Palm Beach - Playa Grande
Wave Quality: Average (5 / 10)
Ideal Swell Direction: SSW (185° – 200°)
Ideal Wave Height: Waist high – shoulder high
Best Wind Direction: Light offshore
Best Tide: Mid-high
Required Experience: Beginner – intermediate
Best Board: Longboard, funboard
Crowd: Empty – light
Wave Power: (6 / 10)
Best time of the year: July – August
Palm Beach - Playa Grande
Location – Palm Beach is located in Playa Grande within the Las Baulas National Park, approximately 1 km south of Playa Grande’s main peak and 500 meters north of the Casitas surf break.
This wave is also called Pochotes and La Curva. The main peak is found at the sharpest bend along the middle of Playa Grande’s bending coastline.
Wave Type / Quality -Left & Right beach break (5 / 10) Average
Palm Beach along Playa Grande’s coastline receives more swell energy than Tamarindo on Southerly swells. Although not as big at the main peak, you can generally find rideable, powerful waves. The reason for the average rating is because the wave is mostly walled and there are lots of closeouts. Since there are no rocks out the back to refract and bend the incoming swells, many of the waves don’t have the A-frame shape like Playa Grande’s main peak. However, if you pick off a nice corner, you can still get a long, fast wave to the beach.
Ideal Swell Direction – SSW (185° – 200°)
All the surf spots in Playa Grande will receive any swell with a southerly direction (180° – 230°), But the ideal angle for wave shape at Palm Beach is almost straight south from 180° – 200°. With a dramatically southerly swell, the waves have a better chance running along the beach for long, roping left handers.
Ideal Wave Height – waist – shoulder high
Because of its tendency to close out, a small – medium swell works best at Palm Beach. While the main peak may be head high – overhead, Palm Beach will remain in the waist – shoulder high range with decent shape. For this reason, many Intermediate surfers love to start at Palm Beach and work their way up the beach to the main peak as they progress.
Best Wind Direction – Light offshore
Best wind is light – moderate offshore which can range from NNE to NE to ENE. Playa Grande actually has a huge advantage over many other spots to the south because the wind will stay offshore longer. Since Playa Grande is located closer to Lake Nicaragua, the wind will stay offshore here all day while many spots to the south turn onshore around 10am. During the dry season (Dec – April) the offshore winds can be quite strong but the waves generally remain groomed.
Rubber? – Yes (December – April)
Bring some rubber especially if the winds have been blowing offshore for several days. Although rare, water temps can drop down to about 63°F. This is a phenomenon called upwelling. Normally, water temps hover in the 75° – 80°F range. Upwelling really only happens a few times during the dry season. A wetsuit top generally comes in handy for dawn patrol sessions year round.
Best Time To Score? – December – April and July – August
Although the SSW swells are not super consistent in the dry season (Dec – April) the conditions are perfect and you can generally surf everyday no matter what time the tides are. When there is an offseason SSW swell this time of the year, you can expect some fun waves practically by yourself. July and August also made the list because these are our “mini-summer” months where we get plenty of offshore winds along with consistent SSW swell. During this time of year, all-day offshore winds are less common, but there is generally an offshore window that can last until 1pm.
Best Tide – Mid – high
Palm Beach will start working about 3 hours after dead low and will break all the way up to dead high. The higher tides are actually preferred here because the wave closes out more with the medium tides. There is not too much backwash here like Playa Grande’s main peak.
Required Experience – Beginner – intermediate.
Palm Beach is a great first step up from the Tamarindo beach break. As you feel more comfortable in bigger surf, Palm Beach is a friendly testing ground to paddle into bigger waves and feel more speed under your feet. Not too many advanced surfers go here as the wave closes out a bit and there is a much better wave just 15 minutes walking to the north.
Best Board – Longboard, funboard
Since the wave is less powerful than Playa Grande’s main peak, you will need some more volume to get in early. Plus, a board with more volume will allow you to catch the wave earlier and trim across the face quickly before it closes out.
What’s On The Bottom? Sandy bottom
What’s The Crowd Like? – Empty – light
Probably the best element of Palm Beach is the non-existent crowd factor. While most surfers are at the main peak biting at each others ankles, Palm Beach just 15 minutes to the south is generally empty. Granted, the waves are not as good, but you have your choice to the best waves with zero hassling. No agro surfers here, just fun loving beginners and intermediates.
How Powerful Is The Wave? (6 / 10)
As the swell marches into the beach, the waves retain most of their energy. Palm Beach doesn’t double up like the main peak, but the swells do come crashing down with power.
Perfecto Meter – (5 / 10) (1 = Lake Michigan wind chop / 10= Kelly Slater Surf Ranch)
On an ideal day with the perfect swell angle, size, and light offshore winds, you will surely find some open waves with no one around.
Spaghetti Arm Index – (3 / 10)
It’s possible to get caught inside on a set (especially with a longboard), but the wave itself doesn’t break all that far from the beach.
Hazards – Closeouts
How Do I Get There?
From the Playa Tamarindo beach break, head north across the Tamarindo estuary (hire a boat taxi) and walk north along Playa Grande’s horseshoe shaped beach for about 20 minutes. This can be a long, arduous walk along soft sand
In a car, the drive takes about 30 minutes on paved and dirt roads. As you arrive to Playa Grande, hang a left and follow the dirt roads south until you find the Palm Beach neighborhood. There is a small beach access that leads you to the main peak.
You can also get to Palm Beach by boat in about 3 minutes after leaving the beach in Tamarindo.