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Nica and San Juan Del Sur-not ready for Prime Time

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Richmond, Virginia
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21 posts
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Nica and San Juan Del Sur-not ready for Prime Time

3 couples traveled to Nicaragua on April 11-18. We stayed at a house rental called Villa Noche, run by former NBA player, Travis Knight. This is our trip report.

We arrived into Managua from Miami on AA in the afternoon. Immigration was a breeze, just remember the entry fee. We used Adalente Express for transportion from Managua to SJDS, it was really good. The driver met us after customs with a clearly marked sign and they transport you in shuttle vans, and the A/C seemed to work very well. They do the best they can. However the drive is a solid 2 1/2 hours. Some of the drivers can speak a little English, but one of the themes of my trip is that if you are traveling to Nica and don't speak fluent Spanish-DON'T GO.

The Villa Noche rental property that has lots of potential. Some of the challenges that Travis' faces are in his control and some our just the nature of Nicaragua's infrastructure not being advanced yet. Villa Noche is located 2 1/2 hours from the Int'l airport in Managua on the Pacific coast. The house rental is in a very secure development about 200 feet directly above the Pacific coastline. Security is very good with one armed guard at the gate of the development and also another armed guard at the gate into the property itself.

The positives about Villa Noche are its incredible 180 degree views of the Pacific Ocean, the very nice Infinity pool overlooking the Pacific. Transportation to and from San Juan can be done by the house staff, which is by truck 15-20 minutes (because of the roads) away, which makes a rental car not a necessity, you only pay for fuel at the end of the week. Travis is attempting to provide a 1st world experience in a country that is still experiencing tremendous 3rd world challenges.

What I write below aren't so much problems with the rental, but more of things that everyone should be aware of, more than anything.

For those who don't know Villa Noche provides cooking for all meals and daily cleaning services.

I can't emphasize this enough if you do not know SPANISH, and I'm not talking about broken Spanish, do not stay at Villa Noche. This is a big deal. Also don't expect instructions from the staff when you arrive or even how or when the meal works. Overall we were disappointed the staff wasn't as friendly in attempting to talk with us, no hello's or goodbye's, they seemed very depressed. Obviously I don't blame them because the Nica government, and the US gvt. in the past 50 years hasn't treated the country or the people very well. Again if you don't speak fluent Spanish then this makes things very challenging. The house was built 4-5 years ago and Travis' challenge is up keeping the house, it has many very modern bells and whistles, speakers in all rooms, wireless internet, pools, hot tubs, A/C units in bedrooms, big screen TV, DVD players. Problem is many of these things are broken or don't work. Part of the problem is the ability to have these things serviced or the availability to procure parts in Nicaragua.

Regarding the town itself, San Juan del Sur, this is a vacation town for locals; don't expect fancy gift shops, restaurants, Dive Shops, boat tours. Very simple and very basic. Shopping even for basic food and beverages is very different than even a 2nd world country. This is a small and unfortunately very poor tourist area that has lots of challenges with infrastructure.

Individuals that I can recommend traveling to Nicaragua are: backpackers, staying in hostels, very low key, no need for safe or organized attractions, but everything is very inexpensive. There are no 1st or even 2nd world amenities in San Juan. It’s very basic, unless you are staying at one of the 2 resorts Piedras Olos, or Morgan's Rock.

Overall Nicaragua is not ready for tourists that expect any type of vacation you'd receive in Mexico, Costa Rica, or the Caribbean. Its infrastructure, such as roads, electricity, service, purchasing options, food availability is still a ways off.

Napa, California
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21. Re: Nica and San Juan Del Sur-not ready for Prime Time

Wow, I've been to SJDS and Nicaragua a couple of times, guy's trip and wife trip and had no problems. Of course, living in Louisiana, a third world state, perhaps my expectations were lower. I think you are always better off staying in town, than out in the country where you have to rely on someone else for transportation to activities. We fished, sailed, hiked & swam at a secluded beach, hung out on the beach and spent much time in really neat bars & restaurants. Sure, the place is not overrun with tourists and expensive activities 24-7, but you can find lots of stuff to do.

I think if you reread your post, you might note some objectionable, overly harsh criticism. Not everyone wants to stay in a 4 star resort, and be shielded from anything local. Some of us like a low key friendly spot to relax. San Juan del Sur is definitely it. I can't wait to get back.

new york
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18 reviews
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22. Re: Nica and San Juan Del Sur-not ready for Prime Time

Just returned from a 10 day vacation in SJDS. Stayed at Piedras y Olas. Been to Costa Rica and many Caribbean islands. This vacation ranked up there with them all. First, as a native New Yorker, let me say I felt safer walking about the streets of SJDS, Rivas, Managua, and Grenada then I do in NYC. The 2 hour drive from the airport was fine. the roads are not bad at all. The scenery is beautiful and the sunsets unrivaled. the beaches were nice enough and the water very clean. Food in the downtown SJDS area was excellent. But most of all, the people were incredible. I think they appreciate you trying to speak Spanish but by no means that not knowing the language hinders one's experience. you try your best as they try their best at communicating. Besides, there are more than enough people who speak English. I do understand some of the comments about SJDS not being caught up with some of the other vacation destinations in some areas but that's part of its charm and I am glad I went now instead of 5-10 years from now when it won't have as much local flavor.

23. Re: Nica and San Juan Del Sur-not ready for Prime Time

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