Popoyo was on our radar from the get-go, and I can safely say it was absolutely a worthy place to go, though getting to the 3km long white sandy beach was a bit of a mission.
To go to Popoyo, you have a few different options depending on where you’re coming from.
- From San Juan Del Sur or Managua you can catch a chicken bus or hire a taxi. (Returning from Popoyo to San Juan Del Sur, we paid $45 – a reasonable rate for the 1.5 hour trip.)
- However, from Gigante Bay it was a little different. Because Gigante Bay is a fishing village about 5km down a dirt road where no chicken buses go, your options are to walk, hitch hike, or hire an over priced taxi. we decided because we had all day (and we were a bit tired of paying for taxis) that we would watch/hitchhike the 5km to the main road, where we would then hitchhike or catch a chicken bus to Popoyo.
By this point in the trip I had learned that it was normal to just be sweating and hot ALL. THE. TIME. I had accepted it. So with our sweaty backs and well-packed gear, we made our way down the 5km dirt road, and to our surprise it was actually quite a tolerable walk – and beautiful!
Of course if you have a lot of gear you might not want to take this route and just hire a taxi, but we packed light so it was quite doable. (See the blog: what you need to know about traveling in Central – packing).
We were picked up a total of three times hitch hiking, each person taking us a few kilometers down the road. We also caught one chicken bus, where someone shouted to us “POPOYO, POPOYO” and pointed at a random dirt road for us to walk down, booting us off the bus.
Naturally we listened to the local and started walking – only to realize that it wasn’t where we were meant to go. So. We ended up stopping at a little store to regroup and get a 1L of Tona. Plus, the horse out front was pretty cool.
We walked back to the main road and were picked up by another friend who spoke really good English, and he informed us that Popoyo is a REGION, not necessarily a specific spot, even though the surf break is called Popoyo. I showed him the surf house we had booked and it was actually at the beach called Guasacate. (This is the spot with mostly all of the hotels labelled “Popoyo” and the stores/restaurants.)
People can be SO helpful! He dropped us at a final road that he said we’d need to walk at least 3 miles down, so we started walking and chucked our thumbs out one final time. Our last ride was an American couple with a rental truck who were actually staying next to us, and they took us the whole way to the beach rental.
So in short, for the 30km from Gigante to Popoyo:
We walked 1.5 hours, caught three rides and one chicken bus – for a grand total of 4.5 hour of dirt road adventuring.
It was actually pretty damn fun.
We stayed at this adorable little surf house with with three private rooms in Guasacate (Popoyo), each with a private bathroom and shared kitchen, also with AC and hot water. (A nice touch after a slightly less exotic experience at Gigante Bay.)
The surf house was called Wild Waves and it was managed by the sweetest, young couple who definitely made sure every detail was covered.
The surf house was right on the beach, you just had to walk a mere 20 meters past some beautiful horses to the sprawling sand, and then another 5 mins along the barreling waves to the famous Popoyo Surf Break.
Popoyo was relaxing, peaceful and you could totally spin it a few different ways.
There’s several hostels with a more “party” vibe, but still are pretty mellow in comparison to the happenings of a beach town like San Juan Del Sur.
Visitors at the hostel mostly sit on the beach and drink beer, throwing frisbees or having bonfires, or visiting the nearby tide pools for sunset with some cheeky beverages.
Popoyo is a magical place where you can be as private and quiet or as outgoing as you like. There’s people around, but it’s also a place to be mellow, enjoy long days next to the beach and make smoothies from local fruit that comes by way of a food truck every morning along the dirt road.
I spent mucho time hanging out, writing, drinking smoothies and running along the beach, and Rob spent a lot of time surfing.
It was absolutely the most relaxation portion of our Nicaraguan trip.
We walked out to the tide pools (only accessible during low tide) that are located at the far North end of the beach. You have to climb over some rocks, a tiny beach, and then one more set of rocks before you reach them. It was approximately 40 mins from Wild Waves.
And so worth it.
We also rented a motorbike for $10 from the Popoyo Beach Hostel just down the road so we could explore nearby beaches and scenes that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible on foot. I highly recommend doing this.
We ended up at a beach where we were the ONLY ones there, and also ate at the Magnific Rock Resort – which was an epic experience in itself.
Popoyo was a small slice of heaven, and absolutely a place I could spend some serious time adapting to a mega-chiller lifestyle.
It’s a must stop spot on a Nica adventure.
(PS.. this was my writing spot. Not too shabby, hey?)