Recent Updates:

We’re Officially Ringing the Bell on the Holidays

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you’re thinking of spending this Christmas or New Years in San Juan del Sur, then you’re running out of time to book your accommodation.  That’s why here at San Juan Live, we’re officially ringing the bell on the holidays.

We’ve already had to turn down so many inquiries for New Years that we decided to save our followers time by pointing out where you can still find lodging in San Juan del Sur.  Don’t worry, there are still some awesome options available but you’ll need to pull the trigger on a booking soon.

Here’s 5 great places to stay in San Juan del Sur during the holidays.

1. The Eco Guest Ranch at Rancho Chilamate

If you’re yearning to escape the busyness of town and craving a unique holiday adventure, don’t look any further than Rancho Chilamate.  The masterfully designed guest ranch consists of four rentable rooms, a casita and the owners barracks complete with pool, horse stables, wifi, cowboy showers and a “boot room” for horseback riders to gear up for the trail. The entire ranch is solar powered and a percentage of every ride gets donated back a local community development fund.  You’re not just getting a once in a lifetime experience at a great price, you can feel good about where your money is going.  Rooms are $180 to $195 per night all inclusive of food and beverage.  Contact Blue now to book your room.  This offer will not be available for long.

2. Casa Romanica, a Privately Owned Luxury Home within Pelican Eyes Resort

If you only need 1 bedroom, but still want a semi-private pool, Casita Romantica is an excellent choice. The bedroom and large bathroom with double sinks are on the upper floor, with private kitchen and dining area. A private pool, large patio with outside dining and lounging area complete the picture.  It’s walking distance to town and the main beach.  The price per night is $380. Book it now.

3. El Jardin, a Superb Panorama

Located 10 minutes out of town El Jardin makes a stylish base for people preferring tranquility and relaxation over the noise and hustle of town during the holidays. Perched on a hill overlooking Nacascolo Bay, this 11 roomed boutique hotel has one of the best views of the area.  The large swimming pool is surrounded by sprawling terraces to relay and enjoy the “winter” sunshine. Those seeking a shadier spot can steal away to smaller seating areas dotted around the place, or retreat to their private terrace (most of the rooms have one).  We’ve only heard rave reviews about the onsite restaurant that caters only to hotel guests.  Only 3 rooms still available.  Book at El Jardin now.

Surf Ranch4. Surf Ranch, an Action Sports Resort

San Juan del Sur’s first and only action sports resort complete with climbing wall, skate park, air pad drop, paintball, swim up bar and more.  If you want an active vacation blended with a party scene, Surf Ranch offers both.  Standard rooms are $70 and villas are $115 per night plus taxes. All rates include breakfast.  Villas sleep up to 4 people.  Check out their website to book now or get more details.

5. A Vacation Rental in the Center of all the Holiday Action

Stay here for the holidays and the party will come to your doorstep. Recently remodeled, the house is fully equipped and fully furnished. It’s got a full kitchen with granite counter-tops, air-conditioning,  a BBQ, hot water showers and a TV/DVD . You also have a fully enclosed yard, perfect for firing up the grill.  It sleeps 4, but if you have a larger group the sleeper sofa can accommodate two more. Holiday rates are $145 per night or $870 per week plus metered electricity and a $12 cleaning fee.  A security deposit is required.  For photos and more information, go here.

Once you get here, have a look at these 7 things you must not miss on your vacation in San Juan del Sur.

Buena Vista Surf Club: Surf, Yoga and Natural Beauty

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Imagine sitting on a tree top balcony sharing a fruity rum drink with your special someone as you watch the waves roll in at Playa Maderas.

As the owners of Buena Vista Surf Club like to say, “You don’t have to be a surfer to stay here, but we can help you to become one!

You also don’t have to be a yoga practitioner to book a room, but you’re likely to become one after an extended stay and a few sessions on their beautiful ocean view yoga balcony.

