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Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort
Ranked #22 of 27 Hotels in San Juan del Sur
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Already planning on going back!”
Reviewed May 5, 2013

Had a great time! The staff was amazing and very accommodating and went way above and beyond for me. Travis and Lucas were open to all ideas about how to make the ranch even more spectacular. I loved the little dirt road to the resort- I felt like the lights were my own little oasis.. The resort is the perfect size bc by the end of the week we knew all of the other guests names and had plenty of people to go to town, to go to the beach, or just hang by the bar with. Felt like we had a resort family!
The resort was super safe- I slept every night w/ my door open and never locked during the day. We did not do all-inclusive and felt that food and drinks were very reasonable and even waited to eat a couple of times to eat those delicious chicken wings. Planning on going back super soon and visiting Buddy (the best dog in Nica)...

  • Stayed April 2013
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank Laneyand
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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282 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
  • Location
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (64)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
San Leandro, California
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 28, 2013

We had an EXCELLENT time at Surf Ranch. Everybody was VERY friendly and fun. This is NOT a luxury experience. Keep in mind you are in a third world country. There is no air conditioning and low voltage electricity but that is standard for San Juan. The ceiling fans kept it fairly cool at night. Our unit had a window but my friends room did not. We did sleep with the door open. We felt safe enough to leave our doors open with the security guard and Buddy the Pit Bull on patrol. Buddy is all business at night and a cuddle bug during the day. There are rosters everywhere so be prepared for hearing Cock-a-Doodle Doo all night. A travel fan would have been good both for white noise an ventilation. The rooms are very basic but we did not spend much time in there. There are SO many great activities to participate in. The surfboard rental, shuttle to the beach and 1 surf lesson were included in our package. We also went repeling with Aracne Rapel tours and zip lining at Flying Frog Canopy tours. Both were extra but WELL worth it! Meals, beer and Rum were also included in our package. Bottled water and other drinks are extra. The food was really good but pretty much the same every meal. Be prepared to wait awhile for food, coffee and shuttles. I was traveling with a laid back group of friends and we didn't mind waiting for shuttles or food so it was totally fine, but I know some of my friends would not have enjoyed it as much because they are impatient. Just get into the laid back, chill mind set before you go and you will not be dissapointed. Travis and Lucas have made great strives in improving the whole experience and are eager and willing to accomadate their guests.

Room Tip: Ask for an end room with a window but be prepared for hearing Cock -a -Doodling all night long. Whit...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Jennifer K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cobble Hill, Canada
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed April 20, 2013

The surf Ranch is a nice place to stay but when we were there in March it was still not completed.The staff are very friendly and accommodating and the food was always good.Compared to the rest of the places we stayed in while in Nicaragua I would say that $90 is too high.

Room Tip: Pick a villa as everyone we talked to said the condos were unbearably hot.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Location
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Helpful?
1 Thank MCon1234
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wallingford, Connecticut, United States
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 14, 2013

I want to write this review and give a honest evaluation of the Resort. We booked a private villa for 5 days with the all inclusive package. When we got there the staff had a difficult time knowing exactly what was booked. This is because they have the packages offered on many different sites and they are all different packages. I booked directly off the website and paid via pay pal directly to Lucas. While I saw the packages offered on Groupon, Zozi and Climber I decided that going to the site benefits the Resort and us. I had to present emails for the exact package that we bought to be verified. While this was a pain, once settled everything was good. The food is outstanding. The bartenders will keep your drinks full and Buddy the dog brings the whole package together.

If you go I highly recommend the Catamaran and the Repelling. Captain Zach from the Catamaran is a great guide and you will have one of yoru best days in San Juan Del Sur on his boat. Baldo from Repelling will bring you on a hike through historic sites then send you down a cliff side where you jump in the ocean. The Veiws are unreal. The Town of San Juan Del Sur has some of the nicest people you will meet and while small has everything you could want in a vacation.

The Surf Ranch is a bit away from town on a dirt road. They close everything up around 11pm. If you are still in town you will need to open the gate your self and find a Taxi back. Taxi to the Surf Ranch is about 4-5 dollars (120 Cords). The Staff who set up the activities are absolutely willing to go above and beyond for you. David and Sonia are nice and were always there to talk if you had concerns. Though we did have an issue with booking a shuttle to Leon for the Volcano Boarding. David was genuinely apologetic to the situation. And even though we lost a day at the ranch and it cost us 140 dollars to get back. The ranch was willing to eat 50 dollars of the expense. While I think most resorts would have eaten the whole expense to satisfy the guest. You must understand that this place is brand new and if you go now you may be part of the bumps in the road and growing pains that a new resort in a place that isn't in a "heavily" traveled area will go through.

