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Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort
Ranked #23 of 27 Hotels in San Juan del Sur
Reviewed March 23, 2013

This was my first trip to San Juan Del Sur and it was an amazing experience. There are endless activities both in town and the surrounding area; a week was nowhere near enough time. The ranch is situated outside town a few miles so walking to town is not really an option, but the staff organizes frequent shuttles to get you back and forth. Also, we used the local taxis with no problem, just make sure you know what a reasonable rate is. Being a newly opened resort, there is still construction on site, but the workers are all respectful and aren't loud early morning or disruptive. We didn't spend much time on the resort, except to eat or have a few drinks before going out at night. Andy was a lot of fun to hang out with at the bar and the entire bar staff does an awesome job of keeping your drink full. If you got an all inclusive package, be sure to fully understand what is and is not included. The rooms are all nice, no AC or hot water really was not an issue, it cooled off at night and the fans did a good job circulating air in the room.

As far as activities, Luke works extremely hard to make sure to set everything up; our trip wouldn't have been the same without him. We spent a good portion of our trip surfing; Baldo was a great instructor. The dirt bike rentals are a fun way to check out some of the northern beaches and the Jesus statue. If you can set up disc golf at Marsella I would definitely recommend it, we went with Luke, Baldo and a few other guests and had a great time drinking and playing. We went to Zen yoga a few mornings, it is an awesome studio and a great way to start the day. Our last day we went on the catamaran cruise and had an awesome time. Zak and his crew work really hard and made for a really fun day on the water.

Nightlife in San Juan was great, we went to town with other people from the ranch a few nights and had a lot of fun. I would def recommend pachamama Tuesdays for open mic, black whale and iguana were a good time every time we went out as well. The ranch took care of getting us to town at night then we used local taxis to get home late night.

Overall, my experience at the ranch was incredible, I can't wait to get back and see it when it's fully built. Luke and Travis are doing a great job and I think it will only get better with experience and time. Thank you again to all of the staff at the ranch for making for an incredible trip!

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Matt J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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232 - 238 of 297 reviews

Reviewed March 22, 2013

Surf Ranch is definitely one of the best hostels we have stayed at. Andy, Juan Carlos and all the staff there are great. Beer and rum are cold and the food is awesome.

Accomodations are far better than anything we saw in town and cheaper too. It may seem like you are a ways away from town/beach, but the reality is that there's not much reason to go to the beach in San Juan proper. There's no surf there and its full of fishing boats. The surf and beaches you want to go to are north and south of San Juan and Surf Ranch arranges shuttles and boards to get you there and back daily.

If you're keen to head to town at night to party, the ranch arranges shuttles to town for you. Getting taxis (well.. actual taxis not just car owners) back to the ranch can be a bit problematic late night, so definitely arrange a time with your driver to get picked up.

We never really spent a day hanging at the hostel, but it looks like you could have a blast. The bartenders push rum on you like it has a 24 hour shelf life. Have fun!

Room Tip: Condos get the job done
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  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Jim P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 20, 2013

I came with friends to san juan del sur and we stayed at the Naked Tiger hostel. That place is wildly insane and you can not sleep at all! One day we signed up to play paintball. We got in their shuttle and ended up at a super cool resort with a jungle right on the river outside of town. We pulled up, and I first noticed the giant skatepark on site, then we got to the parking lot and were greeted by Luke, who brought us over to the paintball gear up area, gave us all a beer and brought us into the jungle. We were geared up with M-16 assault rifles and padding, it felt surreal. They have a new course and it was super fun. After the paintball, we were suppose to go back in the shuttle, but told the driver we would take a taxi. This gave us time to chill in the pool and at the swim up bar, and meet new girls that were hanging out in the pool.

We loved this place so much, that we booked a villa for us and stayed here for another few nights before we flew out. The Surf Ranch allowed one of us to jump in the shuttle and the driver drove us up to naked tiger, we got our stuff, paid the bill and drove us back down to the Surf Ranch.

Beware other hostels and hotels, the Surf Ranch is new, but coming up and taking over the town.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Tony K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 17, 2013

Hands down, the Surf Ranch has been my funnest vacation so far. Everything from spending days soaking up the sun at the swim up bar to sailing the seas on the catamaran. Andy, my man, thanks for all the drinks, and Luke, thanks for setting everything up for us. I´m coming back next year for sure!

  • Stayed: March 2013
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Thank Brett46089
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 14, 2013

It is hard to decide what to comment on first because everything at the ranch and the city of San Juan del Sur was absolutely incredible. It starts from the top. Travis and Luke are amazing. Travis couldn't secure us a ride to the beach to go surfing so he jumped in his own truck, drove us down there, and shredded the waves with us one day. He followed that up by joining our poker game so we had enough guys. It was the little things that constantly added up to make this trip the greatest one I've ever been on. Our activities were incredibly well planned by Luke, the activity coordinator. He got us out surfing and paintballing in the same day. He knew we'd have a tough day on our third day due to excessive amounts of sun, activity, and of course alcohol so he scheduled a down day for us. Then he followed it up by getting us perfect days for zip lining and a catamaran trip. These guys know their stuff.

