Most surfers make base camp in San Juan del Sur  and then drive or boat out to the better breaks, though a lot of beaches are now also developing accommodations of their own. Many of the best breaks are only accessible by boat.
Rana Tours runs shuttles to the beach at Majagual  in an authentic panga, leaving at 11 a.m. and returning at 4:30 p.m. ($10 round-trip) and fishing and snorkeling expeditions ($35/hr, eight-person boat). Sign up at the kiosk in front of Hotel Estrella. But you can just as easily strike a deal with any local boat operator for a water taxi out to the other beaches.
An adequate selection of new and used surfboards is easy to find in San Juan. Local shredders Byron and Kervin López can be found in their shop, Arena Caliente (tel. 505/8815-3247, www.arenacaliente.com ), next to the market. They’ll rent you a board, drive you out to the beach and teach you the basics for $25.
Baloy’s Surf Shop (a block east of El Gato Negro) is owned by another pair of Nicaraguan brothers, who learned to surf on a secondhand board left behind by a tourist. They can arrange boards, gear, transportation, and lessons. Action Tours (tel. 505/8668-4407, www.actiontoursurfnica.com ) runs private surfing, fishing, and chilling charters. The $220 full-day trip includes lunch.
Good Times Surf Shop (across from the casino, tel. 505/8675-1621, www.goodtimessurfshop.com ) sells handcrafted boards manufactured in Nicaragua using renewable materials, and can help you arrange for a repair if you mash up your board. They also offer boat trips to local surf breaks starting at $20 per person.
Chicabrava (tel. 505/8894-2842, www.chicabrava.com ) is the first all-women’s surf camp in Nicaragua, with both nightly and weekly rates at their beach house in town (drop in for a day’s lesson and gear rental) and high-end, all-inclusive packages that cover lodging, food, equipment, six days of instruction, and transportation. You can also stay at their flagship “cloud farm” nature retreat with many activities available.