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Surfing Playa Avellanas in Costa Rica

Surfing Playa Avellanas in Costa RicaSurfing Playa Avellanas – The Basics 

Tired of sharing a lineup with hundreds of other surfers?

You want to surf with the locals and earn some Tico respect—then may we suggest planning a trip to Costa Rica’s legendary, Playa Avellanas.

Located just 2 kilometers from nearby and tourist trap Tamarindo, Playa Avellanas boasts some of the most consistent waves in the entire country.  This beach is gnarly for so many different reasons, the power, the height, the speed, it’s exactly what you’re looking for in a wave.

I’ve surfed just about every beach in Costa Rica and I would without a doubt say that if you want a consistent wave that won’t disappoint, then there’s no better beach than Avellanas.

The best part of Avellanas is the fact that there’s basically zero tourism in the town, I mean, there isn’t much at all in the town.  You have your standard surf hostels, a few taco joints, and whole bunch of badass expat surfers.  I’d been surfing Playa Tamarindo for months before I discovered this little gem and when I looked out at the breaks, I literally shit myself.  The beach is so incredibly vast that it’s able to deliver 7 different points, yeah, 7 different points to shred.

Because Avellanas receives such epic swells, you can catch a tasty right or left, the choice is absolutely yours.  My personal favorite (and the locals will agree) is the wave that pushes out from the river mouth. Here is a video to get you stoked.


Locals have termed this wave “Little Hawaii”, and you can honestly get barreled there almost 300 days a year.  What people forget about Costa Rica is that you can surf every single day, regardless what the wind decides to do.  Of course, an onshore or cross shore wind aren’t going to be ideal, but you can definitely find a few fun jibs regardless of the wind direction.

 Surfing Playa Avellanas in Costa Rica – The Waves

Tons of people flock to Costa Rica to do all sorts of surf related activities.  Whether you’re a first timer, intermediate, semi-pro, or SUP bro, you’ll find your happy place in Avellanas.  Unlike some of the local only beaches around the world, Ticos (Costa Ricans) are incredibly warm to foreign surfers.  As long as you don’t drop in on their waves or snag them in a lineup, you’ll keep your limbs—just kidding! Costa Rica is by far the safest country in Central America.

I can’t stress the abundance of surf points enough.  Because there’s seven points to surf, you rarely have to sit in the water and wait for some Chad to get his wave.  For the more experienced surfers, you should head north in the beach to the river mouth and catch the wave known as “Little Hawaii”.

If you’re entering the beach from the public parking lot, then just head as far right as you can.  Trust me, you’ll see that bad boy breaking in the distance.  Also, if you’re like me, and like to explore, you’ll find there’s a secret little dirt path that veers off the main road.

If you take that road (not fit for cars), you’ll find yourself right in front of this epic wave and definitely far away from the crowds.  I’ve seen this wave top 12 feet before, but most days you’re looking at a height anywhere between 4 and 8 feet.

Playa Avellanas Costa Rica

In addition, though most days the wave in front of Lola’s tends to stay pretty small, you can go barrel hunting steps from the parking lot.  This spot, known as “El Parquet”, normally adheres to a lot of the beginners and intermediates, but surely anyone can have fun riding that wave.

There’s a ton of surf lessons going on over here, so if you don’t want to dodge the New Jersey vacationers, then I would stay away from this break.

As you move down the beach, you’ll find a handful of other waves breaking, so you really can judge what you want to ride for the day.

La Purruja breaks over a reef and is popular with the more advanced surfers, El Estero is a consistent break and its peak allows for perfect lefts and rights.  There isn’t a strong current or a gnarly reef below where you’ll be surfing, so don’t be scarred to rip it.  Avellanas is always working, but the best conditions are going to be at high tide rolling in, or mid tide.

Nearby Beaches

  • Playa Tamarindo
  • Playa Grande
  • Playa Negra
  • Playa Langosta
  • Marbella (this place is epic)

The Town – Playa Avellanas

A few things to remember about Avellanas is that it’s not your typical lavish, all inclusive surf destination.  You won’t find Taco Bells or fancy resorts, it’s much more Ma & Pa vibe over there.

The majority of people who come and surf Avellanas for vacation find themselves either renting a beach house, sleeping in a hostel, or for the rich folk, staying at the JW Marriott just a bit north of Playa Avellanas.