Girls doing yoga

Dutch resident owners Marielle and Marc have been hosting guests since 2005 and have stayed true to their vision for an eco-lodge built in harmony with nature. The lodge is completely self sufficient, water is drawn from the on-site well and all of the energy to support the lodge is sourced from the sun.

Located only 8 kilometers north of San Juan del Sur and directly overlooking one of the most consistent surf breaks in the region – Playa Maderas – the lodge is perfectly positioned for an escape from reality.

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Meals are family style and all dishes are home cooked using many fresh ingredients from the on-site garden. Lodging consists of 6 cozy, free standing tree-houses.

Stay for a few days, slow down and you’ll find that you’re in the perfect spot to enjoy the raw natural beauty of the Maderas area of San Juan del Sur.

We suggest you leave your cell phone at home.

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Price: $65pp based on double occupancy
Location: Perched atop Playa Maderas
Neighborhood: Maderas, San Juan del Sur
Website: buenavistasurfclub.com
Insider Guide Top Pick: In the Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur, Buena Vista Surf Club is a top pick for the Maderas neighborhood.

16 Nicaragua Travel Tips from the Rockstars of Travel Blogging

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You don’t have to be the world’s best traveler to have an amazing vacation in Nicaragua. But if you’ve never visited before it’s easy to make mistakes that could derail your vacation.

Thankfully, you can avoid common mistakes by getting travel advice from experts and insiders who know the place well.

So we started with Nomadic Samuel’s list of 100 top travel blogs.  It’s effectively the Who’s Who of travel blogging.  When we checked we found that around 1 in 4 of the blogs had articles about Nicaragua. (Yes, it’s a small number, but we think that’s a good thing.)

From the shortlist we compiled 16 travel tips and personal reflections to help you when you arrive in Nicaragua so that you can get started immediately on having a great time.

In no particular order, here they are:

1. Nomadic Samuel

Nicaragua is another country that’s often overshadowed by its neighbors – in this case, Costa Rica.  But the ‘land of lakes and volcanoes’ in Central America has plenty to offer tourists if they’re willing to explore a country that’s off the beaten tourist track.  One thing I’d love to do in Nicaragua? Go volcano boarding down the Cerro Negro. Think snowboarding or sledging, but down the side of a volcano.” –  From Nomadic Samuel.

2. Globetrotter Girls

The national drink of Nicaragua, Macuá is a sweet cocktail with Flor de Caña rum and several fruit juices. Fabulous!” – One of “33 things we love about Nicaragua” from Globetrotter Girls

3. Life as Vagabonds

The real winner in San Juan del Sur’s repertoire is the sunset. The sun sets out at sea with golden orange rays finally cascading down below the horizon, but not before illuminating the boats, water, sand and a statue of Jesus presiding high above the town on a mountain top.” – Michael from Life as Vagabonds

4. Pause the Moment

If you’re in Leon, Granada, or any other Nicaraguan city that has a professional baseball team, do yourself a favor and go catch a game! I highly recommend it and it is quite possibly one of the most authentic Nicaraguan experiences I’ve had as of yet. My total cost for the game (ticket, water, slice of pizza) came to $3.06 USD. Pretty incredible, right?” – Ryan at Pause the Moment

5. 2 Backpackers

There are several beaches you can visit near San Juan del Sur for surfing. If you are looking for something else, try renting a quad or bike on the beach, charter a fishing boat or go searching for turtles. We booked a canopy tour on zip-lines with Da’ Flying Frog Tours the next day. We had amazing views of the forest canopy and the coastline all for $30 a person, a fraction of what you will pay in Costa Rica.” – From 2 Backpackers

6. Bacon is Magic

I love tamales and ate them often in Mexico. So when I learned that Nicaragua has their own version, aptly called the nacatamale, it went straight to the top of my to-eat list.” – From Bacon is Magic

