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A Guide To Playa Maderas – The Home Of Nicaragua’s Best Waves


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Rhea Wilkes



Welcome to Playa Maderas, a paradise on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua that is renowned as one of the best surf spots in the country. Nestled between vibrant jungles and pristine beaches, Playa Maderas provides an idyllic setting for both experienced surfers and those looking to catch their first wave.


Located just 8 kilometers north of the popular tourist town of San Juan del Sur, Playa Maderas offers a unique blend of natural beauty, adventure, and relaxation. It is the perfect destination for travelers seeking a laid-back beach experience with world-class surfing opportunities.


Surrounded by lush greenery, Playa Maderas boasts consistent wave swells year-round, attracting surfers from around the globe. The combination of warm tropical waters and consistent offshore winds creates ideal conditions for riding the waves. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, Playa Maderas has waves suitable for all skill levels.


Aside from its superb surfing conditions, Playa Maderas offers a range of other activities for visitors to enjoy. Take a dip in the crystal-clear waters, relax on the soft sandy beach, or explore the nearby hiking trails that lead to breathtaking viewpoints. Adrenaline junkies can also try their hand at zip-lining or ATV tours through the surrounding forests.


When it comes to accommodations, Playa Maderas has something for everyone. From beachfront bungalows to eco-friendly guesthouses nestled in the jungle, you’ll find a variety of options to suit your preferences and budget. Wake up to the sound of crashing waves and immerse yourself in nature’s tranquility.


As for dining, Playa Maderas offers an array of restaurants and beachside eateries, serving up delicious seafood, traditional Nicaraguan cuisine, and international dishes. Enjoy a refreshing cocktail or a cold beer as you watch the sun dip below the horizon, casting vibrant colors across the sky.


After a day of surfing and sun-soaked adventures, the vibrant nightlife in Playa Maderas awaits. Live music, beach bonfires, and friendly gatherings provide the perfect opportunity to mingle with fellow travelers and locals alike.


While Playa Maderas is undoubtedly a paradise, it’s essential to keep safety in mind. Always follow the guidelines of experienced surf instructors, be cautious of rip currents, and respect the power of the ocean. Additionally, remember to protect yourself from the sun’s rays by applying sunscreen and wearing protective clothing.


So, whether you’re seeking thrilling waves, tranquil beaches, or a taste of adventure, Playa Maderas has it all. Immerse yourself in Nicaragua’s natural beauty and experience the warmth and hospitality of this charming coastal community. Pack your board, grab your sense of adventure, and get ready to create unforgettable memories in Playa Maderas!


Getting to Playa Maderas

Getting to Playa Maderas is relatively straightforward, with several transportation options available depending on your starting point. Here are a few ways to reach this beautiful coastal destination:

  • By Air: If you’re arriving from outside Nicaragua, the nearest international airport is Augusto C. Sandino International Airport (MGA) in Managua. From there, you can arrange a private taxi or shuttle service to take you directly to Playa Maderas. The journey takes around 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on traffic.
  • By Land: If you’re traveling from within Nicaragua, you can take a bus to the nearby town of San Juan del Sur. Many buses run from major cities like Managua and Granada to San Juan del Sur, making it easily accessible. From San Juan del Sur, you can hire a taxi or take a local bus to Playa Maderas, which is just a short 20-minute ride away.

Once you arrive in Playa Maderas, you’ll find that the village is relatively small and easy to navigate on foot. Various accommodation options are within walking distance of the beach, so you can enjoy the convenience of having the surf and sand only a few minutes away.


If you prefer more flexibility in your transportation, you can also rent a car in Managua or San Juan del Sur and drive to Playa Maderas. The roads leading to the beach are generally in good condition, but it’s advisable to rent a 4×4 vehicle, especially during the rainy season when some roads may be less accessible.


Alternatively, if you’re up for an adventure, you can hire a motorcycle or scooter in San Juan del Sur and ride to Playa Maderas. This option gives you the freedom to explore the surrounding areas at your own pace and enjoy the scenic coastal views along the way.


No matter how you choose to get to Playa Maderas, be sure to plan your journey in advance and confirm transportation arrangements to avoid any inconvenience. Whether you’re flying, taking a bus, or driving, the journey to this surfers’ paradise is part of the adventure.


Accommodations in Playa Maderas

When it comes to accommodations, Playa Maderas offers a range of options to suit different preferences and budgets. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or a family, you’ll find something that fits your needs in this laid-back beach community.


