The land of lakes and volcanoes has retained its off-the-beaten-track feel and much of the country has been preserved rather than developed. And it’s still good value. Laidback San Juan del Sur is the place for surfers in search of the perfect wave, where you can chill by day and party after dark. Little Corn Island ticks all the Caribbean boxes without the price tag: dive the reefs, feast on lobster, then flop into a hammock. Picture-perfect Granada is one of the oldest cities in the Americas and the place to feast on gourmet local produce, taste excellent rum and wake up and smell the organic coffee.
The opening of Mukul Beach Golf & Spa has raised the luxury bar in Nicaragua. The family behind Nicaragua’s beloved Flor de Caña rum spent many millions of dollars developing the property on a four-mile stretch of untouched Pacific coastline near Rivas. Beautifully decorated by local artisans, 12 beachfront villas come with private swimming pools and the 23 casitas that cascade down the hillside have plunge pools on their front decks.
he laidback but luxurious Yemaya Island Hideaway & Spa is the first stylish place to stay on Little Corn Island, a castaway’s spit of sand off Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. The 16 spacious cabañas have decks overlooking the sea and rainforest showers with organic lotions and potions. Jicaro Island Ecolodge is an eco-chic retreat, a 15-minute boat ride from Granada on one of the diminutive isletas. Its nine casitas have decks with hammocks and views over Lake Nicaragua and Mombacho volcano’s perfect cone.
At Aqua Nicaragua Wellness Resort near the fishing village of Gigante, many of the treehouse villas have private plunge pools and activities range from yoga to surfing and cooking classes. Morgan’s Rock Hacienda & Ecolodge near San Juan del Sur was the country’s first rustic-luxe, environmentally friendly lodge, set in untamed tropical forest overlooking the beach. There’s no air-conditioning, just the Pacific breeze and you can hike, cycle, kayak or simply lounge by the pool while your hedonism is offset by their environmental projects.
Gallo pinto (rice and beans) may still be a Nicaraguan staple but now there’s more gourmet fare on the table, with chefs increasingly choosing local produce for their contemporary take on traditional dishes. The colonial city of Granada is at the vanguard of the trend. Espressonista Specialty Coffeebar and Restaurant was set up by three home-grown chefs, who use organic smoked ham from Mombacho and artisan cheeses fromMatagalpa, and the finest high-altitude, shade-grown beans from the country’s best coffee producers. They even brew their own beer.
The fertile volcanic soil of Isla de Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua is the base for a growing community of expats-turned-organic-farmers who process their own meat, bake their own bread and grow their own organic crops. At the farm-to-table Café Campestre everything they don’t grow is locally sourced and they toast organic coffee the traditional way, in a clay comal, or griddle pan, over an open wood fire. And you can wash it all down with some of Nicaragua’s award-winning Flor de Caña rum.
Spa and wellness
Yoga and wellness retreats led by world-renowned gurus are increasingly popular. At Aqua Nicaragua Wellness Resort, you can salute the sun overlooking the water, on an enormous beachside platform, or have a private session on the deck of your own tree house, and their ‘Pure Wellness in Nature’ programme also offers classes in healthy eating.
Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/central-america/travel-tips-and-articles/why-nicaragua-is-having-a-tourism-revolution#ixzz3HH1FnLou