The Pacific coastline in Nicaragua holds some beautiful beaches with a variety of characteristics: some of them have a white, sandy beach, others are rocky; some have a calm current, others have waves that are several meters high; some are immensely popular while others are barely visited and still remain untouched by men. The sand of those pristine beaches is often dark, caused by the active volcanic chain that runs through the whole country. Below you will find an overview of the most known and accessible beaches.
In the department of Rivas
San Juan del Sur
San Juan del Sur is one of the most visited beaches, by both foreign tourists and Nicaraguans. The beach is located inside an almost perfectly U-shaped bay. In San Juan del Sur you can enjoy a high variety of seafood in the numerous restaurants that are situated right in front of the bay.
For more adventure you can hire a boat and visit the pristine, neighboring beaches. Big game fishing, diving, and surfing are also among the options. There are plenty hotels and hostels in and around San Juan del Sur (use our Hotel Guide to locate them).
From Managua it takes about two hours to get to San Juan del Sur. You can take express or regular buses from the Roberto Huembes market to Rivas. In Rivas you can take a bus to San Juan del Sur. It costs about $3 to get there using public transportation.
At 22 kilometers south of San Juan del Sur you will find Natural Reserve La Flor. Here you can be one of the privileged to enjoy an annually returning event: the arrival of thousands of Olive Ridley sea turtles, who come to lay their eggs at the La Flor beach. During so called arribidad thousands of turtles arrive in a couple days, which is a unique, spectacular happening. You can also watch the baby turtles come out of their eggs and run towards the sea, approximately 50 days after their mothers arrived.
To get to La Flor, you need to go south from San Juan del Sur (150 km from Managua). Take to road in the direction of El Ostional. You will hit a dirt road after about 18 kilometers, which is fairly good but a high clearance vehicle is recommended.
From there, there are signs that guide you to the La Flor beach.
To read more about the La Flor sea turtle arrivals, go to our Activity Guide.
For surf-lovers the Maderas beach is one of the most attractive options. It is a beach with a great swell and several lodging options. You can get here in car from San Juan del Sur (30 minutes), or by taking the boat to Majagual, and walking to Maderas.
The Majagual beach is located next to the Maderas beach, in a private bay with stunning views. The tranquil beach is famous for its relaxed atmosphere and superb sunset. Swimming and fishing are possible at the beach, and the Maderas beach is close by for surfing activities. You can get here in boat from San Juan del Sur, or in car (35 minutes).
Another great option for surfers is the Marsella beach located next to San Juan del Sur. To get there, you can take the road to San Juan del Sur and take a right just before entering the town (there are signs that point to the neighboring beaches).
The region of Tola is recently being discovered by tourists as a great get-away place to enjoy tranquility and beautiful nature, or practice surfing and other beach sports. There are many different beaches, all of them secluded by tree-covered hills that create a rather private setting at every beach. Hotels are located at some of these beaches, often offering luxury lodging at the high-end price range. The beaches of Tola are located 35 kilometers west of Rivas, accessible by partial paved/partial gravel road. A high clearance vehicle is recommended.
In the department of Carazo
This beach, located less than half an hour from Diriamba, has its own tourist center with several restaurants, hotels, and bars. The beach has rocky areas from where you can enjoy the sun, but there are also sandy parts perfect for swimming.
From Managua it takes about one hour to La Boquita. To get there using public transportation, you should fist take a bus to Diriamba (express buses leave opposite of the Universidad Centroamericana in Managua, and the regular buses leave from the Israel Lewites market). The price is less than $1 to get to Diriamba by bus. Buses to La Boquita leave from Diriamba and cost about $0.50.
Casares and Huehuete
These two beaches are located about one hour from Diriamba. Casares and Huehuete are inhabited by fishermen, and therefore a great place to start a fishing trip. Although the beaches are a little rocky they are a nice place to swim and walk. The waves are considered perfectly suitable for surfing.
You can take a taxi or bus from the center of Diriamba to Casares or Huehuete. The price of a bus is around $0.50.
Chacocente is a beach similar to the La Flor beach. Just like La Flor, it is a natural reserve frequented by Olive Ridley and Tora turtle. You can watch the ‘arribadas’ and also see the baby turtles make their run to the sea about two months later.
In the department of Managua
Pochomil and Masachapa
Only 60 kilometers from Managua you can find Pochomil and Masachapa. The beaches offer a superb sunset as well as restaurants, hotels, and bars. The sandy beach is wide but not often crowded and provides a great spot for practicing beach sports. There are also horses you can rent. Read more about horseback riding in Pochomil in our Activity Guide.
From Managua you should take the South Highway (Carretera Sur) and then continue on the old highway to León (Carretera Vieja a León) until you see the signs to Pochomil and Masachapa pointing to the left. It takes about an hour to get there. You can take a bus to Pochomil and Masachapa from the Israel Lewites market. The price is approximately $0.70.
In the department of León
Poneloya and Las Peñitas
The beach of Poneloya is only 20 kilometers from León and popular among tourists. In the center of this fishermen’s village you will find vacation houses and seafood restaurants right on the beach. You can also practice horseback riding on the beach. The less touristy village Las Peñitas is situated next to Poneloya. From here you can take a boat to visit the Juan Venado Island.
Read more about this protected area where you can observe unique flora and fauna in our Activity Guide.
Buses leave from León to Poneloya and cost about $0.70 (it takes about half an hour in bus). In your own car, you can follow the signs in León.
Another frequently visited beach is El Velero, located to the south of Poneloya. The beach is located 70 kilometers from Managua. You will again find restaurants specialized in fish and seafood in this fishermen’s village.
From Managua it takes about one hour to get to this beach. You should use the old highway to León (Carretera Vieja a León). Buses leave from the Israel Lewites market and the price is a little about $1.20.
In the department of Chinandega
Jiquilillo is a beach located in the El Viejo municipality, and it provides a great place for a couple days of relaxing. The area is inhabited by fishermen, and in the coastal region you will find many small ranches where the people spend time during summer.
Jiquilillo is perhaps the largest Nicaraguan beach in the Pacific, and it is visited en masse during the national holidays. Any other time of the year, however, this beach is quiet and friendly. The beach is located 40 kilometers from the city of Chinandega.
From Managua it takes three hours to get to Jiquilillo. You should first get to Chinandega, then to El Viejo, and from there to the beach. Buses to Chinandega leave from the Israel Lewites market. In Chinandega you can take a bus to El Viejo, from where you can take a bus to Jiquilillo. The whole trip by bus will cost around $5.
Estero Padre Ramos
The beaches north of Chinandega house several inlets and creeks. Out of those, the most frequently visited is Estero Padre Ramos, 49 kilometers from the city of Chinandega. In this quiet area mangrove forest provides feeding grounds and shelter for many water birds.
There are some seafood restaurants nearby. You can get to Estero Padre Ramos by continuing going north from Jiquilillo.