Nicaragua is a land of unexpected beauty and tranquility. Long off the radar of many Americans, Nicaragua has been enjoyed for years by global travelers and a thriving community of expats from across Canada, Europe, and many other countries. Upon arrival, visitors are pleasantly surprised by its simple, genuine way of life and the warm, inviting nature of its citizens. Moreover, its largely undeveloped countryside is every bit as beautiful as those of its more well-known Latin American neighbors at a fraction of the cost, and the natural splendor of this “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes” does not disappoint.
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua’s southernmost city on its Pacific coast, is a gem of a bustling beach town. Americans have been passing through its port in large numbers since the 1800s, dating back to when it was a crossover point from the Atlantic on the seaward route to California’s Gold Rush long before the Panama Canal. Even famous icons like Mark Twain have spent time here, as memorialized by his book, Travels with Mr. Brown, and in more recent times San Juan del Sur has been a favorite hideaway hangout of Matthew McConaughey. Every year, surfers from around the world visit its beaches in search of the perfect wave.
Travelers and residents alike enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and easygoing nature of this approximately 15,000-person town. Time most definitely slows down here, and family is the top priority for most. It’s easy to forget the hustle and bustle of life back home while strolling through its quaint four-by-four grid of downtown streets amid the thatched-roofed beachfront bars pumping reggae beats and sidewalk cafés wafting heavenly scents of freshly fried empanadas through the air. Symbolic of this heavily Catholic country, town is organized around its central park anchored by a brightly painted church and presided over by a gigantic Christ monument, one of the largest in the world at 25 meters tall.
The Orquidea del Sur sits above Playa Yankee, about 20 minutes south of San Juan del Sur. Guests are close enough to town to pop in for a day’s activities, but far enough away to experience the magnificent tranquility of this naturally pristine, undeveloped dry forest-to-beach ecosystem. Here, the only sounds to be heard are the choruses of tropical birds or the symphony of pounding surf from the ocean below, and it is much more likely to encounter wild monkeys than other tourists!