Surfing, yoga, volleyball and napping by day. Beach bars and bonfires by night. Throw in a turtle hatchery, organic farm, adorable beach huts and horseback riding into the sunset and you get one of the coolest and most unique places in Central America.
Vacation From Vacation
No, it didn't feel like Nicaragua anymore. Its isolation from the rest of the world made me feel like we were on a private island. A sort of vacation from my vacation? But it came at just the right time. I needed a break from the crowded hostel dorms and bustling city streets. My friends Hester, Billie, and I had just come from the colorful city of Granada and gone straight to Nicaragua's other well-known colonial town of Leon. We stayed at their Surfing Turtle Leon Hostel ($7 dorm) for one night after exploring the city for half the day, and then took their daily beach shuttle ($3) to the Surfing Turtle Lodge, a beachfront somewhat off-the-grid hostel on Isla Los Brasiles. The Leon hostel was kind enough to let us leave our big backpacks locked in one of their closets so we could pack a smaller bag to the island.
Getting to the Lodge
Let me tell you. It's definitely a bit of a journey getting to the lodge. The shuttle takes you to the edge of the main land, and then from there you take this tiny boat that you feel like you're going to fall out of to the island. From there you're supposed to take a horse cart ride through the forest to the actual hostel... but I took one look at the cart that was supposed to hold all 6 of us and our backpacks and the tiny horse that was supposed to pull us and decided to just walk alongside the cart with my pack. I could honestly walk faster than that poor thing.
Once we arrived, it was beach vibes only. Bamboo, straw huts and palm trees everywhere you look. There's a main covered hangout area where you can enjoy a drink from the bar or eat something off their menu (really awesome food). This is where reception is as well and where you can book any horseback riding, yoga classes, or accommodation. Just be careful, because it's one of those places where they just keep a tab for you when you buy or book anything, so it can really add up without you realizing.
They offer a variety of sleeping arrangements: private rooms, dorms, and even private huts. During the dry season I believe they also offer tent camping. Due to our lack of planning skills, we were told that everything was completely booked upon our arrival. No worries though. They let us sleep on their yoga/hammock deck for $3 each. EVEN BETTER.
Step out a bit closer to the water and there's a beach volleyball court (daily games at 4) and a smaller beach bar area with surf boards and some nice places to lounge about. Above this area was the hammock deck, which was a great place to nap or read a book. You could relax and just look out into the ocean - hear the waves crashing.
We spent the majority of our time just laying about, playing in the water, and of course played the volleyball game at 4:00. The waves unfortunately weren't the best for surfing, but we did enjoy playing around on the slack-line they had set up. Got pretty good at it by the end if I do say so myself. And when I say good I mean could get half way across without falling on my ass.
I must also note that this location had some of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen in my life.
Unfortunately I only had my phone for a camera at the time, so I couldn't quite capture the array of colors.
By nighttime we were all pretty exhausted from all the laying about, but after some dinner we decided to join in on the nightly arranged drinking game which was actually pretty fun. Drinks were had and friends were made.
The next morning, we decided that we'd had so much fun that we had to stay another night! I got to take the sunset yoga class on the hammock deck that I wanted to do, and Hester and Billie got to ride their horses. The second night, I didn't even sleep in my hammock. I ended up falling asleep on the beach with a friend I'd made.
Unfortunately we weren't there at a time where we could enjoy the turtle hatchery aspect of the lodge, but overall it was such a wonderful and fun experience that I'd recommend it to anyone. Funny story - I actually almost ended up volunteering here for 6 weeks, but the timing didn't quite work out. The other volunteers were helping to build more bamboo huts and would help with the farming and growing food. Definitely some place I may consider going back to to volunteer at however.