Author: Rancho Santana

Nicaragua Hiking Trails at Rancho Santana

hiking rancho santana
hiking rancho santana

Nicaragua Hiking Trails at Rancho Santana

With a variety of natural landscapes and a sense of the undiscovered, Nicaragua offers a great variety of trails and adventure sports to enjoy. From the hilly forests up North in coffee country Matagalpa, Estelí, and Jinotega, to tropical volcanoes, there is no shortage of natural beauty to explore and terrain to cover. The Emerald Coast is famous for its phenomenal waves, but there is so much more to explore beyond our incredible surf breaks. The tropical-dry forest, seaside cliffs, and mountains beckon those hungry for nature and adventure—making it a hiker’s paradise.

What to expect on Rancho Santana's hiking trails?

The Ranch alone is home to over 16 miles (ca. 26 km) of trails, varying in difficulty from shorter, flatter terrains that anyone can enjoy to uphill long-distance hikes. No matter the choice, our trails always manage to make an impression with sightings of natural marvels.

Complimentary Nature Hikes are ideal for those who prefer guidance when exploring our extensive trails. Our experienced guides will share the best natural wonders around The Ranch and adjust the length and difficulty to suit your needs. 

If you are looking for a challenge, the majestic Mt. Mohosa, a short drive from The Ranch, offers scenic views of the Mombacho volcano. Reward yourself at the summit with a delicious picnic with snacks and drinks fresh from our kitchen while relishing the view.

Amazing animals to see while hiking Nicaragua

Like most things in Nicaragua, the beauty lies in the fact that wildlife and flora remain relatively undisturbed. When hiking, you are bound to run into a plethora of animals. Spider and Howler monkeys, deer, iguanas, land turtles, and other animals often make an appearance within our extensive trail system. Perhaps the most colorful and eye-catching of them all is the national bird of Nicaragua, the Guardabarranco, a wonder for visitors who are charmed by its beautiful colors and tail. 


Especially common when hiking our trails are the beautiful swarms of butterflies, and guests typically remark on their exotic colors and varieties. 

Nature takes on new life in the dark. Some of our wild residents are nocturnal and can therefore be seen at night. Our guides are happy to lead a Nighttime Nature Hike.

Monkeys in a tree habitat supported by Rancho Santana’s commitment to sustainable travel

Beautiful plants or trees to find while hiking in Nicaragua

Hiking trails are sure to enchant with a spectacle of flowers and trees. The fertile Nicaraguan soil is well-suited to growing tropical flowers and plants. In the lush green forests and on trails, you will find some local favorites, including the sacuanjoches – the national flower of Nicaragua—known as Plumeria Alba. The variety most emblematic is white with a yellow center and can be seen throughout The Ranch, most notably at La Boquita in Playa Rosada


Another common tree you will see along hikes in Nicaragua is the African tulip tree, tall with bright red flowers; this tree makes a strong impression. While you explore our trails, keep a look-out for our in-trail arboretum. Many of our most emblematic trees are labeled. Get to know the famous genízaro (monkey pod), ceiba, caoba (mahogany) trees, and more. 

Beyond The Ranch, you are welcome to explore some of the most impressive destinations in Nicaragua. Off-property experiences are tailored to your needs and likes, many guests opt to hike Nicaragua’s famous Mombacho volcano—a must for guests who are fans of adventure. Ometepe Island is also a popular destination, this full-day tour can include a hike up the emblematic Maderas Volcano. 

3 Ways to Embrace Wellness at Rancho Santana

yoga Rancho Santana nicaragua

3 Ways to Embrace Wellness at Rancho Santana

If you have ever visited Nicaragua, you know how enchanting this country can be. The people are joyful, proud, and welcoming; the setting is unlike any other—unspoiled, lush, and uncrowded. The Emerald Coast especially, has long been a place of relaxation—everything here from the pristine ocean and the vast forest invites you to experience mindful wellness.
Rancho Santana is a perfect marriage of all the things that make Nicaragua the ideal wellness destination. An enormous property with miles and miles of forests and five different beaches set in the rural town of Limón. An oasis of tranquility, a welcome pause from the hustle and bustle of city life, a place where you can reconnect with nature and with yourself.

