So, you’re planning a surf trip and reading reviews to decide where to go. A few weeks ago, I was too and that’s why I decided to write a very important and real review, to help you decide exactly where you should go. There are plenty of photos and websites to convince you of beautiful waves and stellar hospitality across all of Central America. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and not know where to go because they all look the same: hammocks, beach views, big waves, and delicious food. So, I’m going to help you out and tell you why you should spend your vacation catching waves at Surf Tours Nicaragua.
I just returned from the trip of my life at STN. It was everything I hoped it would be. First of all, it’s important for you to know that I wasn’t looking for a 5-star resort with pool boys and delivered margaritas. If that’s what you’re looking for, this isn’t it. While, I’m sure that Hector or Dale would be happy to bring you a margarita at the pool because they truly care about every guest, this place is for fellow lovers of travel and life who want to enjoy the local culture, have late night jam sessions, and live care-free and happy. I was a solo traveler from America who was looking to get away from the everyday fast-paced life in America and spend as many hours surfing as my arms would allow me during the day while living up the music and chill vibes with new friends at night…all without any reminders of commercialized American life. So, here’s the quick list of why I loved staying at STN:
Top 5 reasons to choose Miramar:
1. Uncrowded – this is key if you want to surf a lot
2. Wave variety – 2 big breaks (The Point and Pipes) just steps from the camp for advanced surfers or a beginner beach (La Flore) just a few minutes drive down the road. Puerto Sandino is just a quick boat ride away for the serious surfers.
3. Unbelievable sunsets. Nuff said.
4. Local vibe – it’s a hidden gem. The locals are wonderful. It’s a safe place to wander around and meet new people. Try the Helado de Coco from the guy’s house down the street.
5. It’s nothing like America. This is the real Nicaragua in the most beautiful kind of way.
Top 5 reasons to choose Surf Tours Nicaragua:
1. The people, the people, the people. I would list this as number one, two and three because of how amazing they are. The owner – Ryan, the surf guides – Noah and Dale (affectionately called Dalé, pronounced “Dah-Lay”), the camp manager – Hector, the photographer – Trent, and Marvin – the boat captain and camp driver, all love surfing, people, music and life in a way that’s contagious. Their whole goal is to make sure you have the best trip possible all while making you feel like the camp is your home. Honestly, they are the true reason that I had the time of my life. I also met and quickly loved the other family that stayed at the camp with me. STN is a beautifully welcoming place to surf, enjoy life and make new life-long friends. Within minutes of my arrival at the camp, Noah showed me to my room, gave me a smiling tour and made me feel like I belonged in the STN family.
2. The Rancho – This is the patio/deck that overlooks the water and is the absolute best spot at the whole camp. You can lay in a hammock or a rocking chair and watch sick surfing, enjoy the amazing sunsets, or just listen to the waves after dark. When I go back again, I’m going to book the hammock package and skip the air-conditioned room (I don’t think that’s a thing but I’m sure they could make it happen). 2b. The camp grounds are blissfully tropical with palms, plants, rock pathways and richly stained bamboo fencing.
3. The food – There are 3 Nicaraguan women who do all the cooking and cleaning for the camp (unless it’s lobster night and Hector sparks up the outdoor charcoal grill). The food is phenomenal. One night was bbq chicken with grilled pineapple and rice another pork with fried plantains. We also went fishing one morning and the ladies made us fried fish tacos for lunch a couple hours later…talk about fresh fish. Be sure to try the Chocolate Habanero hot sauce on any of the dishes. Fresh fruit and amazing Nicaraguan coffee are available daily. My last night there was a fire-grilled lobster dinner that I got to watch being prepared on the smoky outdoor grill while drinking Tonia (Nicaraguan beer), listening to tropical jams and a enjoying a killer sunset. It was unbelievable.
4. The music – Ryan, Dale and Hector can shred but they’re even better at lighting up the night with improv bongos, guitar, and singing. They all 3 play drums and guitar so they would just sit down and jam for hours at night. Duffy turned on the string lights and lit candles for an even more enchanting ambiance. I probably should have put this as #2 because it was my favorite “event” of the trip. On one of the nights, everyone joined in with a salt shaker or water jug because the vibes were so good.
5. The local influence – Aside from surfing, I wanted to be a positive part of something bigger. The other guests and myself all brought an extra suitcase full of toys, clothes, dental care, skateboards, and other things to donate to the local school. The waves of smiles from that day were enough to make the trip worthwhile alone. I’ll remember it forever. The camp also employs some of the locals and spends time teaching them English. I’m hoping that Antonio, the 11 yo boy who lives down the street will run the camp someday.
Other noteworthy things to mention:
• Volcano boarding is an experience you shouldn’t miss. There’s nothing else like it. But, be prepared for a decent workout, the winds are strong and you have to carry your board up to the top. $5 buys you someone else to carry your board to the top.
• Get the Helado de Coco, it’s coconut ice cream that you sip out the corner of a plastic bag. Tasty!
• Go to Salsa Night (not for kids). I can’t really salsa. I just freestyle and pretend that no one is watching. But, watching everyone else dance their hearts out was inspiring. Ask the camp to get a salsa instructor to come visit beforehand to get you started on the steps.
• Watch a sunset from the tide pools right outside the camp. This was my first time in a natural tide pool and I got to meet and talk with a lot of the local kids.
• Cows and horses on the beach – This added to the authentic feel of the trip for me. I have a story about a beach encounter with a cow but I’ll save that for another time.
• Even if you don’t like fishing, go anyway. You’ll get to meet Thomas who is the “Marina” manager and you’ll see the ocean from another angle. Marvin is an experienced Captain.
• Leon is worth visiting but one day was enough. I enjoyed the surfing, the camp and the locals in Miramar more than the city of Leon. But, it did give me a chance to see some beautiful architecture and try some new street food and get some supplies at the grocery store.
• Know that it’s not a 5-star resort. The rooms are spacious, have AC and private ensuite bathrooms. The ladies also clean your room everyday, similar to traditional housekeeping. The beds were simple and a little noisy but completely fine for me. There is also no water heater which I didn’t even notice until someone pointed it out. The water is lukewarm from the sun heating it up in the container and quite refreshing after being in the sun. Also, in typical central American style, you cannot flush your toilet paper because the septic systems can’t handle paper products. The rest of the house does not have AC but there’s enough fans and shade to keep it comfortable.
• Bring bug spray! Bring sunscreen!
• You need way less clothes and stuff than you think you do. Life is way simpler there. Surf, eat, jam, sleep, repeat.
I also enjoyed learning Spanish while I was down there. Everyone at the camp speaks English, so you don’t need to know Spanish but I enjoyed the challenge of trying to connect with locals. Download Duolingo and you can use the wifi to learn while you’re there.
One last thought, there’s also a camp dog named Buoy and a camp cat named El Chapo (which is actually a female cat that everyone calls “he” because his name is El Chapo. But I loved him/her and she napped with me on the hammock).
Ok. So, that’s the end of this long review. So, you can probably stop reading this and just book your trip now. Happy travels and sick shredding!
Also, if you’re reading this and have ever been to another camp like this elsewhere, I would love to hear from you. After coming home from my trip, I was so inspired that I decided that I need to take a month off work and go travel the coast of Central America. I’m in search of other surf camps along the coast in Central America that can attempt to match the good vibes and amazing people of STN. Let me know if you have a recommendation for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala or Mexico. I’ll be sure to hit up STN again on the way. Cheers