Maderas is a magical place. As we arrived, somebody joked with us saying bad roads bring good people. It’s true – it’s a little bit of a trek – but one that is worth taking. We arrived to the breathtaking views at Hulakai Hotel and the crew gearing up for an evening barbeque. It’s a truly picturesque setting where I found myself easily able to let go and unwind.
We stayed at Hulakai in an ecopod upon a recommendation from a friend. It’s a beautiful, elevated experience in the jungle but with a down to earth vibe. Days started with morning yoga and breakfast and ended with family dinners and live music by the pool. The crew at Hulakai is amazing and Edd has recently taken on updating the menu. And he knows what he’s doing – he’s a chef that has worked in many of the best restaurants in France, and under legend Alain Ducasse.
Breakfast at Hulakai is posted on the chalkboard, rotating daily. We opted for the classic Nicaraguan breakfast everyday – eggs, rice, beans with corn tortillas or plantains. They make a fresh, delicious juice of the day that is served with every breakfast. The perfect way to fuel for a day of surf.
We’d head back up from the beach for lunch and order a smoothie of the day at the bar. These guys are juice and smoothie masters. They’ll tell you what fruit they put in freezer for the day and you can tell them what you like. Mexi-style salads, quinoa, and ceviche are also musts on the menu. The Hulakai team runs down to the dock every day for the catch of the day.
Most nights, there is always something happening at Hulakai, which we loved. One night it was a BBQ, one night taco night, another family dinner, etc. Hotel guests gather for family dinner (optional) and lots of Hulakai friends join for taco night. They are super accommodating to food allergies and preferences so just let them know. Nights are pretty low key and won’t keep you awake if you head in after a long day in the sun.
We spend most of our days just down the hill at the beach surfing, some days taking lessons with Juan Carlos (his surf shack is the first one on the left on your way to the beach). The rest of the days we rented boards right on the beach.
There are a couple of shacks on the beach where you can get a drink and some tacos. I’d recommend packing a little picnic and heading down to the beach to watch the sunset (Hulakai packed some snacks and drinks up for us). Some days we stopped into Maderas Village for watermelon margaritas on our way back (just up the other hill). Maderas Village is a magnet for New Yorkers, probably in thanks to it’s insta fame.
While in Maderas, definitely venture into San Juan Del Sur for an afternoon or evening. You can take a car in or spend a few bucks to take the bus (kind of a fun experience).
Stroll along the main streets and check out the surf shops. Stop into Auric to pick up some cool tops and bathing suits.
Head to San Juan Del Sur Cerveceria — a craft brewery started by New York guys — for a couple of beers (or tequilas). Check out their calendar for events, always fun to stop by on open mic night. Super friendly vibe.
There are a bunch of healthy spots to check in out SJDS, all within a couple of blocks. Some may be open, some not depending on the day and the time you go. We ended up at Buddha’s Garden (there is also yoga there if you are there during the day!). Also check out Simon Says, Nachu Piccu, King Curry, and O’Shop.
One of the best parts about a trip to Maderas is having no worries. You can explore as much as you want — head to other nearby beaches or take a catamaran day trip — but you won’t have to think too much about anything else. Usually I want to explore new places but I can’t wait to get back to this special place.