Nourish your body and soul

A celebration of Nicaraguan ingredients and traditions with a twist, our menus feature fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients from our farm and garden and trusted suppliers. Nourish your soul with a holistic approach to wellness and enjoy the ritual of sharing a delicious culinary experience with loved ones at any of our four distinct restaurants. After all, nothing unites and brings people together like flavorful, carefully, and thoughtfully prepared food.

spa wellness rancho santana
spa wellness rancho santana

Surrender to Stillness

One can argue that wellness is a state of mind, something that can be found across the world. Rancho Santana is certainly not the only destination with a wellness component, but what sets it apart? According to Wellness Director Eva Avjean, “The Ranch offers a truly immersive experience, from the moment you walk up the steps up The Spa in El Bosque  your worries and stressors melt away. The Spa is a space of calm, positive energy, inviting you to surrender to stillness and escape from the sensory overload of the outside world. This positive energy resounds in everything we do at The Spa, including the therapists and attendants.”

Begin your experience at The Spa in El Bosque in the plunge pools, the contrast therapy will leave you revitalized. After, pamper yourself with treatments ranging from wellness massages and facial treatments to holistic therapies such as acupuncture, thai massage and more. When you leave—if you ever do—you will be feeling renewed and floating on a cloud long after. 


When it comes to moving your body, the property offers space for a whole range of physical activities that will improve your overall health. Nestled among the trees, our Yoga Studio fills you with the sounds of nature and an unrivaled view. Here you will experience yoga and wellness like never before, the extra elements of complete tranquility and calm are present throughout the class. Unwind in the majestic view of Playa Santana, a wonderful reminder of our place on this earth.

At our wellness resort, we’re home to some of the best breaks in the region. When you surf on one of our beaches, you’re sure to be charmed by our waves, the friendly regulars, and the lack of huge crowds. 

Not a surfer? Try a natural wellness hike along our trails, and you may get a glimpse at the local fauna. Home to flocks of butterflies, monkeys, and even deer, the ranch remains a sanctuary for wildlife living on this property. 

The escape from sensory overload can be found in every corner of The Ranch—whether you enjoy the more classic examples of physical wellness or spend time embracing adventure. Whatever your choice, the soothing, and healing presence of nature – its sounds, smells and picturesque views – is always present, inviting you to relax, rejuvenate, relive and reconnect.

mountain biking Rancho Santana activity

Which Airport Should You Use to Get to Rancho Santana?

Which Airport Should You Use to Get to Rancho Santana?

Rancho Santana is many things: a haven for those seeking a new lifestyle, a destination to escape the hustle and bustle of busy lives, a community of like-minded people, and a place to reconnect with nature without sacrificing the luxury and comfort of first-class amenities.
Indeed, the remote, undiscovered nature of Nicaragua and the Emerald Coast is a huge part of why many guests visit us at first and then—keep coming back. And while we love the quiet undisturbed nature of our beaches, we’ve got to admit, figuring out travel to The Ranch – especially in these times – can seem complicated. But rest assured – traveling to Nicaragua isn’t as tricky as it may seem, with two international airports within driving distance, flight routes can be found from most major US locations.

Traveling through Costa Rica

Located only 1 hour from the Costa Rica border, Liberia International Airport in Costa Rica offers a larger array of flights and connections to choose from, making it a popular choice. 

To enter Costa Rica you will need only your regular paperwork. Rancho Santana can arrange transportation services from the airport directly to the Costa Rica – Nicaragua border. Once you’re at the border, all you need to do is present your paperwork (negative PCR test, entry form, a tourist card, passport) at customs. Once you’ve successfully made it to the other side of the border, a Rancho Santana driver will pick you up and drive you the rest of the way to The Ranch. 

Whether you’re wondering about travel requirements for crossing the border or are concerned about the drive, you can count on our team to help arrange the logistics of getting to The Ranch. 

Traveling through Managua

On the other hand, you may be traveling from a location with connecting flights to Managua International Airport in Nicaragua’s capital city, in which case you will not need to cross the border. In this case, travelers who are not vaccinated must provide a negative PCR COVID-19 test to enter Nicaragua, taken at most 72 hours before your trip. If you are fully vaccinated, you will be able to travel without testing. 

You will also need a tourist card, and your booking information.


Our team will arrange pickup and drop-off service for you and your party. 

All Rancho Santana drivers are English speaking and will be waiting for you promptly upon your arrival with cold water for your ride to Rancho Santana. Nothing more to do than sit back and relax! The goal for us is to make sure the entire process is easy, stress-free, and comfortable. But don’t just take our word for it, take a look at some of our reviews.

A really nice hotel

We have been homeowners at Rancho Santana for many years and have sold our home. We came down for a visit and stayed for the first time at the Inn. The reservations team was super helpful in getting us in and out with their transportation from Liberia, Costa Rica. With Covid requirements, there are a lot of steps, but they assisted us in every way. They even recommended an online antigen test for our return to the states that we were able to perform over a video call online from our room in about 5 minutes. Don’t let the border crossing scare you. They have folks helping you with bags, paperwork, etc. all the way. Yes, it’s a bit of a hassle, but there is no place on earth more relaxing, so all those transport troubles will melt away after your first Nica Libre at the bar.

