Destinations, Nicaragua

Travel to Playa Coco in Style

Who wants to deal with police corruption while driving on Nicaragua’s roads? Not me! Next time, we are ditching the rental car and fueling up our chopper!


Oh, I’m sorry…did I forget to mention that Rob and I won the lottery and we now own a helicopter? That’s right, I did forget to mention it. But, only because it never happened (a girl can dream though).

Apparently, a very wealthy Nicaraguan man owns a townhouse at Playa Coco and he likes to spend his weekends there. Driving back and forth every weekend would be such a drag. I can totally see why he would opt for this mode of transportation instead. The word on the beach was this guy owns the largest cigar manufacturer in Nicaragua. He even had his own weekend staff to see him off. Whatever. I’m over it. I don’t like the guy anyway because he doesn’t like to share his hammock!




Hammock story: Rich guy’s staff sets up his hammock whenever he visits Playa Coco so that he can lounge on the beach, smoking his cigars, swinging in his hammock. I didn’t realize the hammock was not part of the “communal” property (like the pool), and I decided a nap in the hammock was just what the day called for. Unfortunately, I was quickly signaled to back away from the hammock. Then, the hammock disappeared just as quickly as his departing helicopter!

Destinations, Nicaragua

San Juan del Sur

As I mentioned in an earlier post, San Juan del Sur is the closest town to where we were staying (Playa Coco). Once a sleepy fishing village, San Juan del Sur is now a tourism hotspot and considered the quintessential surfing town in Nicaragua. It is set aside a crescent-shaped bay and it is home to the Christ of the Mercy statue. The Christ of the Mercy is a giant statue of Jesus Christ that sits above town on the northern end of the bay, and it is the biggest statue of Christ in Central America (just in case you are a big fan of Christ statues).


There are many activities to do during the day, but San Juan del Sur also has bustling nightlife. The nightlife in Playa Coco is pretty much nonexistent, so we decided to spend an evening in San Juan del Sur so we could do some bar hopping. There are a ton of beachfront bars and restaurants and many of them offered sweet happy hour specials (we basically would have been losing money if we didn’t take advantage of these deals!).


After quenching our thirst on several tasty beverages, it was time for dinner. We picked a seafood restaurant along the beach so we could watch another beautiful sunset.




Destinations, Nicaragua

Chillin’ With the Locals

During our stay at Playa Coco we quickly became friends with the locals. The local animals, that is! Playa Coco is “home” to several stray dogs and cats, and of course I wished I could take all of them home with me. Since that wasn’t an option, I did the next best thing. I saved my table scraps and shared my Nutri Grain bars (which Rob was not happy about) and we put out fresh drinking water every day. These dogs were so stinking cute, and even though you could clearly see how famished they were, they sat patiently and politely waiting for whatever food you could spare (rather than nearly taking your hand off as some pets do when you give them a treat!)


I named the dog above Baby Girl. She had already had at least one litter, but I could tell from her teeth that she was still just a pup herself. She was covered in fleas and I could see way too many ribs, but she was so sweet! Even when I had no food to give her, she was content to just chill on the patio with me while I read.

We also got some face time with a few Howler Monkeys in the trees right outside our condo. I was super excited to see them up close because Rob and I could always hear them during our honeymoon in Costa Rica, but we never really got a good view of them. Howler Monkeys rarely ever come down from the trees, making them much harder to see close-up. Luckily for us, we had a sweet roof-top deck that allowed us a great view!


Howler Monkey


The sound of a Howler Monkey is quite unique. I recently learned that they are actually the loudest land animals on the planet! I would never have guessed that these little guys could beat out the roar of a lion or the trumpet of an elephant, but I guess it is true. The only creature louder than a Howler Monkey is the Blue Whale.

If you have never heard a Howler Monkey, click here for an audio clip.

Finally, Rob had a rather unpleasant experience with the local wildlife when he got stung by a jellyfish. You know who didn’t get stung by a jellyfish? That’s right… me, because I don’t go in the water! It’s dangerous in there. I did, however, feel like I was obligated to offer to pee on him to alleviate the stinging (and I guess some people are just into that kind of thing anyway), but he promptly declined my offer (as well as opted out of going back into the ocean for the rest of our trip!)

Destinations, Nicaragua

Playa Coco

Playa Coco is a beautiful beach along the Pacific Coast of southern Nicaragua. It is considered one of the most spectacular beaches along Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast. The beach is about 1 kilometer long and it is quite pristine due to its remote location. The closest town is San Juan del Sur, approximately 12 kilometers away. It is about a 25 minute drive from San Juan del Sur to Playa Coco via a combination of paved and unpaved roads. Because this beach is off the beaten path, it is not at all crowded, making it the perfect place for rest and relaxation.



