El Gigante Beach

Tola and El Gigante Beach

The beaches of Tola have a reputation of being the best in Nicaragua. They are located at the Rivas Isthmus, the narrow tongue of land that is between the Pacific coast and the vast Lake Nicaragua. Politically, it belongs to the department of Rivas whose department capital is the city of Rivas. On the south, this area borders with Costa Rica. Geographically, it is very similar to the coast of Guanacaste province of that country, however there is a vast difference between them, Costa Rica has over built its coast along what is called Bahia de Papagayo, and much of the natural beauty has been spoiled due to over development, meanwhile the coast in Nicaragua remains unspoiled. Its development has been focused on low impact, sustainable tourism developments.

This area is home to the most ambitious community resort developments in Central America these days. These include the Guacalito de la Isla Resort Community, (www.guacalitodelaisla.com ) the Hacienda Iguana Resort (www.haciendaiguana.com) and Punta Teonoste(www.puntateonoste.com).  Another fine example of commitment to developing sustainable tourism in the area is the Aqua Resort (www.aquanicaragua.com). A lovely community on a small cove on the beaches of Tola. Last, but not least, Rancho Santana (www.ranchosantana.com) offers unique vacation homes and villas. The setting is a pleasant, rural atmosphere with direct access to the beach and includes great beach horse back riding adventures. These resort communities are all low density, high end developments. Many of them with a marina, a golf course, a resort hotel and of course lots, villas and townhouses to choose from.

Surfing in El Gigante Beach

El Gigante Beach

ISA World Championship in Nicaragua. Photo ISA

Surfing in Tola is so good, that the International Surfing Association Masters World tournament for 2012 took place on the beaches right here! And it must be stated that Tola has earned its name a surfing destination over the years, attracting many surfers to its beaches. Its center of development has been the small seaside community of El Gigante Beach. The community is on a long beach with perfect conditions for surfing. There are many different lodging options for surfers throughout the community. Most of them are either owned or managed by an American who is a surfing fan and established himself here over 15 years ago. The community is home to around 500 persons.


Originally El Gigante was a fishing village. Over the years, it has slowly turned it into a famous surfing destination. The perfect combination of a small seaside village with outstanding weather, friendly Nica hospitalilty and security (crime is unheard of the community). The constant off-shore winds that blow across the isthmus and consolidate over Lake Nicaragua provide for the perfect surf destination. The result has been a unique, somewhat eclectic town, where backpackers mingle with high end surfers staying at the surf camps and where you will find owners of seaside villas and ocean view townhouses from the nearby resort communities coming to the village to enjoy its authentic, natural environment and famous Nica hospitality.

El Gigante Beachside Community

El Gigante Beach

Restaurant at El Gigante Beach town

The community gets its name from a small, very rough peninsula that juts out to the sea and forms the south end of this great surfing beach. This feature, which actually looks like a giant’s foot, gave the name to the community, which is located on a nice long beach with golden sand. One of the reasons that El Gigante Beach has retained its charm is surely due to its relatively remote location. The village is not on a main road interconnecting different communities; it is truly at the end of the road!


To get there, you must take the Pan American Highway between Managua and the Peñas Blancas Border with Costa Rica. As you cross the city of Rivas, you must take the detour towards the town of Tola. This road is paved and other than a few speed bumps, is easy travel; however once you get to Tola, the rest of the trip will be on a dirt road. It will take you about a half hour to drive between Tola and El Gigante. En route you will see the luxury resort community of Guacalito de La Isla. This  World Class development that includes an 18 hole golf course designed by David McLay Kidd. The course offers unique, challenging ocean front play.

Another unique community resort is Hacienda Iguana, this development also boasts a designer golf course by Niels Oldenburg. El Gigante is between both resort communities.

El gigante beach

The surfing atmosphere is present in this funky beachside bar!

El Gigante Beach boasts a variety of beachfront restaurants and bars. They serve Fresh fish and seafood in a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere, and at very affordable prices. Some of the most outstanding options are Restaurante La Gaviota, and Restaurante Margarita.

One of the nice things about El Gigante Beach as a Surf Destination is that you do not have to book into a surf camp to have access to equipment. Surfboards and pangas are readily available to all surfers for a nominal fee. Normally the fee is around $10 US per day. In addition, there are bilingual guides usually available to teach the newbie’s as well for those who wish to improve their surfing skills. Even if you are not a surfer, the natural beauty will impress you . Beaches, coves and small islands just off the coast are beautiful! Impressive cliffs and sunsets that just have to be among the most colourful in the world are another great asset to this lovely area on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua.

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