After that last trip to Nicaragua, Ryan and I couldn’t stop thinking about all the investment opportunities. We both live frugal lifestyles and save our money. No big screen TVs or new cars here! So we both had a decent amount of cash sitting in investment accounts. Still, we were wary about putting too much into real estate in a Latin American country, especially because we couldn’t decide on just one lot.
Ryan had decided that the safest investment would be in one of the housing developments. Rather than taking the cheaper and riskier option of buying directly from a local, buying a lot in a development would cost more but also eventually be worth more. A house in a development would probably have both a higher rental and resale value. It also would come with built in security, power, and water. Fewer headaches cost more, but would probably also pay off much more further down the line.
I had fallen in love with the river lot shown in my previous post. The tranquility of the bubbling brook, the trees, and the seclusion just seemed perfect. But, I wasn’t prepared to throw down $90k cash in order to call it my own. I tried thinking of friends that might have some money and would also want to invest. Unfortunately most of my friends are female pro surfers who would definitely love the land, but are using all their income to feed their travel addictions. None of them would have enough to help me out. The only person I could think of was my dad.
My dad loves investing. He once threw some money into the surf shop where I worked in High School. He bought a condo for my sister to live in while attending Cal State Long Beach, and had also bought into a few restaurants. I’d already shown him photos from my trips and told him about the great investment opportunities down there, so it wasn’t too hard to convince him finally to take a trip down there to check it out for himself.
We planned a trip for August and since it was summer, brought along my two youngest sisters, Helina (age 17) and Hayla (age 14). They both surf, although are far from professionals. My Dad however is from Kansas and although I have tried pushing him into waves a few times, has never actually stood up successfully on a surfboard. I was interested in what we would do since it would be my first trip to Nicaragua without surfing being the first priority.
We always fly with Taca. They may not be the most well-known airline but they are usually the cheapest from LAX. They also have a good schedule for a weeklong trip with departures leaving at 2am and arriving at 10am, then leaving Managua at 5pm and arriving back home at midnight. It’s a grueling schedule but at least you don’t lose a whole day traveling.
My sister Hayla’s first sunset in Nicaragua.
Hotel Summer in Masachapa has awesome food, especially the shrimp with garlic and butter! In this photo we’re drinking coffee and my dad is consulting the travel book for sightseeing options. That’s something i’ve never done on a trip with Ryan!
My Dad always likes to be prepared. He brought a collapsible cooler from home and filled up with ice and sodas at the local store.
The first stop on our real estate tour was the housing development of Gran Pacifica. Only a one hour drive away, it is the closest surf friendly development to the capital and airport at Managua.
Gran Pacifica offers lots as well as condos for sale. The lots come with a commitment to begin the construction process within the first two years to discourage owners from simply “sitting” on the land as an investment. It features a golf course and paved streets with curbs.
We checked the beachbreak out front and it was sunny and offshore until we decided to paddle out. As so often happens, immediately the clouds rolled over and the wind picked up. Helina and I paddled out and caught a couple waves anyways.
Gran Pacifica is situated just to the North of the section of coast that benefits from the lake effect winds. So while Southern Nicaragua is offshore all day, Gran Pacifica is more like anywhere else in the world where the wind comes up onshore around lunchtime.
Like most young girls, my sisters love animals! I had warned them that Nicaragua has animals roaming around everwhere. Everything from piglets, cows, horses, chickens, puppies, kittens, seems to be scattering under foot. They were not disappointed.
I warned my Dad that the food in Nicaragua isn’t as good as Mexico. I still can’t figure out why the concepts of the tortilla and chips with salsa never made it that far South. No burritos here unfortunately. He disagreed and thought the food was really good! Here we are at a restaurant on the sand in Pochomil enjoying a pretty phenomenal chicken dish with rice, beans, and fried plantains. Super good!
Far off the coast, a place I never would have visited with Ryan on a surf trip, is the extinct crater lake Laguna de Apoyo. It was beautiful and we went for a swim.
There was even a platform for jumping!
And we convinced Dad to jump too.
The rustic accommodations at Laguna de Apoyo are definitely worth a look.
On a previous trip, Marc Brown from NSR had suggested we visit the volcano. He said that volcanos in Nicaragua aren’t roped off like the ones in Costa Rica. “You can hang ten on the crater if you want!” He wasn’t kidding. At Volcan Masaya, you can look right over the ledge and down into the smoking crater. In fact, pulling into the parking lot an attendant will insist that you pull in backwards so that the front of your car is facing the exit just in case a sudden eruption necessitates immediate evacuation. Apparently a few years ago, just such a thing happened and charred the parking lot!
Volcan Masaya also offers caves for spelunking. The stalactites and stalagmites aren’t as developed as I have seen in other caves, for example those in Western Australia, but being underground that close to an active volcano was certainly thrilling!
The tour book insisted we visit Granada.
Then we made our way to San Juan Del Sur.
Taking our tourist mentality to the limit, we went for a zip line tour.
The starting platform….
Helina was feeling it!
My Dad enjoyed the offroading.
We checked out the Chococente Turtle Preserve and since it was daytime and the turtles are usually out at night laying eggs, we didn’t see any turtles.
But, we did see surf. It was overhead, offshore, and absolutely no one around. We ran back, grabbed our boards, and I paddled Helina out into the biggest waves she had ever tried to surf. I was incredibly impressed by her bravery.
Helina got pounded by a set and broke her board. Her first broken board ever! She was bummed but also kinda proud.
We stopped at my favorite restaurant on the beach at Popoyo for some chicken and gallo pinto (rice and beans).
Little Hayla still hadn’t gotten a chance to surf. We were about to leave San Juan Del Sur, but saw that there was a left breaking in the corner of the harbor with a bunch of local kids on it. It was small, protected, and super mushy. Perfect for Hayla!
Hayla, up and riding on her first wave in Nicaragua!
Next stop on the real estate tour, Rancho Santana. Here Helina and I are enjoying some coffee in the outdoor palapa.
Yes, there is wireless internet in Nicaragua. My Dad was able to check in with work from a rental casita. Aside from many ocean view lots and a few complete houses, Rancho Santana also has casitas for sale, which my dad was interested in buying as a rental property. We figured the best way to check one out was to rent one for a few nights.
Rancho Santana also has it’s own mini market.
The development next door to Rancho Santana is Hacienda Iguana, the final stop in our Nicaraguan real estate tour. Iguana has a golf course and is also situated on one of the best beachbreaks in the country. There are ocean front, river view, and golf course front/view lots and condos for sale.
Of course, the trip wouldn’t be complete without shopping for a gift to bring home to Mom.
So, did my Dad fall in love with the river lot and agree to invest with me? Nope. That would have been too easy.
He did really like the country, but since he doesn’t surf he was solely interested in buying whatever would give him the best return on his investment. After surveying all the options, he decided to purchase two condos at Hacienda Iguana.