Nicaraguan Pacific Beaches
The Pacific coast in Nicaragua holds some of the most beautiful beaches with different styles: 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, from the northern region to the southern part, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean.
If you’re looking for the ultimate place to soak up the sun and enjoy the cool tranquility of water, look no further than Nicaragua. With beaches stretching along both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, as well a number of inland lakes and rivers, you will have no shortage of beautiful beaches to enjoy in this stunning country. In fact, many visitors have come to view Nicaragua as the ultimate beach holiday destination.
Nicaragua has all kinds of beaches imaginable, from dark sand to white sand to virgin and wild beaches with an abundance of wildlife refuges and resorts to choose from. Nicaragua has a total stretch of an unbelievable 305km of Pacific Coast and 450 km of Caribbean Coast.
The many beaches in Nicaragua are popular for a variety of reasons. Some are favored by surfers while others provide arguably some of the best windsurfing conditions in the country. Still others are known for their lively resort environment where holiday makers gather each holiday season to relax and unwind from the stresses of life. If you’re pursuing some specific hobby or sport whilst in the country, we recommend that you research which beaches will serve you best as there are so many to choose from.
The main beaches along Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast are Montelimar, San Juan del Sur, La Flor, La Boquita and Pochomil. However these are certainly not the only beaches available. Some are closely guarded surfing secrets while others are somewhat rocky and not generally enjoyed by swimmers and sunbathers. Virtually every town along the Pacific Coast features its own little beach. Corinto, for instance, is popular with visiting windsurfers and sunbathing locals alike. The western or Caribbean Coast is not as well suited to cater for tourism, but offers some unparalleled opportunities to enjoy the wonders of nature. Largely untouched by modern development, you will be able to experience beautiful coral reefs, crystal clear waters and a brush with the locals. Better suited to nature lovers than to sun bathers, the Caribbean Coast is one of Nicaragua’s best kept secrets.
Some European tourists prefer topless or nude beaches, but they will find that all popular beaches on the pacific are topless for men only. Their only option are in private islands at the Granada Isletas, Solentiname or Little Corn Island on the Atlantic, or renting a vacation home and sunbathing by the pool any way they prefer.
Other great spots include Xiloa Lagoon, Lake Nicaragua and Ometepe Island. Carved by the forces of nature, these incredibly beautiful lakes and lagoons are every bit as enjoyable as the beaches lining the sea. If you’re planning on visiting this spectacular country, remember that there are mountains, volcanoes and lush rain forest to be explored. Why not see if you can get a taste for both of them during your vacation in this dazzling country? It’s the opportunity of a lifetime!
List of beaches on the Pacific
These are the main beaches of Nicaragua on the Pacific Ocean:
« Denotes a very popular beach with significant infrastructure and good road conditions.
«« Besides good roads, these are the most popular beaches of Nicaragua
Not listed here are the Granada Lake Nicaragua beaches, Atlantic beaches or any of the Nicaraguan lagoon beaches such as Xiloa and Apoyo. You will find more information on those at their city page.
Typical driving distance from Managua to:
- Chinandega beaches is 3:00 hours
- Leon beaches is 2:00 hours
- Managua beaches is 1:00 hour
- Carazo beaches is 1:00 to 1:30 hours
- Rivas beaches is 2:30 to 3:30 hours
To get more details on travel conditions, distance to major cities in Nicaragua, and detail of many local destinations, check out Nicaraguan cities page.
Traveling to some beaches with poor dirt roads or in remote locations may take longer.
Map of Nicaragua
Nicaragua is divided politically by departments, similar to States or Provinces in other countries. Below is the map of Nicaragua highlighting the departments on the Pacific and Central Nicaragua
The departments of Chinandega, Leon, Managua, Carazo and Rivas have access to the Pacific Ocean.
You can check other resources about Nicaraguan cities, map, travel and roads:
- A detailed map and distance is in our Map Page
- Department Distance Table: Distance from Managua organized by department.
- City Distance Table: Distance from Managua organized by city.
- Distance Cross Table: 2-Dimension table of distance among multiple cities
- Highway Table: List of the main roads and highways of Nicaragua
Look at the list below to get a description of these beautiful beaches:
Beaches in Managua
Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua, is in the central Pacific region, all roads begin in this city and it is the heart of the economic and political activity of Nicaragua, but not the center of tourism. What sets Nicaragua apart from other countries is its extensive offer to tourists look to combine beaches, colonial cities and mountains.
The following map shows the geographic location of the beaches of Central Nicaragua. For both Managua and Carazo departments. For the full detailed map of Nicaragua and its beaches visit our Map page.
