And this is pretty much what we expect out of February. The farmland and jungle dry up, the wind whips pretty hard (offshore, but gusty), the water gets chilly thanks to upwelling, and sets tend toward few and far between. Honestly, it’s the time of year that almost makes us expats down here pine for desk jobs back home. Almost.
So when is the best surf season in Nicaragua? Assuming you are looking for consistent waist to head high swell then you want to be here sometime between then end of March and September.
Consistent southern swell typically shows up at the peak of the dry season at the end of March, slowly building over the next few months. Then once April arrives we get to take advantage of good waves while things aren’t quite hectic with too many guests yet, but there is a shadow looming on the horizon that bears down on us without remorse every year; Semana Santa. Twelve years of Catholic school and I still have no idea how they pick the date for Easter (I think it has something to do with the Pope seeing his shadow), but I do know that in 2014 Easter falls on April 20th. This means that Nicaraguans from all walks of life will descend on every beach in the country for the Thursday through Sunday before the 20th. In a country of 6 million, 3 million of those live in the capitol, Managua. So for four days a year we go from a sleepy fishing pueblo of 500 to a crazy beach party with six to ten thousand people. It is actually a great time and unforgettable experience, but it wouldn’t make for a pleasant surprise.
With May come the rains. Temperatures cool off a bit and the swell continues to build better consistency. May through August is prime-time for southern Nicaragua. The swell is dependable and big days can generally be expected from June on. What makes this time of year best for Southern Nicaragua is the wind created by the lake effect. All sorts of weather conditions go into making each break work at its best; swell height, swell direction, tidal conditions, and steady offshore winds. Most spots have wind conditions that are usually predictable, but shift directions at different times of day. Down here in the Rivas isthmus, Lake Nicaragua creates those steady, daylong offshore winds. That’s not to say that onshore never happens, but Gigante isn’t like some places where the wind always turns onshore after noon.
September and October are the peak of the rainy season and October is when the real tropical storms start to hit Gigante. Every once in a while an October storm breaks loose and hits us at the end of September, but it is uncommon and the swell is still good and worth the gamble, especially during the first two weeks of the month. The rains come down hard almost every night and the wind can get high if a storm smacks us right in the face. October is so rainy that we pull the boat out of the water and button down for the low season.
The best waves in Nicaragua depend on what kind of waves you are looking for and when you are coming.
Then we get to November and the dry season. Remember how I said the high season is for waist to head high waves? Well, days like that still come in during November and December and you can definitely score until mid-January, but good swell transitions from being the norm to the exception as time moves on. This means that November on is when things get perfect for learning. If you are looking to learn to surf or aren’t quite to the point where you are hunting for barrels yet, November through January and March through May are the time of year you want to come down. Come late January the winds kick up for a few weeks, and the water cools down again. Which brings us back to February which I would recommend for someone who is just starting out or needs to knock some rust off of their surfing hinges. Plenty of boat tour companies will be more than happy to take your money in February, but it is a lot of expensive driving around looking for big waves that probably aren’t going to come. Even if it is when we have our version of ‘cold’ water, it’s probably warmer than anything you get at home all year long. The silver lining is that the waves may be less than perfect but this is the best time of year to have days all to yourself. Personally, I will take fun little waves all for me over perfect waves with crowds almost any day.
Everyone is different and we just want to make sure every guest has the best time that they possibly can. This is your vacation and we understand that you need to make the best of what little time you have off.
Also, a reminder that our Early Season Special on March 23rd is less than a month away and spots are filling up fast, so email firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at our US phone number (562) 888-1518 to lock up a slot for only $900 our all-inclusive Boat Tour for week!