From volcanic black sands to spots so secluded you could go for miles without seeing another person, Nicaragua’s beaches have a little something to offer everyone. The toughest part is figuring out which one to visit first. Here’s a list of the most remarkable beaches in Nicaragua.
Located 30 minutes from San Juan del Sur, Playa Maderas is the hipster of the family. Away from the hardcore party trail, the chill environment is perfect for relaxing. There are a handful of accommodations and restaurants that cater to those looking for an easy-going vibe. For an unbeatable view of the bay and epic sunsets, check out Arte-Sano. Digital nomads head to Selina Maderas, for the WiFi and daily yoga classes. Aspiring surfers will find a home at Maderas thanks to its incredible beach breaks. You’ll easily find a local teacher, a surfboard rental and cold beers.
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Playa Majagual and Mathilda
For a bit of the untouched, secluded, off-the-beaten-path kind of paradise, Playa Majagual really isn’t that hard to reach. A mere 18 minutes from San Juan del Sur, Majagual is one of the area’s best-kept secrets.
Oops … sorry about that. The secret is out.
Majagual is a world-class beach, with a 656ft (200 meters) bay with its pretty calm waves and clear sand. Typically no more than 10 people at any given time can be found on the beach. It’s a complete disconnection from noise and full immersion into nature.
With just one little ranchito to eat at, offering basic but decent food, Mathilda is a combo package with Majagual. The two beaches are divided by a rock formation and the entrance to both destinations is literally a block away from one another.
Mathilda also has clear sand, but unlike Majagual, it's known for its strong surf. Matilda is a low-key hostel right in front of Mathilda. Expect to be invaded by crabs at night and, if you’re lucky, a turtle may surprise you.
Balcones de Majagual is on the fancier side and very close to both beaches. Come well prepared when going to these beaches, there isn’t a corner store around. If visiting during the rainy season, it’s recommended to go in a 4x4 as the dirt road will be slippery.
Playa el Coco
Just south of San Juan del Sur and surrounded by thick jungle, Playa el Coco has probably one of the most kid-friendly waves and atmosphere in Nicaragua. And there’s an added bonus – the wildlife.
Howler monkeys will be your morning alarm and urracas might steal your breakfast. Playa el Coco is a little over a mile (2km) away from Playa La Flor, one of the most important turtle sanctuaries in the country. It’s pretty common to take a night trip there and roll the dice in hopes of catching turtles nesting. The timing is related to the phases of the moon; the crescent moon is when the turtles like to come out.
La Flor is one of the seven beaches in the world where you can experience a massive turtle nesting. Three thousand or more turtles arrive all at once. Turtle fans bypass luck and camp in La Flor for weeks to witness the rare event. When turtle watching, remember you must follow all the rules laid out by the rangers as the area is protected. No flash photography is allowed and flashlights can only be used with red paper, which is provided.
This southwest beach is beautiful from every angle. It’s completely empty of any infrastructure thanks to the effort of local people who fight to keep the beach open and free of developers. Currently, Playa Amarillo offers free public access for everyone – and the local people want to keep it that way.
The yellowish sand is truly stunning, and the coastline features the best sunsets Nicaragua has to offer. Just a 15-minute walk north from Playa Gigante, the main fishing village with a giant bay. Petty theft is a problem in Gigante so keep a close eye on your belongings while at the beach.
Probably one of the most authentic beaches with a notorious local vibe, La Boquita is located just an hour-and-a-half away from the capital city of Managua and offers the best local cuisine from red snappers to langosta a la termidor (lobster) to live clams all fresh, all delicious. A true foodie's paradise. Chat with a local fisherman to arrange a fishing trip.
Its proximity to the city of León has put the beachfront locale of Las Peñitas on the map. It’s a relaxed vibe with an up-and-coming tourist scene. But as its reputation grows, the area remains charming and filled with lots of activities to do and easy access to Reserva Natural Isla Juan Venado for a little turtle watching.
Popoyo is the surfer’s headquarters, competition-level waves are a big draw for anyone who dreams of catching ‘the big one.’ There are a host of surf camps, giving the area an international community vibe. Be warned: this is not a beach for beginners.
San Juan del Sur
The most visited beach town in Nicaragua, San Juan del Sur, offers a place for everyone. The party here goes above and beyond with a blend of the local and international crowd. Its location makes it a great base to explore the beaches in the south while providing access to restaurants and nightlife. ‘Sunday Funday’ is the party institution of San Juan del Sur where revelers get their degree.
Nicaragua also features a wide range of luxurious and secluded beaches with top-notch service. Rancho Santana has five beaches within its property: Playa Dunas, Playa los Perros, Playa Santana, Playa Escondida and Playa Rosada and delivers a curated farm-to-beach experience. Morgan’s Rock offers a fusion of jungle and luxuries with a sustainable approach. Aqua Wellness Resort at Redonda Bay is an all-time honeymooner's favorite.