Wild Waves, Playa Guanacaste/Popoyo, Nicaragua — 4.5 star
A FEW SHOTS OF Wild WAVES
Download: 0.78Mbps – 1.48Mbps
Playa Guanacaste/Popoyo in Nicaragua is off the beaten path, and if you’re not interested in surfing, there’s not much reason to come here, but if you do, Wild Waves is a great option. It’s small, maybe 10 beds max would be my guess, and all of the guests here are surfers. The property is 100 feet from the beach, has an outdoor shower for when you come back from the surf, it’s super chill, affordable, really clean, very quiet, and the building/rooms themselves are stylish but not trendy, with white walls and polished old wood. You immediately like this place. The owner isn’t often around, but one of the long-term guests here, will quickly tell you how things work, and that’s when it gets even cooler. This is only the second place I’ve been to that seems to work on the honor system. Want a beer? Write it down in the ledger, grab the key for the fridge and serve yourself a nice cold beer. Meals, same thing, except they’re prepared for you (though of course you can cook your own meals in a decent sized, well equipped kitchen). Wild Waves has a very laid back atmosphere. It’s not so much a hostel as a sort of guesthouse with hostel elements. It’s not the cheapest option in the area, but it offers great value. I shared a 2 bed room with an unknown guy and paid $12USD per night, so it’s quite decent. They also accept credit card payments, which is awesome in a town that has no ATMs. All in all, I was quite pleased in every way and I think anyone who comes here, whether for a private room or dorm style accommodations, will enjoy this place.
One thing to note, while the internet never dropped out, it’s really quite slow. Good enough for emails and basic surfing, but not much more. Of course that changes a BIT, at different times of the day, but generally it’s pretty slow, as the number above show. But I’ll take reliability over speed if I have to choose between one of them.
Multiple room options
Work on the trust system
Plenty of power plugs in the rooms
Most nights things shut down early
Backyard Hostel, Granada, Nicaragua — 3 star
A FEW SHOTS OF BACKYARD HOSTEL
Download: 1.20Mbps – 2.04Mbps
Upload: 0.48Mbps – 0.81Mbps
Latency: 82ms – 112ms
Backyard Hostel. Of all the hostels I’ve been in, this one is potentially the one I’m most conflicted over. On the one hand, it’s a bit of a shithole. The rooms are of decent size but some of the walls are dirty, some painted in colors or paint that really show the dirt, the bathrooms are a mess and the floors always wet (something I hate) and there’s no cleaning service (private rooms). On the other, it’s super cheap, there’s a lively atmosphere, the cleaning staff is super sweet, and the permanent residents, Zach, Maddy and Nico are really cool. Backyard sits somewhere between a party hostel and a regular hostel. The thing is, you never really know what the night will bring you, and that’s great but it’s also a problem. It’s loud. Between the bar (that should be closed as of midnight but rarely is, and which plays movies and music loudly often till 2 of 4am, the 3 parrots that start bitching as of 7am, and the staff that happily keeps you drinking until at least midnight, you can find this place hard to get a good night’s sleep in. But that’s also it’s charm. Granada isn’t a place most people will want to spend a large amount of time in. It’s a small city, 60k or so, it’s generally cheap and safe, and there isn’t all that much to do, but the city is pretty and colorful and you can enjoy a few good days here. Backyard reflects the town. Part grunge, part comfort, sometimes very quiet, but also chaotic. The bathrooms are constantly wet and never enjoyable to use, the rooms all feature plastic covered mattresses, the common area has lots of potential but isn’t particularly well kept, and the noise level can be problematic, but in the end you also kinda find comfort here once you’ve accepted its downsides.
So, I spent a week here conflicted. I hated going to the bathroom, and sometimes wanted to kill the 3 parrots, but also found myself enjoying the nights of beer pong, movies and general social ease of the place. So, it really depends on what you’re looking for with this place. It’s not well run, and you might find yourself in the bathroom with no working lights or no toilet paper. You might get occasionally annoyed that you have to find someone to open the door for you when you leave the hostel or return, you might get annoyed by the owner’s personality or attitude, but at the same time, you might enjoy a day in the pool, or the cheap drinks and great smiles at the bar, a hammock to lounge in during the afternoons, and a movie on a random night. Wifi is decent, the location is good, and while it’s hot as hell in Granada, which would be made worse by the plastic covered mattresses, the fans provided are strong enough to require sleeping under a sheet. I don’t know whether I’d recommend this place. I have no doubt there are better hostels in the city, but if you’re an adaptable person, on a tight budget who wants a laid-back atmosphere and you don’t stress about small things, I suspect you’ll enjoy staying here a few days. If that doesn’t sound like you, then there are plenty of other options in Granada. For me, a private room at $12USD a night, beers at less than $1USD and a strong fan, were enough to make staying here a week more than worth it.
