From Surfing to Hammocks, Playa Gigante Has It All
by Kluft on June 28, 2011
Nicaragua, Costa Rica’s little brother when it comes to tourism, is growing quickly in popularity. Cheap accommodations, unspoiled wilderness and beaches, world class surf breaks, and delicious food are drawing large groups of tourists and backpackers alike to this beautiful country. Before we know it, English will be king and tourism will rein supreme in this Central American country. Luckily, there are still places one can escape to in order to find their own piece of paradise. Several secluded beach towns can be found that will fit this bill, but there is one that is a must-see before it succumbs to the pressures of the almighty dollar. This is Playa Gigante.
Playa Gigante, located north of San Juan, is close to some of the best surf breaks Nicaragua has to offer. With only a few locally owned restaurants and small guesthouses, travelers will feel like they own the beautiful beach all to themselves. After waking up next to this secluded beach, grab your surf board and head to whichever wave is breaking the best in the area. During a high swell, surfing is possible directly out front. Usually, the best breaks require a short but stunningly beautiful boat ride. Either way, there is a surf culture in this small town that is perfect for both beginner and experienced surfers. Wind down the day with one of the most inspiring sunsets found in Central America.
Although it is small and secluded, Gigante has accommodations for everyone. There is a surf camp called Giant’s Foot Surf Camp that includes food, guides, and transportation to the best surf breaks. If you’re looking for cheaper accommodations, Camino del Gigante is located at the end of the main street running through the town and is next door to Giant’s Foot, just past the playground. Camino del Gigante has private rooms (USD$20), dorm beds (USD$8), and hammocks for rent at (USD$3). Filled with hammocks overlooking the ocean, top-notch Spanish-inspired food, and good people, a cold cerveza is always available here. A higher priced resort, Aqua Wellness Resort, is also found over the hill at Redonda Bay. This eco-lodge is a yoga lover’s dream.
Getting to this small town is the only challenging part. Most of Nicaragua is easily accessible by the famous chicken buses; however, there is no bus that runs to Gigante. The best way to get to the town is to hire a taxi from the town of Rivas. The road is unpaved and bumpy for part of the way, so taxi drivers will ask for around USD$25 for the 30 to 40-minute ride. Depending on your bartering skills, many will compromise at USD$18. Taxis ask for around USD$50 from San Juan del Sur, so it is cheaper to take a chicken bus to Rivas and then hire a taxi. Well-marked signs do offer easy navigation if driving yourself. Some surf resorts like Giant’s Foot also provide pick-up if requested.
Playa Gigante is a great place to finish an epic surf trip or just to take a few days and relax by getting away from the hustle and bustle of city traveling. Either way, this small beach town is a must-see on any Central American backpacker’s list.