When talking about Popoyo it's important to realise that it is 2 waves with very different personalities a bit like beauty and the beast. Beauty is the alluring symmetry of the reef and sand slab off Play Sardinas that peaks up and peels off predictably at a nice pace for vertical whacks and the odd crumbly cover-up. Better at low incoming tide, the peak will hold up to double overhead and and a considerable crowd as well. The Beast is The Outer Reef, with a capital T, found 400m offshore and is only really an option for the very bravest and skilled big wave riders. Looks deceptively perfect from distance but close inspection reveals shallow rocks, boils and riverine currents sculpting heaving, bloodthirsty barrels with a do or die end section. Easily handles 20ft faces at this higher tide spot and it gets scarier by the minute on the drop, which doesn't deter the local hellmen that have it wired.
Popoyo has been described by some as a poor man's Lower Trestles, and the comparison isn't totally off ... in a couple different ways. First, it's more of a flat slab of rock reef than a configuration of cobblestones, and the left is often better than the right. Second, it's one of Nicaragua's most classic and popular spots due to its relative close proximity to Managua and the incessant offshore winds from Lake Nicaragua.
The best waves at Popoyo offer enough speed and face to schwack and carve to your heart's content ... every day, all day. When a bigger swell fills in, especially from the South-West, there are a few barrel sections to be had on both the lefts and rights, though it does tend to close out regularly when the waves begin to reach the double overhead range. If all-day offshore winds aren't enough of a treat, Popoyo pretty much breaks with equal character on all tides, though mid tide is when it is at its best. And for the advanced to pro surfer, there is Outer Popoyo, which is a fifteen-minute paddle off shore and a close, yet far more giant, cousin of The Box.
As mentioned, Popoyo has long been the first place to come to mind for surfers considering a trip to Nicaragua, therefore there is plenty of accommodation (from gritty to luxury) to choose from in the area. This notoriety makes for a pleasant vacation experience but certainly not a solitary one. For ease and consistency, Popoyo is hard to beat, but a little exploration to parts south and north along the serpentine Nicaraguan coast hold their fair share of perfection, too.About Popoyo/Outer Reef Go to Popoyo/Outer Reef report »
If The Box in Australia was flipped around, given a gnarly end section, and held solid 20-foot surf, it would begin to resemble the Popoyo Outer Reef. Again, not a completely original name or anything, but descriptive enough: it's a heaving slab of water located a quarter-mile outside the regular, and much more user-friendly, Popoyo reef. Outer Reef will only really break on a high tide -- low tide sees exposed reef -- and even at high it's super sketchy and reserved only for pros and/or those with a death wish. Keep an eye out for local chargers Manuel, J.J., and Lance, who rule the place when it gets big and put on one hell of a show.