“Relax your ass slowly” is clearly painted on the wall in the reception area for all to sea, suggesting the pace that you should embrace when at Surfing Turtle Lodge on Nicaragua´s pacific coast. Located on Isla Las Brasiles, only 30 minutes from the historic city of Leon, this charming oceanfront property is the perfect place to escape the noisy city streets for a few days of uninterrupted relaxation.
The solar-powered getaway also doubles as a year-round turtle hatchery, giving guests the opportunity to not only relax and unwind on a deserted beach, but also to get involved in an unforgettable conservation project. The lodge organizes night and early morning walks for those who want the rare opportunity to see the amazing creatures when they come ashore to lay their eggs.
Although local buses run frequently from nearby Leon to Poneloya (the closest town to Surfing Turtle Lodge), I shared a taxi with 3 friends, and it worked out to about $3USD/person for the 30-minute trip. Once in Poneloya you will begin to see signs saying Surfing Turtle Lodge, but you aren´t there just yet. Ask for Daniel (or any one of the local fisherman), who take visitors on a 5-minute boat ride across a little river to Braziles Island where tranquility awaits at the lodge. Once on the island, the lodge is a 15-minute (1.5km) walk through one of two forested trails marked by little signs with the Surfing Turtle logo.
Tip: If you are going to Surfing Turtle for a few days from Leon, don´t take all of your luggage. Instead, ask your hotel or hostel in Leon to store your bags and take a smaller bag with only what you need – it will make the 15-minture trek much more enjoyable.
When I arrived at the lodge with my three friends, there were no other guests on the entire property – we were truly on a deserted beach getaway (an definite advantage to visiting during the low season). Additionally, a few days before arriving at the lodge a passing storm had damaged the solar plant that is used to provide electricity to the property, so for the duration of our stay a backup generator was used intermittently throughout the day when electricity was needed.
Private beach cabins are clean and cozy with unobstructed views of the ocean, ensuite bathrooms, balconies with hammocks, and comfortable beds ($40-$50USD per night). Two of the three cabins have both a queen and a single bed while one cabin only has a queen bed.
There are two basic private rooms with queen beds, however, unlike the cabins, they do not have private bathrooms ($25-$30 per night). The one spacious dorm room has bunk beds, individual lockers, a high ceiling, and a large balcony with a perfect view of the ocean. (Note: The private rooms and dorm share 4 bathrooms).
Tip: Beds in the private rooms and cabins come with mosquito nets, but dorm beds do not. If you need a mosquito net, just ask at reception and they will gladly put one on your bunk bed at no additional charge.
Although we showed up without a reservation, the high season at the lodge is from December to April and it is suggested that you make a reservation to avoid disappointment.
What I liked
- The staff at Surfing Lodge always went the extra mile to ensure that we had whatever we needed to feel at home. For instance, the cooking staff kept the kitchen open later than required to ensure that we had enough food to last us the night. When we arrived on the island, we were carrying all of our bags but instead of having us walk 1.5km through the bushes, the lodge sent a horse cart to fetch us from the shore (big plus on their part)
- Every evening there was a remarkable sunset to enjoy. Even when it was grey and cloudy, bright orange rays managed to pierce through the gloom to light up the sky.
- Falling asleep and waking up to the sound of waves crashing against the shore was priceless
- Clean Bathrooms – If there is one thing that I can’t stand when staying at a hostel/hotel it would have to be a dirty bathroom or kitchen. The lodge’s shared bathrooms were cleaned regularly and pump-soap dispensers with antibacterial soap were provided on all sinks.
- Good Food – the cooks
- The unobstructed views of the ocean from the dorm and private cabins
- Although the lodge is relatively isolated from the rest of the world and promotes “turtle time”, there are many activities to keep guests entertained:
A basketball court and beach volleyball court are available.
Surf lessons available: Lessons are $20USD/hr (including the board rental). If you are already an avid surfer, rent a board for just $10/day. Still not ready to give surfing a try? Don´t let that stop you from hitting the waves for some body-surfing or boogie-boarding (boogie boards are $7/day).
There is a well-stocked bar with ice cold domestic beer, rum, vodka and more.