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Nicaragua Real Estate

Real deal in Nicaragua, Central American paradise genuine, affordable destination

It’s easy to see why Paul Rivers and Tyler Carpenter left the snow, cold, hustle and bustle behind back home in Canada.

Kicking back, cold drink in hand, at the four-room Somar Lodge in Salinas Grande, a rustic community along a long strip of beach on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, Rivers describes a scenario many of his fellow countrymen daydream of leaving behind any given bitter winter.

“I’ve worked hard all my life,” said the 64-year-old while tapping on his laptop computer under the thatched-roof of Somar’s main lodge. “I got tired of shovelling snow.”

The retired farmer from Erin, Ont., northwest of Toronto, decided to leave it all behind for a year, at least, and lease a place at Salinas Grande for a year, while Carpenter, 26, a refrigeration mechanic apprentice from Vancouver, planned to hang ten, sleep, drink $1 beers while catching the odd Canucks game via satellite on the lodge’s TV while working at establishing a residence on his one-acre property on the beach.

“I’m here for the surf,” said the affable Carpenter, who was up at 4:30 a.m. that day to seek out the best waves along the black volcanic sand beach known for its challenging conditions.

And the reason why Rivers and Carpenter chose to travel to Nicaragua will ring true for any traveller who comes here.

The weather is beautiful and warm, of course, like any other tropical country on the Pacific or the Caribbean, yet it’s laid back and away from the tourist bustle that typically jams up many a resort area elsewhere.

Your dollar will go a long way, too, with food costing a fraction of what you’d pay back home and lodging coming quite cheap in comparison. Of course, it depends on what level of luxury you want — a bed in a hostel starts in the single digits, if that’s what you’re looking for — but a decent room for two with air-conditioning can typically be had for about $50 a night depending on season.

Nicaragua still has an innocence, a genuine feel about it, easily seen in the people that live here, whether it’s in the city, the countryside or along the Central American nation’s stupendous beaches.

And you’ll find that whether you seek an out-of-the-way part of the country such as Salinas Grande, or in the popular Granada or San Juan del Sur, where you’ll find well-appointed hotels you’d find most any place.

It’s in these two cities — Granada on Lake Nicaragua and San Juan del Sur on the Pacific — where you’ll find your typical tourist draws, such as easily accessible beaches, restaurants, nightlife and sight-seeing.

It’s San Juan del Sur that’s seeing a lot of attention these days, with sun-seekers and real estate investors lured by the area’s jaw-dropping sandy beaches and oceanic opportunities such as surfing and fishing. Granada has long been a favourite of tourists, while the liberal-minded city of Leon and the capital Managua have plenty to offer visitors.

But in every corner of Nicaragua, there’s something to be charmed by, whether it’s the fabulous hilltop resort condo-hotel Pelican Eyes at San Juan del Sur, remote countryside villages and eco-lodges, colonial cities and towns, archeological relics or mystical, smoking volcanoes.

Also consider the fascinating Lake Nicaragua, the largest freshwater lake in Central America, which boasts sharks and a large island, Ometepe, sporting two perfectly symmetrical volcanoes.


From Canada, you’ll have to fly through one of three U.S. cities that offer flights to Nicaragua: Houston (Continental), Atlanta (Delta) or Miami (American).

Fares run anywhere from $400 to $650 round-trip between the U.S. and Nicaragua. Calgary to Houston return is about $500 before taxes. Toronto to Atlanta return about $600, Toronto to Miami return about $400.

Here’s an alternative for the more adventurous out west: Get there via Costa Rica.

A cheap flight from Los Angeles to San Jose, Costa Rica, then jump on a Tica Bus, a bus line that runs from San Jose with service to the Nicaraguan cities of Rivas, Granada and Managua.

A one-way trip will cost $21-$32 and take about eight hours. There’s a US$5 fee for a tourist card to enter Nicaragua you pay to customs at the border.


This city of 110,000 on the shores of Lake Nicaragua is vacation central whether you’re a tourist visiting the country or a native Nicaraguan. Along it’s cobblestone streets, you’ll find antiquated cathedrals and buildings dating back to Spanish colonial times. The centre of the city is remarkably intact even though American military filibuster William Walker burned the city in the 1850s, razing much of it. Economic, cultural and tourist life revolves around the city’s central square, where you can hire a horse-drawn carriage, eat at one of the many food stands, take in the main food market and browse the many shops nearby. Stay at: Hotel Dario – Centrally located, comfortable rooms inside neoclassical building painted in distinct green and white, with dining and pool. Rates start at US$85.; Casa San Francisco — Located in the historic district, rates at this attractive, quiet hotel start at $45. There’s a wading pool and rooftop deck that’s a perfect place to unwind.


The artistic and intellectual centre of the country, Leon is home to 175,000 people and boasts Nicaragua’s national university. The city was home to the country’s beloved poet, Ruben Dario. His former house is now one of the city’s many museums. And colonial architecture, featuring grand 18th and 19th century cathedrals, fortresses and monuments, is everywhere you turn. Leon was a hotbed for the Sandinistas and the revolution in the late 1970s to ’80s, evidence of which is still around, from a number of murals to ruins and bullet holes pock-marking buildings. About 40 km from Leon are the ruins of the original Leon, located at the foot of the Momotombo volcano, which have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Many of the country’s volcanoes may be accessed via Leon as well. Stay at: Hotel el Convento — This former convent, which was all but destroyed during the revolution, is built around a lush, gorgeous courtyard, has refreshingly cool hallways that holds a variety of art religious and otherwise. Its well-priced cafe and restaurant is recommended. Across the street is the city’s highly regarded Centro de Arte gallery and museum. Rates star at about US$85.; Hotel La Perla – A handsome former hacienda in the city’s centre has been painstakingly remodelled into first-class, neoclassical lodgings. Well-appointed rooms feature luxurious, hand-crafted furniture. Restaurant and bar.


Nicaragua’s capital city is its largest, boasts almost two-million people and has most services you’d expect to find in a major centre, such as U.S. chain stores and hotels, but also its own fascinating history and energy. Twice it the 20th century, Managua was ravaged by earthquakes, most recently in 1972. The result: A more-modern urban landscape thanks to reconstruction in the city’s centre, with a number of ruins that stand to this day as reminders of the devastation. Stay at: Seminole Plaza Hotel — Quiet, comfortable rooms within walking distance of restaurants and bars, close to the airport. Rates start at US$139; Hotel Contempo — It’s located in nearby Masaya, but well worth the 11-km jaunt there. Sleek, modern, a boutique hotel you’d expect to find in a large metropolitan centre in the U.S. or Europe. And the hospitality is outstanding.

San Juan del Sur

You’re just as likely to see a blond surfer strolling down the side streets of this ocean-side community of 15,000 as you are a ‘Nica’. At night, its beachfront avenue teems with locals and ex-pats alike frequenting the restaurants, bars and hotels. San Juan del Sur has a large port that has just begun seeing cruise-ship traffic. It’s popular with tourists as well as with real-estate developers and with the international surf-seeking crowd in search of killer waves. Oh, and the sunsets on the Pacific are magnificent. Stay at: Pelican Eyes – Hilltop condo-hotel resort boasts stunning suites and rooms, views of the perfect horseshoe bay, infinity pools, well-manicured hillside gardens. Rates start at US$190.

Published: 20th January 2010

Source: Calgary Sun

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