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If you’re concerned about travel requirements upon leaving the country, our team can also assist with COVID-19 testing, provided you travel with self-tests and other necessary preparations.
In the last few months, as travel restrictions have loosened around the world and travelers growing used to the requirement, reservations have increased exponentially. If this trend continues, we can expect Costa Esmeralda Airport—the small local airport 15 minutes away, to reopen in the near future.

So if our five secluded beaches, luxury amenities, and services are calling out to you for some well-needed relaxation and rest, we will make sure the process of getting down to Rancho Santana is just as seamless as your stay. For more information about travel arrangements, you can contact Us.

Building a community sustainably along the Emerald Coast

Building a community sustainably along the Emerald Coast

As we come upon our 25th anniversary, we can’t help but reflect on how far we’ve come from the days of a single Clubhouse at Playa Santana to the expansive resort and residential community that is Rancho Santana today. Although we’ve grown exponentially here at The Ranch, many things have remained ingrained in our vision and way of life. 

Almost from the moment our founders first stepped foot on The Ranch, they knew they had stumbled upon something special. Back then this was just a Ranch, remote, with limited access to utilities and daily necessities. It became clear that to make our vision of Rancho Santana come to fruition, we would need to find innovative solutions. For The Ranch, self-sufficiency has been of the utmost importance, as is being able to contribute to the growth and development of local communities.

Out of necessity, we learned to work with nature as opposed to taming it. Over time, this way of developing has become a part of our company ethos, so much so that twenty-five years from now, we hope you will still see deer and monkeys on your morning hike or bike ride.

Our Sustainability Practices

We found that turtles came here regularly to lay eggs and developed a program to help protect them from poachers and predators. Year-long sunlight is one of the main features of life in the tropics, one we make the best of by generating clean solar energy to power The Inn and The Clubhouse amenities.

As our amenities have grown, so has our community, which is comprised not only of our guests and residents but the people that have contributed to making The Ranch what it is today. Rancho Santana is the largest employer in the city of Tola and the second largest in the department of Rivas. Over the years, we’ve become familiar with entire families who have worked in some capacity at The Ranch.

Aside from employment, we provide resources and support to nearby communities that are often affected during the rainy season. Building homes and water solutions to improve the living conditions of local families so that they can withstand heavy rains in the future. 

So how do we service 2,700 acres of property, 17 rooms and 21 Residences at The Inn, and a growing community of residents and guests daily?

Well, we lean on our Farm and Garden. The Santana Farms have been an integral part of our growth, supplementing the majority of the ingredients used in all four of our restaurants and sold in La Tienda.

The farm and garden program has allowed us to grow sustainably and responsibly, and monitor the handling of ingredients before they even get to the plate. The benefits are twofold: for our guests, because they know exactly where their food comes from; and for the environment, because we use small-scale sustainable processes.

Currently, we grow herbs, fruits, and vegetables. From our farm, we source lamb, pork, and beef and milk used to produce everything from a variety of cheeses to yogurt and ice cream right on site. Anything we can’t grow at our Farm & Gardens, we source locally with trusted co-ops and fishermen.

With such a vast property and so many ventures, we consider the life cycle of everything we use; promoting recyclable and biodegradable materials in our restaurants and kitchens, composting organic waste and using it as fertilizer for our farm and garden, and going so far as to grow our own feed for our farm animals. 

As we look to the future, we are excited to develop even more creative solutions that will honor this community and our natural environment and continue to make a positive impact on this earth. 

Surfing in Nicaragua: Why the Emerald Coast is a favorite among seasoned and beginner surfers

surf in nicaragua rancho santana

Surfing in Nicaragua: Why the Emerald Coast is a favorite among seasoned and beginner surfers

If you’re unfamiliar with surfing, you may be wondering where to start. Knowing which break to try, or what board to choose can be confusing and crowded beaches can make learning a little tricky for novice surfers – that’s where Rancho Santana comes in. 

Nicaragua has long been a jewel in the rough, a well-kept secret, and a favorite among experienced surfers or those looking to get started. With over 30 miles of coastline, the Emerald Coast has emerged as one of the premier surfing destinations in the world, and it’s no wonder why. Its location right between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific means the Emerald Coast is one of the few places in the world to enjoy offshore winds about 300 days out of the year.

