At Aqua Wellness in the coastal Nicaraguan jungle, the focus is on healthy living: organic food, yoga, meditation – and surfing.
The safest country in Central America, Nicaragua is now starting to challenge neighbouring Costa Rica as the region’s leading ecotourism destination.
An excellent example of this new trend is Aqua Wellness, a luxury ecoresort in an off-the-beaten-path setting: the jungle which fringes the Pacific Coast. This place has serious eco credentials: the low-impact treetop villas, built from sustainably-grown hardwoods by Nicaraguan craftsmen, are integrated within the existing forest; in fact, the resort was carefully designed so that minimal trees had to be removed.
The resort offers a number of retreats and courses themed around yoga, meditation, raw food – and surfing. The yoga pavilion is stunningly located above the forest canopy with views to the sea.
Rooms are stylish, either treetop or beachfront villas (one, two or three-bedroom), with sea or rainforest views, based around wood and decorated in soothing colors. Suites have their own kitchens, some with decks and plunge pools; treehouses have outdoor Balinese showers.
The restaurant serves organic food – some home-grown on their own farm, the rest from the surrounding area (ceviche, fresh fruit, fish and beef curries), and they bake all their own bread. The yoga teacher, Grace, also gives raw vegan and chocolate-making classes. In the spa you can get a papaya and pineapple body polish or a coconut, honey and yogurt exfoliation.
The hotel has set up a foundation to help the local community (most employees are Nicaraguan) with education, transport and other facilities, and also offers volunteer programmes on sustainable development projects, from monitoring native species such as birds, sea turtles and howler monkeys, to organizing the organic farm.
Those wanting to experience the latest adrenalin sport will not want to miss climbing a volcano and then sandboarding back down its slopes. (That’s like snowboarding, except on sand.)
Rates from $155; surf and yoga retreats from $1700 (seven nights including all meals, two yoga practices a day, a class on Ayurvedic nutrition, surfing classes, and a sunset jungle hike; surfboard hire not included).
Photos: Aqua Wellness Resort
Places & Spaces is a travel guide that will inspire you to carve out a vacation on your calendar. All of the gorgeous locations and accommodations in our guide share our concern for the environment. From tent glamping to lavish built environments, fair warning, you’ll feel compelled to pack your suitcase.