For spring break this year we went to Morgan’s Rock on the West Coast of Nicaragua. As the person in charge of keeping her finger on the pulse of this family I sensed we were in need of a vacation where we got to return to our same beds every night. Our last few vacations had involved A LOT of moving and while that is ideal for seeing and experiencing destinations it is not ideal for completely unwinding. That said, completely unwinding is not really our thing so I also needed a destination where we could be active and engaged whilst returning to the same bed each night. We landed on Morgan’s Rock and it’s 4,000 acre eco playground. While not the perfect choice for everyone, it was a pretty perfect choice for us. Let me explain by first sharing what the eco lodge doesn’t offer and that way you can decide whether or not to carry on reading.
What Morgan’s Rock does not have: TV’s in the room. Shades on the screened windows. Hairdryers (though there are some tucked away with the staff should a hair drying emergency arise). Room service. Chocolate on pillows. Water that you can drink from the sink. A gym (got a furrowed brow from the husband when I mentioned this on the plan ride down). A nightlife. Newspapers in the morning. A business office. Air conditioning (though there is a cooling device for the bed). Easy access to a town. 5 Star Service. Rooms right on the beach. Drinks with umbrellas in them. A kid’s club. Hot Tubs. Musical entertainment. Games by the pool.
If this sounds awful to you I would suggest you consider the Four Seasons in Costa Rica or Mukul, also in Nicaragua, offers a few more niceties.
One more comfort level test…
What Morgan’s Rock does have that you might not appreciate: Bugs. Lots of bugs – you are in the jungle (this freaked the kids out at night but we came back with not a bite on our bodies and enjoyed stick bugs meandering past our table at meals). Stairs (lots and lots of stairs – there were 211 stairs to climb to get our room – kind of a bummer when you realize your forgot the sunscreen but other than that we enjoyed the built in “work out”). Noisy birds that like to break into tune right around 6am and then are accompanied by howler monkeys as back up singers (we got up early every day anyway so loved waking but to the sounds of the jungle but this might not be appreciated by all). A suspension bridge that you need to cross to get to your meals (we loved this but could see how others might not).
Still here? Well alrighty then…
What Morgan’s Rock does have that you can’t help but appreciate: The most amazing views from the rooms (thanks to all of those steps you climbed). Well conceived rooms that blend into the jungle while also offering a lovely balance of sleeping and living spaces ideal for gathering as a family and/or relaxing with a good book. An abundance of wildlife right outside your cabin (we had a nest with baby birds being tended to by their very active parents right across from our plunge pool). Plunge pools in many of the rooms (we took plunges in that thing morning, noon and night). More stars in the sky than you thought possible (especially for the city dwellers). Who needs a TV when you are busy gawking at the stars? A private beach that you barely have to share (there are only 15 rooms and with such a large property to play on people are out and about and you rarely cross paths). Nifty beach bungalows that come with beach chairs and hammocks and built in shade and open views of the sea (we used these as our home base most days). A steady stream of fun and decent size waves to ride boogie boards and body surf on (probably the kids most favorite feature). The most comfortable beds with a built in screen overhead that magically pumps out cold air (I have never slept better). The kindest, most genuine, and enthusiastic staff. An organic farm that is open for visits and interaction (breakfast on the farm being one of the highlights for us). A fleet of kayaks and paddle boards at the ready for usage (no paperwork to sign) – just grab them and go (big bonus for us). A birder’s paradise of an estuary, on property, open for exploring via paddle board or kayaks. Fun daily activities to choose from to keep kids active and engaged. Bonus: en route to all of the farming activities one is always treated to multiple monkey and sloth viewings. Excellent food, much of it grown directly on property. A sublime spa that is situated close to the ocean. A giant yoga platform with views of the sea and a daily yoga class (for a fee). Lots of opportunities to get on the ocean via their collection of boats. We fished, we snorkeled (bit of a bust), and went to town by boat. Lots of day excursions to visit neighboring volcanoes, Lake Nicaragua, and the town of Granada.
It is on this last point that I will close. We chose to stay on property for the entirety of the vacation. I had to use A LOT of self control not to sign up for one of the full day off site excursions but I knew I would get kick back from the family. We spent our time exploring the 4,000 acres and signed up for each and every one of the farming activities and many of the boating trips.
Via the farming activities and fishing we actually participated in 4 of the meals that we ate while on property. Such a valuable lesson to have the kids milk the cows and gently procure eggs from underneath chicken and then have these actions translated into their breakfasts. Can’t get much closer to farm to table than that.
We all enjoyed having a bit more free time then usual and kids would have happily spent most of their time in the ocean playing in the waves. The beach is about a mile long I would say. The husband used this as his gym running back and forth a couple of times before tackling his stair work and then some calisthenics on the expansive deck of our villa. The place was ridiculously beautiful and Nicaragua is on target, as everyone says, to be the “next Costa Rica.” On our flights back and forth from the U.S. we met many families on their 8th/9th/10th trip to this lovely country. We plan to come back too. There is much more to see and do.
If I had to re-do the trip, knowing what I know now, I would have booked a couple of nights at a hotel on an island in Lake Nicaragua, explored Granada that way, and then retreated for the final 5 days at Morgan’s Rock. There is some serious talk of a canal (a la the Panama Canal) being built that will plow through the center of this country. The finances have been raised by some Chinese investors and chatter of this was on all of the local’s tongue. This development would change the country dramatically so if you want to see it while it is still pristine I recommend you go sooner rather than later. Adios and enjoy!