Beach hopping on the Nicaraguan Pacific Coast

The Pacific beaches of Nicaragua we have seen so far are devoid of large developments and hotels.

San Juan del Sur is the only hub with the beginning of a future booming tourism industry. North of SJDS there are a few niche eco-lodges that so far are tastefully constructed to blend into the natural landscape and make use of natural materials (bamboo, local stones, sugar cane roofing etc…).

The next tranche of development, the type one finds in Mexico, Costa Rica and other coastal locales that seek to attract international vacacioners, started to raise its ugly head around 2006 in Nicaragua, but ground to a halt in 2007 when Ortega was elected.

In particular, American investors were scared off. To compound the initial knee-jerk reaction of international investors, the new Sandinista government resurrected an old law in the books that forbids large construction, private or commercial, within 800 meters of beach front. This pretty much torpedoed a number of large scale hotel and resort projects, including the construction of high end golf courses etc, which sought to offer direct beach access.

As a result, the pristine, wild and beautiful beaches with diverse eco-systems are still abundant.

There is a string of beaches both South and North of SJDS, which we aim to slowly discover and enjoy. So while business-minded Nicaraguans and US investors bemoan the “tragic” impact of Ortega’s continued leadership as slowing Nicaragua’s development, from an environmental point of view, there are certainly benefits to slowing down the inevitable boom of construction on the coast line.

So we set off with our friends Anders and Nieves, their two kids and our dogs — all of us beach lovers. The challenge is in the getting to this week end’s beach targets: Playa Coco to the South and Majagual to the North.

The roads are borderline treacherous, now that there has been some rain. There is no single road that links these multiple beaches together. Rather, one has to navigate the countryside and forests and be prepared to drive one’s vehicle through rock-filled dirt roads, up steep mud-drenched inclines and through the inevitable river beds that when full of water flood parts of the “roads”.

There are several strategies to cross said rivers. Our strategy is to take a deep breath, accelerate through the mud bath, expect the water to come up to window level and hope that we make it to the other side without getting stuck. There is a certain level of pride and satisfaction to be had upon reaching these secluded crescent shaped coves.

See visual gallery of beach moments from this week end’s trek.

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