Though the Marriott has its own private beach and a golf course, I’m a huge fan of supporting the local Ticos that are trying to fill their beds.  With smaller accommodation options, you’ll find that your dollar goes much further.

Local fruit and vegetable vendors will pull up their donkeys right on the beach and you can buy a backpack full of produce for under 5$.  But be careful, these guys will try to overprice some of their products if you look like a total Gringo, so try speaking a little Spanish.  Even if you don’t know any Spanish, you’ll get much more respect if you at least try to engulf yourself in the Tico culture.

As far as the town of Avellanas goes, there’s not much, but there is enough.  You can grab bite to eat at the famous Lola’s Bar & Grill, a place where almost everyone hangs out at after a day of surfing.

Beers are normally 1-2$, drinks are a bit more, and burgers are 5$.  The people that work at Lola’s are all legends; I’ve rolled in there with 25 cents and offered to tell jokes for beers, they’ll hook it up if you seem like a good person.

The Beach Box serves up organic breakfast and dinner tacos at about 2-4$/each.  Unfortunately there’s not much more food options in Avellanas, so family style dinners at hostels are huge here.

There are two market stores, where you can buy anything from pancake mix to toilet plungers, so don’t fret if you run out of something.

How to Get Here To Playa Avellanas

Due to its remoteness, getting to Avellanas can be challenging to some, but it’s easy if you know what you’re doing.  If you’re flying into San Jose, then either get a private shuttle (they’ll take you straight to Avellanas), or hop on a bus to Santa Cruz or Tamarindo.

From Santa Cruz, you can connect to the Avellanas bus, or take the 5$ shuttle from Tamarindo to Avellanas.  There’s a Santa Cruz-Avellanas bus early in the morning and one right before sunset.  The Tamarindo-Avellanas shuttle leaves every 2 hours from 8am-6pm.

Where to Stay in Playa Avellanas

Draco’s Surf Camp Costa Rica

JW Marriott:  This is a great option for families, or rich people, because you have all the amenities of a resort, but are located very close to an epic surf beach.  This hotel is going to run 400+/night, but worth it if you have the funds.

Draco’s Surf Camp:  This is without a doubt the best option for backpackers, families, or groups, because it has it all.  8+ bedrooms, a cooled pool, outdoor shower, lounge area, huge kitchen, air conditioning, basically everything you’d want when you’re in Costa Rica.

David, a great friend of mine happens to own and run this place.  Tell him that Jason sent you and I guarantee he’ll give you a little discount.

Generally, dorm beds are 15$/night and private rooms with A/C and bathrooms are 40$/night.  David runs this place like a bed and breakfast, so feel free to throw on your tunes, slice a mango, and lounge in one of the hammocks.

Hotel Mediterraneo:  Cozy little hotel/hostel type accommodation.  Fairly cheap, clean, and definitely safe.

Cabinas Las Olas: A tiny surf camp, located about a 5 minute walk from the beach.  You’ll be able to meet a bunch of other surf travelers and hot yoga girls here, if you don’t stay at Draco’s this is the place to be.  Dorm beds are between 10-20$/night.

Los Altos de Eros: A more luxurious and romantic option, probably not the best for surf bums. They say on their site, “We are hurricane proof and we don’t have drug wars. Good start!” They claim to be a 5-Star Costa Rica boutique hotel & spa resting on a 27 acre estate atop a small mountain with stunning views to the Pacific Ocean.

To Sum it Up 

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If you love surfing, hate line ups, and aren’t afraid to get frog house barreled, then a trip to Playa Avellanas is definitely a good choice.  There’s a ton of surf able beaches in the vicinity, so if you want to switch things up, it’s more than possible.

6

Surfing in Nicaragua

The best things about surfing in Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a top surf destination because of the general consistency of the waves and good weather conditions. There are ride-able waves almost every single day.  In the southern region, offshore winds blow all day long for an average of 300+ days per year.  Spots in this zone are greatly preferred for surfing, but there are waves up-and-down the coast.

Nicaragua has some of the best quality waves in all of Central America, mainly due to the long sweeping beaches and rivers. Some waves are just better than others, but the better waves attract more people. Like in many other countries, the best and most popular spots are the most crowded.  While it might not matter to a pro surfer, most of us would rather not fight for waves.

