Thursday, April 28, 2016

5 Reasons to Choose Nicaragua Over Costa Rica

san juan del sur, nicaragua
Article Contributed by: Emily Flowers

My first introduction to Nicaragua started at a company Christmas party in 2014. It wasn’t my company’s party, but that of my ex.  “That’s my boss,” he whispered as we made our way over to greet the tall English man.

It wasn’t long before I realized the boss and I had a lot in common. Though we were gathered with a group of people from a small town who had never traveled out of the US, we somehow got on the subject of Central American travel. 

“I love Costa Rica,” I purred. “I’ve been 3 times.” Thinking the boss man would be impressed with me, I waited for him to acknowledge my good taste.  Instead he just smirked and said, “Take off the training wheels. You need to go to Nicaragua instead. Costa Rica isn’t Central America. It’s Disney’s version of Central America.”

Yes, I love Costa Rica and have many memories there, but there’s something more authentic about Nicaragua. 

Read on for more reasons to choose Nicaragua over Costa Rica.

1. It’s Untouched

nicaragua emerald coast

Nicaragua is what Costa Rica used to be, decades ago, back when everyone was still discovering it, and tourism hadn’t yet turned it into “Gringolandia.”

Yes, you can find cities that are more geared towards tourists, but you can also balance that quite easily with the more hidden spots and just hang with the locals. Whereas in Costa Rica, you’re more likely to be surrounded with other US tourists.  In Nicaragua, the country is booming as everyone who missed out on the Costa Rica boom, are now investing or making Nicaragua their new home as it is still somewhat undiscovered.

2. Colonial Cities

granada nicaragua
Nicaragua still has historical colonial cities such as Granada and Leon. They have tons of churches and old buildings dating back to its colonial period. This is something you just won’t find in Costa Rica.  Granada, for example, is the oldest city in the country, founded back in 1524 and was the first European city in mainland America.

3. It has Everything You Love About Costa Rica (but Cheaper)

surfing nicaragua emerald coast

Nicaragua has beautiful beaches, inclusive luxury resorts, surfing, fresh food, volcanoes, zip lining, monkeys, and all the nature you have come to expect in Central America, but all for a much cheaper price tag. 

When I first discovered Costa Rica, I was a little taken aback by how going out cost just as much as it did at home in the US. Not in Nicaragua, you can have more fun on a much smaller budget.  Beers are still just a little over $1 USD.  Although the prices are going up as tourism increases, the rates in Nicaragua are still a lot cheaper than in Costa Rica.

4. It’s Now the Safest Country in Central America

nicaragua emerald coast
Costa Rica is regarded as safe (when you use common sense), but now Nicaragua can be considered safer, according to the United Nations, than even Costa Rica. It has been ranked as the safest country in Central America.  There are no gangs or drug violence, and Nicaragua tends to keep it this way.

5. Friendlier People and Authentic Charm 

san juan del sur, nicaragua
Costa Rica has lost much of its inherent charm and authenticity from its deluge of tourism. Nicaragua’s people are very grateful for the tourism and you’ll find them to be incredibly welcoming and warm. Even though they’re considered a very poor country in comparison to Costa Rica, they still feel safer and lead in countries on the overall happiness index. 

If you’re looking to experience real Central America, step out of the theme park and into Nicaragua. The amazingness of Nicaragua is no longer a secret. It was rated #3 on New York Times list of 46 Places to See in 2013.

What do you love about Nicaragua? Keep the Discussion Going by Commenting Below!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Try out the restaurant at the Surf Ranch Resort

A lot of people may not know that the Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort has a restaurant & bar available for everyone, even if you are not staying at the resort.  The restaurant and bar is open everyday from 7:30am - 11pm.  There is a wide selection of food and drinks on the menu. There is no fee to enter the resort, there are free shuttles to and from town, a swim up bar, poolside cabanas, and soon a full new dining restaurant & another bar on the 2nd floor of the reception, over looking the pool and resort.

Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort
Let's start with the appetizers.  We have added the most popular appetizers over our variety of menus in the past couple of years and kept the best selling and best tasting dishes.  We have also added a Canadian classic, the poutine.  The mixed platter is perfect to share if you are with a group, and the chicken wings come with a variety of sauces which you can also order for the chicken fingers as well.   

All photos on the menu below are of the actual food dishes that we serve.  
Surf Ranch Menu
We added more of a selection of the vegetarian items, as well as an expanded lunch menu.  The veggie burrito, southwest quesadilla, and southwest nachos are all new additions and a must try! 

Surf Ranch Menu
On the second page of the lunch menu, we have added Perogies, as well as customizable sides for the burgers, which you can also add on for the other dishes, instead of sticking with the fries, however a lot of guests do say the fries are some of the best they have ever had!  Instead of fries, you can exchange for onion rings & ranch sauce, salad with dressing, tortilla chips & salsa or veggies & dip.  I also recommend trying the Chicken Caesar Wrap and the Toasted Chicken & Bacon Sub.