7. Go Backpacking

Granada is to Nicaragua as Antigua is to Guatemala. It’s here on the shores of Lake Nicaragua that most tourists choose to base themselves, and it’s not hard to see why. Colorful buildings, a large central park, horse-drawn carriages and old cobblestone streets evoke life in Spanish Colonial times.” – Dave from Go Backpacking (You’ll find lots more travel tips in this article)

8. Wandering Earl

If you want an adrenaline rush that involves moving at 50 mph, eating rocks and slashing open several parts of your body, the perfect sport has finally arrived. It’s called volcano boarding and there is also only one place in the world where you can do it – Cerro Negro, an active volcano near the town of Leon, Nicaragua.” – From Wandering Earl

9. Nomadic Matt

Visit Ometepe Island – This extraordinary island is located on the Lago de Nicaragua and is formed by two joined volcanoes, Concepcion and Maderas. Hiking, kayaking, cycling, and healthy food are the island’s main draws. Hiking the volcanoes is as hard as it appears; you’ll need to start really early or the mid-day heat will slow you down significantly (I learned this lesson the hard way).” – From Nomadic Matt (Matt lists 14 other of his favorite things to do in Nicaragua)

10. Unconcerned Market

This visit to Nicaragua happened to coincide with Purisima, a Nicaraguan celebration for the Virgin Mary. Festivities include local families fashioning altars in their living rooms. On the final day (December 8), many families open their homes at 6 PM to allow people to view the altar, sing songs and in return for their participation, receive candy, food and gifts. When we showed a little curiosity outside of a local home in San Juan del Sur, we were whisked in and invited to share in the celebration. When we left, the family literally ran after us insisting we take our Purisima gifts — maracas, noisemakers and lots of food. Generosity of spirit at its finest.” – One of 14 Nicaragua memories from Uncornered Market

11. Wild Junket

It seemed like only a moment ago when we were peering at the beach from above. Now we were trotting by the sea, with the hooves of the horses softly sinking into the sand beneath. The hoof prints were prominent in the light sand, like the imprint the waves had left before retreating into the sea. The horses took their time strolling on the beach, giving us time to enjoy what we had left of our horseback riding experience.” – Elica from Wild Junket

12. Johnny Vagabond

We’d just called for the check when the Moment happened. I’m not sure if I’ve ever spoken of the Moment, but it’s the time when everything comes together and you really understand why you’re here at this place and at this time. It’s magic. It may last a half-second or a half-hour. After three years on the road, I’ve finally learned that it is what I truly seek — not enlightenment, not understanding. I crave the Moment, when everything makes sense. Maybe that is enlightenment of a sort, but it’s just a taste.” – From Johnny Vagabond

13. Dave’s Travel Corner

Suddenly a loud gulp sounded high above us in a macone tree. I stretched my neck and attempted to see through my steamed up glasses.  Then I saw it.  A howler monkey with spindly brown arms outstretched between two branches, watched us from the top of the world, its head cocked to one side. Her vocalization sounded like she swallowed a ping pong ball on a microphone. Gulp. Gulp.” – From Dave’s Travel Corner

14. Raising Miro

I love Nicaragua, much more than Costa Rica. There is a real passion in the people, the streets, the culture that contrasts with Costa Rica’s gringo influence. Nicaragua is country with is fatigued with much internal fighting and the corruption of politics and in general, the people here are very poor. On the other hand, they are so rich with passion, culture and history. There is almost a silent knowing among one another that they’ve gone through the worst, and things ARE getting better.” – Lainie from Raising Miro

15. Stop Having a Boring Life

Yesterday I spent one of the coolest days I’ve had on the island in the last 7 months and it involved a day trip to Otto’s Beach on the north western point of the island. Otto Beach Little Corn Island is a solid 20+ minute walk from town and it involves climbing the hill that sits in the center of the island and a march through jungle until you reach what I can only describe as paradise.” Rob from Stop Having a Boring Life

16. The Expert Vagabond

Do you want to travel back in time? It’s possible in Nicaragua. Venture into any of the many small towns to experience rural farming communities where water is collected with buckets, horses are the only way to get around, and even basic electricity can be hard to find. Living in Nicaragua for a while was a refreshing pause in my journey, and I became captivated by it’s magic.” – Matthew Karston from The Expert Vagabond

Want more advice from insiders?

