What's the best surf spots in California or South America?

I am currently living in Medellin until February. I want to find some of people favorite spots for surfing and community. I have heard Nicaragua and Guatemala have many options.

Multiple one month or more stays in countries below the US (CA, SA, Caribbean as all?). Spanish isn’t a problem. Safety, internet, and surf are priorities. Ive heard good things about Panama and CR but they amount of gringos currently in these places is sort of a turn off (Im a gringo…but that is my preference). Budget is sub $1500/month.

Thank you for the suggestions!


Hey, I posted something similar here you may want to check out.

I’m not a fan of CR myself (too touristy) but I’m a huge fan of Nicaragua! Same landscape, people, food, etc. as CR, and about 1/2 the cost. $1500/mo there will be more than enough. The surf is great in CR but it’s packed with gringo’s, as you mentioned. Nica has slowly started to develop some of that but it’s a long ways off. There are still plenty of breaks where you’ll be alone in the water (or maybe with a few other people)

Nica is extremely safe. Safer than even CR I believe. Gangs / drugs are not the problem there that they are to the north of the country. The people are extremely warm and friendly.

Internet is OK. Honestly it’s slow. A good connection is about 10mbps but a lot of beach hostels, etc. will be a bit slower. I routinely work from the coasts of Nica, hold skype/hangout/slack meetings, etc. It’s fine, but if I were to try and download huge files, I’d probably pull my hair out.

I admit I’m a bit biased. I love Nica, travel there 4/5 times per year, do business there, and have become a legal resident there (mostly for business purposes). However because of this I’m super familiar with the country. Avoid San Juan del Sur (gringo’s) and you should be in store for a pretty authentic experience.


That sounds cool. Maybe not my vibe tho. Im not a big smoker and the fewer people the better. I would really dig the option to camp on the beach or go witout seeing someone for a few days if possible. CR could be too busy for me nowadays

Thanks! This is pretty much exactly what i am looking for. Safe, mellow, slow, surf, and cheap. Ill invest more tim in nicaragua.


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Any places in Nic you would recommend?!

Yea. I’m a big fan of Popoyo. There are lots of nice places around and about 12
world class surf breaks to the north and south of it. Down in Guasacate (main
"strip" near by) there are a bunch of restaurants, hostels, etc. as well. To
the south, and north of San Juan Del Sur (SJDS), is Marsella and Maderas. There
are a bunch of beautiful beaches around the city of SJDS. SJDS itself is full
of immigrants (aka, ex-pats), and it definitely has a frat boy feel to it. Not
my favorite town but there is a lot of options there and has a night life going
on as well.

To the north, Leon is a very old colonial city and full of college kids. It’s
more of an intellectual type of town with lots of coffee shops, late night
dance parties, etc. The beach is only 20 minutes away which is nice because it
is HOT there.

Basically the pacific side of the country is one beautiful beach after the next
all the way across the country. The caribbean side I haven’t explored as much
but the Corn islands are beautiful.

The capital Managua is a sprawling city and fairly dirty. I personally love the
capital but I know most people who visit it do not. It reminds me of home (LA)
in that it’s sprawled out, has horrible traffic, and a bit grimey with very
nice pockets scattered here and there. A lot of night life and great
restaurants. For some reason it’s not scored very well on this site but it’s
very safe. Use common sense like anywhere else in the world. Watch your cell
phone. Never leave it on the table away from you for even 10 seconds. It will
be stolen. But that’s the rule in any poor country really.

Hope you enjoy Nica!

I spent February-April in Cocles, just south of Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica, a couple years back – there is surfing there and around, it has a diverse population (not too Gringo-touristy) and it would fit your budget. I had great Internet (a software developer rented my place before me). Just beware if you’re staying anywhere in Latin America over Semana Santa (Easter week) you might run into availability problems, so you’re being smart to investigate now. However, I showed up and found a place on the spot – as long as you’re booking for several months you should be OK. Anyway, this area is the Caribbean and jungle, so fairly humid, but in Feb. you’d be hitting the nicest and driest season. It is paradise – the wildlife is amazing, right out your back yard. Howler monkeys in trees just a few meters away were my morning alarm. I loved it there.

It’s interesting to read about folks’ Nicaragua experiences though – I didn’t make it there, just to the border a couple of times. I heard it was less safe than CR, but didn’t really investigate. Thanks for sharing.

Yeah i was in Mexico this year during spring time and some parts were pretty muggy. Getting the CA earlier is a priority. Each place we will stay will be for about a month so ill book April soon to get that locked up. I didnt think of Semana Santa. Thanks for the heads up.

Ill have to look at CR again. Your suggestion is what Im interested in and if CR can do that pretty easily i would love it. There are lots of things to see/do there.

Thanks everyone for the input!