I am writing this in February when the vegetation has dried up, the wind (still offshore) has picked up, the water is chilly thanks to upwelling and sets tend toward few and far between. Honestly, February makes me dream about the best time of year to surf in Nicaragua.
So when is the best surf season in Nicaragua?
For consistent waist to head high swell, Nicaragua is best between the end of March and September. Consistent southern swell typically shows up during the peak of the dry season, at the end of March. The swell will build over the next few months.
In April, we get to take advantage of good waves while crowds are minimal. The only exception is Semana Santa or Holy Week, the week proceeding Easter. If you are here at that time, be prepared for Nicaraguans descending on every beach in the country for the Thursday through Sunday before Easter (April 20th). 3 million people, half of Nicaragua’s population live in the capital of Managua. As a result, during this time out town of Gigante will transform from sleepy fishing pueblo of 500 to a crazy beach party with 6-10 thousand people. It can be a great time and unforgettable experience, but it is an important thing to be aware of when booking your surf vacation in Nicaragua.
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 tend to be predictable, but they will shift directions at different times of day. Down here in the Rivas province, Lake Nicaragua creates 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. In October, the wet season tropical storms start to hit Gigante. Occasionally these storms will arrive in September but it is uncommon and the swell is still good, especially during the first two weeks of the month.
The best waves in Nicaragua depend on what kind of waves you are looking for and when you are coming.
November is the dry season. During November and December waist to head high waves, comparable to high season can occur. 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 from November on is the perfect time for beginner surfers. 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.
I would recommend February 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!