If you’re planning a trip to San Juan del Sur then you’re probably going to want to look at our Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur. The Insider Guide will be really helpful to you because it not only provides you with the knowledge and inspiration for a remarkable travel experience but helps you avoid the mistakes that otherwise smart travelers make when they travel here. If you’d like to have a look, go ahead and click on this link to get the details.

How San Juan del Sur Makes You Feel

San Juan del SurPeople ask me all the time why I moved to San Juan del Sur.  And my answer is always the same… It’s how it makes me feel:

  • It makes me want to throw out my TV.
  • It makes me want to write a book.
  • It makes me want to climb trees.
  • It makes me want to dive into waves.
  • It makes me want to re-invent myself…again.
  • It makes me want to throw a music festival.
  • It makes me want to give to those who have less than me and it makes me less concerned about those who have more.
  • It makes me want to quit my job (oh wait, I’ve already done that).
  • It makes me feel thankful.
  • It makes me feel young.
  • It makes me feel alive.
  • It makes me feel free.

I’ve yet to see another video capture the emotion of San Juan del Sur in 2 minutes and 37 seconds as well as this video produced by David Kalani in 2009.  But the truth is that you have to visit to feel it. #lifeishort  #noregrets

Visit Nicaragua! – 100% San Juan Del Sur from david kalani larkins on Vimeo.

How to have an Amazing Travel Experience in San Juan del Sur

cover-300-insider-guideThe Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur just went live.  And we’re offering 40% off the cover price until 5th September, 2014.

So for just $4.70 you’ll have all the knowledge and inspiration you need to get best out of your trip to San Juan del Sur.

And if you’re still in travel planning mode the Insider Guide will help you work out if San Juan del Sur is the right place for your next trip.

Learn more about what the Insider Guide includes and secure your discounted copy here.

How to have an Amazing Travel Experience in San Juan del Sur

We can’t tell you how to travel well for every destination, but we can for San Juan del Sur.

For over 10 years we’ve been living and working here and over that time we’ve learned the intricacies of the place up close and in person. Plus we’ve come to understand the experiences that only San Juan del Sur can deliver.

Our aim is simple: to prepare you for a remarkable travel experience, using everything we’ve learned over the years.

Ready?

Purchase your content-packed 180 page guide today for the discounted launch price of $4.70.  There’s a 30 day money back guarantee that comes with the guidebook.  Here’s the special discount link.

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PS: Bonus: The guide comes packaged with a bunch of juicy coupons to top quality local businesses. If you use just one, the guide pays for itself.

6 Top Spots for Coffee in San Juan del Sur

coffee shopNicaraguan growers have been producing quality coffee since the 1850s, so it was only a matter of time before specialist coffee shops serving local beans started to open in San Juan del Sur.

So whether you’re a long time resident, interested in relocating to San Juan del Sur or planning a visit, I give you 6 great spots to get your caffeine fix (plus a bonus spot).  And best of all, San Juan del Sur is still a chain free zone.

1. Barrio Café – Even though the focus is not just on coffee, the Barrio Café baristas still serve a quality cappuccino. Each cup of jaza is uniquely decorated and topped off with milk foam art. The caffeinated patrons mix with people snacking on burgers and wraps or sipping ice cold Toñas at the bar.  The beans are from high altitude farms in Matagalpa.

coffee cups2. Café Mediterráneo – The ice-cold lattes served from this tiny, Italian owned café across from the market tick all our boxes. The coffee is creamy smooth with no bitterness and the service is quick.  While writing the Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur we crisscrossed the streets of downtown and ordered to-go lattes from here each time we passed.  If you have time, stay for the food. It’s also excellent, with some very original plates.

