Review: Calala Island Nicaragua

Filed Under: Hyatt
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At last it’s time for my review of Calala Island. I never thought I’d travel to a private island off the coast of Nicaragua for vacation, but when World of Hyatt points became redeemable here, I couldn’t say no.

In the previous installment I shared the rather memorable journey to get from Managua to Calala Island (which involved planes, cars, and boats), and in this installment wanted to write my review of this unique private island resort.

Booking Calala Island

Calala Island is a private island with just four rooms, and is very expensive when paying cash. Rates vary significantly seasonally, and start at $1,650 per night in low season, to $3,400 per night in high season, with a three night minimum stay no matter what.

We were staying March 7-10, and the cash rate would have been $2,800 per night for those nights.

Redeeming Hyatt Points At Calala Island

Calala Island is affiliated with Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) of the World, and Hyatt has a partnership with SLH, which is why it’s possible to redeem points here.

Calala Island has just four suites — one master suite and three junior suites — and two of those junior suites are bookable with points at any time.

Calala Island is a Category 8 World of Hyatt property, meaning a free night here costs 40,000 World of Hyatt points. The same three night minimum that applies for revenue stays also applies for points stays.

I value World of Hyatt points at 1.5 cents each, so to me that’s the equivalent of paying ~$600 per night.

That may sound like a lot, but when you consider that this is truly all inclusive (and even includes transfers to & from Managua), I’d say that’s a steal… especially in comparison to paid rates here.

Even if you’re not a Hyatt loyalist, earning points with them can be pretty easy. In addition to being able to earn World of Hyatt points with The World of Hyatt Credit Card (review), you can also transfer over points from Ultimate Rewards.

Earn Hyatt points

See this post for everything you need to know about earning Hyatt points with credit cards.

What Is Included With Rates At Calala Island?

Whether paying with cash or points, the hotel markets itself as being “ultra all inclusive,” so what all does that include?

  • Transfers to & from Managua
  • Accommodation
  • Food & drinks, including alcohol
  • Virtually all activities

What isn’t included?

  • They have a small list of premium drinks, but truly their complimentary alcohol selection is excellent
  • Massages
  • Gratuities

I Don’t Get The Economics

I have to be honest — I don’t at all understand the economics of this island. Even if this resort were booked to capacity year-round with people paying the full rate, this is a mystery to me. I get that labor costs are low in Nicaragua, but I still imagine the entire operation must cost a fortune to run.

Realistically, though, the hotel isn’t booked out year-round with people paying full price:

  • Presumably it’s not running 100% occupancy (or anywhere close to that — most resorts don’t, especially given how seasonal they are)
  • Now two of the four rooms can be booked with points
  • The property closes for several weeks in summer
  • Some of the online reviews I see are from people who won stays here through charity auctions or otherwise booked through consolidators; I’m not suggesting that’s a majority of the guests, but based on online reviews, it’s not an insignificant number either

I guess I mention all of this as a compliment of sorts. Throughout our stay I kept asking myself “how on earth do they make money?” because they really go all-out to make the stay special, and they don’t nickel-and-dime you, or anything.

I don’t know if this is a passion project for the owners (who are from the UK), or what…

Anyway, on to the review…

Calala Island Layout & Orientation

After our boat ride we finally arrived at the hotel, where we had quite a welcome reception. The resort employs about 25 people, and about 20 are on the island at any given point. Just about all of them greeted us — they were playing music, and had fresh coconuts waiting for us.

The general managers, Claudia and Leon, were also there to greet us. They’re both from South Africa and have quite some stories, as they’ve been running remote island resorts for many years. They’re also pretty new to this place, as they just moved here from Mozambique a few weeks ago, and had never been to Nicaragua prior to moving here.

Oh, one other fun detail — there were no other guests on the island at this point. That’s right, we had this whole place to ourselves at this point. Holy eff. This makes your average Maldives resort look like Grand Central during rush hour (pre-COVID-19), by comparison.

