We got up this morning in the Hotel Azul in Leon, Nicaragua. It was a nice place to spend the night. We went and had breakfast in the mid morning. We were the only ones having breakfast while we were there. Breakfast was good and a little different than usual. The girls were very happy to have a chance to have waffles. They rarely get to do that unless we go to Kathy’s or Cafe Isabella.
After breakfast we checked out, loaded up the Yaris and set out on a drive to explore northern Nicaragua. We started by going north up to Chichigalpa. We turned off of the highway to go see the town. The Flor de Cana factory is located there and supposedly they offer a tour. We drove around down and around the factory to see how things were there. We tried to look into the tour but it did not look like the kind of thing that you could just show up to so we decided that with the kids and the effort of trying to deal with a non-standard tour that it was not going to be worth the effort. Hopefully when the girls are older we will return and do it.
We drove on to the north to Chinandega. It was really surprising when we arrived there to find a huge, modern traffic circle and very high end businesses everywhere. It was not at all what we were expecting to suddenly find in rural Nicaragua. This was the most modern city, by far, that we have seen here yet. We drove through town, which was a bit confusing as these things always are as nothing is marked anywhere, and thought that it looked really nice. Chinandega is one of the biggest cities in the country.
The whole drive from the moment that you are out of Leon all the way to quite a bit north of Chinandega is just gorgeous farmland. It was a beautiful drive.
After Chinandega we came upon El Viejo which is a good sized city for Nica and seemed very affluent. We skirted the city to the west and continued up north. Our goal was to drive to Patosi, far up north on the peninsula, where there used to be a ferry to El Salvador, but it was shut down years ago as we understand it.
We drove all the way to the end of the highway on Route 12. The highway ended abruptly in a huge mud puddle, which was pretty surprising as the highway was an excellent two lane black top until then. Then…. a big dirty puddle.
We turned right onto 265 which makes it sound like a road, which it was not. This was a dirt path with big rocks and wash outs, basically a farm trail through a flat field area. That this was a labeled road at all was a bit crazy.
We drove several kilometers, as far as we could. There were several spots where we had to drive through very slowly to keep from bottoming out the car or just getting stuck. Eventually we came to a wash out through which we could not progress. That was depressing. We were just minutes away from opening up onto the Bay of Fonseca and potentially having a view of Honduras across the water. But there was no choice, we had to turn around. The crappy Toyota Yaris was not going to continue along any further.
So our dreams of reaching the northern most point on the peninsula were shattered. We turned the car around and made our way back to pavement and began heading south. We did not want to go on to Managua tonight. So we decided to explore more of Chinandega province. Dominica did some searching while we drove and found a marina out in Aposentillo along the coast.
We did not have anywhere else to go and it sounded like it might be interesting so we decided to investigate. They sounded like they had a restaurant and we had nowhere to get lunch and it was getting into the afternoon so why not.
We turned off of the highway north of El Viejo and traveled down a bricked road for quite some ways before it turned to dirt and stone much like the road from earlier today. We were beginning to wonder how it could be possible that there would be anything of interest down this road and, more likely, what the chances would be that we would even be able to get through on the car. Once we were starting to get pretty worried we ended up seeing another car similar to ours coming towards us and that gave us hope that they had made it from somewhere up ahead.
Suddenly, at the end of this dirt road, there was a guarded gate. We pulled up and the guard asked us if we were there to go to the restaurant. We looked at each other and shrugged and said yes. So they let us in lo and behold we were driving into a luxury resort in the jungle!
This was completely crazy. We could not believe what we had found. It looked like a Disney resort or something. There was nothing for so long that suggested that there would be anything like this out here. We parked and walked around. Infinity pools, beautiful bay front hotel rooms, big banquet hall, tiki bar on the water and more. Wow.
We checked with reception and they said that they had a room tonight but only for tonight as they are fully sold out tomorrow. Weird, we did not see a single person around. How could they be full tomorrow?
The rooms were $200 USD a night. Not cheap at all. So we asked to look at a Junior Suite. The room was pretty amazing. A king bed on an upper level and a few steps down to a pull out couch on a lower level all looking out a huge open door and window wall to a large patio with views over the bay or actually not a bay but the estero de Aserradores. So we took the room.
