So i'm trying to plan a trip for December. Ive been to Puerto Rico twice and would like to mix it up a little. Looking for somewhere that is inexpensive, (don't mind staying in a dumpy place) and not over crowded/commercialized. Have been thinking Nicaragua or Panama. Any recommendations
I second the bocas recommendation. Cheap, variety of waves and consistent. The beachbreak always picks up a wave as do some of the reefs. Easy to get around, either by boat or taxi. The only hassle is getting there. Flying from Jersey required us to stay a night up the road from Albrook airport, same for the return. Might be different for you just be aware.
Avellanas, CR about 20 minutes from Tamarindo (city w/ huge surf culture). Plenty of hostels to stay at such as Casa Surf, $30 a day gets you a bed, meals, and a board. $10 a night with $5 meals if you do want to pay fees to travel with your board. 5 different breaks right by it and they have the option for boat trips to Witches Rock.
Costa, Panama, Nicaragua are great if you have 10 days or more to spend on a trip.
If you have a week or less I would highly recommend El Salvador. The airport is like 20 minutes from the beach! Also there are a lot of good, cheap package deals you can choose from if your heading to El Salvador. Edgar's place at K59 is a sweet spot and all inclusive. Nice little place right on the break! K59 can really fire!
Las Olas is also another option for El Salvador. Probably slightly cheaper than Edgar's place. On a cliff on the ocean but have to travel a couple minutes to the breaks.
The "east coast" of El Salvador is a little more pricey and about 7 hours from the airport. Some really good breaks down there though.
Nicaragua is good trip! Its fairly inexpensive but you will have to either rent a car or get with a surf camp etc... to pick you up at the airport. Waves are about 2 hours from the airport.
Nicaragua has some killer surf but is a little more for the experienced surfer. Its not like Costa though.... there's not a lot to do besides surf. Not really any nightlife or touristy stuff to do. Once you arrive at the beach there is nothing there. The nearest substantial store with electricity is 30-45 min from there.
Costa is a good option and now you can fly directly into Liberia if you are looking to head to Nosara, Negra, Tamarindo, Witches Rock etc... That airport is really convenient and easy in and out. Day flights only.... no runway lights!
Puerto Rico that time of the year can really fire! Probably your cheapest option. You can fly there from Florida for like $100! Maybe slightly crowded that time of year though.
Other options are Barbados, Jamaica, Bahamas etc... Barbados probably being a little more pricey. All great spots for that time of year!