Claudia and Leon proceeded to give us a detailed rundown of everything we’d need to know about our stay. The below map gives you a good orientation of the island, and I’ll get into more details about each of the amenities below.

Calala Island map

Just to share some very basics about the orientation of the island:

  • On the southwest part of the island are all four of the suites
  • On the northwest part of the island are the pool, the daytime bar, and the dining area where lunch is served
  • On the northeast part of the island is the spa pavilion, which is otherwise secluded
  • On the southeast part of the island are the evening bar, and the dining area where breakfast and dinner is served

The island is tiny — you could walk along the outer part of the island in about 10 minutes. There are also paths through the center of the island.

Path through the center of Calala Island

Path around Calala Island

Path around Calala Island

Calala Island helipad

The GMs pointed out that if we wanted exercise we could try to set new records for speeds around the island — someone has run the whole thing in well under three minutes, and kayaked around the island in about seven minutes. The island doesn’t have a gym.

Calala Island Junior Suite

We were in one of the three junior suites (which they call cabanas) — specifically Kakabila. Let me say upfront that the rooms as such are nothing to get excited about. They’re not particularly luxurious, and they’re quite small, especially when you consider the price tag.

Calala Island junior suite exterior

The suite had a comfortable king size bed with netting.

Calala Island junior suite bedroom

There was no real sitting area in the room, though there was a padded bench between the bedroom area and bathroom area.

Calala Island junior suite bedroom

The bathroom area didn’t have much separation. It featured double sinks, a partitioned off toilet, and an outdoor shower.

Calala Island junior suite bathroom

Calala Island junior suite bathroom

My biggest complaint about the room was the toilet — it barely flushed. Like, even if you peed you needed to flush twice. I get the logistics are probably challenging of running a resort here, but that seems like something that they should be able to work out.

Calala Island junior suite toilet

I loved the outdoor shower.

Calala Island junior suite outdoor shower

Toiletries were from Proterra, and I was surprising that they were in plastic bottles rather than reusable containers, given that they otherwise have a focus on sustainability.

Calala Island junior suite toiletries

The suite had an awesome outside area, with a hammock, two bean bags, and a dining table with two chairs. It’s awesome to have direct beach access.

Calala Island junior suite outdoor area

Personally I’d recommend the junior suite we got over the two to the side. That’s because they have a seawall, so you can’t go directly into the sea very easily from there.

Calala Island seawall in front of a couple of villas

The rooms don’t have phones. Rather the way you communicate with staff is through WhatsApp, as you can make all requests through there.

Maybe I’m giving away too much here, but across the board I was blown away by how much effort the resort put into everything. The room was cleaned at least twice a day (and they were clearly paying attention, because they never knocked when we were there), and at turndown every night they would leave different treats.

The first night they left a box of cigars and some rum.

Calala Island gifts at turndown

The second night they left some luggage tags.

Calala Island gifts at turndown

The last night they left a cute sea turtle with a note that they made a donation to “adopt” a seat turtle, along with some postcards.

Calala Island gifts at turndown

The junior suite as such was fine, though definitely wasn’t the highlight of the stay (and actually was arguably the low point of the experience, since everything else was so awesome).

There Is No Air Conditioning

Before my stay, one thing I was especially apprehensive about is that Calala Island doesn’t have any air conditioning. All the public areas are outdoors, so this is really only a concern in the suite as such.

How bad was it? Shockingly not too bad, and I say that as someone who loves blasting AC. At night we had absolutely no trouble sleeping and found the temperature to be good.

In the afternoons it definitely got a bit warm in the room, but not unbearably so. The fact that the room has two big fans helps.

I was expecting this to be a huge issue, but for us it didn’t end up being one.

The Wifi Was Excellent

I wasn’t expecting this, given that we’re talking about a tiny island off the coast of Nicaragua, but the Wi-Fi was legitimately fast. I knew they had free wifi, but I was expecting it would be slow or unreliable, but neither was the case.

