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Playa Pie de Gigante

The golden cove of Playa Pie de Gigante, with calm spots for swimming, breaks for surfing and, further out, deep water fishing, has been cocooned from an influx of tourists by its location. The dirt track to the beach is passable most of the year (except in October when rains swamp the area), but a lack of public transportation makes the spot that locals call simply “Gigante” less accessible than the remote northern beaches of El Tránsito or Miramar.

Taxis charge at least $30 for the hour-long, one-way trip from Rivas; a bus between Rivas and Las Salinas (or Tola and Salinas) stops at the entrance to the beach road, but from there it’s a hot 4km walk to the shore. If you’re on foot, you’ll likely walk the whole way as the pickups that make El Tránsito so accessible are few and far between at Gigante.

All of which is not to say that you shouldn’t make the effort to reach the gorgeous strip of beach, but you might want to make reservations with one of the surf camps that line the shore. Dale Dagger Surf Tours (505-8-921-8694, dale@nicasurf.com, www.nicasurf.com) and Giant’s Foot Surf Camp (505-8-924-7301, www.giantsfoot.com, giantsfoot@gmail.com, reservations@giantsfoot.com) both offer week-long packages ($1500 per person and $1299 per person, respectively) that include transfers to Managua’s international airport, meals, accommodation and trips.

Dagger Surf is a bright and cheery house with the relaxed feel of a friend’s beach pad; the shady Giant’s Foot complex is equally chill, with porch swings made out of skateboards and an enormous library of beach novels. Despite the name, the surf camps have all the amenities: hot water, air conditioning and televisions. Dagger Surf also has wireless internet and rents surfboards for $50 per week; Giant’s Foot packages include alcohol.

Between Sept. 15 and March 15, Giant’s Foot operates as a hostel (the rest of the year is by reservation) and rents double rooms with private bathrooms for $25 or dorm rooms for $10. The kitchen remains off limits. Dagger Surf only rents rooms to walk-ins when there is space (in other words, call ahead).

Hotel Brio (505-8-433-9737, info@costanica.com, www.hotelbrio.com) is another solid option, set on a hill a short walk from the beach. The modern-style main building has a porch with a view and a bright restaurant/ bar. The rooms come either with (for $35 per person) or without air conditioning (for $30 per person) and the hotel offers Spanish lessons (as Escuela Bigfoot), surfing lessons and a long list of boat charters.

For such a remote location, Gigante has several surprisingly tasty restaurants right on the beach. Bar y Comedor La Gaviota (505-8-643-2844) recently redid their ranchero-style roof and serves beef, pork, chicken and seafood for between C$60 to C$120. In the spirit of diversification, the owners of La Gaviota also provide surfing trips ($15 per person), fishing trips ($15 per hour), surf board rentals ($5) and hope to rent five rooms with private bathrooms by December 2009.

Restaurant de Gigante (Mains: US$7 to $18; 505-8-828-4373/ 505-8-432-9740, www.piedegigante.net, piedegigante@gmail.com) is the spot along the crescent shore to satisfy your craving for gourmet international food. Run by Maria Esperanza and Keith Griffith (he’s North American, she’s Nicaraguan), the restaurant specializes in (surprise!) fresh seafood, but there is also grilled chicken, beef pasta and vegetarian dishes on the menu. Rest. de Gigante has a pleasant, tiled patio and a policy of using hairnets and plastic gloves during food preparation.

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Other places nearby Playa Pie de Gigante: Tola, Las Salinas y Playa Popoyo, El Astillero, Rivas, Isla de Ometepe, Altagracia, San Juan Del Sur, Playa Santo Domingo, Moyogalpa and Around San Juan del Sur.







09 Jun 2009

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