Sunday, October 16, 2005

Playa Maderas


Consistent, sand bottom, beach break located approximately 15 minutes by car (slightly longer in the rainy season) from San Juan Del Sur. Maderas picks up both south and north swells and will hold up to double-overhead waves. Most days, it’s a playful wave, fast and racy with occasional barrel sections. Chances are you won’t fear for your life surfing here. The best tide is usually, mid-incoming, but high tide down to mid-outgoing also breaks well at times. It is rarely good at dead low. There are two main peaks at Maderas. The primary peak is a peeling right hander that breaks in the middle of the beach, in front of the north end of the parking area. The very next peak to the south comes the opposite direction and is usually a bit shorter and faster, but still a peeling left hander. At the very south end of the beach, in front of the rocks, there is another left peak that breaks on bigger swells. Most of the time it is a short and mushy wave but at times, has a barrel section. There are also more peaks to the North, but they are usually not quite as good as the main peaks and thus, not surfed as often -not a bad place to go if you want to avoid the crowd or if you are learning how to surf.

Crowd Factor:

Maderas is arguably Nicaragua’s most crowded surf break (Popoyo is a close second). While it is still easy to get waves here, it is unlikely you will be surfing alone. On it’s most crowded day, expect to find approx. 30+ people in the water although more often, there will be less than 20. Since Maderas is usually a broad mix of beginners just learning to surf, locals and traveling surfers who are staying in San Juan Del Sur, the vibe is typically mello. Come to Maderas to get wet and have fun, not to fight for waves. As with most places in Nicaragua, you can beat the main crowds by surfing early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Places To Stay:
All the places to stay at the beach are of the “low budget” variety. There is a hostel right on the beach at Maderas where you can stay for $5 a night. This is a popular spot amongst the backpacker and budget crowd and a good place to sit in the shade and have a cold beer after a good surf. Up the beach a bit to the north is the “Hideout” run by Crazy Dave. It’s hidden a bit in the trees, but is worth checking out. Crazy Dave is not quite finished with construction yet, but that hasn’t stopped people from staying there for <$10 per night. He also has weekly food specials like “Spagetti Sabados” or “Taco Domingos”. Another 10 minutes by foot to the north is Playa Majajual, where you can find more budget accommodations along a beautiful cove. This is more popular among the non-surfing, backpackers. Your other option for accommodations near Maderas is San Juan Del Sur. In this fishing village turned tourist center you can find rooms from $5/night up to $200+/night. You will also find other amenities such as telephone, internet, dining and nightlife in San Juan Del Sur.

Directions to Playa Maderas: From San Juan Del Sur, go north on La Chocolata - it's the only major road headed north before you come into town, so it's hard to miss. Then, just stay in this road for about 15 minutes. Just before a wheel falls off your truck, you'll go over a tiny bridge. Take the next Left. You'll cross through a riverbed (a river in the rainy season - don't worry, you can make it in a 4wd). After that, stay left at the Y, following the signs to Playa Marsella. At the next two Y's stay Right. Go up and over the big hill and then you'll be there. If you get lost, ask somebody. Maderas is a popular beach and everybody knows how to get there - except you if you are reading this.