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“Party of 10 people fun at Surf Ranch” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort

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Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort
2.5 of 5 Hotel   |   Empalme de El Valle, 991.5 m al Este | Follow the Surf Ranch Signs, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua (Formerly Surf Ranch Action Sports Resort)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #16 of 21 Hotels in San Juan del Sur
New York, New York, United States
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Party of 10 people fun at Surf Ranch”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 31, 2013

Great resort even though owners were really non-existent on the property. Most of our fun was with John, Michael, Juan Carlos and Juan Francisco at the pool bar! Food was good, shuttle ride into town was always an adventure. Unlimited beer and rum drinks were a highlight, as was Buddy the pit bull. John had great recommendations for restaurants in town, and we even treated him to a dinner with us and he surprised our daughter with a birthday cake/candle at the end.

Front desk folks seemed to be aloof and not really eager to go out of their way to help!
Vacationed at the start of the rainy season and we had NO RAIN during the day ~ sunny and warm. Fans in the villas and condos helped. Lack of hot water was really not an issue.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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158 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (47)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
New Orleans, Louisiana
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2013

I chose the all-inclusive deal on TheClymb.com. The free shuttles were great, and the staff was really helpful. The resort was clean, and well-managed, and the bartenders were very friendly and fun! San Juan del Sur is a great place to stay, and the resort was peaceful and relaxing after a long day of surfing. If you do get the all-inclusive deals I would suggest ordering off of the menu sometimes, as I wasn't very impressed with the daily meals that were included with the all-inclusive. My only critiques are these: it would have been nice if our rooms were cleaned (sheets changed, etc.) every day, or at least every other day. I had to ask for our room to be cleaned every time. The locks on the condo/villa doors were of cheap quality and confusing. Two people in our group broke keys off in the lock and then were charged for "lost key" fees, though it was definitely the fault of the hardware and not the operator. There could have been better lighting in our condo bathroom - it was very dark in there. All that being said, I would DEFINITELY return and have very good memories of the staff, and the resort, and the town as a whole. Great pool, friendly "staff" dog, Buddy, great bartenders, great shuttle drivers, and loved all of the other folks who were also staying there at the same time. Intimate, friendly, fun, and everyone who worked there was always eager to help. Great place to stay; very happy with my experience!

Room Tip: The condos are apparently cooler in temperature than the villas, according to my friends who stayed...
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, Texas
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2013

Let me start by saying that we had a great time in Nicaragua and really enjoyed the Surf Ranch. We booked our stay at the Surf Ranch through theclymb.com and for the price it was well worth it. We had a five night all inclusive package that included 3 meals a day, all the beer and rum we could drink, and use of the Ranch's surf boards.

Let me preface this review by reminding everyone that Nicaragua is a developing country. Luxuries like hot water, A/C, water pressure are a rarity, so know that anywhere you stay you're going to run into some issues. That said, the people are wonderful!!!

The Ranch - Cool place they're still doing a little construction but that didn't disturb anyone. Good pool with swim up bar. We aren't skaters but the skate park seemed pretty nice and had some cool features if that's up your alley. The rooms were clean but hot. there is not much water pressure/ and no AC in the condos or villas (i believe the ones being built will have it available). We had some issues with our sink/ plumbing but those were addressed when the staff was notified. I like the concept of all of the rooms surrounding the pool/bar. Its a cool place where everyone staying there eats, drinks & hangs out. We met some really awesome people on the trip and everyone would get together at the end of the day and trade stories about the excursions they went on etc. over drinks. Very cool atmosphere. There is 24 hour security on site and Buddy the dog is an awesome mascot/ guard dog.

I talked with Travis, one of the owners, over several beers one night and he was a really cool guy with a good vision for what he and his brother want to do with the place. The place has a lot of potential and I think it will do really well when everything is completely finished.

The Service - Tyla and Valerie at the front desk were great, they helped us out to make sure we had everything we needed, and Valerie went out of her way to accommodate our requests to change our activities. (That said as a courtesy, I'd wait to talk to some people and book activities a day or two in advance rather than right when you check in, as you get to hear what are the must do's and get more details on the experience). Everyone that worked at the ranch was very friendly and accommodating. The guys at the bar are awesome.

The Food/ Bar - Awesome - Bartenders Joao, Michael, & Juan Carlos kept the drinks coming. Watch out for Joao, I personally blame him for a hungover day of surfing, but he is an awesome guy.
They have a set menu for the all inclusive packages, everyone eats the same thing. It was really great food though, but if you want something else you can order off of their regular menu and put it on your tab. As I mentioned previously the beer and rum/ cokes were included. Water, gatorade, juice or soft drinks not mixed with rum were not. However, everything is very reasonably priced, we bought a couple of jugs of water in town to put in the Camelbak for cheap but a nice cold gatorade was very helpful in the morning.

Activities - The staff was very helpful in booking activities. We didnt arrive until 8pm the first night so we couldnt book surfing lessons for our first day there (you need to do so before 5:30pm the day before). If you plan on doing so email or call ahead. Day 1 we took the shuttle into town and explored a little, ate & went to the beach. Day 2 Surfing lessons were great, the instructors were awesome and very helpful. My girlfriend and I both got up pretty easily and had a great time. Day 3 went offshore fishing with another couple, we had rough seas but still caught a few fish. (I'd have the desk call Sergio ahead of time and find out when he expects the best conditions). Day 4 we got a little culture and went on a tour of Masaya, went to a volcano, saw a fortress/ prison used during the revolution and learned more about the country. This really helped me appreciate the country, culture and the people. There were other things we would have liked to do if we had more time, talk to people when you get there and find something that interests you.

