5 Must Do’s Granada

Granada photo credit // Kathy Linch

Granada photo credit // Kathy Linch

The brightly colored buildings, cobblestone streets and historically preserved colonial architecture will capture your eyes the minute you arrive. Central America’s oldest Colonial city is nestled between Lake Nicaragua and Volcan Mombacho, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region.  There’s so many things that will tug at your attention in this city. In no particular order, here’s my top 5 things to do in Granada if you’ve only got a few days to spend. 

1. Eat your heart out at the ChocoMuseo 

Follow your nose to the CocoMuseo (Chocolate museum) inside the Mansion de Chocolate.  The museum style chocolate factory offers “Bean to Bar” chocolate making workshops and full day tours to nearby cacao plantations. Here you can learn about the history of the cacao bean from the Mayans and Aztecs. You’ll also get a chance to break and grind the cacao beans by hand. No trip to the museum is complete without tasting the array of chocolate delicacies on display. From coffee bean chocolate bars to jalapeño infused chocolate sauce, the CocoMuseo is truly a chocolate lovers paradise. 

Granada Cathedral, Nicaragua2. Visit all three major Cathedrals 

It’s not surprising that most people leave the city only having visited the frequently photographed Cathedral of Granada in central park. It’s central location and recently refurbished yellow exterior will draw you in.  However there’s at least two other cathedrals that are beautifully preserved and packed with history all within walking distance of the city center.  La Merced was one of the most revered churches in Granada for almost 300 years until its main tower was destroyed in 1854.  And Iglesia de Guadalupe was once used as a fortress by William Walker in 1856 during the infamous American filibuster. 

3. Buy a hammock at Tio Antonio’s Central Social 

It’s easy to miss the brightly colored hand-woven hammocks in the doorway if you’re just passing through the city.  Step inside and you’ll find hammocks being woven by nearly a dozen people that are deaf and hard of hearing. Tio Antonio’s Central Social sells an incredible variety of swinging chairs and hammocks to suit any size – all hand made by people with impaired hearing. Visitors can learn about the history of the social mission, add their contribution to the largest hammock in history, and try weaving a hammock of their own.  When you’re finished learning and shopping, be sure to grab a bite to eat nextdoor at Cafe de las Sonrisas. The friendly restaurant staff will greet you in sign language and offer ear-plugs to get a feel for their world without sound.  Tio Antonio’s center to empower and employ people people with disabilities is worth going out of your way to visit. 

Granada Isletas, Nicaragua

photo credit // Kathy Linch

4. Cruise the islands on Lake Nicaragua 

There’s an entire water world that exists among the 350+ volcanic formed islands in Lake Nicaragua along the outer edge of Granada. Some islands are getting snatched up by wealthy investors and turned into private estates or boutique hotels with boat only access. Among the “isletas” there’s a local school and a small cemetery too.  Jump on a panga with a local boat captain off the malecon and you’ll quickly see another world unfold where laundry is hand-washed on cement corrugated washboards and fisherman dive with nets. (Note to travelers – Please don’t feed the monkeys, they are dangerously overweight.)

5. Swim in Laguna de Apoyo 

Nicaragua’s deepest swimming hole is actually a water filled crater of the now extinct Apoyo Volcano. The lake is an estimated 200 meters deep and 4 miles in diameter. The dry tropical forest that surrounds the volcanic crater is home to over 500 species of flora and fauna. Indigenous artifacts and petroglyphs have been discovered within it as well.  Nicaragua’s Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) declared the crater lake a national nature reserve in 1991.  Established resorts and hostels like the Monkey Hut, offer kayaks, inner-tubes and swimming access to floating docks for aspiring travelers and lake lovers.  

How to Reinvent Yourself in 2017

photo credit// @pineapples

photo credit// @pineapples

As 2016 fades away behind us, I’ve been reflecting on ways to reinvent myself, my business and my non-profit (again) in 2017.  I find myself nearly overwhelmed with a combination of both grief and gratitude.  How can so much good and evil co-exist in the world? Can any one of us make a difference? Is there still hope remaining? 

I need to believe that the new year provides an opportunity for self and communal reinvention.  I have faith that humanity has the capacity to forgive, heal, change and grow.  I believe that in the end, love and peace will eventually win.  