Calala Island Pool

Let’s talk about the shared spaces of the island now. Calala Island has a pool and bar. Keep in mind the property has the capacity for at most eight guests, though for our stay there was at most one other room occupied, so it was just four of us (hello to the reader and his wife, who were the other guests!).

I really can’t overstate the extent to which it was surreal to essentially have a private island to yourself in this way.

The pool was quite nice (though the water was cold), and had a total of six lounge chairs.

Calala Island pool

Calala Island pool

Calala Island pool

Calala Island pool

As you’d expect, service was incredibly attentive. Basically wherever you are on the island is also where the staff is, so you’re constantly being offered food, drinks, or whatever.

Fresh coconut at the pool

Calala Island Beach

I’m not a huge beach person, frankly, and we spent almost no time on the beach here. I’d say the beach was nice but not particularly memorable — the water wasn’t quite as turquoise as some of the promotional pictures make it look (though the water is still pretty), and the island had a fairly limited amount of beachfront space.

There wasn’t beach around the entire island, or anything, but rather it was primarily by the villas, by the pool, and then there was a bit of beach by the evening restaurant and bar as well.

Calala Island beach

Calala Island beach

Calala Island beach

Calala Island beach

Calala Island beach

Calala Island Spa

The spa pavilion is on one end of the island, and is very well done. It was outdoors but in the shade, and hearing the waves crash during a spa treatment was so relaxing.

Calala Island spa

Calala Island spa

Calala Island spa

The massage therapist, Doris, was phenomenal, and had amazing pressure and technique. Since there is only one spa therapist, there’s not an option for a couples massage, which was totally fine with us (we could use an hour a day apart, after all!).

The spa treatment menu read as follows:

Those prices are “all-in,” and frankly I find them to be really reasonable when you consider how secluded this place is; I’ve been to some private island resorts that try to charge $300+ for hour-long treatments.

The hotel was so generous across the board as well. For example, on the last day it was raining in the morning, so Doris offered all four guests complimentary massages. There aren’t many hotels that give you free massages when it’s raining! Fortunately it still ended up being a gorgeous afternoon.

Calala Island Activities

Calala Island has a good number of activities, all of which are included with the rates here. Here’s a list of some of the activities:

Below are some of the ones we took advantage of.

Island Hopping

My favorite activity here was a morning of island hopping. There’s an archipelago of islands that Calala is a part of, known as Pearl Cays. We got on a boat to explore them, and were able to visit as many as we wanted to.

Boat taking us for island hopping

This was so much more interesting than I was expecting. Why? Because while Calala Island is the only island that’s being consistently used, many of the other islands had plans at some point as well, which have since been abandoned.

A house was built on one of these islands, though that project ended up being abandoned. I have so many questions. Who is behind this? What made them decide to abandon the project? What was their actual plan for having a house on a private island?

Island hopping

Island hopping

Island hopping

Island hopping

Another island had an abandoned hotel, or rental, or something…

Island hopping

Island hopping

Yet another island also had some abandoned bungalows — apparently this was also supposed to become a hotel, but that never materialized.

Island hopping

The last island we went to apparently belongs to a Nicaraguan general, who uses this as a vacation spot. The island had quite a bit of infrastructure, and the grassy area below is used as a helipad.

Obviously they set it all up a bit more when he visits, though frankly I was a bit surprised we were able to roam so freely, since I was expecting they’d be more secretive/paranoid.

Island hopping

Island hopping

Island hopping

Cocktails On A Sandbar

The hotel had so many surprises for us, and one of those was sunset cocktails on a sandbar not far from Calala Island. It’s just a short boat ride away, so about 30 minutes before sunset we were taken there.

Sandbar not far from Calala Island

How cute is this setup?!

Calala Island sandbar

Calala Island sandbar

Shorvin came with us and prepared our drinks, and then he and the boat captain left, and headed back to Calala. He told us to wave our flag when we were ready to be picked up.