Pochomil and Masachapa Beach
Pochomil beach is situated on Managua's Pacific Coast. After Montelimar this beach is the nearest beach to the capital city, being only 60km away. It is perhaps the most popular beach among the people of Managua. It is popular for relaxing in the sun, bathing and tanning as well as for horseback riding. Many restaurants are situated along Pochomil with the most delectable fresh seafood dishes available.
Pochomíl was named in the early 20th century by a farmer by the name of Felipe Gutierrez, in reference to all the “pocho” (money) he hoped to earn from his ambitious duck and goat farm.Only 66 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.
Hotels in Pochomil Masachapa area are Montelimar, Vistamar, Ticomo, Altamar ($11/night), Villa del Mar ($35), Cabañas del Mar ($18).
From Managua take South Pan-American Highway (Carretera Sur-NIC 1) until km 9, direction Rivas or Costa Rica. South Highway turns right into Carretera Leon Viejo, stay on this straight road until km 30. Do not turn into South Highway. Turn left on km 30 on a brick road and drive until km 62 where the road ends. Turn Right to Masachapa/Montelimar/Pochomil for 4.3 kms. Turn left on the first major paved road towards Pochomil (South). Drive 1.8 kms on a paved road; pass the bridge, gas station, and the entrance to Pochomil popular resort on your right.
Distance from Managua to Masachapa is 73 kms and it takes 1 hour by private car y 1:30 hours by bus.
Distance from Managua to Pochomil is 75 kilometers and it takes 1 hour by private car y 1:30 hours by bus.
Distance from Managua to Pochomil Viejo is 78 kilometers and it takes 1:10 hours by private car y 1:40 hours by bus.
Masachapa is the fisherman's town in between Pochomil and Montelimar, the market, church, park, bus stop and popular restaurants are all conveniently located within a few blocks of each other.
Pochomil tourists do their light grocery shopping as well as fill their pharmacy needs there.
Its beach consist of a popular fisherman's area mixed with popular eating places and mountain top home immediately to the North.
To drive to Masachapa, follow the directions of Pochomil. Masachapa is the first town as you approach the area.The main Catholic church is located in front of the park, it is recommended that you attend an early morning service and dress relaxed, as the church is not well insulated.
Montelimar Beach is the closest beach to Managua city. It consists of 3km of white-sandy beaches and a resort that is managed by the Barceló Hotel chain. This beach is considered to be home to one of the most complete and most beautiful beach resorts in Central America.
Distance from Managua to Montelimar is 75 kilometers and it takes 1 hour by private car y 1:30 hours by bus.
Playa Hermosa Beach
Playa Hermosa beach located along the Managua beaches on the Pacific, north of Pochomil and South of Poneloya, is a location difficult to reach, with a dirt road that requires a four wheel drive during winter, it is a cluster of homes in a very exclusive beach with very few tourists. Most visitors are homeowners from Managua and Leon.
Beaches in León
On the northern part of the Pacific Region, at only 90 kilometers from Managua, Leon is one of the oldest colonial towns of Latin America. Its beaches are within a half hour of the city.
The following map shows the geographic location of the beaches of North Pacific Nicaragua. For both Leon and Chinandega departments. For the full detailed map of Nicaragua and its beaches visit our Map page.
The beach of Poneloya is only 20 kilometers from León and popular among tourists and locals. 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. Popular hotels in Poneloya are Hotel Lacayo, Hotel Casa Blanca, Hotel Surfing Turtle Lodge, Holstal El Pulpo, Hotel Posada de Poneloya and Hotel El Convento (Leon).
Drive on the South Pan-American Highway (NIC 1) until km 6, Parque Las Piedrecitas, turn North on León Nueva Highway (NIC 26) towards Ciudad Sandino/Nagarote/León. You will drive through Ciudad Sandino, Xiloa intersection, Nagarote, La Paz Centro until ending at Izapa intersection. Turn right (North) on NIC 12 towards León until km 90. Turn right on the northeast corner of the cemetery entering the city of Leon, turn left and drive 8 blocks until you pass the rear of Leon Cathedral, turn left on Calle Ruben Dario (NIC 14) and drive 20 kms until Poneloya.
Distance from Managua to Poneloya is 115 kilometers and it takes 1:45 hour by car and 2:45 hours by bus.
Las Penitas Beach
Las Penitas is situated a mere 20 km west of Leon. It is a calm, tranquil beach - the perfect destination to enjoy the sun in a peaceful environment. The less touristy village Las Peñitas is situated next to Poneloya. From here you can take a boat to visit the Juan Venado Island.Popular hotels in Las Peñitas are Hotel Casa Patricia, Hotel La Barca de Oro, Hotel La Samaki, Hotel Oassis, Hotel Olazul, Hotel Paya Roca and Hotel Suyapa beach.
To drive to Las Peñitas, follow the instructions to Poneloya, and as you are entering Poneloya, on the first intersection turn left for 1 kilometer.