The staff was off the hook. We did the all-inclusive package (myself and seven other guys), which I HIGHLY recommend. The staff is able to keep your drinks full at all times and the prices are incredibly reasonable. We didn't just get waited on by the staff, we made friends with them. They aren't afraid to do things that can't be done in the states. We were treated like kings while we were there and I want to go back as soon as I can. We were so blown away that we all considered investing in the Surf Ranch and one of my buddies even made the purchase on a condo. Tourism is blowing up in Nicaragua and these guys are at the forefront. If you are going to go, go RIGHT NOW. Don't wait for the place to be flooded with gringos and the prices to go up. I'd get there as soon as I can.

Touche Surf Ranch, you guys killed it. I'm truly, truly impressed.

Room Tip: All the rooms are great. This place is fantastic!
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  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Kyle R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 13, 2013

Wow. Not sure where to start here. Me and a group of friends decided to take a surf adventure down to the Surf Ranch from Huntington Beach, CA, and we weren't sure what to expect. All I can say is hands down this was the best trip I've ever been on. I'll start at the beginning.

From the very get go, Travis And Luke did an amazing job taking care of us. They arranged for a private shuttle to meet us at the airport in Managua, and it was a brand new passenger van. The guy driving was waiting with a sign with my name on it, and even helped us pack our boards into the van. And the adventure started.

Yes it's a 2 hour drive from the airport to the ranch, but honestly, I wish it was a little longer. The drive gives you a taste of the local culture, as you peer through the window into an entirely different world than the one you left behind. A quick stop at a local gas station on the way yielded 80 cent beers, providing a cool beverage for the remainder of the drive. Active volcanoes, loose cattle and crashing waves to end the trip got us thinking this might be the adventure of a life time. Little did we know.....

Upon arriving at the Surf Ranch, the staff, which would later become great friends through out the week, took our passports for safe keeping, got us checked in, and had a cocktail in our hands before we could say hello.

The resort was epic. Sweet pool with a swim up bar, another bar on the other side, another bar upstairs with the pool table, sweet condos and villas, I could go on and on. The guard dog buddy ended up being my favorite part, as he absolutely kills it and chases horses and cows away from the ranch. The family of howler monkeys that visited every night was also stellar. My villa was also real killer. Exposed rock in the bathrooms, cool storage places, sliding doors with a big bangin' lock on it - everything I wanted and more. When people on here are talking down about these villas, all I can say to them is go spend a night in another local hotel, or better yet hostel, then lets hear your opinion. No you aren't getting Las Vegas amenities, but that's not what you go to the Surf Ranch for. Its about a Nicaraguan adventure, and boy you better believe that's what your going to get. You'll never be in your room except to sleep anyway, and the better was super comfy.

Luke, the guy setting up the activities for our group, was the absolute best. Day 1, with drinks in hand, we gushed about all the adventures we wanted to partake in while amongst the monkeys and volcanoes. Luke was knowledgeable enough to not only let us know what we could and couldn't do in the little time we stayed there ( 1 week but we are all planning on a 2014 reunion ), but what we should and shouldn't do. We ended up surfing two separate beaches ( I recommend Playa Maderas ), zip-lining through the jungle tree tops ( so sick ), climbing the worlds 2nd largest Jesus statue ( but forgot to hit the geocache there ), partied our faces off on the catamaran ( you all MUST do this ), partied in town with the locals and other travelers, played jungle paintball ( EPIC ), and spent time at the swim up bar just plain loving life. God I want to be back there.

The staff was seriously the best. Travis, Luke, the other Luke, Karla, MY MAIN MAN ANDY ( I've got something for your pocket when I get back hahaha ), Renaldo, Mike and everyone else - you guys made for one of the best weeks of my entire life. The second my drink was getting low, BAM!! another was in hand. The second I finished eating, WAPPOW!! it was taken off the table. From teaching us Spanish, to dancing with us, we absolutely love and miss you. I know several of us are Facebook friends, but to those of us that aren't, please find and add me! I've never experienced service this good in California, and you guys simply cannot be beat. Oh yeah, BUDDY WE MISS YOU !! I forgot to add that every morning the cleaning ladies left my belongings folded and stowed away, and my bathroom spotless.

Now that I've finished raving via short novel, lets wrap it up. Just go. You wont regret it. We had a blast, and you guys all better get ready, because we are coming back soon !!

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Ty L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 13, 2013

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.

  • Stayed: March 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank ahorns15
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, San Juan del Sur 47008, Nicaragua (Formerly Surf Ranch Action Sports Resort)
Phone Number:
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 #23 of 27 Hotels in San Juan del Sur
Price Range: $43 - $172 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 26
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

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