Discover the Best Beach in Nicaragua

September 26, 2018

As co-founder of the New York City-based luxury travel blog Compass + Twine, I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting hotel and destination experiences around the world. From Zanzibar, Tanzania, to Jaipur, India, it’s my job to seek out the true character of a location— as well as the best place to stay while immersing oneself in a new place. Mukul Resort, on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua, had quickly climbed onto our radar over the past year; so when I saw that Inspirato recently added it to their collection, I had to check it out. 

Situated on a private, secluded bay only two hours south of the capital, Managua, Mukul was built by the Pellas, a fifth generation local family involved in everything from rum to hospitals. It is the country’s first truly five-star resort and home to one of the best surf breaks in Central America.

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Convincing Daniel, my husband, to go for the world-class surfing was easy. The relatively simple 4- to 5-hour flight from New York City didn’t hurt either. We flew direct into Costa Rica’s Liberia Airport and drove north into Nicaragua (this route better matched our schedules than the direct flights to Managua). This was where Inspirato’s level of service showed its worth: They steered us toward using the hotel’s car service to cross the rather chaotic border and helped with all the transportation arrangements. With long lines and redundant checkpoints, traversing this particular crossing would have been an arduous task to tackle on our own.

As we drove down the coastal hills to the resort, it was like entering a time warp; we saw an emerald paradise of lush tropical foliage with very few commercial developments. Rather than coming up on an imposing resort complex, Mukul’s bungalows and beach villas were tucked unobtrusively into the jungle. My husband and I both thought that perhaps this is what Costa Rica looked like 15 years ago.

The star attraction at the resort is the secluded beach on Bahia Manzanillo: it lives up to the hype. With stunning turquoise water and silver-white sand, it’s one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve ever seen. Best of all, the entire stretch is almost always empty aside from the occasional hotel guest or two. 

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The surf break at Mukul pumped out consistent 3- to 5-foot waves across the bay. Beyond pleased, my husband happily reported that you could catch full “30-second rides.” That’s a thrill for any surfer, but it’s that much better when you have the wave all to yourself. While I didn’t take advantage of the resort’s surf school or surfboard rentals, I did hop on one of their body boards to experience the awesome break for myself and enjoyed every minute.

The family that owns Mukul also produces the best rum in the country, Flor de Caña, and they celebrate this synergy with an open-air rum-tasting cigar bar. Every day they offer both cigar and rum tastings, where guests can sample the family’s famed rum, including, if you’re lucky, a taste from their coveted 33-year-old bottle. 

As for the food, breakfast was our favorite meal of the day and included some of the freshest fruit we’ve ever tasted. Opting to dine each morning on the terrace, we enjoyed all the local, tropical ingredients the kitchen had to offer. Come lunchtime, we couldn’t get enough of the chilled gazpacho, usually served poolside with a side of plantains. That was plenty to keep us going for the rest of the day.

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As a romantic getaway over a long weekend, Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast is just about perfect. It’s far enough away to feel truly adventurous without being so far as to wear you out with travel or jet lag. Between the golf, the surf, and the amazing spa (the couple’s treatment room came with a private plunge pool on the deck overlooking the jungle), Mukul feels best suited for adults.

Back home, reflecting on our incredible trip to the Emerald Coast, what sticks with me most is the genuine pride Mukul’s staff had in Nicaragua, along with their passion for showcasing their beautiful country. They are truly excited to share Mukul and Nicaragua with the world. It reminds me of why I love to travel and discover new places: There’s something magical about getting to a place before it becomes overly developed as a tourist destination. Fortunately, as long as Mukul can keep Bahia Manzanillo to itself, this little bit of paradise should stay that way.