One popular choice is to stay in beachfront bungalows that offer direct access to the soft sandy shores. Wake up to the sound of crashing waves and enjoy breathtaking views of the ocean right from your doorstep. These bungalows often feature rustic designs and are equipped with basic amenities to ensure a comfortable stay.


For those seeking a more immersive experience in nature, there are eco-friendly guesthouses nestled in the lush jungle surrounding Playa Maderas. These accommodations blend seamlessly with the environment and provide a tranquil retreat away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Fall asleep to the sounds of nature and wake up to the symphony of birdsong.


If you prefer to be closer to the vibrant energy of the village, there are also guesthouses and small hotels in Playa Maderas that offer comfortable rooms and personalized service. These options often provide additional facilities such as swimming pools, onsite restaurants, and even yoga studios.


Regardless of where you choose to stay, you’ll find that the accommodations in Playa Maderas have a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. The local hospitality is warm and friendly, making you feel right at home from the moment you arrive.


It’s important to note that Playa Maderas is a popular destination, especially among surfers. Therefore, it’s advisable to book your accommodations in advance, particularly during peak seasons. This will ensure you have a place to stay that suits your preferences and guarantees a memorable experience.


Whether you choose to indulge in beachfront luxury, immerse yourself in the jungle, or embrace the laid-back charm of the village, the accommodations in Playa Maderas offer a variety of options that will make your stay unforgettable.


Surfing in Playa Maderas

Playa Maderas is a surfer’s paradise, attracting wave riders from all over the world. With its consistent swells and warm tropical waters, it’s no wonder that this beach is considered one of Nicaragua’s best surf spots.


Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner looking to catch your first wave, Playa Maderas offers ideal conditions for all skill levels. The beach features a sandy bottom and a variety of breaks, offering both left and right-hand waves.


The primary break at Playa Maderas is the main peak in the center of the beach. This spot is suitable for surfers of all levels, providing long and mellow rides on smaller days and more challenging waves when the swell picks up. This break is perfect for practicing turns and improving your skills.


For more advanced surfers looking for a challenge, there are other breaks nearby. “La Estrella” and “La Playita” offer more powerful and hollow waves, providing an adrenaline rush for experienced riders. These breaks require a higher level of skill and are best surfed during mid to high tide.


If you’re new to surfing or want to improve your skills, Playa Maderas has plenty of surf schools and experienced instructors available. Take a lesson or rent a board from one of the local surf shops and get expert guidance to help you catch your first waves or refine your technique.


It’s important to note that while Playa Maderas is a great surfing destination, it’s essential to practice surf etiquette and be mindful of other surfers in the water. Respect the line-up and take turns, giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy the waves.


Additionally, it’s crucial to be aware of the tides and currents when surfing in Playa Maderas. Some spots may have strong currents, so it’s advisable to surf with a buddy or let the locals guide you on the best times to enter the water.


Surfing in Playa Maderas isn’t just about catching waves; it’s also about immersing yourself in the vibrant surf community. After a session in the water, relax on the beach and share stories with fellow surfers. The friendly and inclusive atmosphere makes it easy to connect with like-minded individuals from around the world.


Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, Playa Maderas has the waves and the surf culture to make your surfing experience unforgettable.


Other Beach Activities

While surfing is the main attraction in Playa Maderas, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy during your stay. Whether you’re looking to relax, explore, or get your adrenaline pumping, this beach paradise has something for everyone.


For those seeking relaxation, simply lounging on the soft sandy beach and soaking up the sun is a perfect way to unwind. Take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters or walk along the shoreline, enjoying the stunning coastal views.


If you’re looking to explore the surrounding area, there are several hiking trails that offer breathtaking vistas of the Pacific Ocean and the lush jungle. Lace up your hiking boots and venture into nature, discovering hidden waterfalls and encountering tropical wildlife along the way.


For the more adventurous souls, zip-lining through the jungle canopy is a must-try activity. Feel the rush of adrenaline as you soar above the treetops, catching glimpses of monkeys and exotic birds along the way. Some tours even offer a mix of zip-lining and rappelling, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in nature’s playground.


Another popular beach activity in Playa Maderas is horseback riding along the coast. Feel the wind in your hair as you gallop along the shoreline, taking in the stunning views of the ocean. This unique way of exploring the area allows you to connect with nature and experience the beauty of the beach from a different perspective.