Nicaragua has so many surf spots which offer quality waves with less crowd compared to it’s cousin Costa Rica to the south  Nicaragua offers plenty of waves that appeal to a wide range of skill levels. For many a hollow wave is better than a mushy wave, and hollow waves are the trademark of Nicaragua.

Top Surf Spots of Nicaragua

There are many major surf spots in Nicaragua among them are some popular spots that are listed below:

Playa Hermosa

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Playa Hermosa is one of the best kept secrets South of San Juan Del Sur.  Playa Hermosa is over 1 mile long and is accessible only by boat and features lots of empty peaks with no local surfers!

The wave quality is better than average and features lots of peaks, long walls and the occasional barrel.   This spot is fun for almost all skill levels.  Because it is located South of SJDS, Playa Hermosa needs more swell than others to break, but this touch of inconsistency is more than offset by the lack of people in the line-up.  You will never have to share a peak here if you don’t want to.

Surf  Tips: If you are coming to Nicaragua to surf alone, stay in SJDS and take the short boat ride to surf Playa Hermosa.  The best months are April through September.  Mid to High tides are best. Please be cautious while travelling in these beaches.

WATCH OUT FOR: Empty peaks.

 Aschunchillo

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It is a lesser known spot located in Central Nicaragua.  It is a consistent beach break, located just outside of the offshore wind corridor and only 1.5 hours from MGA International.  As such, it’s best to try and surf it in the mornings when the winds are light.  The wave is fun and rip-able and occasionally lines up for some sick hallow sections off the river mouth.  If you want fun, but non-threatening waves and absolutely no crowds to hassle with, this is the wave for you.

Surf Tips: Access the wave through Gran Pacifica and make your way North.  The best peaks can be found a short walk to the North of the parking area, in front of the river mouth.  It’s best surfed on a lower tide. You can also drive straight to the beach by paying the guards $5 at the entrance.

The two best places to stay are Gran Pacifica or the Los  Cardones Eco Lodge down the road. For more amenities closer to the break the Grand Pacifica is the spot. There is a good wave right out front or you can walk to Aschunchillo. I stayed at Los Cardones once, it is very rustic compared to the Grand Pacifica. There are a good group of people that hang out there but the rooms are sub-par in my opinion. If you are going to stay there grab one of the rentals on the property.

WATCH OUT FOR: The black sand beach can get very hot in the sun.

Astillero Beach Break

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At the end of the road, in front of the river mouth, lies one of the best and least surfed beach breaks in Nicaragua.

Astillero is a small fishing village, but it is also known for it’s hollow waves and lack of crowds.  It’s best surfed when there is a little bit of swell in the water as it is usually a bit smaller here.  The rights are usually better than the lefts and there are multiple peaks to choose from – Works best when it’s double overhead or less and around a mid-tide.

Surf Tips: Get a 4wd and drive down the beach – you can park in front of the wave and avoid the long walk.  Be careful not to get caught by the high-tide.

WATCH OUT FOR:Dirty water during the rainy season and petty theft if you leave your vehicle unattended.

Playgrounds

Playgrounds

As the name indicates, this spot is one of the most fun and rippable waves we have in Nicaragua.  Breaking across a cobblestone reef, Playgrounds is often compared to a warm-water Trestles.  The left is usually longer than the right, but you can easily go both ways.  Equally fun on long boards and short boards, Playgrounds is a wave that a broad range of people can enjoy.  This wave starts getting fun at about chest-high and holds size up to double-overhead.

Playgrounds is a boat-only spot and while there can sometimes be a few people in the line-up, you can also surf here by yourself. Stay anywhere in Tola with boat access.

Surf Tips:To score it without the crowds, try surfing Playgrounds in between swells during the season.  It’s usually better in the morning or with light winds.

WATCH OUT FOR: The rocks!  Don’t put your foot down unless you want to  take home a battle scar.

Playa Colorado

If you want to get barreled, Playa Colorado is the place to visit in Nicaragua.  The secret is out and you won’t be surfing this spot alone but if it turns on, you will likely get one of the best barrels of your life.  Playa Colorado is a private beach and is accessed by either staying inside Hacienda Iguana (a private beach and golf resort) or by boat.  This wave can work on all tides, changes personalities frequently and can dish out a beating.