But this beach isn’t just for lounging. The waves at Playa Coco are ideal for surfing, making this locale a surfer’s paradise as well. We saw both veteran and novice surfers hitting the waves during our stay. Did I do any surfing, you ask? Yes! I did a lot of page surfing on my Kindle while listening to the waves crash in front of me. In case you didn’t already know this about me, I do not go into bodies of water unless I can see my feet (and all the other creatures) through the water.


Our luxurious, beachfront rental townhome was amazing and very affordable. The rental was part of a small, gated townhome community with 24 hour security. Each townhome had a magnificent view of the beach, private roof-top deck, garden patio, and stone walkways to the beach. Additionally, there was an oceanfront pool, as well as lush, tropical landscaping that was maintained daily.


Local restaurants and/or amenities were limited at Playa Coco. So, if you are looking for an area with lots of restaurant options and/or an active nightlife, this is probably not the place for you. There were just a couple of restaurants nearby and we were told they were quite expensive (exploiting the fact that options were limited). So we opted to eat-in on most days. We did our grocery shopping in San Juan del Sur and made sure to replenish our rum stock when needed.

A family renting the unit next to us, decided to walk to one of the nearby beach restaurants and they were robbed by a guy with a machete on their walk back to the property. The gated community with 24 hour security felt quite safe to me. But, outside the secured perimeter is a different matter altogether! Packing tip: If you plan to walk around at night in isolated areas of Nicaragua, you might want to bring your own machete. This is completely legal as long as you check your bag!

Destinations, Nicaragua

Welcome to Nicaragua….y policia corrupcion

It was an extremely long day getting from DC to our condo in Nicaragua. After landing in Managua and picking up our rental car (where we were taken through the most thorough rental car inspection of our lives!) we headed south to Playa Coco. We were all a bit nervous about the two hour trip because we heard that signage wasn’t that good and the directions we were given were shoddy at best. No worries though, Rob and I are always up for a little adventure. Or so we thought…

Rob and I have traveled the globe and we have never had any issues driving in a foreign land. After being in country for just a few short hours, and in the car for only two hours, we were pulled over not once, but TWICE! Each time, the police officer got Rob’s driver’s license in hand and basically held it for ransom. Rob and Tami were doing an excellent job using their linguistic skills to try to get us out of a sticky situation while I just sat there wondering what the hell the three of them were saying. Me = no habla.

How it all began:

Unsure if we were driving in the right direction, we decided to turn around to look at the road signs once more and then we pulled to the side of the road to get our bearings straight. Cue traffic stop #1. A police officer pulled up next to us and began listing off all the illegal components of our maneuver. Rob and Tami’s apologetic pleas were getting us nowhere with this police officer. He clearly wanted money, not our pathetic excuses about being confused with our directions. And judging by the way he kept listing off the infractions one by one, this was not going to be cheap. With Rob’s license in his hand he got back on his motorcycle (or maybe it was a moped, I can’t recall) and told us to follow him. We were certain we were going to end up at some police station and pay dearly for the very minor traffic infractions. Instead, he led us just a short way up the road where we talked with two (much nicer and more understanding) police officers. Rob and Tami explained our confusion and apologized for the “illegal” U-turn and other assorted “crimes.” Thankfully, the nice officer pointed us in the right direction and sent us on our way, sans extortion.

At traffic stop #2, we weren’t so lucky. There were police officers standing in the road and they just waved us to pull over for another alleged “infraction.” The officer quickly got Rob’s license in hand and then he just walked away. We just sat there for about ten minutes waiting to see what was going to happen. Finally, Rob got out of the car to see what was going on. Apparently, the officer was just sitting in his little police shack, doing nothing, letting us just sweat it out. He told Rob that we had to pay 400 cordoba (about $16) to get his license back. If we didn’t have the money he was going to send his license to the court building and we would have to go there to pay the fine. Rob handed him 150 cordoba and told him that was all we had. The officer quickly asked what else we could give him. Rob knew he was fishing for American dollars and told him the only other thing we had were credit cards. He begrudgingly handed over the license and sent us on our way.

Our first day driving in Nicaragua was not a pleasant experience. Moral of the story…when driving in Nicaragua and a vehicle-less police officer flags you to pull over….ignore him and keep driving! Since this all happened on day 1 of our trip, I have a feeling we will have ample opportunity to test out this theory.

Our anticipated two hour trip to Playa Coco took much longer, but we arrived at our condo just in time to see the sun setting on the beach. Our condo is fabulous and the view is amazing!