Why a sense of belonging is the secret behind Rancho Chilamate’s success

Have you ever been to a place that you instantly clicked with?

A place you felt you somehow belonged.

Great feeling, isn’t it?

Well, here in San Juan del Sur there’s one place that more than any other makes people feel at home.

That place is Rancho Chilamate.

It’s brought so much joy to so many people that I’ve got a big smile on my face as I write this.

Technically it’s a 10 acre horse ranch in the south western corner of Nicaragua.  A ranch with rivers, mountains, forests, haciendas, big skies, beaches and surf-breaks… as well as lots of horses and cowboy hats.

But the attraction of Rancho Chilamate isn’t just about these tangible aspects.

It’s about the atmosphere of the place and its personality. It’s about the smiles of the people you meet when you visit.  It’s about living in relationship with the local community and giving back to it. It’s about Blue, the owner and original cowgirl, and her careful stewardship of the land.

Something in the air, under those big skies, makes you feel at ease.

Talk to people who’ve visited and they’ll rave about epic horseback rides along the beach.

They’ll tell you how they felt thrilled, soothed, pampered, deliriously happy and filled with possibility.

They go back to the ranch again, and again.

Because long after the adrenaline rush has faded they still feel drawn to what Rancho Chilamate represents.

That want to feel like they belong again. [Read more…]

Sharing Rainbows and Spreading Smiles

IMG_0330Against the backdrop of beautiful beaches, colorful wildlife and world class surf breaks, it can sometimes be hard to remember that Nicaragua has the highest poverty rate in Central America. Studies show that 47 percent of Nicaragua’s 5.7 million people survive on less than 2 dollars a day.

Despite the poverty level, Nicaragua is transitioning into one of Central America’s most popular vacation destinations.  And in an effort to bridge the gap, we’re constantly coming up with new partnerships and innovative ways to give back to the local community.

[Read more…]

What’s the Difference between a Flat Travel Experience and one that Shines and Sparkles?

Connecting with People

The answer to the question is simple: It’s the people you meet.

Think back for a moment to your most precious travel experiences. What are the stories that you’re most likely to remember after you arrive home? I’ll wager that they involve the people you traveled with or the people you met along the way.

And I’ll further wager that it’s the interactions with people that led to your most important insights about the world. Especially if you met people from a different culture.

The mark of a great trip

Over the years we’ve introduced hundreds of people to San Juan del Sur. Each of our tours is designed to connect people to people and people to culture. Because without this connection the experience would be flat and uninteresting. [Read more…]

See what your life could look like in San Juan del Sur

Picture this: you wake up in the morning and walk out to your balcony to feel the gentle breeze from Lake Nicaragua and listen to the tropical birds. The sun is shining, so you put on your swimsuit, grab your surfboard and head to the nearby beach.

You follow it up with a dip in the pool and order a fruity cocktail with a plate of plantains and fried cheese (tostones con queso) plus a side of fresh salsa. After soaking up the sun by the pool, you return to your villa to read a magazine in the rocking chair on your private porch overlooking the bay. Your friends pop round in time to watch the sun slowly dip into the ocean.

It doesn’t have to be a dream. Take a peak at what your life could look like:

Right now, 2 bedroom ocean view villas are available at Villas de Palermo starting at $110,000. That’s a lot of house for your money. Take a look.

In a recent article by Dwell, Award-winning landscape architect Margie Ruddick explains landscape architecture as the discipline in which, “the sometimes murky but exquisitely beautiful world of ecologists intersects with design“.

For nature enthusiasts who want to be as close as as they can get to the wild outdoors without compromising comforts, the villas at Palermo Hotel & Resort are the best of both worlds.

Villas de Palermo37 copy (1)

5 Secrets about the Green Season in Nicaragua that all Locals Know (But Never Talk About)

photo credit // Debbie Bruin at Together Tours

photo credit // Debbie Bruin at Together Tours

Nicaragua’s climate is defined by two seasons, the dry season and the rainy season.

The driest months run from December to May and there is little or no rain. The season is known locally as verano (summer) and it’s reliably sunny and hot.

The rainy season is invierno (winter) or “green season” and spans between June and November. The rains tend to be heaviest in September and October, which is when most tourists avoid travel to the region.

But what most people don’t know is that there are a ton of compelling reasons to plant yourself in Nicaragua between September and November.