Surf  Tips: Stay inside Hacienda Iguana if you want to score Playa Colorado – if you can time the boats and the crowd you can still score an empty line-up here.  Bring your paddle arms and an extra board or two!

WATCH OUT FOR: Boats, Santana Walkers and other eager surf-trippers who will all paddle out and sit right next to you. 

Playa Santana

playa santana

A  wedgy beach break that almost always has a fun peak.  Playa  Santana is best known for  its Consistency and Wave Quality.  On small swell pulses, this break is punchy and rampy. When the swell get’s bigger, it’s a full-on barrel-fest.  If there’s one bummer about Playa Santana, it’s the crowd of locals that live in adjacent Limon. It’s rare to surf this spot alone and if it’s good, you could be battling 40 heads for a peak.

Surf TipsThe wave turns on at mid to high tide and stays fun until about mid-tide going out.  If you want to beat the crowd, try waiting until after high-tide to paddle out.  Early season, when the water is cool, also cuts down some of the crowd. 

WATCH OUT FOR: Other surfers!

Playa Maderas

surfing-at-playa-maderas

Playa Maderas, the most popular surfing beach near San Juan Del Sur.  Playa Maderas is predominately a beach break and breaks year-round.  It’s a rippable wave that caters to a variety of surfing abilities.  Maderas is famous for its Consistency and Wave Quality .  San Juan Del Sur is home to many local rippers as well as busloads of wannabe surfers so expect to share the line-up when you are here.

Surf TipsIf you zig when all the other’s zag, you can still get fun and uncrowded waves at Playa Maderas.  When the swell is small, try showing up at low-tide.  You’ll most likely have the beach to yourself and there will be some fun corners to ride.  This also works when the swell is BIG, when most people go surf somewhere else and it’s too much for the casual surfer to handle.

WATCH  OUT FOR: Other surfers and submerged rocks!

Popoyo

popoyo

Popoyo is a staple and it’s the wave that put Nicaragua on the surfing map.  This powerful reef break goes both left and right (the left is usually better) and offers long, powerful walls and sometimes a thick barrel section.  It’s very consistent and magnifies even the smallest swell.  As you might imagine, there is a pack of locals and ex-pats alike who have this place wired.  It’s a shifty wave, but it’s only one peak so competition for your daily quota is guaranteed here.  This wave breaks over shallow reef, so take that into consideration as well.

Surf Tips: Popoyo breaks at all tides but most people tend to prefer high tide.  Give low tide a try, with a smaller swell, and you will be rewarded.  Otherwise, try Popoyo during a long stretch of good surf (the crowd will be tired and Panga Dropsmellow) or in the off-season.

WATCH OUT FOR: The reef!

Panga Drops

If you want a solid wave across all of the criteria, look no further than Panga Drops.  This isn’t the best wave in Nicaragua by any means, but if  you value a wave that is fun most of the time, doesn’t really ever get too crowded and can be enjoyed by most skill levels, you have to consider Panga  Drops.  Located at the North end of Playa Colorado, this wave is a deep-water, horseshoe reef which magnifies swell and throws shifty lefts and rights at you.  It breaks at all tides, on all swells and all times of the year.  You should definitely try it when visiting Nicaragua.

Surf Tips: Panga Drops breaks pretty far out and is affected by strong offshore winds, most common in the off-season.  Try checking it out on a solid swell with light or no-wind and you’ll be trading big, shifty peaks with just a few friends.

WATCH OUT FOR: Stingrays  and strong currents!

Best Places to Stay and Surf

Casa de Safari

This house is located within easy access to most surfing beaches. They arrange airport transportation, arrange for surf lessons, board rentals and more.

Popoyo Surf Lodge

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Popoyo Surf Lodge is nestled into the valleys of Nicaragua’s southern Pacific coast in Playa Guasacate. PSL rests on on a 14 acre spread of tropical gardens, amidst  a surfer’s paradise, intimate and personal, with access to a seemingly endless supply of world class surf breaks. These breaks receive year round swell from the southern hemi’s and the waves are groomed to perfection by the consistent, prevailing offshore winds. Here you get to experience an unparalleled knowledge of the waves, the breaks and the the local community.

