One Week in Nicaragua with a Miami Power Couple
One Week in Nicaragua with a Miami Power Couple
Treehouses, beach bungalows, and green smoothies galore—this is the story of Kristen Churlonis and Ryan Norys's journey to the jungles of Nicaragua with Outside GO.
Q: You just spent a week in Nicaragua. Tell us, what attracted you to this destination?
The first trip we took together as a couple was to Belize and we fell in love with the people and culture, the food, and the exclusivity and remoteness. Having spent some time in Costa Rica, we’d heard wonderful things about Nicaragua and it’s refreshingly undeveloped beaches and bungalows. With active volcanoes, the pristine Lake Nicaragua, and beautiful beaches surrounded by bustling jungle, all untouched and undeveloped, Nicaragua seemed like the perfect place for a relaxing and equally adventurous getaway.
Nicaragua isn't a place that’s been on our bucket list, per se, but we love to travel and wanted to go somewhere relatively close and easy for us to get to from Miami, and wanted to do it a little differently. It was thoroughly unique and beautiful as it was welcoming.
Q: Your itinerary looked amazing, from Jicaro EcoLodge on a private island to one of the best surfing spots in all of Central America, San Juan del Sur. Did your experience with Outside GO meet or surpass your expectations?
Jicaro was incredible. This place really blew our minds. It was perfect in so many ways that we’re still dreaming about the gorgeous blue-tiled pool, our amazing treehouse Casita, the spa massages overlooking the lake and the ridiculously delicious food. It was the kind of place that made you feel like time doesn’t exist and you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.
We particularly enjoyed “Street Food Night” where they served small bites of all the best local dishes and made friends with our charming bartender and the rest of the small and quaint waitstaff (the whole island consists of only nine casitas making it feel very secluded and private).
Morgan’s Rock was also amazing. San Juan del Sur is an awesome beach town with a cool surfer vibe and laid-back attitude. The beach and ocean were amazing and our days here consisted of the most delicious breakfast (our favorite meal of the day at Morgan’s Rock was the green detox juice, watermelon smoothie, veggie omelet, and quinoa pancakes), swimming, and catching up on issues of Outside we’d packed! Plus, I can’t forget the “Mojito King” at the beach bar who masterly muddled a few of the best mojitos we’d ever had. Everyone at the hotel was very kind, gracious, and friendly. We did an awesome sunset hike as well as the monkey and sloth quest through the jungle.
Both Ryan and I became huge Outside fans after my mom gifted us with a subscription several Christmas’s ago. Now, our entire family subscribes so when we discovered Outside GO and the amazing trips they’d put together in our favorite spots, we knew it was the obvious choice as they would totally get it. Our trip planner, Brittany, picked out a wonderful itinerary after only a brief phone introduction and several emails to find out about our personalities and trip goals. We felt like we were part of the planning process the whole time.
"Our trip planner, Brittany, picked out a wonderful itinerary after only a brief phone introduction and several emails to find out about our personalities and trip goals. We felt like we were part of the planning process the whole time."
Q: What was the most unexpected part of your trip?
We knew a bit about our accommodations and their remoteness before our venture began, but I think the coolest thing was when we discovered that our bungalow at Morgan’s Rock was situated atop a cliff that you crossed a 150-foot bridge over the open jungle forest to get to. From breakfast to dinner and happy hour or excursions in between, we crossed this swinging suspended bridge. It’s a good thing we’re not scared of heights because it felt at times like you were floating over the trees. Truly amazing.
We were impressed by each location’s devotion to sustainability. Everything from the homemade, carved dried fruit Jicaro cups (that we loved so much we bought two to take home) to the eco-friendly lamps made from recycled wood from the cattle ranch, everything was made with nature at heart and sustainability in mind.
Q: What was your favorite moment?
We’re both keen on adventure and love wildlife, so being in the jungle was really our favorite part about this trip. The minute we stepped onto the private island at Jicaro, we were surrounded by the sounds of birds and monkeys. One of our favorite moments was kayaking through the estuary and seeing a family of turtles feeding and living amongst the giant lily pads in our “backyard.”
We also saw several families of monkeys and sloths on the jungle quest, which I couldn’t get enough of! Lastly, our sunset hike to the top of the local mountain oversaw the city of San Juan del Sur, the Pacific Ocean on both sides, and even Costa Rica from afar.
"We’re both keen on adventure and love wildlife, so being in the jungle was really our favorite part about this trip."
Q: Kristen, we hear you know a thing or two about the hospitality industry. What impressed you the most about the outposts you stayed at in Nicaragua?
Having worked in the hospitality industry for several years, nothing impresses me more than the personal touch and attention to detail you receive when you visit a place.
To us, what makes a trip really memorable is the people you meet along the way. I can truly say that we received some of the best service at both properties we've ever experienced in our travels. The people were incredibly friendly, authentic and kind.
Q: Describe how you both felt after a week spent off the grid in the jungle.
We had such an amazing time. It was everything we were hoping for: relaxing and beautiful, peaceful yet energizing. We both love to travel and Kristen particularly enjoys doing the planning, but with our schedules as crazy as they are, we just didn’t have the time to plan a getaway and you guys truly helped us plan the perfect trip to clear our minds and unwind.
Both places felt like you are sleeping outside and overlooked the water. We loved waking up with our coffee and almond milk, watching the birds and listening to the howler monkeys. Jicaro offered a complimentary yoga class in the mornings on the dock overlooking the lake, which felt like a private class, and the spa oversaw the volcano and private islands to the east.
Having traveled in Bali and throughout Southeast Asia, we’re especially attracted to treehouses and unconventional accommodations that are embedded with nature. This trip embodied that perfectly.
"You guys truly helped us plan the perfect trip to clear our minds and unwind."
Q: Where to next?
South Africa. It’s been on our list for a long time and having seen your recent articles about the trips you do there, we honestly can’t wait to start planning. We’re looking towards early next summer.
Let us help create your own adventure in Nicaragua. Remember, all trips are completely customizable to your travel dates and companions.
Outside GO is an adventure travel company with decades of experience. We'd love to help you plan your next trip. Rest assured it will be authentic, stylish, and built around your wildest dreams.
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Ryan and Kristen's Trip Report
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