Calala Island sandbar

Sunset cocktails

The sunset was breathtaking…

Calala Island sunset


This is pretty straightforward. We had a lot of fun kayaking around the island. The sea does get pretty rough if you go out much further, so I’d recommend staying close to Calala.

Calala Island kayaking

Rum Tasting

One evening before dinner we did a rum tasting. I’m not usually a rum fan, but it was cool to taste just how many kinds are produced in Nicaragua. The bartenders were also incredibly knowledgable about what they were serving.

Calala Island rum tasting

Sloth Spotting

I’m not sure this qualifies as a full-on activity, but the island does have three resident sloths, and they occasionally make an appearance at ground level. The staff came and got us once they were spotted.

Calala Island sloth

Calala Island sloth

Calala Island Dining

Dining on Calala Island was a delight. Really you can have whatever you want whenever you want, but generally they recommend having meals during the following times:

  • Breakfast is usually served from 7AM until 10:30AM
  • Lunch is usually served from 12PM until 4PM
  • Dinner is usually served starting at 7PM

But truly they do such an amazing job customizing the experience, and are very accommodating. They’ll make you just about anything they have the ingredients for (even if it’s not on the menu), they’re totally flexible on the times, they’re very generous with alcohol all day every day, etc.

They also really put effort into giving you a different dining experience every day:

  • For dinner they had a standard five course meal for us the first night, a special barbecue the second night, and a tasting menu the last night
  • They set up a private outdoor lunch for us on our last day at our villa


You can of course drink wherever you want whenever you want, but in general there are two bars. There’s the pool bar, where people usually have drinks during the day.

Calala Island pool bar

Calala Island pool bar

Then on the other side of the island is the evening bar, where people usually have drinks during the… you guessed it, evening.

Calala Island evening bar

Here’s their list of complimentary house drinks:

Then here’s the premium drink list, if you want to pay for different drinks:

We didn’t spend a dime on alcohol here, and all of their drinks — especially the Chilean sauvignon blanc and the cocktails — were excellent.

Calala Island cocktail

Calala Island cocktail

Dining Venues

Breakfast and dinner are both served on one side of the island, with several dining tables and some couches.

Calala Island breakfast & dinner restaurant

Calala Island breakfast & dinner restaurant seating area

Calala Island breakfast & dinner restaurant

There’s also a brick oven here, which is where they make pizzas.

Calala Island brick oven

Then lunch is typically served by the pool, as there are four dining tables there under a pavilion.

Calala Island lunch restaurant

Calala Island lunch restaurant

Calala Island lunch restaurant

On top of that there are all kinds of cute individual tables with straw umbrellas right along the sea.

Calala Island lunch restaurant


We typically started our morning by ordering some coffee to the room. All their coffee is made with Nicaraguan beans, which we loved. They had some of the best coffee I’ve had anywhere, and it was always served in a french press.

Calala Island in-room coffee

Breakfast was the least exciting meal here, though was still good. The breakfast menu read as follows:

They even had a special coffee menu, so you could choose your beans:

Even though we already had in-room coffee, we still ordered more at breakfast, because it was that good.

Calala Island breakfast — coffee

Over the course of our stay we had the porridge, tropical fruit, granola and yogurt, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, gallo pinto, and the omelet.

Calala Island breakfast — porridge

Calala Island breakfast — tropical fruit

Calala Island breakfast — granola & breakfast

Calala Island breakfast — smoked salmon & scrambled eggs

Calala Island breakfast — gallo pinto

Calala Island breakfast — omelet


The lunch menu was also the same every day, and included a variety of options:

The pizzas were good, which wasn’t surprising, given the brick oven. We had a four cheese pizza.

Calala Island lunch — pizza

Over our stay we also had the snapper croquettes, quinoa salad, fish tacos, lobster burger, and jerk chicken.

Calala Island lunch — snapper croquettes

Calala Island lunch — quinoa salad

Calala Island lunch — fish tacos

Calala Island lunch — lobster burger

Calala Island lunch — Caribbean jerk chicken

There was a different dessert option every day, and one day it was a brownie with ice cream, and another day it was carrot cake.

