Surf, surf, surf, ride horses, and look at houses!

May 2008

It had been almost a year since our last trip to Nicaragua. Ryan had been busy at work and I had just returned from spending almost two months in Australia covering the first two events of the ASP World Tour for We both needed a vacation and a chance to reconnect with eachother, our surfboards, and our favorite country in the world.

On a suggestion from a friend, we booked ourselves into a room at The Surf Sanctuary which happens to be walking distance to the Rancho Santana beachbreak and a short drive over the sand to Popoyo.

The Surf Sanctuary is run by super cool people including Tony Longobucco (above and below), who owns the main peak at Santana when it’s on and also helps organize local contests to support the Nicaraguan Surf Team.

all surf photos by the lovely and talented Erin O’Kon

I was stoked to get into some warm water hollow tubes, even if they were mostly closeouts!

this photo courtesy of

Anyone who has been to Nicaragua knows about Nicaragua Surf Report. It’s a website providing daily surf reports and photos. Every time I go to Nicaragua I like to check it out and see what the surf was like wherever they were shooting and compare it to where I surfed. This day I happened to see a photo of me! I didn’t even realize they had been on the beach shooting!

Since the beachbreak at Santana is one of the most consistent and accessible spots, it is always crowded with ripping locals. These two groms were on it every day, all day. This day was pretty solid and closed out and they were the only two out.

self-portrait : )
The Surf Sanctuary even has wireless internet!

It had been a while since we’d visited our lot in Rancho Santana. (Scroll down through “older posts” to read about our purchasing process for this lot). We decided to drive in and remind ourselves what it looked like.

Here I am standing on the corner of our lot in an area of Rancho Santana called Escondida which overlooks Playa Rosada.

The last time we were there it was just a barren ridge of empty lots. We were surprised to see a house nearly finished, two lots down from ours.

The house is beautiful and inspiring. It made us want to start building on ours as well!

No one was around, so I went in for a closer look.

The house isn’t even finished but a hammock has already been installed from which to admire the amazing view.

I walked along a path from the new house back to our lot with house design plans bubbling up in my head.

From the street below we looked back up towards the ridge where that house was built and imagined what ours would look like up there as well.

There were a lot of new houses built since last we visited and we took photos of a few of the more interesting examples. The one above had a boat feel with those round windows, and the one below seemed like a Greek palace.

Back at The Surf Sanctuary, Ryan was inspired to work on the house plans for our most recently purchased lot, but the local kitten, “Salty”, was doing her best to be distracting.

The animal fan in me can’t resist including this photo of Surf Sanctuary’s guard dog, “Nica”, definitely one of the most loved dogs in the country.

We drove down the beach to surf Popoyo a few times.

Lance and his wife Kristen who own Surfari Charters Surf Camp took us out on their boat to surf a new spot. They are awesome people and we were stoked to have a chance to get to know them.

more epic surf shots by Erin O’Kon

Ryan started on the lefts with everyone else, but since he was the lone regular foot he realized that if he moved over to the rights, he would have every wave to himself!

Tony, once again displaying his patented frontside hack.

Surfari Charters owner Lance rips too!

I was stoked to do a few turns on some fun rippable lefts with only a handful of friends in the water.

There are horses everywhere in Nicaragua. You see them pulling carts, herding cows, and just cruising on the side of the road. As a young girl I used to have a couple horses and compete until I started surfing, was forced to choose, and decided waxing my surfboard was more fun than shoveling manure. It had been a long time since i’d ridden but Tony introduced me to a friend named Dawn who was in Nicaragua teaching art to kids and offering horse backriding.

We went on a ride for several hours up through the hills and then down onto the beach where we fulfilled my longtime fantasy of galloping at full speed along the beach. It was super fun. Thanks Dawn!

When we got back to the Popoyo Surf Lodge someone asked me to pose with a surfboard under my arm for a photo. Ok, whatever. Got the shot!

Most people in Nicaragua don’t have cars. They ride buses and bicycles or hitchhike. This group of school kids were stoked and laughing to catch a ride with the gringos.

After a little over a week in the heart of the surf and development zone, we said goodbye to our new friends and ventured off out of the way of the surf camps to a picturesque fishing village and local hotel.

Ryan had a new camera and we practiced taking some modeling shots for a possible Body Glove ad.

We also surfed a super hollow reef break that is still sort of a secret spot, but won’t be for long. We surfed it three days in a row with only the two of us out, knowing that we probably won’t be so lucky next year.

Ask Ryan where that left is and he’ll give you this look.

Next stop, up to the lot we bought on our last trip that you can read about in my previous post…. i’ll save that part of the story for next time.

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1 Response to Surf, surf, surf, ride horses, and look at houses!

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