NSR Surf Reports

NSR has scoured the coast of Nicaragua to find the very best places for surfers to stay. All rental properties include access to killer waves. They are perfect for all surf trips. If you’re looking to minimize your travel time and maximize your surf time, stay with Nicaragua Surf Report (NSR) – beach  rentals with waves!

Villa Pinolera

Villa Pinolera is a beautiful private residence located in trees, only steps from Maderas Beach and 15 minutes outside San Juan Del Sur. You can be here within 3 hours of  arriving at Managua International Airport. Villa Pinolera is a full  service rental, complete with housekeeper, 24 hour security guard and even a meal plan service providing three delicious and freshly prepared meals per day.

Villa Pinolera provides the perfect, private retreat that is close to everything and yet quiet and secluded. This option is ideal for families, long boarders, novice surfers, beach lovers and groups that want to mix surfing in with taking in the sights, lounging in the  hammock and on the beach.

Surfari Charters

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Surfari Charters provide professional guided transportation on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua for hard core surfers and fishermen, with a family style twist.

Casa Cantamar

Casa Cantamar is one of the few truly beach front homes available for vacation rental in this area. It is situated on perhaps Nicaragua’s most beautiful stretch of sand, and is conveniently located right between two premiere surf breaks. This property is  located near Panga Drops, Playa Colorado and Los Perros. Board rentals available on request.

Getting There

If arriving  on an international flight, you’ll land at Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (MGA) in Managua. As well as  flights from neighboring capitals such as San José and San Salvador (served mainly by COPA and TACA), Managua receives direct flights from major US hubs Atlanta, Miami and Houston through Spirit Airlines, Continental, American Airlines and Delta.

You  can enter Nicaragua by land from Honduras and Costa Rica. International buses pull into Managua, often via Granada and Rivas (if coming from the south); it’s also possible to take local services to and from the border. There is  a water crossing from the border at Los Chiles, Costa Rica, to San Carlos; from here it is a five- to seven-hour bus ride or an hour-long plane ride on to Managua. It is also possible to cross from La Unión in El Salvador to Potosí in Nicaragua, either by arranging  to cross with local fishermen, or with the passenger service Cruce del Golfo.

Accomodation

Most budget travelers to Nicaragua  at some point find themselves in a Nicaraguan hospedaje – a small and usually pretty basic pension-type hotel, most often family-owned and run. Simple hospedajes charge around US$5–15 for a double. For this you get a bed and fan; in many places you’ll have to share a bathroom, and breakfast is not normally included. Hostels (US$5–10 for a dorm bed) are common in backpacker hot spots like León and Granada but rare elsewhere.

Hotels (from US$20) tend to be more luxurious, with air conditioning, cable TV and services like tours and car rental; you are less likely to see these in very small towns. Camping is pretty rare, thanks to the low cost of accommodation. If you’re determined to camp, the most promising areas are beach spots around San Juan del Sur, Isla de Ometepe and the Corn Islands.

 Resources:

  • http://www.roughguides.com/destinations/central-america-and-the-caribbean/nicaragua
  • https://surfnicaragua.wordpress.com/
  • http://www.surfnicaragua.com/
  • http://www.surfline.com/
  • Derek’s Brain

 

4

Surf Trip By Car Through Mexico & Central America. Issue 3: El Salvador

El Salvador – Surfing La Libertad

Since my last post, I’ve been living on the third floor of Hotel Renacer, in full view of Punta Roca—perhaps the best view (from a surfer’s perspective) of the point break. I watched a local connect every section from the top of the point to cove at la paz, around a minute long ride!
The Renacer provides modest accommodations with the luxury of AC for $8 per night. It’s on the corner of La Libertad’s waterfront road. Anybody doing anything near the ocean has to pass by our balcony. We’ve gotten a thorough feel of the coming and goings of the locals, tourists, and traveling surfers over the last two weeks.

The restaurant and general store downstairs sees a  lot of foot traffic—surfers looking for a post surf Gatorade; traveling San Salvadorians; and gobs of local, and some not so local, El Salvadorian surfers, who bring the ladies running the hotel to their wits end sometimes.

