Popoyo Beach, is a surfy spot that is not easily accessible but definitely worth the visit if you want to experience the laid back surf vibes of Nicaragua.
A long beach with a good choice of surf breaks, natural pools where you can cool yourself down and much more. The little town has also a yoga spot and few cafe shacks and restaurants.
How to get there?
Firstly you need to get to Rivas in the south of the country. It’s not much of a destination on it’s own though if you’re travelling to Ometepe or San Juan del Sur than you’ll most probably pass through. It’s a popular transport hub so getting there from Leon, Grenada or Managua or even from Costa Rica, is an easy shuttle or chicken bus ride away.
We were coming from Leon and took the shuttle arranged through our hostel. The shuttle dropped us nowhere in particular in Rivas and we had to make our own way to the bus terminal, as soon as we stepped out of the shuttle the taxi drivers were at us, offering a “very good price” to Popoyo. The price started at $20 each and by the time we were boarding the $2 chicken bus one taxi driver had dropped the price to $15 for both of us.
We decided to do as the locals do, using the colourful chicken buses. The journey wasn’t anything pleasant, it was hot and sweaty but way cheaper than taxi’s and more adventurous. Around the bus terminal be aware a lot of touts hassling you (undercover taxi drivers) telling you the bus isn’t running for 2,3 or 4 hours. Stay strong here, and keep asking around for the right bus to Las Salonas/Popoyo Beach ($2)
After 2 and a half hours the bus will drop you on a countryside road, the main crossroad to Las Salonas but it really feels like the middle of nowhere. It’s easy to miss the stop so ask the driver or other passengers where to get off. Here we waited for another bus to Popoyo which actually still doesn’t go all the way down to the beach but again drops you off on the top of the hill. ( Less than $1) The friendly driver and locals assumed we were going to Popoyo and luckily told us we had to get off.
From here you can hitch hike or walk 2,8 km to the main surf area with hostels. Don’t worry it’s doable.
Where to stay?
Our choice fell on Popoyo beach Hostel, mostly as this is one of a few places in the town with a kitchen. $10/night in spacious dorms that for once had seperate beds not bunks and a sociable beachfront bar, the perfect choice.
The Hostel bar has ice cold Toña beers, hammocks where you can watch sunset and from time to time enjoy a bonfire party under the stunning stars.
Tip: The best way to book this hostel is via Facebook page. Click here
What to do in Popoyo Beach?
Surf, Surf & Surf. Seriously the main reason people come here. There is a good range of surf breaks and a couple of places to rent boards in town, even a local board shaper and repair shop. The main surf break is the river mouth which is best in the wet season though still had fun waves while we were there mid dry season. A little further south is a fantastic (and intimidating) left and right reef break for the more advanced surfers and when the swell is huge there is even an outer reef for the big wave surfers. The next bay over has a couple of great beginner waves and a super long right hander for the longboard riders.
If you’re not into surfing, there’s plenty of opportunities to simply chill on the beach, being active or hang out at one of the beach front hostels. There’s a Yoga place right on the beach offering great classes. Check their daily classes here Gabriela Popoyo Yoga.
Where to eat?
Popoyo has a few dining options, wood fire pizza, street BBQ or tipical Nica restaurants. The only one we tried was not far from our hostel (can’t recall the name but search for plastic chairs 🙂 ) with great vegetarian options and cheap cervezas.
If you’re up for cooking we recommend bringing the main ingredients from Rivas. The two tiny local tiendas are pretty pricey and limited.
Twice a day a fresh fruit & veggie truck passes through Popoyo selling fresh products. Don’t worry you won’t miss the loud microphone announcements.