When is the Best Surfing Season in Nicaragua?

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.

Nicaragua Waves | Colorados | Giants Foot Surf

Nicaragua Waves in September – Photo Credit: Jake Zlotnick

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 reservations@giantsfoot.com 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!

26 Comments

  1. Manuela Stricker says:

    Hi!
    I’m planninga surftrip in february to nica and i like funny fat slow waves and legthanders, cause i’m goofy. Can you recommend nica in february for not anymore beginner like me?:)thank you!

    • Bryce says:

      I wouldn’t recommend February for anyone. Too flat, too cold, and too windy. The absolute best time for a beginner is November/December, or March/Early April.

  2. Tim Quigley says:

    Looking for a spring trip to Nica…with my two newbie kids…15/17…just getting into surfing(waikiki a few times)….is there some gentle roller places? Descent weather around April 1st?
    Thx

    • Bryce says:

      April can be good for gentle rollers. The later you go in the month, the heavier it’s going to get. Also, there’s the Semana Santa risk that changes date every year. I would say the best time for newbies is November/December followed by March/April.

  3. Fabian says:

    What about the two last May weeks? What are the conditions like during that time of the year?

    • Bryce says:

      Mid-May is when prime time starts. Big swell with barrels all around for about 3 months. It’s a GREAT time to be on the boat.

  4. Candy says:

    Hi,
    Im planning to visit nicaragua and (learn how to) surf, but unfortunaly i can only come in august. I read everywhere (on your page aswel) that its kind of party time for surfers then. But im really a beginner, and i was wondering if there are some spots not too big, even in august ? Please tell me yes 😉

    • Bryce says:

      Part of the trick to surfing (especially this far out) is that you are betting on the weather. There are trends, but sometimes trends don’t play out. The time when I’d say you run the highest chance of big waves that would severely limit your protected learner beach options is mid-May through the end of July. That being said, it’s weather. August is a gamble and if I were a betting man (which I am :P) I would bet that August will be a little big for a fresh beginner. The swell tends to weaken over August, September, and October, but monthly trends don’t really mean anything to you if the week you are here there is huge swell. November, December, and March are your best bets as a newbie.

      • candy says:

        Hi Bruce,

        thank you very much for your honest reply. I guess I will stick to Portugal this year then 😉 But I wont give up on Nicaragua.

  5. Jonesy says:

    Late May, beginning of June, for an
    intermediate surfer. Shoulder to a foot or two overhead? That possible on Emerald Coast/Mukul?

    • Bryce says:

      That’s about what to expect. Mukul is located right in front of Manzanillo, but Manzanillo is a picky wave and definitely does not work every day; not even every week. Mukul is isolated and trips out of there can be pricey.

      • cmc says:

        hey bryce,

        If i am heading that way sometime between Nov-and April when’s the best bet to score shoulder/head surf – or in that range is that size on a storm by storm basis? Can i get boat to nearby breaks from there if Manzanillo isnt breaking? thx

        • Bryce says:

          November or April. Avoid January and February at all costs if you want to score solid swell. You can get a boat from Manzanillo if it isn’t working… but it’ll cost about as much as booking a gold helicopter piloted by the Donald.

          • cmc says:

            great feedback thx. so basically if at Mukul stuck at Mukul – kinda figured as much.

  6. Jenny says:

    I’m an intermediate surfer coming for surf Aug 2-8. My friends want to come with me but are seriously concerned about how big the surf will be. Is there manageable surf around that won’t kill me or them?

    • Bryce says:

      August is toward the end of prime time, so coming as a complete beginner can be tricky. Seven days in a row of big swell can definitely happen in August, and if that is the week you are here the other three weeks in the month don’t mean a whole lot.

  7. justin says:

    looking to come down in july and surf ( experience surfer ) with wife . She doesn’t surf looking for a sweet spot for her to chill on beach and do a few thing with her like some tours . Looking to do 5-7 trip. Thanks again

    • Bryce says:

      Hey Justin! July is a good time to score great swell in Southern Nicaragua. We have a non-surfing companion rate of $1000 for 7-nights that get the same all-inclusive experience without going out on the boat. We are in a small fishing pueblo, so if she likes chilling on the beach and general low key campo living it’s a good time. We are best at surfing and this isn’t a zip-lining kind of town, but we can set up yoga sessions, massages, and a few other activities/luxuries if she is interested. We do have shorter stay options available, but the best deal is at the 7-night mark.

  8. joshua says:

    Intermediate older surfer looking for head to 2x waves… read great things about you lot, so thought I’d inquire and try to find out a little more. Which is better for consistent surf down there: mid-August-early-September… or mid-February- late-March? I know there are for sure better times to come, but my work schedule is pretty rigid.

    Cheers

    • Bryce says:

      Mid-August/Early-September, hands down. Things get a little risky a bit deeper into September because storms become more likely and that can totally mess with your trip. Great swell, great direction, and then a storm throws the wind onshore screws it all up. There’s no way to know until about a week ahead, so it’s best to book a little closer to your date that time of year.

      Mid-February to Mid-March is one of the riskiest times of year. It can be cold, windy, and flat. Late March can get really good, but it’s a gamble.

  9. Mitch says:

    Was looking through your post and still had a few questions about early March (1st two weeks). How cold is it in early March? What % do you think the chances of days being too windy, % being flat/not rideable?

    Thank you for your insight. Nice website.

    Mitch

    • Bryce says:

      It’s a gamble. The last two years have been windy and cold, the six years before that were clean and a bit of swell. So, I guess with those numbers it would be a 25% chance of getting skunked.

      Math.

  10. Mizverde says:

    I’m an intermediate surfer (weekend warrior) and am thinking of a trip in late November/early December to Gigante area. I don’t want double overhead or barrels per se, but I would like more than mushy shoulder high grovel sessions. Will I still have fun at this time of year? Thanks!

  11. Björn says:

    Hi,

    I’m a beginner/intermediate longboarder looking for smaller peelers up to head high. Went to Costa Rica last January and had a good trip. Is coming to Nica in Jan plain stupid (yes, read your comments above 🙂 because of consistency (as I don’t really need that big waves)?

    Bonus question: do you have any thoughts on other good places to go in Jan? Thinking of El Salvador and Bermuda.

    Cheers,

    • Verina Olivari says:

      Hi Bjorn,

      It’s a hit or miss in January. It could be flat or there could be swell. The waves here are typically more top to bottom and have a lot of power but the boats at Giants Foot could take you to some great spots that are fun for all kinds of boards (and less crowd too).

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