Nicaragua takes sandboarding to the next level: on the black slopes of the Cerro Negro volcano near Leon you can experience the thrills of surfing on an active volcano, officially volcano boarding. This extreme sport is similar to sandboarding but practiced on dunes made of hardened lava and volcanic ashes. There are currently only a handful of locations worldwide where this sport can be practiced, and Cerro Negro is definitely the most famous.

Volcano Boarding

Cerro Negro – Leon, Nicaragua

The Cerro Negro (“Black Hill”) volcano is located about 20 km distance from the city of León, Nicaragua. It is part of the volcano chain named Cordillera de los Maribios. First “born” in 1850, it is both the youngest and most active volcano of Central America, around 2400 feet (728 meters) high. The latest eruption occurred in August 5, 1999 and gave birth to a slope of now hardened lava which made sandboarding on Cerro Negro possible.

Sandboarding in Cerro Negro is no easy feat. A trip to the volcano will last several hours, most of which you will spend hiking. Once at the top, you will have access to some spectacular views of other volcanoes in the central Cordillera de los Maribios. Take a deep breath, make your way to the rim of the crater and assume a surfing stance: you are about to slide down at speeds up to 70 km per hour! Remember all those hours you have spent hiking to reach the peak? It will take you about 3 to 5 minutes to slide back to the base of the mountain with your sandboard. Again, Cerro Negro is not for the faint of heart!

Volcano Boarding

Best Volcano Boarding Tours

There are plenty of companies to choose from if you are planning to go volcano surfing down Cerro Negro, depending on your budget and whether you prefer a public tour (i.e. through a hostel with other people) or a private tour. Most tours include transport from and to your accommodation with an off-road vehicle as well as a tour guide. The cost of volcano boarding in Cerro Negro varies depending on what tour you pick, with lowest prices starting at 25$ for a group tour, or 80$ for private tours. As a rule of thumb, the more people in the tour – the less you need to pay. Sandboard rental and safety gear is always included in the package, whereas the flat 5$ entrance fee to the park may not.

From Leòn

From Managua

From Granada

Private tours

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Volcanoboarding Equipment 

Your volcano boarding tour will likely include the following:

What to wear and what to bring

It is recommended to bring the following with you: 

  • Closed-toe tennis shoes
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Long trousers
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Water and snacks
Volcanoboarding / Ashboarding on Cerro Negro, Leon, Nicaragua

Warnings and safety tips

Volcano boarding in Cerro Negro can be dangerous. There are unfortunately many reports of people having accidents and ending up at the hospital with a wristed ankle and filled with bruises. Keep in mind that the slope is very steep and slowing down is much harder than it seems. If you trip or fall during your ride will not land you on soft ground, but razor sharp rocks and volcanic debris. It is imperative that you make sure that you have a travel insurance that covers volcanoboarding.

Volcanoboarding accidents

We report a few personal experiences of volcano boarding from someone that that found dangerous andd required medical care, someone who reportedly had their faces ripped off, and several reports of people getting bruises and injuries due to falling off their boards. Again, sandboarding insurance is a must if you are planning to go volcano boarding in Nicaragua.

World Nomads Volcano Surfing insurance

You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from over 130 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.

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All of the information provided about World Nomad Travel Insurance is a brief summary only. It does not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions of the travel insurance plans described. Coverage may not be available for residents of all countries, states or provinces. Please carefully read your policy wording for a full description of coverage.

South America Sandboarding Map

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