3. El Gato Negro – Coffee and books are such natural bedfellows, it’s no wonder that El Gato Negro has been such a hit in San Juan ever since it first opened its doors in 2005. The small batch coffee beans come from their own farm and from friend’s farms and are roasted every 2 days.

4. Café Revolución – Perch on one of the stools facing Playa Maderas and sip on a perfect latte while you check out San Juan del Sur’s most popular break. Sometimes in return for a great surf break you accept you’ll need to sacrifice some home comforts, like good specialty coffee drink options.  But not here.

5. Vintage Restaurant in Hotel Victoriano – Come here for excellent specialty coffees.   A hotel and restaurant, not just a coffee shop, but this iconic landmark was once Somoza’s beachfront escape and also visited by Mark Twain during his Transit Route. The java is delicious and you can’t beat the view of the bay directly across the street. Be sure to grab a seat with an ocean view and stroll through the photo gallery explaining its history.

6. San Juan Surf Crêpes and Coffee - Serving gourmet crêpes and coffee.  Yes, a timeless taste of France has landed right in the heart of San Juan del Sur.  Crêpes are delicious paired with a rich cup of coffee.  Stop by, order to go or have it delivered.

7. Bonus spot – If you want to pull your own expresso shot, fill a french press or load up the drip coffee maker, we recommend the organic coffee from Finca El Petén. The beans are sold at La Nica Orgánica a farm store located on the side of the main road into town at the entrance Finca Las Nubes.

We’ve plotted all 6, plus the bonus spot, on a map:

7 Things you Must Not Miss when you take your Vacation in San Juan del Sur

7-things-must-not-missWalk into any large travel agency and posted on the main walls are the glossy posters of big name attractions around the world. These are the anchor experiences that the travel agency is trying to promote.

For many people they are a destination in their own right, or a big part of the decision process in choosing where to go.

So how does this apply to a vacation in San Juan del Sur?

Like all vacation spots, San Juan del Sur has a set of top experiences and archetypical activities that represent the best of the place. The kind of experiences that make you think; “Only in San Juan del Sur“.

Residents know what these are, but we’d bet that none of them have ever graced the shelves of that travel agency we mentioned.

Read the rest of the article and sign up to discover the 7 things you must not miss in San Juan del Sur

How well do you know San Juan del Sur? (Part 1)

SJDS beachfrontPhoto Credit: Wendy Alexander Jacobson

I’ve been living in San Juan del Sur for 7 years now and I still feel like I learn something new every week.   Sometimes even every day.  There’s always more to learn about the local culture, the surrounding natural environment, the history of the country, the lives of our resident neighbors and of course the Spanish language and it’s local nuances.

So how well do you know San Juan del Sur?

Take this quiz and you may find out that you still have a lot to learn about the town you think you know so well.

  1. Point south.  (Naturally you’ll probably find yourself pointing towards the visible isthmus of Costa Rica, but check again.)
  2. What time does the sun typically rise?
  3. What time does the sun typically set?
  4. From what direction does the wind usually come from? (Hint: Surfers just love those off-shore breezes)
  5. What time is high tide today?
  6. When is the rainy season?
  7. When is the dry season?
  8. When is whale watching season?
  9. What time of year do the Olive Ridley turtles lay eggs at La Flor?
  10. What types of fish can you expect to catch when on shore fishing?

Answered: Your Questions on Starting a Business in Nicaragua

starting-a-business-thumbWhen people sign up for our free updates we always ask: “What’s the top thing you would like to know about San Juan del Sur?”

Looking back over the past year, questions about starting a business keep coming up.

So in order to get them answered, we collected the best questions and sent them to Eduardo Cabrales Cuadra, attorney with the legal firm Garcia & Bodan.

His answers are relevant whether you’re a San Juan del Sur veteran or just starting to explore Nicaragua as a place to find a business niche and fund your life.