We didnt get to meet Travis or Lucas though we saw them around I assume they didnt have the chance to talk with us. And every one that I talked to that has spoken with them have nothing but good things to say.

Yes they dont have hot water. The electricity goes in and out sometimes and there is no AC. If you are looking for these things to be perfect then you havent traveled to a 3rd world country before. The villas are well constructed, private and with the windows open there is a great breeze at night.

I look forward to going back in a year or two and seeing the progress and I am sure I will give it 4-5 stars then. I am confident this place will have bumps and mishaps but will ultimately figure it all out and do very well.

I hope this helps anyone going. I would recommend it to anyone. But I would tell them, if you go and think everything will be perfect you will be disappointed. If you are willing to explore new places and you are flexible to situations you will have a great time like we did.

Room Tip: Get a villa. The Condos dont have enough windows for good air flow.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank BrettCharest
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
united kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed April 1, 2013

This place is heaven! A resort with a skatepark and a thousand things to do! I have been to san juan del sur before and stayed in horrible hostels and hotels, and must say although not right in town (you dont want to be in town anyways), that this is the best bang for your buck in Nicaragua.

Everything from Andy and Reynaldo, the bartenders to Tyla the manager and buddy the resort dog! The staff are there to make your vacation the best ever, and they definitely succeeded.

Through the Surf Ranch, I went on the Catamaran sail tour with captain zach, ziplining, and surfing. A great trip overall and this resort will only get better with time.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank manhuntUnitedKingdom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed March 30, 2013

I'm giving it a poor because it's called a resort. If they were calling themselves a hostile I'd give them a very good. The local Nicaraguan staff at the resort had varying levels of English but were all genuinely great people who wanted you to enjoy yourself. Love them all. It seemed like most of the other English speaking staff working at the resort were travelers, passing between destinations and making some money. It's like a work hostel. Most of them were really cool, but because everyone was so new there was confusion about how things worked between them and the local staff members

What I found troubling was the difference between what the resort was advertised as. A friend of mine was told by the Climb, who I booked through, that the resort construction was complete. Not the case. There was a huge pile of construction garbage next to the stairs leading to the upper condos. 3 of the 6 upper floor condos were unfinished. No doors, nothing. The condos back up to another piece of property with rosters who start in around 5 every morning. There's a family of howler monkeys that start in shortly afterwards. I wasn't too into the roosters but the monkeys were pretty cool I have to say. If you're a light sleeper bring some earplugs or use the free booze to your advantage.

I read another review where someone complained that there was no hot water. I personally didn't care at all, it was so hot outside that I would have set the water temp the way it was anyway. There was no other furniture in the rooms besides the beds, a couch and 2 oscillating fans in addition to a ceiling fan. No tables or anything else to put your clothes or drinks on. I didn't spend much time in my room anyway so it was annoying but not terrible.


In the description of the skate park on the website it says "There is also a skateboard shop on site in which you can buy anything you need." No shop yet. The park itself was small but fun. The downside was all the transition cracks that got bigger by the day and there was a big pile of construction garbage on part of the deck. Sketchy for how many kids were there skating.

On the website it says "From the surf ranch we drive you to the best waves of the day, which may include Ramanso, Hermosa, Yankee, or Maderas beach." What they don't say is they charge you between $10 and $20 per person, per trip, to take you to 3 of those 4 beaches. They will take you to Ramanso for free in the surf ranch shuttle. I was told they don't go to the other 3 beaches because the roads were so bad they didn't want to ruin their truck. After going to a few I understood, the roads were horrendous. I wouldn't want to take my vehicle on them either. Understandable but potentially expensive if you plan on surfing every day. Should be more clear on the website, not a good surprise traveling from abroad.

The bar is nice. The local beer and rum was free and good. The bartenders were happy to get you as drunk as you wanted, which lots of the guests took full advantage of. Water, Gatorade, and sodas were not free or available before 7:30 in the morning. You can buy it the night before but it's basically hot by the morning time. The meal plan was good and the food was fantastic.

