Yoga at the Buena Vista Surf Club. Photo by Adrien Patane (www.adrienpatane.com)
By Kathleen Fleming
We’ve all heard of Costa Rica and how yoga lovers from around the world flock there to retreat, teach and learn. But few venture a little further north to the untouched paradise of Nicaragua. Known as the “land of lakes and volcanoes”, Nicaragua is nature at its very best. As well as the biggest lake in Central America and the 18 volcanoes, Nica, as the locals fondly call their country, has palm-fringed Caribbean islands (the Corn Islands) and world-renowned Pacific surf breaks.
It is little wonder that with such natural beauty, Nica has a thriving yoga scene. Over the last few years, the yoga community has grown and fantastic teachers from all over the world are drawn to the simple life in this slice of paradise. As a result there are now studios across the country as well as a number of regular teacher training courses and workshops. Even the world-famous, co-founder of Manduka, Peter Sterios runs teacher training courses here as well as workshops.
As the yoga vibes spread, there are studios popping up on beaches, in the jungle and in the old Spanish colonial towns. Granada, a vibrant and colourful colonial town, is home to Pure which offers a variety of daily yoga classes, an array of therapies and treatments as well as delicious, healthy food.
Zen Yoga is another fantastic studio based in San Juan del Sur, an old fishing village which has become Nicaragua’s surfing epicentre. Like Pure, Zen offers different styles of yoga, different teachers from all over the world (classes in English and Spanish!) and a little store selling locally-made trinkets, eye pillows and the best Nica coconut oil.
3. Boutique Hotels: Buena Vista Surf Club and Aqua Wellness
In addition to the studios, boutique hotels are becoming popular and many offer in-house yoga programs (classes and retreats). Two of the best of these yoga-loving hotels are Buena Vista Surf Club which overlooks the famous surf break of Playa Maderas, and Aqua Wellness which has a private beach and gorgeous spa (think post-yoga massages listening to the sound of the waves!).
And if it couldn’t get any better, the healthy food scene is growing, especially in towns like San Juan del Sur and Granada. Central America is the home of so many of our favourite super foods so ingredients such as cacao and coconut oil are locally sourced and abundant. Cafes such as El Gato Negro, a long-time favourite in San Juan del Sur, serves superfood smoothies, fresh juices (the passion fruit one is the best!) and amazing fresh salads. If you are cooking for yourself, the local markets sell fresh fruits like papayas, passion fruit, dragon fruit, lychees and the creamiest, dreamiest avocados (the Nica guacamole is unbelievable!).
If the incredible guacamole and awesome yoga isn’t enough, in Nicaragua you can also learn to surf, sand board down volcanoes, scuba dive, sail to private beaches and ride horses in cloud forests. There isn’t much more to say other than you have to visit.
How to Get There
There are several flights to Managua (the capital) each day flying via one of Miami, Atlanta or Houston. Total flying time is about 12 hours from the UK and the stop-overs are not too long and arduous.
When to go
November to April is the dry season but it gets seriously hot and windy in February, March and April. The sea is also a lot colder. May to October is when the rains come, with October normally seeing the heaviest rainfall. There is a dry spell in the wet season between mid-July and mid-August which is often the best time to visit. November is also great as the jungle is still green, the water is warmer and the rains are petering out.