The Hidden Gem of Nicaragua's Emerald Coast

10/03/2016 09:02 am ET
Sunset Over the Emerald Coast
Sunset Over the Emerald Coast

You may never have heard of it, but Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast is quickly becoming one of the premiere luxury destinations in Central America. Unlike more popular tourist locals such as Costa Rica or Roatan in Hondorus, Nicaragua offers pristine beaches, dramatic national parks, volcanoes and vibrant colonial era towns that are just developed enough to feel authentic but never contrived.

Leading this luxury revolution is the Mukul Beach, Golf and Spa Resort located just north of San Juan del Sur. Our visit to Mukul came following five days spent in nearby Grenada where we hiked volcanoes, explored Lake Nicaragua and learned to make chocolate from scratch. After enjoying the more rugged side of this beautiful country, there is no better place to relax and unwind than Mukul.

Las Tortugas

The moment we arrived at Mukul we were invited to take part in a turtle release happening just hours later. After dropping off our bags we gathered on the beach with other guests and were shown to a large enclosure filled with hundreds of newborn turtles. In an effort to conserve threatened turtle species, Mukul protects and hatches sea turtle eggs and then allows their guests to participate in their release. Releasing sea turtles into the wild is something I have always dreamed of doing and we were lucky enough to do it not once, but twice during our stay at Mukul.

Releasing Turtles at Mukul Resort
Releasing Turtles at Mukul Resort

For those really interested in wildlife, the resort offers early-morning walks with their team of in-house Adventure Rangers. These walks get you up close and personal with the ample birdlife of Guacalito de la Isla including the beautiful white breasted magpie.

Your Home on the Beach

Stepping into one Mukul’s beachfront villas is stepping into a level of luxury few people get to experience in their lifetime. These sprawling, freestanding beachfront villas each include floor to ceiling glass doors that convert the enclosed bedroom area into an open air lounge. While floating in your totally private pool you can gaze out at the Pacific Ocean and if you choose, walk the few steps down to the beach for a salty dip. Villas also include their own private palapa where coffee and fruit are put out each morning at a time you specify and a secret garden with outdoor shower lie just around the corner.

Beachfront Villa at Mukul Resort
Beachfront Villa at Mukul Resort

Ron Flor de Caña

Rum is an important part of any visit to the Emerald Coast and the brand of choice is Nicaragua’s own Flor de Caña. Mukul fully embraces this spirit offering complimentary bottles of light and dark rum in all villas. If you like what you taste, the resort can arrange for a private tour of the Flor de Caña distillery which includes a private helicopter flight and a day of onsite education related to this 123-year old institution.

If taking a helicopter to see where rum comes from seems a bit much, the resort also offers complimentary rum tasting sessions every evening in the main building. Guests get to experience all varieties of Flor de Caña from an expert who describes in detail the nuances and origins of each variety. Afterwards, be sure to visit the humidor room next door and enjoy a fine Nicaraguan cigar. Some say they’re even better than Cubans.

Emerald Greens

Mukul boasts a stunning David McLay Kidd signature 18-hole golf course that is a first in Nicaragua. This unique course, set along the Pacific coast, brings you into nature itself with a sustainable design that incorporates trees and natural objects rather than removing them. Although the course is great for any skill level, it was also home to the recent 2016 PGA Tour Latino America.

Palapa Overlooking the Emerald Coast
Palapa Overlooking the Emerald Coast

Spa Villas

Perched high above the beach and golf course lays the Mukul Spa which is unlike any spa experience I have ever seen. Upon checking in you aren’t just shown to a private room, you’re shown to a private villa which is yours to use for the duration of your treatment and beyond. After a steam shower, massage treatments are performed in a central space using a combination of scents, music, hot stones and massage techniques unlike anywhere else.

The worst part of a massage is always when it ends and you need to snap back to reality. Mukul has mitigated this by leaving you to enjoy the spa villa along with some fresh squeezed watermelon juice and plate of fruit. There is no time limit on how long you can stay and the outdoor hot tub in the private courtyard certainly doesn’t make you want to rush.

What Are You Waiting For?

Mukul Beach, Golf and Spa Resort is located near Tola, Nicaragua just north of the town of San Juan del Sur and three hours by road from Managua International Airport. Helicopter transfer is available between Mukul and Managua Airport. The newly opened Costa Esmeralda Airport sits just five miles from Mukul and also offers air access via international private jet or via La Costeña Airlines from Managua.

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