Drive 6.6 kilometers south of San Juan del Sur, through a jungle of howler monkeys and over multiple dried river crossings, and you will arrive at a 3 km-long gorgeous, sandy white beach that produces enough variety of right and left breaks to satisfy the soul of any surfer.
Mostly restricted until two years ago, Playa Hermosa has opened its gates for locals and tourists of all ages and will now serve as the beach-front backdrop for the 5th annual Pitaya Festival, Feb. 21-23.
Every full moon in February, the community of El Carizal transforms into Nicaragua’s premiere music and sustainability festival. But now in its 5th year, the Pitaya Festival will unveil a new level of commitment to community development, recycling initiatives, and art, in addition to showcasing local and international musical talent.
On Feb. 22, the festival will kick off with a two-day International Quiksilver- and Martin & Co. Guitars-sponsored surf competition featuring surfers from all over Nicaragua and Costa Rica, as well as travelers from Australia, Europe, and the United States. The under-16 and under-18 divisions of the surf competition are designed to help make pre-selections for the national surf teams that will later train and compete in the ISA Junior World Championships at Playa Santana next June. Claro is also sponsoring a beach volleyball tournament, which we expect to grow in future years.
Entrance to the beach on Friday, Feb. 22 is C$70 ($3 per person) paid at the Playa Hermosa entry gate. Local BBQ and a full restaurant will be running to support the hungry appetites of surfers and spectators alike. Look for ice-cold Toñas in the beer tent next to the grandstands.
On Feb. 23, when the surf contest winds down, the Claro stage will heat up with a variety of musical genres to satisfy an eclectic palate. As the sun sets, there will be a guest appearance from the Costa Rican sensation Debi Nova, a Grammy artist with the #1 dance hit single “Drummer Boy.”
Pantalones Calientos is coming all the way from Mexico to funktify the festival with a Jazz sound never before heard in the region. Nicaragua’s beloved Milly Majuc is sure to get you jumping to their unique ska beats and rock grooves. And as the full moon rises, El Tercer Ojo and Claro present our festival headliner, Run Dun Crew (Bluefields Sound System) to bring their good vibes, passionate lyrics and Afro-Caribbean reggae beats to the Pacific.
Costa Rica’s Ojo de Buey will follow up and take us through midnight with their afro-caribbean-latin rock’n’roll grooves and good luck charms. Live musical performances will run from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m., and then the 9mm DJs (feat. DJ Johnny G) will keep you dancing under the moon until 3 a.m. (and maybe beyond…)
The Pitaya Festival is a party that you can truly feel good about. Every beer you buy and all proceeds from the festival go toward the Casa Llanta Fund. The Casa Llanta Fund helped fund the construction of the local pre-school and community kitchen in El Carizal, and started the successful women’s co-op known locally as Condimentos del Carizal. The Casa Llanta Fund hosts weekly English Classes and this year provided scholarships for seven students in the community to go to high school and university for a full calendar year in 2012—a program that will be continued in 2013-2014 with funds from anticipated festival proceeds.
The Casa Llanta Fund also covers school bus transportation costs and teacher salaries for the San Juan del Sur chapter of Los Pipitos, the center for children and adults with disabilities. The Casa Llanta Fund has a strategic partnership with Comunidad Connect, which plays an integral part in many the education and recycling initiatives in San Juan del Sur.
At the Pitaya Festival, there will be Toña and Flor de Caña tents serving up ice-cold beverages, as well as a food court filled with an array of local specialty foods. So be sure to come hungry and plan to eat while enjoying live tunes. Thanks to Pitaya+, we’ll even have special pitaya cocktails.
The Pitaya Festival is committed to increasing environmental awareness and ensuring the festival is as green as possible. We encourage all festival-goers to reduce the carbon footprint of the festival by using our festival shuttles ($2 per person) and free bus transportation from the Barrio Café & Taco Stop in San Juan del Sur. The buses run hourly from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. We also encourage using refillable water bottles and reusable festival cups (sold at the event and several bars in San Juan del Sur), instead of using wasteful plastic bottles.
Villas de Palermo will be hosting pre-festival Happy Hours on the Wednesday and Friday prior to the festival with live music on Friday, Feb. 22 by Pantalones Calientes and some visiting DJs.
Festival entrance tickets can be purchased at the entrance gate the day of the festival for $5 or 100 Cordobas. Parking is available at Playa Hermosa for $10 per vehicle entry.
For more detailed information on the performing artists, concert schedule, shuttles and volunteering, please visit the festival website here.