taught me that it’s not just about the path you choose, but the people you meet along the way..
Until next time we continue south with a warm heart and an open mind.
When the surf is flat the locals improvise… tow in surfing, Nica style…