The friendly culture of the local communities and the pristine landscapes further drive home the renowned surf breaks in the area. From the aptly-named Beginner’s Bay to the magnificent barrels at the neighboring Playa Colorado: when it comes to surfing, the Emerald Coast has it covered. Rancho Santana’s prime location right in its heart with five beaches of its own, three of which are highly popular with surfers, makes it the perfect destination to discover Nicaragua’s best breaks. But don’t just take our word for it, The Ranch is home to many ex-pats who have either made the move completely or work remotely during the surf season. Roger Hochman owns a home overlooking Playa Escondida, he comes down regularly to enjoy the daily surf while working remotely.

surfing in nicaragua in Rancho Santana

“We have the perfect trifecta – Offshore winds almost every day, warm water and many spots that produce a variety of waves for everyone from beginners to hard core chargers.” Roger Hochman

Surfing in Nicaragua Rancho Santana
Surfing in Nicaragua Rancho Santana

Gray Gardner has been living here for years now and can often be seen surfing at Playa Rosada, we asked him what makes this such a great place for surfing:

“Probably the biggest attraction is the consistency of the conditions. The prevailing wind being offshore 300+ day x year is something you don’t find many other places in the world. That alone pretty much covers one of the 3 main factors for good waves. Conditions, Swell & tide. Nicaragua is pretty well situated in the Southern Hemisphere swell path, so during that season (March – Oct) there is very little shortage of swell. Basically, you only have to check the forecast models to know how much swell is in the water and pick your place to surf based on wave height and tide. Oh, and 82° water is a big bonus too.” Gray Gardner

Playa Santana, our namesake beach, offers multiple barreling peaks that go left and right. Throughout the day, you can view locals and tourists enjoying the waves. Playa Rosada is an advanced left point break only recommended for highly experienced surfers and beginners. Playa Los Perros’s slower and smaller waves and forgiving sandy bottom are the best bet.

The secluded nature of The Ranch creates an ideal environment for beginner surfers, and with our very own Beach & Surf Club with experienced instructors from the local surfing community – there’s no better and safer place to learn.

Our team has taught families of varying levels of experience over the years, so we’re equipped to handle all skill levels from beginner to intermediate and offer everything from guidance, rentals, and lessons depending on your needs.

Next time you’re planning your vacation, make sure to take some time to stop by The Beach & Surf Club; whether you’re looking to learn or really fine-tune those skills, our team will be happy to help you to make the most of the amazing waves of the Emerald Coast.  

Surfing in Nicaragua Rancho Santana
Surfing in Nicaragua Rancho Santana
Surfing in Nicaragua Rancho Santana

A recap of this summer at Rancho Santana.

With autumn fast approaching, we’re happy to report that it’s been a successful summer for The Ranch. More and more families are flocking to our five beaches for a much-needed change of scenery.

Our team had their hands full this summer, hosting new and familiar faces alike, including two weddings and an extended family reunion. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive! So, reflecting on the end of such a great season, we’d like to share some of our favorite reviews from recent guests.

A recent guest from NY shared an effusive email with us about her stay and even wrote about us on her blog.

There are some trips that really resonate with you no matter how many places you see and Nicaragua will always be one of my favorites. It’s hard to pin down every minute detail that made the trip so memorable, but to start the people of Nicaragua are so friendly and I can’t say that for every place I’ve been. From the moment we arrived, everyone treated us as lifelong friends and that is the type of kindness that I’ll never forget. Those with true wanderlust travel to take back a piece of every place with them. You never return home the same person you left as and I can say Nicaragua has changed me.”

Sydney Braat — So Sydney NY

Sydney Braat — So Sydney NY

And she wasn’t the only one. We also got some amazing reviews on TripAdvisor:

To read numerous more reviews from recent guests of The Ranch, you can visit our TripAdvisor page here.

Unveiling a new Turtle Sanctuary.

turtles beach nicaragua rancho santana
turtles beach nicaragua rancho santana
turtles beach nicaragua rancho santana

For years, our team has provided shelter for turtle hatchlings at Playa Escondida, saving and guarding the eggs to maximize their chances of survival.

These efforts are part of our core contribution to sustainability and giving back to nature. Every year, about 25,000 turtles lay their eggs on beaches across the country, with many of them choosing Playa Escondida as their perfect nesting location.

The Green Turtle is the most common turtle species to visit The Ranch, but in total, four different turtle species migrate to Playa Escondida annually, generating nearly 6,000 live hatchlings a year. As such, we’ve found it important to continually undergo training from experts in the area to ensure that we are sheltering these animals to the best of our abilities.