Very laid back
Access to plenty of local activities and tours
Movies at night
Can be really loud
Parrots can be SUPER annoying
Some bathrooms are a disaster
Rooms aren’t cleaned while you’re there and don’t feel clean
Movies at night can be loud
Paradiso Hostel, Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua — No star rating due to not staying there
A FEW SHOTS OF HOSTEL PARADISO
I didn’t stay here, so I can’t really speak with any authority on this place but I did spend some time there during my visit to Laguna de Apoyo. First off the area is pretty but not spectacular. There wasn’t anything that I felt I was missing by not spending the night here, though seeing Paradiso did make me think I could enjoy a night or 2. The Hostel is quite big, on a hill overlooking the lake. It has 2 eating areas (1 with a bar), a ping pong table, pool table, lawn chairs on the shore, kayaks for rent, some hamacs strewn area and the grounds are quite nice. They’re clearly expanding as there was construction going on and there were a couple areas that weren’t in use but definitely have potential. The food and drinks were a bit on the expensive side, but there are other restaurants down the shore which might offer cheaper options. That being said, the place had a charm to it and seemed like somewhere I’d enjoy spending a couple nights. I don’t regret it, but if you’re considering Laguna de Apoyo, assuming you’re willing to spend a bit more, this would be a good option, as they have dorms and private rooms.
Bigfoot Hostel, Leon, Nicaragua — 4 star
A FEW SHOTS OF BIGFOOT HOSTEL LEON
I haven’t spent too much time in party hostels. Poc Na in Isla Mujeres, Mexico was the first real party hostel I stayed in. Bigfoot in Leon was certainly the second. This place was under renovation the time I was there. I stayed in a dorm for a night or 2 then a private room for another night or 2. The staff was nice enough, the grounds decent though dusty, extremely hot, and full of mosquitos, but the setup of the place is pretty good. Showers are quite good for a place that has so many people passing through and so many people partying there. The restaurant there is quite nice, the location is central and convenient with stores and restaurants all around. The bar area is loud, but if you like watching or playing beer pong, or seeing people do Lava shots, this is the place for you. They also have a pool table for some quieter fun, right next to the bar. They shut the party down around midnight I believe so it’s not impossible to sleep despite all the partying. Some rooms have AC, others have fans. All in all even the rooms with fans, though sweltering during the day, are cool enough at night to get a good night, they all the rooms I was in suffered from considerable humidity smell and feel.
The place is pretty well run. The pool was empty while I was there and it’s small but would be a welcome distraction and even a necessity during the summer months. Internet is slow and doesn’t quite reach all rooms, so for work it was a bit inconvenient as I couldn’t work from my private room. All in all however, I enjoyed my stay, despite it really not being my scene. It’s funny the first time to see people throw up after a lava shot but 4 days here was more than enough.
Hub for activities
Humidity in most rooms can be uncomfortable
Wifi doesn’t reach all the rooms
Bigfoot Hostel, Las Penitas, Nicaragua — 4 star
A FEW SHOTS OF BIGFOOT LAS PENITAS
Bigfoot’s little brother in Las Penitas was a lot more my speed. While also a party hostel, and less strictly managed than Bigfoot Leon, this was a fun place to stay. Parties twice a week make it a loud option for those who just want to surf and sleep. But who wants that? It gets loud if you’re staying in the private rooms, as the parties feature DJs and large speakers and the private rooms are close to the action. The private rooms smell dank though. There’s a lot of humidity and it even feels a bit unhealthy if you have the windows and doors shut all day. Opening the windows all day and night isn’t an option either as there are no screens on the windows to keep the bugs out. The dorms are further away and generally a bit quieter though as you can imagine, being in a dorm in a party hostel has its consequences.
Internet extends pretty much across all private rooms and out onto the pool area and up to the edge of the property which faces the sea. Speeds are not good and reliability is an issue but it’s usable.
Parties can go till quite late so be prepared for that but they are generally fun. The location/beach is quite nice and you can witness some fantastic sunsets. It’s a very social hostel, the food is decent, but a bit, tiny bit on the pricey side. There’s very little else in the area but other hostels/hotels and small restaurants. There are NO cash machines here so plan accordingly and take out money from Leon. You can’t pay via credit card here either, so cash is important. You can take a chicken bus into Leon a few times a day, but it’s a pain. The surf here is a bit advanced. Getting out to sea into position is NOT easy. But if you’re a decent surfer, you’ll have a good time here as the waves are consistent and pretty big. The staff is really friendly, young and loves to party which adds to the general vibe. This is a place to surf, have fun, drink, eat and do it all over again the next day. If that’s what you’re into you’ll enjoy Bigfoot Beachhouse.
Right on the beach
Can rent surfboards
Can be quite loud
No screens on many windows
Hostal Elizabeth, San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua — 3.5 star
A FEW SHOTS OF HOSTAL ELIZABETH
First impression walking through the “lobby” wasn’t great. Then walking past the owner’s “living room” to get to the back where the rooms were didn’t help either. But then, it gets brighter and walking into the rooms you start to feel more comfortable. This isn’t a pretty place, but the rooms are clean, all come with a fan, which is absolutely necessary, and the bathrooms are nearby, clean enough and while small, efficient. The price can’t really be beat though for SJDS. At 250 Cords, for a private room, you get comfortable real quick. Internet was decent the whole time, with only one or 2 periods of downtime over a period of 4 days. I stayed in 2 rooms, and both were comfortable, had screens and a fan. I slept pretty well. Beds aren’t great but good enough for what it is. The owner is sweet, the cleaning staff a bit cold but efficient, the place offers laundry, has a small restaurant and is well located. This was a nice surprise, especially after the initial impression walking in. Pretty social but by no means a party hostel, it has a small area in between the 2 rows of rooms where you can sit and have some drinks and talk to fellow travelers or watch the sunset over the bay. Looking for a cheap place in SJDS, this is a good bet.
Cheap for SJDS
No screens on some windows