Discovering Nicaragua’s CHIC beach destinations and Mukul the hidden gem in Central America

I was three years old when I left Masatepe, the colorful, peaceful Nicaraguan city of my birth, and I had been waiting to return for all of my adult life. My recent trip was, of course, very special to me. But a visit to Nicaragua would be very special for you.

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Nicaragua is less than three hours by air from Miami, a short flight to new adventures that lift you out of the doldrums, unpopulated beaches that offer lovely privacy, bohemian surf villages free from thumping disco-club cacophony, and boutique hotels that remain intimate and traditional.

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My visit included a tour guide:  my father, whose reputation of helping local families, preceded us on our tour.  Beginning in Masatepe, we visited places in the city that connected with our family heritage, thriving small businesses and artisan shops, and we also saw the poverty that had resulted from the former years of political turbulence. But, overall, the trip was wonderful, during which, I might add, my young son was baptized. Neighborhood families came to join us in the celebration.  It’s that kind of friendly place.  He also made friends with the local children, played with them, and developed memories that will last him a lifetime. During our trip we met a five-year-old boy named Emiliano.  His story is the story of many children in my country.  Emiliano’s grandmother, an employee of my father, assumed his care after he lost his father and his mother abandoned him. My father and I decided to establish a foundation to help Emiliano and others like him. (An added benefit:  My children can appreciate how blessed they are, and they can also learn the importance of helping others.)  My father and stepmother, Rosibel Rosales, will help his grandmother raise him and provide opportunities for him.  All of us would greatly appreciate donations of clothes of any size for Emiliano and the other children that we will be helping.  If anyone is interested in sponsoring a child, please reach out to me. (mariarosales@me.com)

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Coffee, anyone?

Join me for coffee at Café Las Flores, overlooking Granada from the Mombacho volcano, the next stop on the tour.  Coffee is one of Nicaragua’s principal crops and main exports.  The café is a rainforest-certified restaurant (read it as “environmentally-conscious), affording magnificent views of the city below. Granada, founded in 1529, is a colonial town boasting of baroque architecture reminiscent of the time the town was occupied by the Moors. The reds, the greens, and the yellows of the buildings give them a vibrancy rare in other parts of the hemisphere. That vibrancy seems to have rubbed off on the inhabitants.

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The town offers great dining, great shopping, and great entertainment.  You can take a cruise through the isletas, small islands created by the volcano, in Lake Nicaragua. Lake Nicaragua was once a bay on the Pacific Ocean.  The volcano eruptions sealed it into a landlocked body of water, with 365 islands scattered throughout. A must to visit.

From Granada we went to El Mirador de Catalina, a real charmer, located on a lagoon, surrounded by mountains.  In English, its name means the “bay window” or “enclosed balcony of Catalina.”  Very appropriate!

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Continuing our beach tours along the Pacific, my father took us to Masahapa.  Many know it as Pochomil, a beach destination so secluded you need native help to find it. It is an all-inclusive resort, with accommodations consisting of two-story cabins, with a room on each floor facing the ocean.  You can be soothed by the sound and sight of surf while relaxing in a hammock or a reclining chair. The staff was incredibly friendly, ready to serve wherever and whenever.

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Although my son enjoyed the pool the most, itself unique in its lush surrounding vegetation, there are so many other activities from which to choose.  Locals approach the guests, offering horseback and ATV rides. It is not the Four Seasons, but Masahapa offers an unforgettable experience. Upon leaving the resort, we stopped at a nearby restaurant that offered a view of the departing fishing boats, on their way out to sea.  When they return, they will bring the fresh catch back, to the restaurant, which served the best fish stew I have ever had. It paired well with tequila shots. New experiences and culinary adventures – this is what it is all about. Check out the website:  http://vistamarhotel.com.

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The next stop:  Playa la Boquita, in Diriamba. The beach (la playa) is pure, white sand.  On the Pacific, it is a peaceful place to sit back, relax, enjoy the local catch of the day (there are excellent restaurants nearby; some of them will cater to you at a beach fire-pit).  Who could ask for more?  Well, if you are looking for nightlife, fancy bars, and disco music, you are in the wrong place.

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If you are need fancy, Guacalito is your medicine.  The Mukul Resort (five stars) offers golf, including an 18-hole beachside course designed by the renowned Scottish architect David Mclay Kidd, three beaches, 12 kilometers of nature trails, intimate residential neighborhoods of ocean-view home sites, villas, condominiums, hotel-branded villas and apartments, a beach club, and several restaurants.  I could go on, but I want to get back to planning my next trip.

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Visitors to the area include many celebrities:  Beyoncé, Michael Douglas, Halle Berry, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Fassbender, to name only a few who stayed at the resort. On our first trip we stayed in one of the ocean villas (Verdemar), under a canopy and overlooking the Gaucalito Golf Course and the ocean.  The 4,000-plus square-foot villas feature four or five bedrooms and baths, infinity pools, decks, interior courtyards, and stainless steel show kitchens. When Nicaraguan billionaire Carlos Pellas developed the Mukul Resort, he kept in mind the benefit that could come to the surrounding communities from such an anchor property.  As a result, local residents enjoy work opportunities and a better standard of living.

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It was on this trip to the Mukul Resort we stayed in a bohio, an intimate suite with the Pacific visible from the jacuzzi. Quite romantic! The five-star accommodations could easily earn a few additional stars, especially if one takes into consideration the impeccable service provided. The staff can bring you their “rooster” breakfast (for early risers), a basket of cookies and a jug of hot coffee to get your day started before heading to one of the many oceanside restaurants for a “nacatamal,” a flour tamal made with chicken and vegetables, wrapped in a plantain leaf, or a “Nica” breakfast – eggs your style, rice and beans, onions, and a crispy tortilla.  Enjoy it with fresh pineapple or (my son’s favorite) pitaya juice, a fuchsia-colored drink whose name means “dragon,” very popular, even among non-dragons.

Every morning at the Mukul Resort we breakfasted on a terrace overlooking the ocean.  The water is so shallow that one could walk quite a distance from the beach and still keep every hair in place, and dry, but the surf could accommodate even the most demanding of beach boy and wahini surfers.

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I love Mukul, and I love my native country.  Being in real estate, I had the opportunity to tour the development.  Its beauty and reasonable rates make it my ideal beach getaway.  I was sad to leave but happy that Nicaragua is flourishing. On our last night at the resort, we had an accomplished chef prepare us dinner, as though we were royalty.  And there, it seemed like we were.

I am very proud to be able to offer the residences at Mukul. Not only will I be a visitor but also a resident, enjoying the benefits of resort living, since the flight from Miami is a quick hop. I will definitely enjoy having a beach destination to call home.

Details about Guacalito de la Isla at Mukul:

Guacalito de la Isla is a private oceanfront community on a breathtakingly beautiful and unique stretch of Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast. Dedicated to preserving and protecting Nicaragua’s bountiful riches for future generation, Guacalito de la Isla offers spacious ocean view home sites, finished homes, and abundance of unparalleled amenities wrapped in the warmth of a family estate. With 1,670 acres of lushly forested hillside with unsurpassed vistas, a championship golf course, a world-class spa, and private beach clubs, Guacalito de la Isla offers a private, five-star oceanfront life style that is unrivaled by any other place in the world

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For more information regarding the residences at Guacalito de la Isla in Mukul

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