Distance from Managua to Las Peñitas is 115 kilometers and it takes 1:45 hour by car and 2:45 hours by bus.
El Velero Beach
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.El Velero has awesome swells, crystal clear waters and a perfect white sandy beach. Located in Leon, it is very popular among surfers from all over the world.
Drive on the South Pan-American Highway (NIC 1) until km 6, Parque Las Piedrecitas, turn North on León Nuevo Highway (NIC 26) towards Ciudad Sandino/Nagarote/León. You will drive through Ciudad Sandino, Xiloa intersection, Nagarote, La Paz Centro until ending at Izapa intersection. Turn left (South) on NIC 12 towards Managua for 7 kms, turn right (West) towards Puerto Sandino for 8.5 kms, turn left (South) towards El Velero for 9 kms.
From Managua it takes about one hour and a half to get to this beach.
El Transito Beach
El Transito beach is located in the southern most part of Leon department on the Pacific. El Transito is a small, quaint fishing pueblo just off the beaten path on the Pacific coast of North-Central Nicaragua. This unique crescent shaped cove provides a beautiful backdrop to a lineup that offers multiple peaks, which tend to bounce off of a few scattered rocks located just outside the take off zone. The view to the north and south consists of beautiful lava rock formations, rustic Nicaraguan construction and, in the rainy season, lush hills covered with cactus, coconut palms and other vegetation. The pueblo is generally clean, with locals and volunteer groups helping to keep the beaches and the town area pleasant.
Salinas Grandes, just 35 minutes from the bustling Spanish colonial town of Leon, offers a great surf-ready beach in the area, it has an unbelievably long, serene and genuinely pristine, natural and unspoiled coastline. Visit the salt flats, walk on the island of Juan Venado, swim at the beach.
The road to this beach can be taken from the road between the junction of Izapa (where the Nueva y Vieja Carretera a León match) and the city of León. There is a label that indicates the start of this road to the beach along the main road.
Beaches in 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.
Coming from León at the first roundabout of Chinandega, turn right towards Honduras-El Guasaule (NIC 24) for 2 kms, turn left on the Chinandega airport intersection, drive 500 mts, turn right 700 mts towards El Viejo intersection, there you turn right on NIC 50 around the Alcaldía and the Airport. Drive 5 kms until you reach El Viejo. Continue on the same road driving 26 kms North until Jiquilillo intersection where you turn left (west) for 8 kms until Jiquilillo
Distance from Managua to Jiquilillo is 180 kilometers and it takes 2:45 hours by car and 4:00 hours by bus due to farming equipment traffic.
Estero Padre Ramos Beach
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.
Coming from El Viejo (see above) continue on the same road NIC 50 driving 45 kms North until you reach Estero Padre Ramos.
Distance from Managua to Estero Padre Ramos is 200 kilometers and it takes 3:00 hours by car and 4:30 hours by bus due to farming equipment traffic.
Aposentillo & Marina Puesta del Sol
Aposentillo is a sparsely populated one row of homes beach, a secret waiting to be discovered, within 2 kms from Aposentillo is the Marina Puesta del Sol resort, Nestled in a beautiful azure lagoon on the pristine north Pacific coast of Nicaragua, this 600 acre picturesque resort offers the luxury and amenities befitting a world class hotel while retaining the “off the beaten path” exclusivity of a remote paradise. A short walk brings you to one of the most beautiful Nicaraguan beaches on the Pacific coast. With nineteen deluxe suites in two charming colonial style buildings, along with a full service marina, it is a beautiful escape…your secret paradise. This Marina was built to service yachts that travel the Pacific from North to South America.
To drive to Marina Puesta del Sol: Drive to Chinandega, turn right at the rotunda in Chinandega, Turn left at the sign “El Viejo Potosi”, Turn right at “Instituto Nacional Autonoma de Chinandega”, Continue past business, “La Virgen, S.A.” on left, Continue past “Texaco” station on right, Continue past “zona franca ARNECON” on left, Turn immediately left onto highway toward “Cosiguina”, Continue past tall statue of Virgin Mary on right, Stay on highway for 20 kms. Turn left at red sign indicating “Marina Puesta del Sol”, Continue on unpaved road for 9 kms, Signs will indicate direction to arrive at the resort
The distance from Managua to Marina Puesta del Sol is 171 kms and it takes 2:45 hours by car and 4:00 hours by bus due to farming equipment traffic.
Beaches in Rivas
On the southern part of the Pacific Region, at only 110 kilometers from Managua, Rivas is a mandatory stop over for tourists travelling from Costa Rica to any Nicaraguan destination. It is the state (department) of Nicaragua with more beaches than any other, some of them very remote and you may have to drive up to two more hours to reach them, but well worth the trip.
