Technically speaking, since 1/8 of my job is to plan events. Now, I can't take full credit for this one. I only helped a teeny bit, as this was mostly my coworker's doing. She knew of this amazing sailing tour company (and the taco place, and the gelato shop...), and I just aided a little bit in the end of the planning.
Since part of our portfolio is to get folks out and about (yes, including ourselves) we often opt to do things that aren't difficult to do on one's own, but might be easier the first go-round as a group. Two weeks ago, it was hiring a sailing company to take us on a 5 hour roundtrip just off the coast of San Juan del Sur, a beach town along the Pacific Ocean in southern Nicaragua.
The drive to SJDS (as oft abbreviated here) ran around two hours, but can run more if one ends up behind a horse & wagon or slow moving truck. Highways here aren't quite the same as in the States, so always best to allot more time in case the drive is a bit more leisurely. This is not a bad thing, though, as fruit stands overflowing with watermelon and pineapple dot the road to the beach and it's never bad to have a bit more fresh fruit (oh, the watermelon juice one can make here...).
We had decided in advance to spend the night (and, yes, loved our hotel), but were not able to check in until after our sailing adventure ended. We were all hungry by the time we arrived in SJDS a little before noon, so fueled up first at Taco Stop. All varieties were good (I loved my fish tacos) and one can get good, fresh guacamole upon request.
We arrived at the docks (parking is secure, and only for those sailing) a bit early, and entered around 1 p.m. After last-minute trips to the bathroom and changes, we split up into two groups, so that we would not overload the water taxi. Thirty minutes later, all 25 plus were happily on the catamaran and headed out into the water.
We sailed for approximately an hour and a half, most of that time enjoying fresh pico de gallo, guacamole, ceviche, and amazing views to include dolphins and whales sidling along our boat. After the relatively short sail, we anchored 20 or so yards out from Playa Blanca.
Yes, the name says it all...a gorgeous pale sand beach that lines a short jaunt of the Pacific. The water is very clear and cold (says the person who dove in not realizing just how cold the water was). There were plenty of tide pools formed in the rocky areas, and the kids enjoyed watching the pigs (from a local beach house) amble down and around the surf. We spent a good 45 minutes to an hour there and after meeting a few friendly tourists from London on vacation, we waded a bit woefully back to the boat so that we could sail back to the dock.
I won't write much more about the trip, as I feel like many journies in Nicaragua, it's one a person needs to experience for his or herself. I can impart that it's utterly amazing until I'm blue in the face, however, it might not be until a reader is laying on the ropes in the boat, facing the wind, noshing on the pico de gallo and feel like every care in the world has disappeared that he or she might truly understand what a journey it was and how sad we were that it only lasted 5 hours.
That was not the end of the weekend, though, and we can't ignore the night we spent at Villas de Palermo. It was set back a mile or so on the outskirts of town, and a bit difficult to navigate getting there at night. However, once we arrived to check in, Peter set the location in the GPS, and we knew we would not have any issues later that night.
Our villa was pricey (269 USD plus IVA), but gave us a generously sized 2 bedroom and 2 bath (one per story) space with a small kitchen. We did not do any cooking (not enough time) but it certainly would have been possible. The decor was rustic and comfortable and my only complaint was forgetting an extra pillow from home (and a blanket...the a/c kicked into overtime, to my surprise). We were all quite exhausted after the sail, and headed to bed early in order to rise early and enjoy a morning swim before we headed home.
The overnight included a sufficient continental breakfast, and the local coffee was just perfect. We watched a cruise ship in the distance make a slow turn throughout breakfast, and the kids ate, changed, and hopped into the pool to enjoy a few hours of swimming before we checked out. We decided to lunch there before departing, as there isn't much on the road, and we were amazed by the food (and reasonable prices). Lots of veggies and fresh fish, but the steak lover was also happy with her filet. My only complaint? They were out of lobster ceviche...guess I will have to save that for the next trip?
Note: San Juan del Sur is approximately a 2 hour drive from Managua. Parking is available at the marina while one is on the sailing tour, and street parking is ample if you stay in town for dinner. We highly recommend the sailing company, Nica Sail & Surf, and loved our stay at Villas de Palermo. If you have lunch in town, Taco Stop is the bomb, and don't forget to try the gelato at Super Frutto.