Here are 5 secrets about the Green season in Nicaragua that all locals know (but never talk about):

1) Lush Green Jungle – Everything grows in the green season. From the trees lining the coastal headlands to the flowering pitaya cactus flowers, it’s a time of blossoming and re-birth. Nature is dramatically more colorful during these months.

2) Unoccupied Beaches and Empty Waves – Nicaragua isn’t exactly known for crowded beaches, but these days it’s a rarity to find yourself alone on a picturesque beach without other tourists or surfers (unless you’ve managed to time it right).  Since visitor numbers are down over the green season, you’re likely to get the romantic privacy you’re dreaming about. Surfer’s can expect slightly smaller waves, but won’t have to compete so it’s also a good time for beginners.

photo credit // Debbie Bruin at Together Tours

photo credit // Debbie Bruin at Together Tours

3) “Green Season Prices” – It’s actually an official term in the tourism business here. Some hotels and vacation rentals discount their prices as much as 50% to 75% during low season travel months. If you’re looking for a budget friendly vacation, be sure to time your trip to avoid the summer months and major holidays.

4) Midday Showers and Evening Thunder Storms – The biggest misconception about the green season in Nicaragua is that it rains all day ruling out activities such as beach trips, surfing and sailing excursions. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most days get nothing more than a 15-minute rain shower and a thunderstorm at night, which comfortably cools down the air. The actual temperate doesn’t vary much making it ideal conditions for ocean activities.

5) Dramatic Sunsets – If the last 4 reasons weren’t enough to convince you to book a plane ticket, then the sensational green season sunsets should. The clouds painting the sky over this period reflect spectacular color blends and patterns as the sun falls towards the horizon.   The sky often gifts rainbows as well.

So what do you think? Are you ready to travel?

Don’t get scared off by a few raindrops. Nicaragua’s natural beauty shines during green season.

And if you do end up getting stuck in a storm, just do what the locals do: Pull up a rocking chair, order a beer or a freshly squeezed fruit juice and wait for the sunshine to shine.

It won’t take long.

Our Free Coupon Book gives you amazing deals on places to eat, drink and have fun in San Juan del Sur – whatever the season. Don’t miss out on the savings. Download it here.

5 Choice Granada Hotels

I’m a beach person.

I’m crazy about the surf in San Juan del Sur which is why I’ve lived here since 2007.

But I do enjoy sneaking away to the nearby colonial city of Granada on occasion because of its diverse selection of restaurants, art galleries, buzzing night life and close proximity to Laguna de Apoyo – a precious Volcanic crater lake.

If you’re planning a visit to Granada, here are 5 choice hotels to consider: [Read more…]

Residency Questions Answered: Gloria Pérez Esquivel

In an exclusive interview with Gloria Pérez Esquivel, an associate with Garcia & Bodan Law Firm, we got answers to the most frequently asked questions that expatriates have about getting a residency in Nicaragua.

If you’re considering retiring in Nicaragua, or thinking about opening a business in the country as a foreigner, you’ll definitely want to browse through these videos. [Read more…]

The Casa Llanta Fund: Hear their voices, see their faces

photo credit // Jessica Gildersleeve

photo credit // Jessica Gildersleeve

For many, San Juan del Sur is all about the beach experience – with surfing, fishing and sailing as the main attractions.  Others are drawn to the undeveloped landscape and jungles.  And some find that the easy going lifestyle is a reminder to slow down and refocus on the substance of life that really matters.  The substance that prioritizes relationships and community service over quarterly reports and deadlines. [Read more…]

On waiting for permission.

photo credit // Jessica GildersleeveIf you are waiting for somebody to give you permission to move to Nicaragua, then it may never happen.  If the change that you want to experience in your life is contingent on somebody else, than there may be no end to your waiting. Nobody is going to give you permission.  

And by the way, you don’t need their permission anyway.  Your life is your own and you can just do it. 

There will never be a perfect time to quit your job or move your family.  You will also never get to the end of your to-do list. 

The time to manifest your future is now.  Or never.

Fight Club Gym: Get Fit & Stay Strong

machine-min-1024x708 (1)It’s true that San Juan del Sur’s selection of beach front restaurants, happy hour specials and live music make it difficult to stay in shape and eat healthy. But with the opening of Fight Club Gym, you no longer have an excuse to let your health and fitness slide.  In fact the gym is a meeting ground for the tribe of people in this town who strive for a healthy lifestyle.
[Read more…]