The following map shows the geographic location of the beaches of Rivas, Nicaragua. For the full detailed map of Nicaragua and its beaches visit our Map page.
The main beaches in Rivas are:
- Las Salinas
- Rancho Santana
- Playa Escondida
- Playa los Perros
- El Gigante
- Los Playones
- San Juan del Sur
- El Remanzo
- El Yankee
- El Coco
- La Flor
San Juan del Sur Beach
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).
You can find more information on the blog TravelInfoSanJuandelSur.blogspot.com
By bus: 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.
Driving: Drive from Managua on South Pan-American Highway (NIC 1) towards Costa Rica, through El Crucero, Diriamba, Dolores, Jinotepe, Granada Intersection, Nandaime, Belén, until you arrive in Rivas on km 111. Continue on South Pan-American Highway (NIC 1) thru km 123 Empalme La Virgen, turn West (right) towards San Juan del Sur on NIC 16, drive 25 kilometers until the port town of San Juan del Sur.
Distance from Managua to San Juan del Sur is 145 kms and takes 2:30 hours by car and four hours by bus.
La Flor Beach
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.
Located 20 km south of San Juan del Sur, La Flor Beach is a wildlife refuge for all the different types of sea turtles that come here between July and January each year to lay their eggs. This beach is one of the five places on earth where these miraculous animals come to perform their annual ritual.
Playa Maderas Beach
For surfing-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. Majagual Beach
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.
Recently Playa Colorado was the host of the World Surf tournament championship for 2012, you will find great videos online.
Other southern beaches
Rivas has many small beaches or in the process of being developed, such as Astillero beach, Las Salinas beach, Rancho Santana, Playa Escondida, Playa los Perros, Pie del Gigante beach, Brito beach, Ocotal beach, Los Playones, Nacascolo, El Remanso beach, El Yankee, Escameca, El Coco beach, Anima, El Ostional beach and Naranjo beach. Some of these beaches require a four wheel drive vehicle and over two hours or treacherous roads in order to reach them, but if you are adventurous, it is certainly worth the effort to see a pristine beach.
Beaches in Carazo
On the south central part of the Pacific Region, at only 40 kilometers from Managua, Jinotepe is the capital of Carazo, but the gateway town of Carazo to go to its beaches is Diriamba. This department hosts some popular beaches and are not too far from Managua. All within 1 hour and 30 minutes at most from Managua.
The following map shows the geographic location of the beaches of Central Nicaragua. For both Managua and Carazo departments. For the full detailed map of Nicaragua and its beaches visit our Map page.
La Boquita Beach
La Boquita attracts thousand of visitors each year during the holiday season. It is situated on the Pacific Coast approximately 70 km of Managua. It is the biggest tourist hub in Nicaragua, with a tourist complex that features an abundance of chic hotels, world class restaurants, bars and clubs. Despite its popularity it is also considered as one of the cleanest beaches in the country.
This beach, located a 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.Accommodations include Hotel Palmas del Mar and Hotel and Restaurant Suleyka.
By bus: 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.
Drive from Managua on South Pan-American Highway (NIC 1) towards Costa Rica, through El Crucero, to kilometer 40, Diriamba, turn right towards Casares-La Boquita for 27 kms until km 67 intersection. La Boquita is 3 kms north and Casares is 3 kms South from this intersection.
Distance from Managua to La Boquita or Casares is 70 kms and takes 1:00 hours by car and 1:30 hours by bus.
Casares BeachCasares beach is located 5 kms south of La Boquita, when you travel from Diriamba, drive 27 kms until the junction, La Boquita is 2 kms North and Casares 2 kms South. To go to Huehuete and Tupilapa, you drive through Casares. Both Casares and La Boquita are 30 minutes from Diriamba.
Casares is a small but very attractive beach, with many private homes, fishermen and public areas. Accomodations in this fisherman´s village include Hotel El Casino Casares and Hotel Lapita.
To drive to Casares, see instructions on La Boquita above.
Located about 45 minutes to one hour from Diriamba. A new brick road from Casares was just built so any vehicle can be used to get there. Huehuete is 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.
Drive from Managua to Casares, as you are entering Casares, turn left for 6 kms until Huehuete.
Distance from Managua to Huehuete is 77 kms and takes 1:15 hours by car and 1:45 hours by bus.
Tupilapa is a lesser know beach because its road requires a 4x4 vehicle to get there, and there are very few private homes there, nonetheless it is a large extensive beach with great waves and very private. In order to go to Chacocente, most travelers go on the dirt road to Tupilapa and then travel on the beach to Chacocente.
Drive from Managua to Huehete, stay on the dirt road on the left for 4 kms until Tupilapa.
Distance from Managua to Huehuete is 82 kms and takes 1:25 hours by car and 2:30 hours by bus to Huehuete and walking on the beach to Tupilapa.
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.
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