Calala Island lunch — brownie & vanilla ice cream

Calala Island lunch — carrot cake

On our last day they surprised us with a special lunch at our villa. As I said above, the amount of effort that this place puts into everything is impressive. I mean, they had to carry over the table from the dining area, they kept having to bring over food, etc.

How nice is this setup?!

Calala Island special lunch

Calala Island special lunch

This menu, as well as the dinner menus, were customized based on preferences (for example, I told them I don’t eat pork).

The lunch menu read as follows:

I’ll let the menu and pictures speak for themselves, other than to say that the meal was exceptional.

Calala Island lunch — amuse bouche

Calala Island lunch — starter

Calala Island lunch — main course

Calala Island lunch — dessert


Every night dinner was different. The first night we had the “traditional” five course meal, and the menu read as follows:

Calala Island dinner — amuse bouche

Calala Island dinner — starter

Calala Island dinner — bread

Calala Island dinner — main course

Calala Island dinner — main course

Calala Island dinner — dessert

On our second night they set up a barbecue by the pool, where they set up a table for six (the two GMs and the four guests).

Calala Island barbecue 

The barbecue menu read as follows:

Again, I’ll let the pictures of the food speak mostly for themselves. There was a beautiful buffet with the mains, in addition to a variety of canapés and a dessert.

Calala Island barbecue

Calala Island barbecue starter

Calala Island barbecue dessert

Our last night we had a special tasting menu — how cute that they set four tables, even though there are only two sets of guests.

Calala Island dinner restaurant

The tasting menu read as follows:

This meal was truly exceptional, and I found it hard to believe we were still on a tiny island off the coast of Nicaragua.

Calala Island tasting menu — table setting

Calala Island tasting menu

Calala Island tasting menu

Calala Island tasting menu

Calala Island tasting menu

Calala Island tasting menu

Calala Island tasting menu

Calala Island tasting menu

Calala Island tasting menu

There was also a full moon this night, which was a treat.

Full moon at Calala Island

Calala Island Service

I can be a tough critic about service, but I have just about nothing but good things to say about the people at Calala Island. Where do we even begin?

First of all, having nearly two dozen staff collectively looking after four guests is unlike anything I’ve experienced at another hotel. They follow you everywhere, and strike the perfect balance between being attentive and non-intrusive.

All the staff here are from small villages nearby (mostly along the coastline of the mainland), and for virtually all of them, this is their first time working in “luxury” hospitality. However, across the board they’re such a lovely bunch — they were genuinely friendly, welcoming, and professional. The service exceeded my expectations to such a high extent.

It was also really cool to learn about their culture. I had been to Managua a few times before, which is Spanish speaking. However, the people on the Caribbean coast have a completely different culture, and generally speak Creole at home, and learn English and Spanish at school.

Not only was it cool to learn a bit about their lives, but there was also no language barrier whatsoever — just about the entire staff spoke flawless English, and even spoke English among one another on many occasions.

The staff just went so far above and beyond in every way — from different types of dinner every night, to a special lunch in our villa, to sandbar cocktails, to free massages because it was raining, to being offered anything from the “premium” drink menu with our tasting menu the last night, to them wearing different uniforms for dinner each night (yes, this is the kind of stuff I notice), to performing live music at dinner, they went so far above and beyond.

A special shout out to the front of house staff, Shorvin, Ruben, Mike, Sito, and Henry, and the massage therapist Doris, and everyone working in the background who we didn’t interact with, for making our stay so memorable.

They were all incredible, though we were fortunate to get to know Shorvin best — he accompanied us to & from Bluefields, took us on our excursions, and served us breakfast and dinner most nights. What a class act.

Calala Island Bottom Line

We had a phenomenal stay at Calala Island. Now that we’ve been social distancing for nearly two weeks, we probably think back on it even more fondly.

Calala Island is unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been, and being on an island with at most six other guests (and in our case just two other guests) was surreal.