Enter our Turtle Sanctuary. The Turtle Sanctuary was built with the expert consultation and advice of Paso Pacífico, a nonprofit leader in turtle conservation efforts in Nicaragua. Throughout the pandemic, our team has worked to create a more solid structure for added security. The new sanctuary has space for 30 nests — as a reference, each turtle lays about 60 ‑100 eggs — which is more than enough space to house all of the nests we normally see each year.

This new structure will help protect the eggs from high tides in the upcoming turtle season this August to October, while still offering enough surrounding space for guests to visit safely.

Discover The Spa in El Bosque

spa wellness rancho santana

El Bosque Massage Spa and Wellness

Back in 2020, we had the pleasure of opening our new wellness sanctuary, The Spa in El Bosque. Named for its location amid the rugged hillside, it offers visitors unique sweeping vistas of the region’s rolling hills. The Spa in El Bosque is a true escape and oasis.

Massage Spa Setting

The 6,000 square foot spa is a cool respite from the sun and surf and invites you to relax with a rotating roster of immersive treatments and seasonal offerings.

Its four cabanas are built from Nicaraguan Cedro Macho and Frijolillo wood, accented with handmade iron fixtures, equipped with single and double massage tables and en-suite showers.

Spa Treatments and Services

Discover the treatments and services provided by The Spa in El Bosque. Unwind and relax in Rancho Santana’s natural beauty.

With a broad range of wellness treatments, The Spa in El Bosque has become a fast favorite offering everything from massages, body scrubs, and facials — all using locally sourced ingredients, as well as regular salon beauty services (available by request).

In addition to these traditional treatments, our team also includes an expert in Eastern Medicine and Holistic practices – such as Reiki, Acupuncture, Moxibustion, Cupping, Shiatsu, among others. The treatments can be personalized according to your needs and help with pain relief, immunity, circulation, insomnia, relaxation, and more.

To book an appointment, please feel free to contact us.

We invite you to take a look at our virtual tour of The Spa in El Bosque.

A look at the beautiful Pottery around The Inn.

Chances are you’ve noticed the beautiful pottery around The Inn. Pottery is featured heavily around the staircases and all around The Courtyard, as well as in each of the guestrooms. Pottery can also be found in our other accommodations, including The Residences and Ocean View Homes. 

The majority of the pottery is made in Nicaragua and were selected to give a traditional Nicaraguan touch to the rustic California-style architecture of The Inn and Clubhouse. Some of the artists featured are renowned pottery masters, including the Maldonado brothers, Emmanuel and Miguel; and Duilio Jiménez.

Miguel and Emmanuel Maldonado are currently two of the premiere ceramics artisans from San Juan de Oriente. They are known for infusing modern and geometric motifs into the techniques they learned from their stepfather, Helio Gutiérrez, a world-renowned and award-winning artisan who is widely credited for forging the path for the modernization of Nicaraguan Pottery.

Duilio Jiménez began making pottery when he was just eleven years old. His work takes inspiration from the traditional Nicaraguan and pre-Columbian style — creating variations with rich hues and masterful techniques.

If you’d like to own a piece by one of these artists, feel free to take a look at Galeria Rancho Santana.

How we developed our Cheese-making process.

farm fresh cheese rancho santana

Over the years, our culinary program has developed beyond just fresh vegetables and fruit, to include a fully functional on-site farm producing meats and dairy on a daily basis. We had envisioned evolving our dairy program to include a wider variety of products, and over the course of time have been able to perfect recipes for everything from cheese to yogurt. We started our cheese making with the basics, fresh cheeses like the local criollo, feta and cream cheeses as well as sour cream and over time have perfected the processes of producing aged cheeses. Aged cheeses require much closer attention and very precise conditions to ensure food safety and develop perfect texture and flavor.

Just as with everything else we do at Rancho Santana, our cheese program is based on keeping things as natural as possible. We strive for low-intervention and minimal processing, for instance using only raw milk in the process. Many processed cheeses use pasteurized milk, introducing sterile cultures later into the process. With our method, we create ideal conditions and monitor our cheeses with careful attention to ensure the growth of good bacteria and food safety. Healthy bacteria is a crucial ingredient in developing a rich cheese with a depth of flavor—a key to making delicious cheese.

By creating two special, temperature-controlled rooms, our team has been able to achieve their goals of experimentation with a larger variety of cheeses. At the facility, the rooms are kept in perfect conditions for the cheese-making process. This control paired with the unmatched talents of the team has allowed us to create phenomenal aged cheeses, such as our bloom-rind goat and cow milk cheeses—La Chela and La Reina, respectively.

If you’d like to try our dairy offerings, be sure to stop by La Tienda. There you will find everything from Feta and Mozzarella to more complex varieties like Parmesan, Cheddar, and Alpine-style cheese.