Let’s dive in:

Can foreigners own a business in Nicaragua?

Definitely. The most important thing for Nicaragua (and I´m sure every Government) is for businesses to pay income tax on their operations. So, as long as you are law-abiding and pay your taxes, Nicaragua welcomes all business operated by foreigners.

Do you need to be a resident to start a business in Nicaragua?

As per my previous answer, the key element to operate a business in Nicaragua is tax payment. For this you need a RUC ID (tax payers ID) which is only granted to residents. You can get a RUC ID for a Nicaraguan Company, or a foreign company registered in Nicaragua as these legal entities are considered to be residents.

What kind of businesses has Garcia & Bodan helped expats with in San Juan del Sur?

Because of our location in San Juan del Sur, most businesses operate in the real estate and tourism sectors. To give you a few examples, we’ve helped expats set up construction companies, real estate development companies, businesses dedicated to hotel and restaurant operations, tour operators, recreational activities, boat charters, wood development companies and, most recently, San Juan’s own brewery company.

What are the steps to setting up a business in Nicaragua?

While not required by law, our recommendation for your first step should be to create a business plan. As attorneys we are one of the first people entrepreneurs seek once they have their mind set on a certain business. And we see some great ideas fail because there is no sense of a mid or long term plan. You should also develop a budget to make sure you are financially covered to set up your business.

What permits are needed?

The normal permits to operate are the RUC ID and the Municipal License. These represent the two main taxes you will be paying, so naturally all businesses must be registered with these institutions. If you plan to hire staff you will also need to register your employees with Social Security.

Other permits may be required depending on your specialization. For example, if you are running a restaurant, you will want a liquor license granted by the police department, a fire department check, and a health certificate. These three are granted after a joint site inspection.  If you have a hotel, you’ll also want to get a license from INTUR, the Nicaraguan Tourism Institute.  If you have boat business, then you will have to get permits from the Transport Institute. Again, it depends on the activity of your business.

What is the process for getting permits and registering employees?

The first thing you need is your RUC ID.  Once you have this document you can start obtaining the others. Again, there are a couple of ways of getting the RUC ID, either personal, or through a company. Depending on your initial capital investment, you will be subject to a fixed monthly payment, or the general regime for taxes where you pay depending on income (the maximum being 30% of your net income.) If you have a company, you automatically go into the general regime and will pay the maximum.

After that, the different institutions will set out requirements for each permit.  There is a degree of overlap in the documents required such as RUC ID, Municipal License, lease or title of your business, legal documents for the company, and then special requests depending on the type of permit.

Registering with Social Security is easier.  It involves filling out a series of forms with information about the business and each of the employees.

Does it make sense to start a Nicaraguan corporation for the business?

If you want a jump start, yes, it does makes sense. The reason I say this is because if you have a company, you do not need to become a resident to start the business. As we mentioned before, since the company is national and considered a resident, it can get a RUC ID, which is what you need to get going.

This would save you the waiting time for getting your Nicaragua residency, which is the other route to follow in order to get a RUC ID. Setting up a company can be done in 3-4 weeks, whereas the residency process can take longer. Incorporation also separates your personal assets from those of the company, limiting your liabilities to the company’s capital and/or your personal investment in the business.

What are the steps to open a Nicaraguan corporation?

First you must select the type of company you want to have. While our Commerce Code outlines 4 types, the most common is the Sociedad Anónima. To set up a company, you must comply with the terms and conditions established by our Code, and then determine basic information about governance, share distribution and scope of business.

We guide you through the document to confirm that all is according to law, and highlight the relevant parts where your input is needed to make sure the articles of incorporation of your company fulfill your needs as a business. Once you have the draft ready, you go ahead and sign the document in the presence of a notary. Once signed, the document must be recorded in the Public Records, along with the registration as merchant/business.

What are the requirements for filing taxes for the business?

