I grew up in the middle of America. Landlocked and curious to see more of the world, I hit the road when I was 19. Traveling overland, I took an overnight bus from Denver to Mexico, and from there I just kept going south. A few months and countless bus and train rides later, I found myself renting a room over a surf shop in a small town in Nicaragua called San Juan del Sur. Most days the owner of the shop would drive a cargo van full of tourists like me and a few locals to a beach break up the coast called Maderas.
This was the beach where I learned to surf. The swell was consistently on, the winds almost always offshore. The surf shop owner, Byron, would time his drives to the beach with the tide, shifting our departure everyday so we'd arrive during the best tide.
More than a decade later, I keep getting pulled back to this beach. I’m not the only one who feels its appeal. Palm roofed huts have sprouted in the jungle at Maderas Village and a few other spots. Playa Maderas and the hills above it have become a regular stopping point for all kinds of travelers passing through this part of the world.
I come back here with a good deal of regularity, and some people seem surprised to hear that I keep traveling to the same place time and time again. With a limited number of days to be on the road, why not see something else? Why not look for variety? But for me, there’s a lot of pleasure returning to the same spot year after year. The beach and the areas around it have seen inevitable change. But the waves are just as regular, and just as good as I’ve always remembered them.