For water enthusiasts, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a fantastic activity to try. Glide along the calm waters, enjoying the serene coastal scenery and potentially even spotting marine life beneath you. SUP is a great workout and a fun way to explore the area’s hidden coves and mangroves.


Lastly, don’t forget to take a moment to appreciate the incredible sunsets in Playa Maderas. Gather with friends or fellow travelers on the beach and watch as the sky transforms into a canvas of vibrant hues. Witnessing a Playa Maderas sunset is an unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe of Mother Nature’s beauty.


Whether you choose to relax, explore, or embrace your adventurous side, Playa Maderas offers a plethora of activities beyond surfing. Immerse yourself in the natural wonders of this coastal paradise and create lasting memories in this vibrant beach community.


Dining Options in Playa Maderas

When it comes to dining in Playa Maderas, you’ll find a variety of options to satisfy your taste buds. The beach community offers a vibrant culinary scene, with restaurants and eateries that cater to different palates and preferences.


One of the highlights of dining in Playa Maderas is the abundance of fresh seafood. Indulge in delicious ceviche, grilled fish, or shrimp dishes, all made from locally sourced ingredients. The seafood is often cooked to perfection, seasoned with a blend of spices that reflect the flavors of Nicaragua.


For those seeking traditional Nicaraguan cuisine, there are several restaurants in Playa Maderas that showcase the country’s culinary heritage. Try the famous gallo pinto, a traditional rice and bean dish served with plantains and a side of grilled meat. Other local favorites like vigorón (pork, yucca, and cabbage) and nacatamales (similar to tamales) are also must-try dishes.


If you’re craving international flavors, Playa Maderas has you covered. You’ll find restaurants that serve pizza, burgers, Mexican cuisine, Thai food, and even vegetarian and vegan options. The diverse dining scene ensures that there’s something for everyone, no matter your dietary preferences.


Many of the beachfront restaurants in Playa Maderas offer breathtaking ocean views, creating a picturesque setting for your meal. Enjoy a refreshing cocktail or a cold beer as you watch the waves crash onto the shore. The relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff add to the overall dining experience.


Additionally, several beachside eateries offer delicious breakfast and brunch options, catering to early risers or those in need of a hearty meal to start their day. Enjoy freshly brewed coffee, tropical fruit plates, and scrumptious pancake stacks while listening to the sound of the waves.


It’s worth noting that Playa Maderas is a small community, and some restaurants may have limited seating or require reservations, especially during peak tourist seasons. Planning ahead and making reservations can help ensure you secure a table at your desired dining spot.


Overall, dining in Playa Maderas is a culinary adventure that allows you to savor local flavors, international delights, and stunning views. Immerse yourself in the beachside dining experience and indulge in the diverse gastronomic offerings that this vibrant coastal community has to offer.


Nightlife in Playa Maderas

When the sun sets in Playa Maderas, the vibrant nightlife comes alive. Although it may not be as bustling as some larger towns, Playa Maderas offers a relaxed and lively evening atmosphere that caters to both locals and tourists.


One of the main highlights of the nightlife in Playa Maderas is the beach bonfires. Gather around a crackling fire pit with friends or fellow travelers and enjoy the warmth of the flames under the starry night sky. The sound of the waves crashing nearby creates a soothing ambiance as you share stories, listen to live music, and enjoy a few drinks.


Many of the beachfront restaurants and bars in Playa Maderas also liven up with music and events during the evening. Live bands or DJs often perform, creating a fun and energetic atmosphere. Dance the night away or simply relax and enjoy the tunes as you sip on a tropical cocktail.


Playa Maderas is known for its friendly and inclusive community, and this is reflected in the nightlife. The locals are welcoming, and it’s easy to strike up a conversation and make new friends. You’ll find a mix of surfers, backpackers, and locals immersing themselves in the lively ambiance.


If you’re up for a night out in a larger town, the nearby San Juan del Sur offers a more bustling nightlife scene. Just a short drive away, you’ll find a wide selection of bars, clubs, and live music venues catering to different tastes and preferences. San Juan del Sur is known for its beach parties, pub crawls, and fun-filled evenings that continue until the early hours of the morning.


It’s important to note that while Playa Maderas offers a vibrant nightlife, it’s still a small and tranquil community. As such, it’s essential to respect the local residents and the noise regulations in place. Enjoy the evening festivities, but remember to keep the volume down and maintain the peaceful atmosphere that Playa Maderas is known for.