Drinking starts as early as 8am and continues until after dark when the restaurant downstairs closes around 8pm. They drink a lot, talk loudly, and laugh more than anybody else I’ve encountered. One Salvadorian surfer has been staying at the hotel as long as we have and his laugh is legendary and unmistakable; you really can’t help but laugh once you hear it.

Surf Trip By Car Through Mexico & Central America. Issue 3: El Salvador

However, a crowd of ruffians assembles downstairs to drink and smoke all day on the weekend and some weekdays. Daisy, the woman in charge, when the owner, Don Allen, is away, kicked them out one night. They’re returned bright and early to continue their revelry. They rarely surf, but compose a substantial part of the “surf bum” population in La Libertad.

They asked us to join them, and in effect buy them some beers, when we returned from surfing. We said we’d change and meet them downstairs soon. But it wasn’t soon enough, as Daisy kicked them out. They told us from out the barred open window that they were treating us like gringos from now on and that we weren’t allowed in the water. Oh the drama!

We encountered a situation where tourists had blown some dough consistently, and now it was expected after a certain point. The group was strong enough to threaten and impose their expectations on extended guests of the hotel.

They don’t seem to understand the difference between the cost of their day-long drinking and my budget of mostly food and water to stay ready for the surf, something they didn’t seem to concerned about.

It got so bad, Daisy quit. At the crossroads of La Paz, we’ve encountered the seedier and rougher element lonely planet mentions. Things have cooled down at the hotel, but I’m off to explore San Salvador and hunt down some good coffee in the picturesque Ruta de Las Flores.

On whole, El Salvadorian’s are very cool people. They have a uncanny ability to spark up a conversation and get a laugh. It’s provided some consist motivation to practice my Spanish.

I didn’t end up getting the tutor, as he was unavailable for a week, and I have also lost my debit card, so I’m being very frugal (another one is on the way). I found a spanish workbook in the downstairs library which is in a pile of fiction and nonfiction books mostly in spanish. The only books in English were on the afterlife—not that appealing at the moment. The textbook, all in Spanish, has been pretty helpful along with my dictionary, and direction from Nico.

Surf Trip By Car Through Mexico & Central America. Issue 3: El Salvador
We were disappointed that a Reef Pro surf contest had been scheduled for the week ahead of us after we arrived. The waves were pumping, and we watched pros surf an excellent wave for a week.

While not a top-32 event, we saw the likes of Josh Kerr and Damien Hobgood in the water, looking to pick up some more contest points for the ASP tour. The quality of surfing was awesome, and watching accomplished surfers revealed the potential of the wave, getting us psyched for our own time in the water.

The contest drew people from all over El Salvador; its quite a big deal to the community and everyone is laughing and bubbling with energy. This is the first surf contest I’ve watched, and it was not a bad alternative despite that the waves were firing.

Food and drink vendors with tents, grills, and coolers packed with meat and beer stacked themselves along the smooth stones of Punta Roca. Many made fortifications to their week-long camp by building up rocks around their tent to gain some elevation, visually enhancing it against competitors; to protect it from the tide; and to firmly establish their prime real estate.

I either sat on the rocks or grabbed a chair if one’s available and watched the contest 50 yds away under the shady tent with a cold Pilsner in hand. On high tide, you couldn’t get any closer to the action without getting doused by the spray of a wave, and even then, sometimes that was unavoidable and a welcome reprieve from the July heat.

Give El Salvadorians a surf contest with great waves and they take it to a whole ‘nother level. The cheers following a mighty hack and the howls and groans from watching a heavy wipeout built the background noise to the announcer’s coverage.

Often when there was a break in between sets of waves, a pretty girl would walk by captivating the attention of everyone under the tent. If she was with a guy or anybody for that matter, the crowd was silent, but eagerly chattering quietly and laughing.

If the girl was alone, the crowd erupted into a roar of cheers, calls, hoots, whistles, claps, and laughs that usually drew a shy smile from the girl of interest. It’s all very friendly, even chivalrous, and a fun part of the culture to experience.

The week following has turned La Libertad, specifically the touristy and surfing area of La Paz, into a ghost town comparatively without the traffic of the Reef Pro.

The surf is usually best and the most crowded in the early morning (6am to 11am), but I’ve found it exceedingly difficult pull myself out of bed early enough, though I’ve been managing to get up around 6-630 to at least watch the surf. We were doing the same thing we did at La Bamba in Mexico, but now we have a little shelter from the day’s heat and the luxury of the AC.