So while new year’s resolutions may simply be a man-made impetus to start over, this year’s resolution feels extra important. Here are 4 intentions to reinvent yourself in 2017:

1. Be an advocate for a good cause. 

There’s never been a better time to support a grassroots organization in San Juan del Sur. Non-profits are feeling the financial squeeze left over from lingering feelings of fear and scarcity. And yet, the town continues to develop while the cost of living for locals rises.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we encourage you to make a financial contribution this year to improve the quality of education that locals have access to.  In 2017, let’s make it our mission to empower these Nicaragua non-profits year-round.

2. Live in the moment.

The power of now is one of Nicaragua’s greatest life lessons. Time is measured differently in a region where entire communities lack access to electricity, running water and private transportation. Subsistence farmers and fishermen know there are no guarantees for tomorrow.  Let’s make it our intention to make the most of today. 

3. Simplify

In a society that glorifies wealth, minimalist living goes against the flow. We are inundated daily with advertisements that promote consumerism and a lifestyle of abundance. Making a conscious choice to spend less money, own less possessions, create less waste and commit to fewer obligations can be wildly freeing. Change your priority to time with loved ones and see what that does for your perspective this year. 

4.  Do something brave. 

Maybe you want to learn how to surf or finally book a plane ticket and learn what life is like in Nicaragua on one of our relocation tours. It could something big like buying real estate in Nicaragua, or something important like simply having a hard conversation with a loved one.  

For me it’s being more vulnerable in my writing. What’s yours?  We want to hear it!

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The Festive Funding Flash Mob is here!

FESTIVE FUNDING FLASH MOB POSTIt’s that time of year again. We’re ringing the bell on the holidays early this year to provide much needed financial support to NGO’s actively working to empower the lives of locals in San Juan del Sur.  These NGO’s work tirelessly to improve the wellbeing and contribute to the development of the local community.  You’ll find a program with a heart for just about every need here. 

At San Juan Live we believe in helping our neighbors, which is why this holiday season we’re hosting another “Flash Mob” of festive funding and everyone is invited to join! 

Here’s how it works:

[Read more…]

Keep Giving Thanks

November has been an emotional month.  The recent presidential elections in the United States and Nicaragua have stirred up emotions and feelings of uncertainty about the future of both countries.

One thing is clear, we’re experiencing a season of change. And in times of change, it’s often helpful to name and rededicate ourselves to the causes making a positive impact in our local community.

So this Thanksgiving I’m giving thanks to these grass roots organizations dedicated to educating and empowering locals. [Read more…]

Key Steps to Purchasing Real Estate Safely: Interview with Eduardo Cabrales Cuadra

The process of purchasing property as a foreigner in Nicaragua is not the same as in North America. For starters, there’s no multiple listing service or easy access to public records on recent sales prices.

Hiring a local attorney is critical in order to check the title history, ensure there are no liens or encumbrances on the property and to register the title in the local registry. Miss one step and the consequences could prove costly and time consuming to resolve.

In an exclusive interview with Eduardo Cabrales Cuadra, managing partner with Garcia & Bodan Law Firm, Eduardo explains the key steps to purchasing real estate in Nicaragua.


Understanding the process of purchasing property in Nicaragua is critical

In this video Eduardo breaks down the five key steps to purchasing property: (i) private sales agreement, (ii) designation of a third-party to escrow the funds, (iii) legal due diligence by an independent attorney, (iv) closing and finally (v) title registration.

For more detailed information on the main conditions included in a typical purchase and sale contract, check out this article in our Seller's Learning Center.


The 4 Steps of Title Research

In this video, Eduardo dives further into the details of the title research process for property investigation. These 4 critical steps of the title research process could impact your ownership rights, uncover potential conflicts of interest and ultimately save you a lot of time and money. Have a look at his exclusive interview below.


Pair these videos with the answers to frequently asked questions in our Buyer's Learning Center.

Next step: Sign up for our Free Insider Tips Series for Nicaragua Real Estate Investors.  And track the most up-to-date real estate listings in Nicaragua on our owner updated real estate marketplace.

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…]

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…]