Book! Pack! Go Travel! by Robbie Mamo

The beaches of Popoyo, Nicaragua

The beaches of Popoyo, Nicaragua

I finally reached Playa Guasacate after one of the craziest, most scenic and remote drives I have ever done. Taking the remote location of the beach into account I had booked my hotel online a week ahead of time to make sure I had a place to stay for at least the first night I would be there.



Where to stay in Playa Guasacate…

My final destination was the Popoyo Beach Hostel which was actually located on the beach in Playa Guasacate. Here the shared dorms are 260C/$10 per night and a private room with ensuite bathroom is 635C/$25 per night. I was really impressed with this place and I’m pretty picky when it comes to hostels as I prefer my own room. Being that this was on the beach and all the single rooms were full I didn’t mind sharing and it was a really good group of guys in my room. The patio area and bar were great to hang out with and it was a lot of fun. The location is amazing as it is beachfront and you can walk out from the hostel and go right out to the beach break. Further down the beach to the left is the “Popoyo Reef” surf break which can be crowded at times but serves up some great waves.

Some photos of Popoyo Beach Hostel. They had a great patio and an amazing beach front location!




Another great spot in the area is Magnificent Rock Hotel which caters to medium to higher end travellers. Perched high on top of a cliff overlooking Playa Santana to the left, Playa Jiquiliste and Playa Popoyo to the right. This is one of the most breathtaking hotels I’ve ever seen and is worth every penny. They also have a great ocean view restaurant with a fun menu and I was often found hanging out here having a few beers watching the sunset. The ocean view rooms have one double bed and two single beds, a kitchenette and open balconies with sliding glass doors. These are priced at 2000C/$80 per night which in my opinion is a great rate for what you are getting. They also have shared rooms for 500C/$20 per night but if there are 6 or more in your group this goes down to 380C/$15 per night.


Magnificent Rock as seen from Playa Santana.


The view from the ocean view rooms at Magnificent Rock.



The lounge at the hotel had a great view and was a good option for people that wanted to enjoy the sunset perched high above the beaches and reef while staying elsewhere!


The village and beaches of Playa Guasacate…

Due to the remote location there aren’t many options for restaurants and there is absolutely nowhere to take in any nightlife. This is made up for with great waves, a chill vibe and travellers from all over the world taking in the pristine beaches and surf. I was happy I had a rental car and this gave me more options for where to surf and where to eat and also made it possible to go to pick up groceries and other supplies and snacks that I wouldn’t have been able to do if I didn’t have a vehicle.

Guasacate and the few businesses that operate here. It’s only a few hotels and restaurants. You can buy a few things at the one main hotel in town but the selection is minimal.

The main corner in Playa Guasacate and the road leading up to it.




Whatever you sacrifice for convenience you make up for with pristine beaches!




Playa Santana…

I had originally planned on staying at hotel Buena Onda at Playa Santana before I decided to rent a car but didn’t see the need to be at Playa Santana and was having too good of a time with the people I met at the hostel in Playa Guasacate. Had I stayed in Playa Santana I would have stayed at the beachfront Buena Onda Resort. The standard dorm rooms are 310C/$12 per night, private rooms with a shared bathroom are 750C/$29 per night and private rooms with a private bath are 1010C/$39 per night. They also have a large villa that is available and because of the popularity here I suggest booking in advance. They also have a very highly recommended restaurant and the whole hotel can be booked out for group parties, weddings etc. with all the catering pre-arranged with the owners.

Some people enjoy a horse back ride on the beach in Playa Santana while the local fisherman wait for the tide to rise so they can launch their boat.


Lots of beach to surf in Playa Santana.


This is traditionally an area that relies heavily on fishing for income as well as food. There are also a lot of good points that you can fish off either using a handling or a rod and reel.

People fishing off of the rock point at Playa Santana.


The local fisherman using logs to roll their fishing boat closer to the water. They will wait for the tide to rise before they set out.


Surf spots in the Popoyo region…

The surf in the Popoyo region was pretty good the whole time I was there. I really liked the beach break in front of the hostel at Playa Guasacate and you could find uncrowded surf all the way down the beach in both directions. I had a few sessions at the popoyo reef but it was crowded and being a point break there is only one take off point and that means everyone is in the same place fighting for the waves.

I also travelled to Playa Santana which could be crowded at times but had a great vibe in the water and everyone got their chance at getting lots of waves. There are lots of rocks and flat reef closer to shore at this beach so as I always suggest, its a good idea to take a look at what is under the water at low tide to get an idea for where you should be and where you shouldn’t be. This break is in a much smaller bay than Playa Guasacate and isn’t a very long wave but was fun to surf and works on all tides like most of the breaks in the area. There were still a few points delivering some decent rides.

Where to eat…

One of my favourite meals of the whole trip was at the Tortuga Restaurant and Hotel in Playa Santana. I ordered the langostino stir fry and I’m happy I decided to try this. Most places serve a stir fry with rice but this came out with fries on the side which is quite common for any meal in Central America. I didn’t even think to ask what it came with on the side but next time I’ll make sure to ask because I would have preferred it with rice. This aside I haven’t seen such a large serving of langostino and the fresh vegetables and sauce that it was cooked in tasted amazing. For those that don’t know what langostino are, if you are into seafood and shellfish it’s a must try. They are like mini lobster tails and this was the biggest serving of these little morsels that I’ve ever had and costed 380C/$15.



I also had breaded fried shrimp to start which tasted amazing. These were served with mayonnaise and lime and were very tasty and costed 175C/$7.


Located near the hostel and almost at the end of the road towards the river in Playa Guasacate was a restaurant and hotel that had great local food at great prices. My favourite thing to order was the plato economico which was your classic rice, beans, salad and either chicken, beef or fish. I always chose the fish and this was 70C/$2.75. I often got an extra piece of fish and this only brought the price up to 90C/$3.50. Every friday night they had a bbq here and it was 200C/$8 for a plate. This was a huge plate with a ton of food on it and was definitely a good buy. The guy that runs the place was quite the character and once you got to know him and were going there regularly you would just write down your order on a slip and hand it in to the kitchen yourself.

The fish dinner I ate quite often!


The owner serving up great bbq!

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One of the most recommended restaurants in this area is Yolanda’s Cafe. Me and a friend went there for breakfast the one day which was a good idea for sure! It’s a little bit of a drive but there is the odd sign advertising the restaurant here and there.


I ordered the cheese omelette with a ham, tomato and onion blend served on the side as well as gallo pinto. It was delicious and sometimes it’s nice to have your meal served in separate dishes for a change down here. This meal was 100C/$4 and they had really good coffee here as well.


One of the local specialities for a refreshment was water infused with fresh fruit and lime!



Having been to many beaches around the world I was very impressed with the Popoyo region. It didn’t have much to do other than surf and hang out on the beach, there weren’t too many food options and absolutely no night life but it had a charm I haven’t found in too many other places anywhere in the world. So far my time in Nicaragua has been great!

Gone on a whim…