Surf Ranch Menu
Dinners can be ordered anytime of the day or night and there are some great dishes.  The newest additions are the Chicken Parmesan which is amazing, as well as the Teriyaki rice bowl which is very popular.  My top 4 favorites are the ones you see in the photos.  The Cordon Bleu, Churrasco Steak, Filet Mignon and the Surf & Turf which all go great with a glass of wine.  For dessert, try either the Cheesecake or the Chocolate Cake.

Surf Ranch Menu
For the drink menu, we have a wide variety of drinks ranging from beers and rum to wine and cocktails.  We have other brands of beers available not listed on the menu including Premium and Mytos.  All cocktails with rum are made with Flor de Cana, and we recommend trying the Surf Ranch shot!  We also have a variety of Tequilas, and we can make drinks for you that you request which are not listed on the menu.  If you come with a group, get a bottle of rum, as it is served with a box of ice, lemons, soda and glasses.

Surf Ranch Menu
For all resort guests, the breakfast is included and it is basic.  It comes with toast or a tortilla, gallo pinto, eggs of any style, coffee and orange juice.  To spice it up you can order any of the add-ons including bacon, fruit, waffles, pancakes, and fried potatoes.  Or you can purchase one of the breakfast dishes.  I recommend the breakfast sandwich.  The coffee is all local Nicaraguan coffee, and it is some of the best.  Also try the Iced Frappuccino.

Surf Ranch Menu
For all guests who have the all inclusive, below is the menu of everything included for free.  There is no time limit so you can drink as much as you like from 7:30am - 11pm daily.  Beer, rum and cocktails all included.  Also included is breakfast, lunch and dinner with some dishes that you will find on our main menu above.  The all inclusive is a great way to save money and you can see more details here.

Surf Ranch Menu
We invite you to come spend the day or night with us at the Surf Ranch Hotel & Resort and try out our selection of food and drinks, either at the swim up bar, main bar, poolside cabanas, lounge or the new dine in restaurant opening soon.  

You can take our free shuttle to the Surf Ranch and back to town - Shuttle Times

Let us know how you enjoy the food, our staff and the resort!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cleaning up San Juan Del Sur, one bag at a time!

Earth Day only comes around once a year, but what if we can make it happen once a week?  On Sunday, we decided we would take matters in our own hands as it all has to start somewhere.  We started with only 5 of us, but we encourage all of you reading this to come join us every Sunday to clean up the garbage that is spread throughout San Juan Del Sur and the area.  We all live in a beautiful town, but there is a garbage epidemic littering the landscape, and it has to be taken care of.

The employees at the Surf Ranch planned a route.  Half started from the resort and the other half started by the river,  it is around half a km, but we managed to fill up around 20 bags. Everyone was astonished on how it long it took and the amount of garbage we collected in such a small area.  This was not only visible garbage, but years of garbage layered on top of other garbage, papers and magazines dating back to 2010. There is a lot of garbage still out there and our goal is to clean different areas of San Juan Del Sur, every Sunday.

So what did we find?

1. Diapers, filling half a garbage bag.

2. A dead hawk and bones in a bag.

3. Smashed Television with Remote control.

4. Top Prize - 200 cords in a shoe.

5. 5 rubber tires and 4 pairs of shoes.

6. A pile of coconuts.

7. Construction materials.

8. Children's books.

9. Glass and plastic bottles and cans

10. Small chip bags and candy wrappers

Every Sunday we will have a new planned route to clean the layers of garbage from the streets. Instead of using more garbage bags to pick up other garbage, we will be searching for reusable sacks and separating the recyclables. If anyone is interested in participating, we will set up a meeting point Sunday morning at the Surf Ranch Resort. We are hoping to double the amount of garbage that we collect next week so with more help we can get it done faster!  

If you are interested in taking part, please email us at

We hope to see everyone out next Sunday! 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

New gym in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

There have been many requests from guests about adding a gym at the Surf Ranch Resort, so we finally decided to add one.  It turns out that it is the first gym at a hotel in San Juan Del Sur and many people from town are inquiring to use it, however it is available only to the hotel guests (for free) and we believe it is great addition to our action sports themed resort.

Surf Ranch Gym - San Juan Del Sur

Although the gym is not very large, it does have a lot of features and it is free to use anytime.

1. Treadmill

2. Weight Machine

3. Stationary Bike

4. Yoga Mats & Blocks

5. Dumbbells & Kettlebells (20 - 45 lbs)

6. Exercise Ball

7. Private Bathroom / Change Room

8. Cold water dispenser and towels

There is also a main public gym located downtown San Juan Del Sur, called the Fight Club gym and it costs a few dollars to use.  It is a larger gym with a boxing ring, MMA training, and a variety of weight machines and lessons available.  The gym is run and owned by a fellow Canadian, and they host fight nights every few months which is amazing to go and watch, you can see more details of their gym here -

Between both gyms in San Juan Del Sur, it should help you satisfy your gym cravings and keep you in shape after drinking all those pina coladas while on vacation :)