There were some slight negatives — the suites could be more luxurious, it would be nice if there were air conditioning and if the toilets worked properly, and the transfer to the resort was memorable, to put it mildly.

However, there was also so much we loved about Calala Island — the staff were exceptionally friendly, the food was great, and this place is also as “all inclusive” as they come. The people here go so above and beyond for their guests in making each stay special, from our sunset drinks on a sandbar, to our special lunch at our villa, to our free massages due to bad weather.

I think the only experience I can compare this to in terms of attention to detail and going above and beyond is a Singita safari in Africa.

This might just be my favorite use of 40,000 World of Hyatt points ever, and I wholeheartedly recommend this place.

I still think the $2,800 per night cash price tag is steep, and for that matter don’t understand the economics of this place. But when you can book two of the four rooms here with points, that’s an awesome opportunity.

How does this compare to what you expected from Calala Island? And to those who booked a stay here, how does this compare to your expectations?

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  1. Great review Ben! Incredibly detailed.

    FYI: There is a trick to the toilets, I learned it on day 3 of 5 when I was there. They worked perfect every time afterwards.

    Would you go back is the question I’m interested in?

    Your experience was similar to mine, although I didn’t care to ever really go back for 40,000 points (especially combined with thelogistics of getting there). I maybe overstayed though, after day 3 it’s a little bit of diminishing returns so you probably hit the sweet spot.

    And yes, big shout out to Mike, Ruben, and Shorvin! They make the entire trip!

  2. @Ben, did you have any problems (even subtle) about being a gay couple at the resort? It’s a question that always comes up for me went I read these reviews.

  3. I agree, it is a great review. Quite an usual place and fascinating to read, but I would like to hear about the transfer.

  4. @ walester — Not in the slightest. I was worried about that a bit coming into the stay, but the staff didn’t make us feel strange in any way. That’s another thing I loved about this place.

  5. @ Utahshane — Hah, what’s the toilet trick?

    I definitely can see how five days here would be too long. I thought three days was perfect. Would I return? That’s a toughie. Personally I’m someone who loves having new experiences, so I think the answer is probably no. For me most places go on my “been there, done that” list, and this is probably no exception. I’m so happy I went, though I’m not sure I’d need to return.

    Perhaps the except would be if going with friends, because I do think it’s a fun place to go with others, especially if you can have half (or more) of the rooms to yourself.

  6. Really enjoyed reading this Ben. I realise this is probably the last review for quite a while. Maybe you could re-post some of your most memorable / interesting experiences to give us something travel related to read that is not pandemic related… Looking forward to the next cocktail hour!

  7. Great review. I have a booking for Feb next year (on points of course). I think I will keep it now (hopefully the world is back to a new normal).

    Thanks for the great detail and honest review.

  8. I get about charging for premium drinks but charging for massage is just plain cheap. Maybe add a limit of massages per guest per day but charging should not be part of an “all inclusive” luxury resort. I personally would feel comfortable giving a much bigger tip to the masseuse if the service was included.

  9. Sounds like a great resort, but that transfer…

    I wonder if the resort turns a profit at all. I’ve probably watched a few too many movies, and always assume this type of business exist to launder money or whatnot.

  10. My partner and I enjoyed a 10 day stay during peak season so we forked out an average $3450 per night. Would I go back yes as we loved it!.

  11. Do you know how much is the helicopter transfer? Great review and great experience, but reading your review of the transfer turned me off…

  12. Ben, did you happen to notice what the policy is for kids in the same room? Supplemental fees?

  13. Reminds me of NoaNoa Island, not bookable on points, but a fraction of the cost and in the Philippines.

  14. How much did you end up tipping the staff? Did you tip individual staff or just everyone at the end cruise ship style? Curious since it’s exceptional service at a 10 to 1 ratio.

  15. That food looks AMAZING (and I have around 100 Michelin stars under my belt).

    Any info on who the head chef is or who developed the menus or anything like that? It all looks very well done.