Overall, the nightlife in Playa Maderas provides the perfect balance between relaxation and fun. Whether you choose to gather around a bonfire, dance to live music, or explore nearby San Juan del Sur for a night of excitement, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to create memorable evenings in this coastal paradise.


Safety Tips for Playa Maderas

While Playa Maderas is a beautiful and inviting destination, it’s essential to keep certain safety tips in mind to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some safety guidelines to follow during your time in Playa Maderas:

  • Surfing Safety: If you plan to surf in Playa Maderas, it’s important to respect the power of the ocean and practice surf etiquette. Always check the surf conditions and be cautious of rip currents. Surf within your skill level and, if needed, hire an experienced surf instructor to guide you.
  • Swimming Safety: While the waters of Playa Maderas may be inviting, it’s crucial to swim with caution. Pay attention to the tides and currents, especially if you’re not a strong swimmer. It’s also advisable to swim in designated areas and avoid swimming alone.
  • Sun Safety: The Nicaraguan sun can be intense, so protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Apply sunscreen with a high SPF, wear a hat, and use sunglasses to protect your eyes. Seek shade during the hottest parts of the day to avoid heat-related illnesses.
  • Personal Belongings: Although Playa Maderas is generally safe, it’s always wise to take precautions with your belongings. Keep an eye on your personal items when at the beach or in public areas, and consider using a waterproof bag or a locker to store valuables while you’re in the water.
  • Local Customs and Laws: Familiarize yourself with the local customs and laws of Nicaragua. Respect the local culture, traditions, and community. It’s also essential to familiarize yourself with any local regulations and follow them accordingly.
  • Transportation Safety: If you’re renting a car or using a taxi service, ensure you choose reputable and licensed providers. Observe road safety rules and drive defensively, especially on winding roads. If using a motorcycle or scooter, always wear a helmet and exercise caution.
  • Water and Food Safety: While Playa Maderas has some excellent dining options, be cautious with street food and unfiltered water. It’s advisable to drink bottled water and eat at reputable establishments to avoid any potential stomach issues.
  • Health Precautions: Before your trip, consult a healthcare professional regarding any necessary vaccinations or health precautions specific to Nicaragua. Pack a travel first aid kit with essentials such as bandages, antiseptic cream, and any medications you may need.
  • Emergency Contact Information: It’s always a good idea to have emergency contact information readily available. Save the contact details for local authorities, your embassy or consulate, and your accommodation provider in case of any emergencies.

By following these safety tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable time in Playa Maderas. Remember to use common sense, trust your instincts, and be aware of your surroundings. Stay informed, take necessary precautions, and make the most of your experience in this beautiful coastal destination.



Playa Maderas is a hidden gem on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, offering an unforgettable beach experience with world-class surfing opportunities. Whether you’re a seasoned surfer or a beginner looking to catch your first wave, Playa Maderas has it all.


The stunning natural beauty, warm tropical waters, and consistent wave swells make Playa Maderas the perfect destination for surf enthusiasts. But the beach offers much more than just surfing. You can relax on the soft sandy shores, explore hiking trails that lead to breathtaking viewpoints, or try exhilarating activities like zip-lining and horseback riding.


The accommodations in Playa Maderas cater to various preferences and budgets, from beachfront bungalows to eco-friendly guesthouses nestled in the jungle. The local culinary scene offers a delightful array of dining options, ranging from fresh seafood and traditional Nicaraguan cuisine to international flavors.


As the sun sets, Playa Maderas transforms into a vibrant nightlife destination. Whether you gather around a beach bonfire, enjoy live music at a beachfront bar, or venture into nearby San Juan del Sur for a livelier atmosphere, the nightlife in Playa Maderas offers a perfect blend of relaxation and entertainment.


While enjoying all that Playa Maderas has to offer, it’s important to prioritize safety. Follow surf and swimming safety guidelines, protect yourself from the sun, and take precautions with personal belongings. Familiarize yourself with local customs, laws, and health precautions to ensure a trouble-free experience.


Overall, Playa Maderas is a paradise that combines the thrill of surfing, the tranquility of the beach, and the vibrancy of a friendly community. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty, embrace the laid-back atmosphere, and create lasting memories in this coastal haven.


So pack your bags, grab your board, and get ready to experience the magic of Playa Maderas. It’s time to dive into the warm tropical waters, ride the waves, and discover the enchantment of this coastal gem in Nicaragua.