AKA, El Astillero. Bordered on the north by the Chacocente turtle sanctuary and on the south by the somewhat ignored Gavilan, Astillero is a poor, basic fishing village that would have been built into a Tamarindo by now had the sand been white rather than brown. You see, Astillero holds the distinction of being one of the very few places in all of Pacific coast Nicaragua where the coast highway (“highway” but it’s still a dirt road) actually runs alongside the beach. And there’s good surf.
The surf is in three areas – the south beach, north beach and outside reefs. From the fishing coop south it’s nearly always closed out, but smaller and better for beginners. North of the fishing coop is where it gets interesting, with a reef, beach breaks and the rivermouth all providing waves at all tides. The best waves are near the rivermouth. Head north of the rivermouth around the point and into the Chacocente reserve for more and often better surf, starting with Lance’s Left. When the beach breaks get overhead and start closing out the outside reef start firing. While the outer reef at Popoyo is crowded with tow-ins, the Astillero reef rarely has more than three surfers on it, if any at all.
Access to the surf is easy. Lots of folks drive their vehicles onto and along the beach and park in front of their chosen breaks, some even driving over the rivermouth up to the point at low tide, but that's not a great idea. Best to just park under the trees in the shade and pay a local a few bucks to watch your stuff. Or pay $5 to drive into the Astillero Resort near the north end (not operating) and have the guard do the guarding.
The fishing cooperative here not only provides a great deal of fish for great distances, it’s got a load of pangas and some surfing fishermen. So ask around and you can get a ride out to some great, somewhat secret surf nearby. Certainly more secret than Popoyo to the south.
There are a couple of places to stay in Astillero, like the Hostal Hamacas. You’ll see signs for this basic, backpackers’ hostel from miles away. It’s right in the middle of the beach, so you can walk north to the better surf. Another little place to stay is the Bahia Paraiso Hotel Restaurante. It’s also on the beach and has a bit more of a surf bent, with a surfboard sign out front advertising surfing, boat trips and fishing. But the best place to stay, by far, is the Las Plumerias surf resort. Located south of Astillero in Gavilan, Las Plumerias has primarily a French clientele, as the owners themselves are French. It has a nice pool, great food at the restaurant and bar, and sunset views that can’t be beat. The owners serve as your surf guides, taking you to the best surf for your skill level and the conditions – you can’t beat that!
Check out the video below from Vissla. These guys surfed everywhere from El Astillero to Rancho Santana. Notice no one else in the water. :)