  16. As a well travelled human you found it great difficultly to reach the island then how did the sloths get there?

  17. What kind of tips did you leave at the end of your stay, Ben?

    Glad to hear is was memorable in a great way!

  18. Looks incredible, much better value than the island resorts on the other side of the planet that charge $120 for a lunch.

    Would be incredible with a group of family or friends where you have the whole place to yourselves

  19. Based on this review, I am wondering how many lobsters I could eat in 3 days.

    March is a good time to visit Nica, which has two season: dry and green. Summer would be warmer but you’d have periodic showers and humidity would be higher. The pool would be warmer too.

    Based on my experience as an investor in Nica property, I’d guess that the abandoned island houses are a result of the 2008 crash. Many developments on the Pacific coast folded at that time as buyers and visitors dried up. Things still haven’t totally recovered, and Ortega’s actions haven’t helped.

    Nica coffee is excellent as you discovered. The highlands around Matagalpa have nearly perfect conditions. I haven’t been to Jinotega but I assume it’s the same there.

    I don’t know what salaries are like for workers in Nica are, but it has to be low. I visited a property with a woman who was looking to build a house to replace an abandoned concrete house. The realtor with us said that hiring men with sledgehammers would be much cheaper than using machinery.

  20. Hi, TPG, this is how you write a review!

    Did you guys stay there at the same time? Kinda weird.

  21. @ Endre — Thank you. 😉 Nope, I didn’t notice any drones or teams of photographers and videographers. To be honest I think they visited right after us, though it took me a little longer to get to the review, given the lean operation we run/the amount of writing I’ve been doing about what has been going on in the world. I appreciate everyone’s patience!

  22. @ Kirk — Fascinating! Not sure if you know this, but any sense of how exactly it works when someone builds a house on a private island? Do they buy the island, do they lease it for some amount of time, or…?

  23. @ Pauls99 @ Alpdenver — Great question! I had asked one of the GMs about tipping. They were still pretty new, but said that most people do tip, and they pool it together for all employees. She said that a reasonable amount was $10-15 per guest per day, though frankly that seemed really low to me.

    They took such incredible care of us, and given that only two rooms were occupied, I tipped more. Personally I tipped $200 per day, with half of that going into the overall hotel staff “pool,” and half of it going to the front of house people who took amazing care of us (they essentially double “share” in the tips, then).

    I know that’s probably more than is needed, but I can’t state enough how nice everyone was, and how surreal it was to basically have our own (nearly) private island.

  24. @ Alian — That is… a great question! I believe they explained this to me, that at some point someone brought them there and they’ve been there since. I believe it pre-dates the hotel, but I could be mistaken.

  25. @ Ryan — That’s a great question. I only know the chef’s name based on the sheet they gave us will all employees’ names, but don’t know anything else about him. Agree he was great.

  26. @ Gaurav — Hmmm, that’s a good question. Based on the website awards don’t seem to price if you add kids, but might have to reach out to hotel directly to find out. I’m sorry!

  27. @ Alex — The owners didn’t know the exact number, but apparently very expensive, like $10K one-way, give or take.

  28. @ Santastico — I don’t disagree necessarily, but to be honest that seems to be the standard even at most all inclusive resorts. I can’t think of many resorts that include massages even when including everything else.

  29. Similar to the sloths, there’s a tiny island off of Ometepe island in Lake Nicaragua that has a population of howler monkeys. Although this island is very close to Ometepe, monkeys can’t swim, and they’ve been there for many years. Without tourists and locals providing food, they would have died out long ago. Some tourists kayak to the island, but it’s risky as the monkeys are very aggressive if they think you have food.

  30. One can buy islands in Nica just like any other real estate. Getting title insurance is another matter as land registration under Samosa and the Sandinistas wasn’t too rigorous. That’s being addressed piecemeal these days but a long way from being final. Once you get the deed “escritura” you’re likely OK. Financing will be more expensive than in the US; 10% interest is normal, although I think it’s gone down slightly.