Overall a really great experience and the place has great potential. You shouldn't go in expecting a luxury resort, although the place is nice. The Surf Ranch is a place is for people that like adventure, like to party a little and need a good hub for their activites, and as mentioned before its a pretty laid back place.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Columbus, Ohio, United States
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2013

We stayed here for a week. It was a great experience. Everyone there was really nice and accommodating. Everything was affordable. It was close distance into town and to many of the various activities that were available.

Room Tip: rooms are not air conditioned but they are clean
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NY
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2013

By far the best vacation I have ever been on. The resort had everything you needed - great food, drinks, nice pool, cool bar and a bed - what more do you need?! All of the employees were really friendly and helpful. Definitely take advantage of the free shuttle to town. San Juan del Sur has amazing cheap food - the Taco Stop is a must. The town is also great for souvenir shopping, has a great beach, and lots of restaurants and bars to check out.

Tips for newbies:
Book your activities at the resort as soon as possible as they are not always available everyday. Learn some Spanish before you go so you can take advantage of the small Nicaraguan markets in town. Go surfing as much as possible!

Room Tip: We stayed in a villa. It was nice to have the extra space, but there were only single beds in there.
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
1 review
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2013

the property is situated in the hills, formerly cattle fields, well beyond the edge of town. the property was frequented by howler monkeys and we even had a sloth moving through the trees. it is beyond a brisk walk to anywhere, so the frequent shuttles to town are completely necessary. the property looks to be new construction, and there were several projects happening concurrently; expanding the living quarters and landscaping. the rooms are simple, and really used only for sleeping. they are not built with natural air flow in mind, so if you mind the heat you will use oscillating fans.

the bar is the centerpiece of the property, quite nice and the bar staff was excellent. my trip was all-inclusive and there was no hesitation with service. really excellent. i had some minor gripes with management and perhaps my perception of the value in the all-inclusive price:
1. meals: (a) my package description showed "three menu items daily" however upon arrival there was no choice, all-inclusive meals were the same for everyone holding the package, deviation from the set-meal would incur charges. (b) timing of the meals and activities was not good. if you are surfing in the morning and of course you are, the meal has to be ordered near the departure time and you may have to rush to finish it. I never had lunch, always gone. the evening shuttle to town coincided with dinner, again you may be rushed to have some kind of meal and make the shuttle and frequently you just skip the "inclusive" meal to go into town. basically im saying the timing of meals and shuttles can make you choose between activities and food.
2. yoga: my packegs listed one yoga class per day, however this became one yoga class. also, i hope they begin a yoga program on site. the class is prohibitively far away. basically you have to plan your day around making the class.
3. higher staff and management: the owners were curt in communications but friendly in person. upper staff seemed annoyed at times, even hopeful that guests would accept whatever situation as the way things go. which is true, rolling with minor inconveniences = life.

Beach access was good, shuttles to three main beaches for fair prices. the surf was always excellent, and the beaches near the resort were quite sparsely populated. literally you have your own space to surf.

that said, i would probably return. the price was good, the bar staff very good, and the value considering shuttles to breaks and board rentals was excellent.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York, NY
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 23, 2013

After travelling for several days we ended up in San Juan del Sur which is a great beach town filled with locals and tourists alike. There is so much culture here. The town has loads of beachfront bars, restaurants, markets, and everything else you could think of. It's the most fun town in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, there really are no nice places to stay right in town. We made the mistake of staying at a gross run-down "hotel" right in town with bugs and shady people.

I wish we would have found the Surf Ranch sooner. It is incredible! It's the exact opposite of what you will find in town and well worth the little extra it costs. It's a self-contained property with a bar, restaurant and pool. The people staying there were world-travelers too and we had so much fun with them and the staff could not have been more accommodating. When I was there, construction was near completion and I will definitely be going back to see the final results soon. I didn't partake in most of the activities as my girlfriend and I spent most of our time chilling in the pool with drinks in hand. Whenever we wanted to go to town we got a ride from the Surf Ranch and it took about 4 minutes to get there. The best part is they also pick you up in town and bring you back to this oasis away from the hustle and bustle of town.

Next time we will definitely be using the Surf Ranch to book some tours and only wish we did that the first time we went. We spent three nights there and plan on doing 5-7 nights next time around to experience more of the surf beaches a few minutes away that we didn't get to visit.

It's geographic location is excellent as well if you plan on travelling to Costa Rica which is about 15 miles away (I think). We travelled from Costa Rica to San Juan del Sur followed by Granada which is also a nice little city in Nicaragua.

Summed up: This was the nicest/coolest place we stayed at on our entire Central American trip. The Surf Ranch is a destination by itself that just so happens to have amazing beaches and an awesome town minutes away. I honestly cannot think of one complaint about the place.

Room Tip: We stayed in a penthouse condo that was very nice.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort

Address: Empalme de El Valle, 991.5 m al Este | Follow the Surf Ranch Signs, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua (Formerly Surf Ranch Action Sports Resort)
Location: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > San Juan del Sur
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #16 of 21 Hotels in San Juan del Sur
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort 2.5*
Number of rooms: 26
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Surf Ranch is Nicaragua`s first and only action sports resort, featuring Nicaragua`s largest skateboard park, jungle paintball course, tower drop into a huge inflatable airbag, world class restaurant & bar, swimming pool & swim up bar, poolside cabanas, villas and penthouse condos. The Surf Ranch offers many extreme sports and activities such as surfing, skateboarding, catamaran sailing, fishing, yoga, scuba diving, paintball, rockclimbing and more. Whether you are looking for an adventure or to just simply get away and relax, the Surf Ranch has it all. We are located in the tropical surfing town of San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, 2 hours south west from the main capital, Managua. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort Nicaragua/San Juan Del Sur

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