The late afternoons and evenings are when we’ve scored our best sessions. If the wind picks up, it usually glasses off by the evening and the temperature is cooler. Punta Roca faces south, so the sun sets everyday to the west above the point, much like Santa Barbara sunsets. When the waves are heavy and the sets have pushed an ocean mist into the air, combine with the setting sun, it is reminiscent of some memorable sessions I’ve had in Santa Barbara.

The sun set is replaced by the massive thunderstorms that move towards us from the North East. Its mesmerizing being caught between two powerful forces, riding one for enjoyment, and enjoying the other from the shelter of our third floor balcony.

Across the street from our hotel., we’re bombarded by a local restaurant’s monotonous playlist of about 20 love songs like “Take my Breath Away” and “Forever Starts Tonight” that they play on repeat. They’ve also played some interesting Spanish covers of “Sounds of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel and “Last Kiss.”

When I was making plans for this trip, I went through a number of potential routes from starting in Panama and working my way up Central America  to only visiting one or two countries.

I ended up buying a ticket to Mexico. And now, after weighing out my options at the halfway point of my trip, I’ve bought a return ticket out of San Jose Costa Rica for September 10. Fortunately, I had the foresight to set my plans in motion, but not get strictly attached to the outcomes. It’s placed less pressure on meeting my destination deadlines on paper and allowed more emphasis on enjoying each spot I visited, which is after all why I’m taking this trip.

This means I’ll be spending little if any time outside traveling and busing in Nicaragua. I’m bummed about it, but I’d rather save it for another time and really enjoy it by spending quality time amongst the people, countryside, and at the breaks.

Punta Roca is a great wave that delivers pretty good consistency and is great for working on my technique. We’ve surfed plenty of times now with 5 or less surfers in the water when there is consistently 20+ every morning. I love surfing this wave–there’s usually a barrel every set.  There’s really no reason to leave, but I’m looking forward to a remoter setting at Punta Mango.

Surf Trip By Car Through Mexico & Central America. Issue 3: El Salvador

Punta Roca, El Salvador

I’ve met a lot of travelers doing a trip similar to mine. Few spend more than a week in each spot. They stay for a few days and move on. And for the most part, they hadn’t encountered any great surf. Many of them got their best surf at La Bamba and that was the longest they stayed in one place.

I’ve surfed Punta Roca overhead and barreling by myself because I was patient and willing to wait for the right time. It’s less stressful to stay in a spot longer, and you also get better deals on accommodations.

Nico, the Frenchman I’ve been traveling with, is leaving to visit his girlfriend in the U.S. for two weeks. I’ll be staying close to La Libertad for at least another week waiting for my debit card to arrive…keeping an eye on the swell…and will be catching a bus to Punta Mango, a remoter break east of Punta Roca.

It’s supposed to be a heavier barreling wave, and I may spend as many as three weeks there, waiting for the right swell. Nico will rejoin me with the van, and we may be able to do some beach camping for a little bit.

Yesterday, I got a bus into San Salvador, mainly to track down a short story book in Spanish (hopefully, I’ll be able to read and understand it well someday). I also ended up seeing the El Salvadorian Museum of Art.

I really enjoyed the color choice of the artists. Some of the paintings have heavier themes as they were created around the civil war and the tumultuous periods prior. I’m heading further inland today to the Rutas Las Flores, a string of towns filled with local artists and craft makers amid volcanoes and coffee farms—the real reason I’m leaving to the coast: to find a great cup of coffee.

By the last week in August, I’ll start making my way to Costa Rica, and I have to stay a night or two in Nicaragua, and maybe a few more, if its pumping. I’m meeting my girlfriend, Brandy, in Costa Rica, for the remainder of my trip in September. Looking forward to her company and white water rafting and hiking in tropical paradise! Hopefully, I’ll be surfed out and not surfed starved by that point.

This will be my last post for a few weeks, when I’ll hopefully have some exciting stuff to share from Punta Mango. Thanks for all of your support and guidance! And special thanks to my roommates for gracefully accommodating a sub letter in my absence, and Vu for coming through with the replacement debit card!!

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