  31. Rather than an island on the Atlantic side, I’ll propose a more practical alternative. Check out Gran Pacifica on the Pacific side for a US style community with all mod-cons, miles of beach with surfing, and 45 minutes from Managua for shopping trips and restaurants. Disclaimer – I have an investment here although the tropics is not my thing.

  32. Great review! The transfer to the resort seems like a fun experience to me. Unfortunately I cancelled my stay in September because they wanted to charge me an extra $500.00 per night to bring my 1 year old baby with us.

  33. @ eric — Nope, we took the boat back, and frankly the experience was a bit better on the way back than the way there.

  34. We took heli on the way back booked through the resort, cost $6,500. Private but could seat up to 4.

  35. @ Veronika — Great info, thanks! How long was the flight to Managua, and was everything on-time/did the helicopter operation seem legit?

  36. Flight time was just under 1.5hours, seemed like a professional outfit and it was a smooth transfer, especially as they assisted us through customs at Managua to connect to our international flight home.

  37. Seems like a lot of work to get to a place that’s very secluded but not all that luxurious. I think id rather give up a bit of privacy for a luxurious room, like the Park Hyatt St. Kitts.

  38. Hello from your island mates!

    Excellent review: agree with you on all points. We look back upon our stay very fondly. Looking at your pictures brought back memories of our wonderful stay.

    With all the travels you have done, any other beach resorts you recommend for a quiet getaway?

  39. The design, the food and the amenities, all look so amateur (and not that appealing); for close to $3000 pert night! I would rather stay at an Aman.

  40. Is it possible to add a Bluefields extension of a few days before flying back to Managua??

  41. Thanks for another awesome review. Not much chance I’ll ever make it there, but at least I know what I’m missing now. It was a nice respite from everything else going on in the world these days.

  42. Thanks for the review, Lucky! With all of us on lockdown due to the pandemic, it’s been inspiring to read your reviews and dream about when we’ll be able to travel again. If there’s any properties you haven’t reviewed, or any trips you’ve taken about which you haven’t written in detail, we’d love for you to keep doing that.

    Also, I too absolutely wonder about the economics of this place. It looks like an interesting experience – those sandbar cocktails! – though I think I’d get bored pretty fast. And I don’t see how they’re making a profit, unless not only the labor but everything else (electricity, food) is somehow dirt cheap.

  43. Benjamin Schlappig the Lucky, I’m sure you know this and are told this many times, but I have to repeat myself, you are the MASTER of reviews, I love reading them, looking at the pictures, imagining myself there, writing things down on my bucketlist…

    THANK YOU thank you THANK YOU for writing, specially during this time.

  44. Lucky, nice review. Regarding the resort, no AC is a deal breaker.
    Regarding your blog, can your replies be linked to the comment you are replying to? [like most every other blog]. Scrolling around looking for @whomever’s post to understand and benefit from your response is nearly impossible.

  45. Thank you for the very detailed review. It is, as always, a pleasure to read of your experiences. I wanted to say that I really appreciate the more rustic nature of this resort. The level of service (and the food and drinks) is where they have clearly invested in the luxuriousness of the experience. Just imagine every single piece of furniture and food having been brought there for ones pleasure. To me, the solitude and privateness of the experience speaks volumes to the level of luxury. You didn’t mention that you went snorkeling. Just wondering if anyone knows whether it is a good experience there?

  46. “Personally I tipped $200 per day”

    LOL – some people barely pay that much for a room/night.

  47. We are heading there next year. Have five nights currently booked. Thinking about adding a 6th since its such a trek to even get to the place. Wondering if you wished you could have stayed longer of if you felt like you had experienced it enough and were fine with your three nights. We know there’s only so much to do on this tiny place but it also is such a great value and if we’re already there and it’s such a pain to get to, maybe maximize our stay? Is 6 nights too long?

  48. Fantastic review! I hadn’t seen this one yet. As long as my wife wants to go sometime & Zika isn’t too bad, I’m sold!

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