Nicaragua now has an online tax filing system. After you register the company in the Public Records, the next step is to obtain the RUC ID, and sign a contract that provides a username and password for tax filings. At this point, and in order to take advantage of the different accounting techniques (ie. write offs and deductions), we recommend you hire an accountant to keep your books and do your filings.

Are there any tax incentives and benefits that expats can take advantage of?

Yes. The most popular one in this area is Law 306, which is the Law of Incentives for the Tourism Industry. This is not only for expats, it is for tourism entrepreneurs in general. Basically, the law establishes tax incentives on tourism related activities – from the hotel industry, to food and beverages, recreational activities, etc. The law is very specific on what types of activities are welcomed, the requirements needed and the process of obtaining the approvals.

How can business owners get approval for tax incentives and benefits?

For this specific law, you must prepare a project profile along with the legal documentation of your business. There are specific requirements depending on the categories. If you complete all of them, INTUR will receive your project and study it. The legal department and technical department will review the file to present to the Tourism Incentives Board, which is formed by representatives of different government institutions; who will vote to approve or reject the project. If it’s approved, this is made public in the National Gaceta, and you will have a Tourism Contract outlining the terms and conditions of the agreement. These will vary depending on the activity, and a deposit may be required.

What services do Garcia & Bodan provide?

We can assist with forming the company or obtaining the RUC ID, and residency if needed. We can also help negotiating lease agreements or the purchase of real estate where the business will operate, as well as helping with necessary permits and paperwork. Finally, we offer legal counsel and assistance in filing for, following up and securing Law 306 approval to obtain the tax incentives granted by the law.

Over to you

So, are you thinking of running a business in San Juan del Sur? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

This answers above provide general information only.   If you need help with your specific case, you can contact Eduardo at Garcia & Bodan.

If you found this post useful, we recommend another interview with Eduardo: The Essential Legal Steps to a Secure Property Purchase in Nicaragua.

Hotel Victoriano Serves up a Sense of Occasion

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Hotel Victoriano is a San Juan del Sur landmark and I’d heard good things about the onsite “Vintage Restaurant”.  So when my two dining companions suggested we meet there for lunch, I jumped at the opportunity.

The mansion was built in the early 1900s by British immigrant William Cross, using materials shipped over from England. It later became a weekend retreat for the ruling Somoza family, before being carefully restored into the 21 room Hotel Victoriano.

We were the only ones here for lunch but that didn’t seem to take away from the sense of occasion.

We chose a table in front of a balcony window that perfectly framed the bay and decided to do justice to the full drinks menu by ordering two Bloody Marys (one spicy one not) and a Margarita on the rocks.  Top marks for these.

There was more good news to follow on the food front.  Most of the dishes are Nicaraguan inspired, with a few Mediterranean options mixed in.   We ordered two churrascos (flank steak) and a grilled filet of fish.  The steak came with a choice of jalapeño or chimichuri sauce; the fish only needing a hint of lime to draw out its flavor.

It’s not the cheapest place to eat in town, but nowhere has quite the sense of history.  The intricate Victorian architecture, the fine wood paneling and the beautiful ocean views all play their part.  Plus the fact that Mark Twain stayed at the hotel adds something extra to the proceedings.

The art gallery and Mark Twain Lounge are highly recommended for history buffs.  Throughout the hotel the walkways are decorated with photographs capturing San Juan del Sur’s storied past.  

Victoriano 2

The hotel patio offers a beach front swimming pool and heated jacuzzi. You’ll have to cross the road to get to the beach but the view is completely unobstructed.  There are also multiple shaded terraces perfect for people watching along the malecon or for taking in a sunset over the Pacific.

Hotel Victoriano & Vintage Restaurant
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 6:00am to 10:00pm.
The 21 hotel rooms have air-conditioning, wifi, fans, cable TV, safe and refrigerator.
Tel: +505 2568 2005 or 2568 2091
Website