So tonight we are staying an El Hotel y Marina Puesta del Sol.
We got a discount on the room because we have to check out at eight in the morning tomorrow so that they can get the room ready for the big party that they have coming in. But we get to use the facilities as long as we want, so we figured that that would be a good trade off.
We walked down to the tiki bar out on the water and relaxed and ordered some late lunch. It was only about three thirty at this point, which is partially why we decided to go for such a fancy resort evening since we would get to spend a lot of time at the resort for just one night’s fee.
Our late lunch was basic but good. Dominica, Liesl and I each got a fish sandwich. Luciana got fish fingers. It was nice and relaxing out on the water.
After lunch we went to the car and a porter carried our luggage up the stairs to our room. That was some heavy luggage as only Dominica can pack. That poor porter. Dominica packs luggage like she has 1915 steamer trunks going on an ocean liner.
The room was awesome and the bathroom was actually the highlight. It was so big with two of its own closets, a shower with multiple heads and a bench, three mirrors, etc. And everything in dark wood. So impressive. Totally modern. Nothing that you would expect in Nicaragua. This is so out of place.
We got settled in which took no time at all. Then we walked to reception and requested that the shuttle driver come get us and drive us through the jungle to the Pacific Ocean beach area that they have. We want some beach and sunset time. Liesl loves sunsets and both girls love the beach so this is perfect. It was getting late and the sun was getting low since it sets around six here so we had to hurry.
The driver picked us up and whisked us through the jungle. At the beach side there is a huge pavilion set up, another infinity pool, changing rooms, a bar, etc. We walked down to the most amazing beach ever. Dark sand that was easily fifty percent deeper, from edge to ocean, than in Panama and almost twice as much beach as anywhere I’ve been outside of Central America. Just a huge, flat, smooth, beautiful beach. And all ours. No one on it anywhere. It stretched out so far in both directions and just no one.
So we played in the water until the sun went down. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets ever. So magical to get to have this with the family. The sunset and beach alone justify staying in the resort. No wonder the name of the resort is the “Hotel and Marina Setting of the Sun.”
We stayed on the beach for a while after the sun had gone down. The girls were having fun digging sand pits that would fill with water in which they could wash their hands and feet. They are so goofy.
The whole time that we were there we only ever saw one group of three people walk from way down the beach to where we were and go into the pavilion and apparently catch a ride back with our driver. Other than that we were totally alone except for the resort employee working the pavilion.
We thought about using the infinity pool there but wanted to let the staff go home. So once it was very dark we took the truck back to the main resort area, asked them to light up the main pool and went swimming for a while.
The water was incredibly warm and there was tons of really shallow space so that Luciana was able to go in without floaties and had half of the pool available to her! She had to go without floaties because the ones that we brought with us are defective and they could not stay inflated. So we got very lucky here. We had a very nice time swimming. This was Ciana’s first time in a pool like this and had a lot of fun being able to venture all over. It was also the first time that the girls got to see an infinity pool so they learned about that as well.
After swimming we retired to the hotel room. We just wanted to relax. The girls turned on their iPads and hung out on the couch. They love the couch and the levels of the room. They also love that a gecko lives in the room and periodically runs across the wall over the balcony door.
I took a shower and while I was in there the front desk called up to let us know that the restaurant was going to close at nine but that they would deliver us dinner! How awesome.
We could not decide what to get from the hotel room, so I walked down to the tiki bar and ordered dinner there. Then returned to the hotel and we relaxed for a while until our dinner was delivered.
We were not super hungry so we just got one order of fish fingers that the girls shared. Dominica and I split a whole, friend red snapper (deboned.) We also got pineapple flambe for Dominica and me and a caramel flan for the girls – which they were not interested in.
After dinner, which was very good, it was straight off to bed for all of us. We told the girls that they needed to get to sleep early so that they would be able to get up and go to the beach tomorrow and to swim before we have to leave the resort. So they were happy to put down the iPads and drift off to sleep quite early and without any complaints.
This was a very successful family day, if a bit of an expensive one. We are very glad that we opted to come to this resort.