Nicaragua: San Juan Del Sur | Yoga, Surf & Love


First impression… This place is heaven on earth.

When I was flying in for a landing in Managua, Nicaragua I gazed out the window at the landscape in childlike wonder. That’s pretty much what I do anytime I journey to a new place. This time I was fortunate enough to be sitting next to a native Managuan who informed me that I was entering the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes”. Another look out the window affirmed that. There is a large lake near the airport in Managua with volcanoes situated along the edges. My brain was just taking all this in, already tuning in to the mellow vibe of the place. The mellowness continued upon exiting the plane and entering the airport. Never have I been in a more relaxed, air conditioned, welcoming third world country airport! I took my time getting through the processes to enter the country, already feeling the chilled out vibe that would stay with me the entire trip. Finally met up with my Gracious Living yoga/surf, self-love retreat cohorts and we piled in the retreat’s pre-arranged transport. Destination: The time of our lives.
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Photo courtesy of Gracious Living.

We had a world class team put together for us by Grace Van Berkum ( Grace is a dynamo who aims to improve the world through health. Her retreats are one way she goes about accomplishing that mission. A Gracious Living retreat, at the core, is about detoxifying the body through delicious, cleansing foods. Further, they are about connecting to the higher self and tuning into universal love. She hopes that people take the lessons learned in the retreats and bring them into practice in their everyday lives. This particular retreat united the mind, body & spirit through amazingly, delicious raw-vegan cuisine, bucket list surf lessons, spectacular scenery in a chill country along with daily yoga and meditation. Doesn’t get much better than that!
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Aniko Farkas ( founder of BodyBeautyMind, a force of sheer goddess energy who provided us with copious natural skincare information and infused everyone with over the top positive vibes. She had us all laughing as we slathered up on the beach from head to toe with papaya, honey, avocado, coffee grounds, sugar and coconut oil. Yum! I believe she is a life coach & massage therapist as well. Not a surprise as all the people I met in this dynamic place were multi-talented. Photo 3-11-2014, 6 43 35 PM
Photo courtesy of Gracious Living.

Mirella Saraswati (, a beautiful, willowy yogini/ayurvedic nutritionist from Amsterdam who made the most gorgeous yoga-inspired jewelry. This girl was as hilarious as she was brilliant. The highlight for me was when she had us make our own mala bracelets one breezy evening as she presented her delicate Kalpana jewelry creations. No wait, the highlight was definitely her energizing morning yoga sessions on the open third floor veranda of the hotel. Maybe it was the gentle, unobtrusive way she conveyed her vast nutrition knowledge every day… Whichever it was, this was one dynamic member of Grace’s angels.

Angela Morris ( was our resident guru of all things female. This woman is full to the brim of information regarding our hormones, our roles in society and finding our power as women. She’s like all three Powerpuff Girls rolled into one. I learned so much about my monthly fluctuating energy levels from her and seriously considered her information before I powered too hard into the surf sessions. It is her life’s mission to educate all ladies of the world about their body and their personal power. Oh yeah, also an amazing massage therapist. Rock on girl, I’m lucky to have met you.

pacific bay hotel
The hotel was situated at the top of a hill overlooking Playa Marcella. Pacific Bay Hotel is a little slice of heaven at the end of an unmarked dirt road (that driver really came in handy). From our perch we could see the waves of the pacific ocean lapping gently on a small beach between two rocky cliffs. Talk about AMAZING sunset views! To the east was a lush, untouched landscape of hills and trees full of monkeys. Perfect place to breath, relax, take in nature from the swinging hammocks…

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Got surf? This place sure does! And delicious fish tacos. Playa Maderas is all about surfing. There are locals, seasoned surfers and surf instruction available here. Consistently peeling off waves and gorgeous scenery are the draw. It’s a relaxed place you’ll want to check out if you’re in the area. playa maderas
Image courtesy of Gracious Living.

This is where Survivor Nicaragua was filmed. You can see Costa Rica from the long shoreline here. Playa Hermosa is another favorite surf spot. The day we were here, they were setting up for a big surf tournament the following weekend. We passed our time doing yoga on the beach, laying in the hammocks of the beachfront hotel and practicing our surfing. This is also the spot where we clogged an outdoor shower drain rinsing off our papaya body masks 😉
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Photo courtesy of Gracious Living.
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This town is as charming and as ripe with surf bums as it gets here in San Juan Del Sur. Grab your souvenirs and meet locals selling handmade crafts on the side of the road. Enjoy strolling under the squawking of the parrots from the rooftops. This is where you will find a hilltop statue of Jesus which is a nice, steep, little hike that rewards with breathtaking views of the Bay of San Juan. My favorite part of this day, after watching the sun dip into the ocean, was a being served a delicious, raw, vegan, gourmet meal at a restaurant called Buddha’s Garden. It’s a little tucked away, inside of the Zen Garden yoga studio but with a little wandering around it can be located.

Granada was a bit of a drive from San Juan Del Sur but the boat trip on the second largest lake in Latin America to monkey island was worth it. Most people come to Granada to see the colorful buildings of the oldest colonial city in Central America but for me it was all about the boat trip. Wealthy Managuans buy the little islands that are just off the coast of the lake for their weekend retreats. We were treated to a tour through the little islands to a backdrop of the setting sun behind the lush volcanoes.

Jungle fantasy mission accomplished. I will be back to this magical place.

☼ Namaste ☼