The ocean is my happy place. Sailing in Playa Gigante made this very clear to me again. No matter if I am at the beach, underwater or on a boat, it always feels like I am exactly where I need to be. Perhaps this is why one almost immediately gets soaked into those special destinations where like-minded people get stranded. We had no idea that it would be so hard for us to leave after just a few days in this gorgeous place. Thanks to a spontaneous encounter with a pirate and some fantastic hours on his boat, we call sailing in Playa Gigante one of our highlights in Nicaragua. Here is all about our trip that included awesome scenery, jumping off cliffs and ‘Pirate Punch’.
First of all, let’s introduce John, our Captain, who reminded me a bit of the modern version of Captain Ahab! A lot friendlier, and an impressive character, John shows his guests a very awesome time on his sailboat. He is not only the owner of the boat we were sailing, but also the inventor of the legendary ‘Booze Cruise’. The sailing trip starts almost every day at 2:3o pm right from the beach in front of his hostel ‘Gigante Bay’. You don’t want to miss this unique trip, it’s so much fun to go sailing in Playa Gigante and sip some rum punch along the way!
Thanks to Captain John’s adventurous soul, he personally swam along the coastline in order to explore every single rock, canyon and caves, and we were introduced to some awesome jumping spots along the way. With a lot of insider tips from your captain, you will get a glimpse of the gorgeous coastline south of Playa Gigante in a fun way. Originally from San Francisco, John has long lost his real connection to the United States and instead bought a hostel, started a family and grew a beard…the latter fits extremely well with his beautiful sailboat and gives the whole trip a special touch.
In general, this part of Nicaragua attracts a lot of surfers from all over the world. You can’t blame them, as it is a paradise that offers first-class waves, but still has not attracted mass tourism. Along the coast, you’ll find endless strips of beaches and bays that show off the most beautiful waves. Even if you don’t surf, sailing in Playa Gigante is a great alternative activity and a lot of fun, too. Furthermore, you can do horseback riding, yoga and, of course, it’s the perfect destination to enjoy a swim in the ocean.
How to get to Playa Gigante
It is a place that attracts tourists, but Playa Gigante is still very remote and not heavily crowded. Buses from Rivas run only from Monday to Friday. On the weekend, the only bus takes you to a little village 7km away from Playa Gigante… you can either walk, hitchhike or hope for a taxi for the rest of the way. Most likely someone will offer you a ride from Rivas once you get to the bus station. We happened to arrive on a Saturday and paid 4 USD each to a guy who offered us to take us. This doesn’t sound a lot, but it’s still 3 times more than the public bus.
Where to stay in Playa Gigante
Perhaps the exclusivity of this area makes Playa Gigante one of the more expensive places we’ve been to in Nicaragua. The lowest price that we could find for a private room was 20 USD but that was a very basic room. After two nights, we changed our hotel and went to Gigante Bay, a very fun hostel which has dorms from 10 USD up to AC private rooms. We loved it there, not only because of the free yoga classes every morning, but also because we happened to meet a lot of great people and went sailing in Playa Gigante.
Have you been there? Did you go sailing in Playa Gigante?
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Are you looking for more Latin American travel guides? Check out our post on Diving the Great Blue Hole of Belize if you are into scuba diving. Or what about a less sporty and therefore more cultural trip? Then you might like to read our Guatemala Travel Guide with tips for the ancient Mayan ruins in Copan.
Or are you curious about other places in Nicaragua? Then check out this travel guide for Nicaragua, a real fun place to visit when in Central America.
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20 replies on “Forget about Surfing: Sailing in Playa Gigante is the thing!”
We always enjoy sailing on a boat wherever we are, its a good way to enjoy the scenery! In fact, we took a little cruise while we were in San Juan Del Sur recently. Which reminds me did you visit SJDS while you were there?
Hey Tarah, thanks for your comment! That’s so true, sailing can be so scenic! And no, we skipped San Juan, we enjoyed Playa Gigante so much and heard that the only difference between these two places are the amount of tourists…so we decided to stay a bit longer in the less crowded place. Did you go on the Fun Sunday?? 🙂
wow! what an amazing experience, sailing, swimming, setting adrift in the ocean and basking in the sun.lovely post and pics.
Thanks so much! 😀
Would love to buy a sailboat and sail the seas for a year or so. This looks like a lovely place to start.
Thanks, Heather! I hear you, give me a million and I’d be on the ocean!
oh so wonderful! such a lovely place.
Thanks guys, it really is!!! 😀
The ocean sure is amazing. Love the cliffs in the midst of it.
Yes, Ami, the cliffs are so impressive and give the scenery a unique touch!
Sounds like a beautiful and relaxing vacation. We have been to Nica twice, but never made it to Playa Gigante…sounds like a reason to go again!
Hey Shelly, thank you! If you can, then you should go spend a few days in this part of Nicaragua, it’s really special!
I’m glad to see somebody else saying that sailing is where it’s at. We always sail, either on a small boat or medium cat too. It’s our favorite way to experience the water.
Great, Rob, thank you! Glad we are on the same page 😀
Waw, what a nice trip! Captain John surely looks like an interesting character! Your photos are gorgeous! The ocean is my happy place too and your office looks definitely like an inspirational environment to work 🙂 Enjoy Nicaragua, it’s on our list!
Haha, thank you, Cynthia! Yes, it was all in all perfect 🙂
Looks like an amazing to go sailing, swimming and relaxing. Always looks sunny and blue in Central America much like Thailand.
Thanks, Mark! It really is amazing and much like Thailand in that sense!
unbeliavable beautifull pictures and story.
Great you like it, thank you so much! 😀