If you're a college age twenty something who wants to go someplace cheap with free booze and a nice pool and try out some surfing it's cool. If you're a family travelling from another country, it's very isolated and not nearly complete like advertised. Think again. Maybe in a few years but not just yet.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank espwave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
lukeboychuk, Owner at Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort, responded to this review, March 31, 2013
I would like to thank you for coming out to our resort. Yes, it is still under construction, and the things you mentioned are at the top of our list and first priority in being fixed. We are brand new and there are a 1000 of things to do, which do not worry, are being tended too.

I am glad you enjoyed your stay.

Everything you mentioned will be fixed by Mid April, 2013.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers are raving about these San Juan del Sur hotels

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed March 30, 2013

It's really hard to write this review because it is complicated. I want to help out fellow travelers and the place has potential, but there is a lot on the website and on the deal we bought that is not there (it is off site), not there yet (it is under construction), and/or it costs more (even though your package is "all-inclusive")

The positives are the staff (who are so nice and trying so hard that I want to help them get business); the FOOD (is awesome!! even on the "meal plan" - more about that below); the skate park ON SITE so you can skate whenever you want - awesome; the pool is clean and cool and wonderful. You will see (and hear!) monkeys every day. Pretty amazing. Andy and John are terrific. Also, the ranch is super safe. We left our room open most of the time when we were there (to try to keep cool) because there are guards around and you can see your room from everywhere. The other guests were wonderful. This place attracts great folks and we enjoyed getting to know them.

But there are things you need to know if you have already booked or are thinking of booking:

First: It is not finished as of 3/30/2013. Meaning -- there is active construction including piles of rubble, lumber, etc. Some condos just need interior work but there is another building being built very close to the pool, so you are looking at cinder block and rebar. And, the piles of rubble are dangerously close to/on the skate park. There is no roof deck on the condos and the roof decks on the villas have no furniture - not even a chair - to enjoy your deck.

Second, there is no air conditioning anywhere on the ranch. The owners say air conditioning is a priority, but there is no way (I can see) for the condos can get a/c. There is no duct work for central and the windows of most of the condos could not accommodate any window unit I've ever seen. So, I don't think a/c is coming anytime soon.

As others have said, there is no hot water -- we actually did not care because it was so hot, but the water pressure is low, low, low. Hard to wash your hair. And, we were without water for a couple hours one day -- no big deal (though the staff should have been bucket flushing - we did our own), but the staff said it happens from time to time due to the condition of the water system in the country. So, it is a developing country and you can't blame the resort for that, but be ready - it could happen.

Food - AWESOME and cheap (Francisco deserves a raise!!). We bought a package that included 4 meals per day "from the menu" but when we go there, they said it was "too confusing" so they had moved to the meal plan where pre-paid, all-inclusive guests get the meal plan. So that is not what we bought but luckily it was good. EVERYTHING on the menu was also wonderful. The fruit bowl is delicious and a deal -- get it as a supplement to every meal plan.

Water, gatorade, and soda all cost $$ but very reasonable (under $1 US) but you will go through lots and you probably don't want to drink from the tap. No water without paying for it seems odd (especially in the heat!) but hey, they have to pay for it so you do too.

Things you think might be included in your "all inclusive" that are not: water of any sort; shuttle to many of the surfing beaches (they will take you free to one beach; the other beaches cost about $10 per person per trip); yoga (there was no yoga at the ranch -- some off site, but no studio or mats at the ranch).

There is NO SHOPPING at the ranch or close -- you should arrive with your skate supplies, shampoo (oh yeah, no shampoo either), sunblock, toothpaste, etc. San Juan del Sur has all this stuff, but it is a shuttle ride away (and sometimes the shuttle is busy doing something else like construction and the trip gets scrapped). The cab drivers are sure to tell you that the ranch is NOT in San Juan del Sur. You cannot walk there easily (2km).

The room - had no furniture other than a bed and couch. No nightstand, no table, no chest of drawers, no closet, no curtains. Your suitcases sit on the floor. Had to ask for towels. Ceiling fan and oscillating fans were provided and worked (thank God).

Check out is cash only.

None of this would have changed my mind about booking (maybe a/c), but to find it out on the spot left me feeling unprepared. So I write to help others who have already booked arrive prepared (OH! double check your reservation! especially if it is through hostel booking - we saw them turn away many folks with reservations).

I wish Surf Ranch all the best as they work out the kinks. We could very possibly go back depending on what other reviewers say about how the place grows.

Room Tip: if condo, ask for an end unit (1, 7, 8, or 13) because they have 2 windows instead of one.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank lbn23
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

Property: 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)
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 #22 of 27 Hotels in San Juan del Sur
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
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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