Monday, April 23, 2012

Rancho Santana, Nicaragua

Rancho Santana was recommended to me by an old co-worker and looked amazing in all the photos we found online. It a large American owned property that is in development with lots of empty lots still for sale. It is very Americanized and most of the people that work there (at the clubhouse/pool/restaurant) speak decent English.  It also has four private beaches, all except the main beach by the clubhouse were empty when we visited them. It is pretty isolated, about an hour down a dirt road outside the town of Rivas.

The pool/clubhouse area, right on Playa Santana

Sunset view from the pool

Bocce Ball court at the clubhouse

Breakfast with a view

Waves crashing on the rocks south of the clubhouse

My take on Rancho Santana is somewhat mixed. If you want an authentic Nicaraguan experience this is not it, this is America in Nicaragua.  But is had great surf, breathtaking views and empty beaches which makes it all worth it in my eyes. I also loved that it was very secluded and a bit of a trek to get to. On top of that it is still very reasonably priced, we paid $125/night for a 2 bedroom garden view casita (unfortunately I forgot to take pictures but you can see them on their website here) that was a very short walk to the clubhouse/Playa Santana. We actually met with the guy who was selling property there because it was so reasonably priced, an investment we're considering making once we are employed again.

There is only one restaurant and one "market" in Rancho Santana. The food at the restaurant was really good but the market had basically nothing. If you plan on cooking do your shopping at a grocery store in Rivas before you head to Rancho Santana. You definitely need a rental car when here so you can venture outside the property to find other eating options or get to the beaches that are away from the main clubhouse.

A map of the property showing all the lots houses will be build on and the beaches
Playa Lost Perros, the southernmost beach in Rancho Santana.  It's shared with the neighboring property which has built a hotel on it but it's still empty.

Playa Escondida, in my view the most scenic of the beaches, also empty

Husband face and I, Playa Escondida

The only thing I wasn't that happy about was that we were there during the dry season and man was it dry. Everything was brown and dusty. I think if we were to visit again it would be when it's more green and lush.

When it comes to the people in Nicaragua I can't tell whether they're happy with tourists or not. When we were in towns and dealing with locals they were polite but not exceptionally friendly as we have experienced in other countries we have visited. I honestly do not know how they feel about Americans/tourists visiting their country. They might welcome the development and tourist dollars or they might loathe us, I couldn't tell either way. Also expect to get stared at, especially if you have platinum blonde hair like myself.

*tip, eat at Rana Roja in Las Salinas. Expensive (American prices) for Nicaragua but worth it, amazing pizza and handmade pasta. 

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