In my opinion, there are two types of traveling: The first is a trip, the second is a vacation. A trip is a traveling experience, like going to Europe and jumping from one city to the next, trying to see every. single. thing. Fun, educational, highly experiential, but also exhausting…especially with kids. The last few adventures have definitely been trips. This time around we decided we needed a vacation… some time to relax, let the kids roam and play and be worry free for a bit to refuel our engines… relaxing with family, eating yummy food, swimming, laying out and not having a plan for every single minute. We talked Clays brother and wife into going with us, traveling with family is the best! Less cost, friends to hang out with, especially for the kiddos!
Clay has been really wanting to go somewhere fun to surf so Nicaragua was a perfect fit! He found the coolest house on Airbnb literally about 30 steps from the water and from the best surfing in the country. It had a swimming pool, a big open porch to lay out and relax on while we watched the surf, and the kids were able to play on the beach. Above all though, the best part was Maria! She was an amazing cook who took care of all of our meals and dishes! She cooked bananas 100 ways, made the most delicious salsa from scratch a couple of times per day, every single meal included a pitcher of fresh squeezed juice and a plate of fresh avocados + tomatoes. Not to mention, the actual meals were fit for a king. SO DELICIOUS! I feel like Nicaragua is a little hidden gem. It can be super affordable, especially if you are able to split it with family or friends. This kind of trip with meal and cleaning services would be impossibly expensive for us anywhere else.
The home was about a 3 hour drive from Managua airport and the little “neighborhood” was pretty incredible. It was a little town within itself with a couple of surf shops, a couple restaurants, a spa, and a teeny tiny convenience store. The community is called Hacienda Iguana, gated and fenced, and sitting right on the beach.
The little beach neighborhood felt really safe, perfect for families. There were a couple restaurants and bars, a golf course and a little park. We rented a 4 seater golf cart to roam around the “town” in/search for monkeys + sloths/explore. Clay rented his surf gear from a little surf shop within the community and Tayler and I also rented some soft longboards to go out. It was perfect because there were some really good beginner spots just a few yards down from where the boys would surf and the water was over 80 degrees, the same temperature as the air in the evening! It was seriously magical. (See photos below: ????)
If you are up for more of an adventure, there is a really amazing little town about 20 minutes outside Hacienda Iguana called Tola. The old streets were lined with street vendors, the cutest fruit stands where I know Maria was getting our fruit everyday (best fruit I’ve ever had), yummy food and the walls of the town are every color of the rainbow. We drove past it on the way to and from the airport and wish we could have stopped! I was having extreme photo fomo! ???????? We hired a transport to take us to and from the airport, but if you rented a car that would be a really fun spot to check out. You may also be able to hire a driver for the day if you wanted to explore.
A few more notes:
I got a massage at the house for $30/hour. The masseuse was so lovely and did an amazing job! We also signed up for a private yoga class with Kimmy right on the beach at a b&b… a 5 min walk down the beach from the house. Also, if I weren’t deathly allergic to horses, there is horse riding available along the beach, they bring them to your house to begin your “tour”. Would have been at the top of my list.
I would definitely recommend doing a little research on the country’s civil unrest before booking anything, of course. At the time that we went, we felt that we would be safe because we were staying so far out of the main city and within the gated community. This is part of our reasoning for staying within the bounds of our community as well and not traveling around the country… especially with our kids. It’s just what felt safe. But things are always changing and there may be some red flags/perhaps things have quieted down. Just research before you go.
Every person we came in contact with was so hospitable and accommodating. Overall, we had such a wonderful experience and hope to return again!
What I Packed
Red Swimsuit: Kingdom and State