Puerto Sandino is an end-of-the-line port town with warehouses left to rust, a seaside power plant and acres of salt evaporation ponds.
If youâ€™ve made the long haul to this tiny destination, though, itâ€™s not for the scenery â€“ at least, not on land. Puerto Sandino might have rough roads and small beaches, but the harbor reef also kicks up the hollow curls that are a surferâ€™s dream.
Hotel Yeland (505-2-312-2256; fax 505-2-312-2288; firstname.lastname@example.org; singles, $35; doubles, $50; triples, $60) is the only lodging in town and the only one within easy reach of major breaks at Miramar and El Velero. That the comfortable rooms are mostly rented to surfers is apparent from the board racks lining the hallway.
The hotel, located in an area with frequent water outages and potholed, manages to be surprisingly plush: cable TV, wireless internet and hot water in the private bathrooms. There is a small bar/restaurant and a large pool, which was (rather typically) empty in spring 2009, due to maintenance issues. Hotel Yeland rents surfboards for $15 per day and can arrange for boats to take visitors to the reef at the harborâ€™s mouth or other surfing spots.
Bar-Restaurant Chango (Mains: C$95 to C$210; 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m., weekends; 505-2-312-2297) is a short walk across the street from Hotel Yeland. The menu is, unsurprisingly, seafood heavy, and the restaurant is outfitted with giant TVs. If youâ€™re tired of the heat, you can eat in an air conditioned dining area for an extra 10 percent charge on your bill.
The only cyber cafĂ© in town is really two computers at the back of a small store. Ciber Angy (505-2-312-2231) is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays or 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays and charges C$15 per hour.
The best way to get around Puerto Sandino is, of course, to have your own vehicle. Beach access is a hot hike from town and public transportation (other than buses to Managua and LeĂłn) is non existent.
The one daily bus to Managua departs at 7 a.m. Buses on the bumpy, two hour trip to LeĂłn (C$20) six times a day: 5 a.m., 7 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. The bus makes a lot of noise as it passes through town, but doesnâ€™t actually stop longer than it takes to make a quick U-turn near the port warehouses, so jump on board.