My boyfriend and I came to Aqua for a 5 night stay at the end of July and had a fantastic vacation that was both relaxing and adventurous. We found the resort to be a perfect couples retreat and in fact met many couples on their anniversary, honeymoon, or private getaways.
Flying from Miami to Managua is a tidy 2 hours. From there, it’s a 2-3 hour drive to the resort, depending on the aggressiveness of your driver (who probably won’t speak English). You’ll want to stay awake for the ride if you can – the drive is your best chance to get a view into Nicaraguan life, in both small towns and farmland. Cattle, chickens, horses, and other livestock are ubiquitous, and at times we found ourselves weaving between the herds. As the drive went on, I found myself worrying if we should have made the safer play and visited one of more tried and true Caribbean islands… until the moment we arrived!
The villas are cozy and equipped with all the essentials. Ours came with a plunge pool (a luxury that comes at no extra cost, if available). The bed is very comfortable and the shower provided is spacious and has great water pressure. It was great waking up each morning to a view of the luscious brush of the forest canopy (some villas at the resort have ocean views). WIFI is available. You’ll have to get used to living with a few insects. Once we even saw a small lizard climbing our wall! (It’s the forest – what else would you expect?) Overall, the villas are very pleasant and homey. That’s a very good thing, because there’s not much else to do at night than chill in your room. (For this reason, it’s best to get into the habit of going to sleep early and waking up early.)
FOOD AND WATER
Coming from NYC and being pretty big foodies ourselves, we were not sure what the food would be like, but it definitely went beyond expectations. The chef makes a very conscious effort to use organic, locally sourced ingredients, which added to the overall “freshness” that every meal carried. All the bread is made on site and is fantastic! They even have pizza night twice a week, which was a major highlight. My other favorite dishes were the chicken curry and anything involving pesto. The smoothies and cocktails were also a major hit. We especially enjoyed the Pina Coladas and Aqua signature cocktails.
I know other people have mentioned that the food was overpriced, but we found it to be quite appropriate for the quality of food we were getting in such a remote location.
One of our major concerns was about the safety of the drinking water. However, as the website accurately describes, there is purified water in the rooms, at the restaurant, and the other sites on the resort. Neither my boyfriend nor I ever got sick from food or water, which was a great relief.
The beach is undoubtedly the highlight of Aqua. The view of the Pacific from just outside the edge of the forest is breathtaking. Don’t take my word from it - go see the pictures for yourself. What truly makes this beach standout from others is the privacy; wedged in its own cove, out of the view of other nearby resorts. Oftentimes we found ourselves completely alone. One morning, my boyfriend read a book in a (super comfy) hammock from 6 to 9 in the morning without sighting another person. He said "I felt like I was in one of those Corona commercials, staring at the ocean with no one else around, accompanied only by sounds of the ocean. My only complaint would be that the lounge chairs are in desperate want of cushioning."
Part of what makes Aqua so unique is the ability to take day trips and do more adventurous activities while still being able to return to such a relaxing and private oasis. Over the 5 nights we were there, we decided to go on two excursions, which I think was a good amount. The Pia de Gigante hike is beautiful (and inexpensive), but be warned that this is not an easy “walk”, but a medium level hike with rock climbing and maneuvering at parts. The view at the top was spectacular! We also did the Mombacho Volcano and Canopy Tour which included a walk through the rainforest, followed by ziplining through the trees at the foot of the volcano. Our guide, Octavio, was really knowledgeable and made the day quite a learning experience about Nicaragua’s topology. In retrospect, neither of us regret going, but the trip was a bit expensive.
We had a couples massage and it was absolutely wonderful! Our massage room was located in the treetops with views of the ocean with the warm breeze sweeping in. The wildlife around the resort is really fascinating. Besides the monkeys, we also saw several types of crabs and snakes.
Overall this is a wonderful resort, and we both are looking forward to go back for a second visit!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We are a luxury eco-resort with a focus on wellness. The yoga platform overlooks our private beach in protected Redonda bay. Accommodations are well appointed luxury treetop villas built with a dramatic vantage over the bay, full kitchens, private plunge pools, teak + Balinese showers and wraparound decks. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Aqua Wellness Hotel Playa Gigante
- Aqua Wellness Resort Nicaragua/Playa Gigante