My 7 friends and I traveled down to the Surf Ranch for a week. To be honest I was not sure what to expect, and the information I was reading about the Surf Ranch was all review based. I have heard positive and negative reviews about traveling to Nicaragua so after having a phenomenal week I needed to write a review to set the record straight.
The week we spent at the Surf Ranch was my best vacation that I have even been on. There are a couple of things you must realize when traveling to the ranch and San Juan del Sur. First and foremost you are going to a third world country. The two and a half hour ride from Managua to the Surf Ranch will display homes without doors, windows, or electricity. You have nothing to fear about the trip from the airport to the ranch as the staff will set up a private shuttle, that is tinted with AC so you will travel comfortably. San Juan Del Sur is very touristry in comparison from what I saw in the rest of the country but it is still remote. They are in the process of building up the tourism in town so it is progressing yet do not expect all the luxuries. This vacation is meant for those who would like to see and try new things and not be sitting in a 5 star hotel room all day getting pampered.
The reason I said this vacation was my best ever is for three reasons. 1) The Staff at the Ranch 2) Daily Activities 3) Group of People I traveled with.
1) The staff at the Surf Ranch is 5 star across the board. Everyone is not only extremely helpful but they are genuinely friendly and good people. They do everything in their power to make sure you are having a phenomenal time. From helping me with my Spanish, making sure my drink was filled, setting up activities, and keeping our rooms cleaned. Based on the staff alone, I would go back to the Surf Ranch. I have numerous picture of us with the staff because they were what made this vacation perfect. THANK YOU AGAIN !
2) Luke who is in control of the activities sat down with us the first day. Luke is amazing. He knows Spanish fluently and grew up in the US and Nicaragua. So he was a great resource and could also help us when needed. We listed probably 10 things we wanted to do. After discussing we decided with paintball, surfing, sailing/booze cruise, and jungle zip lining. There were so many other things we wanted to do but this schedule worked out great for us. The first half day we drank and ate all day. The second day we woke up and played paintball and then hit the beach for surfing and beers. The owner Travis drove us to the beach and paddled out with us. After an hour or so of surfing we hit the beach bar, something that words cant describe. It was a small little hut serving up cold Tona's while you watched people surf. Following this we drank and went out in San Juan Del Sur and danced at the Iguana until the bar closed. The next morning our first hang over kicked in. We knew this was going to happen so we picked this day to hike up the statue of Jesus that over looks the harbor of San Juan. After sweating out all of the rum, we went on an afternoon bar crawl eating and drinking everything. I recommend getting the ceviche at El Timon, or any thing really on that menu including seafood. The third day we did zip lining which overlooks the whole town and bay. It seemed we were at least 200 feet high and cruising through the jungle. Our final day was spent on a catamaran with all you could drink rum and beer, paired with ceviche and guacamole. They brought us to a beach where we swam , drank, and enjoyed the sun before watching the sunset as we sailed back into the harbor. If you are going to do this trip and just want to sit by the pool, and get pampered this is not the right trip for you. For those adventure seekers who want to go see and try new things. Go to Nicaragua now.
3) The surf ranch is still under construction. If this bothers you than wait 10 years when the whole town/resort is built up and pay triple the prices. That being said going with such a large group was amazing. The resort can only accommodate what has been built and therefore it will not be a packed resort that you would expect in Cancun or Cabo. The group we had was ready for an adventure and expected the fact we were traveling to a third world country. I recommend you try bring a good size group with you, it helps you feel safer as well as everything is more fun when doing it with more people.
A couple side notes you should know.
1) The villas are made with cement and stone. They are foundationally strong but there are a couple cosmetic issues with the construction. IE the door frame isn't perfectly straight so you can see a gap of light, or one outlet may not work for power. In the early early morning before 7 am the water works very poorly. The electricity does dip in and out. Usually its just for a second. It was never an inconvenience.
***You don't drink out of the faucet regardless and if your up that early like I was, than go drink and stop wasting time. You will not have hot water while you are there. If this bothers you in the 85 degree sun than I don't know what to tell you. Even if there was hot water, I doubt I would have used it even once while I was there.
2) The plumbing in the whole country is suspect. You will be asked not to flush you TP down the drain. The staff empties your trash everyday so you'll be fine. Quick suggestion bring wet wipes, and I had 0 issues.
3) The food provided with the all inclusive resort was great. It was the healthiest I have eaten in a while. Three square meals a day. Just get used to having either plantains or rice and beans with every meal. If you want more food you can order off the menu which I did a couple times. The food was all perfect and cheap. When you are sick of rum or beer. They have vodka and tequila and once again very cheap.
Overall 5 star time down in Nicaragua. We will go back to the resort and I will bring more people. The most important thing is you set your expectations, and get ready to consume more rum than you thought possible. Thanks again to the staff at the Surf Ranch. We can't wait to come back and party with all of you again.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Surf Ranch in San Juan Del Sur, features Nicaragua's largest skateboard park, rock climbing wall, private gym, jungle paintball, volleyball court, world class restaurant & bar, swimming pool & swim up bar, poolside cabanas, standard rooms, villas, and deluxe condos. The Surf Ranch offers many extreme sports and activities such as surfing, skateboarding, paintball, sailing, fishing, yoga, rock climbing and more. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort Nicaragua/San Juan Del Sur