Our accommodation choices in Central America ranged from pretty run down and crappy to pretty darn nice (for $15 a night). We stayed in dorms, private rooms and even a homestay, and while some hostels and guesthouses stand out in our minds as being higher quality than the rest, one stands out above all others as our absolute favorite accommodation during our nine-week trip: Finca Mystica on Isla Ometepe in Nicaragua.
Finca Mystica is owned (and was built) by Angela and Ryan, a couple originally from New Jersey who found their own piece of paradise on Lake Nicaragua. The hotel is an obvious labor of love and the couple built (and are still building) their beautiful finca themselves in the “cob” style using glass bottles as both structural pieces and decorations. Each building is unique and artistic and guests can chose from a private cabana ($35/night) or a queen bed in a dorm-esque cabana ($20/night).
The lush property is not lakeside, but it does have beautiful views of the Lake Nicaragua and in less than 20 minutes you can walk from your bed to the cool water.
Angela and Ryan have truly made Finca Mystica feel like a little community and were constantly (but not annoyingly) checking on us and making sure we were having a good time. Their baby girl and dogs are always around as well, making it feel more like you are visiting friends than staying at a hotel.
We had decided to splurge a bit for somewhere for Valentine’s Day, and initially we wanted to stay in one of the cabanas, but they were all booked up so we ended up staying in the dorm. The dorm is really a great option if you are on a budget, and for only $10 each per night we got to sleep in the biggest beds on our trip, in what has to be one of the most beautiful dorm rooms ever.
The staff at Finca Mystica are phenomenal cooks and the hotel has a limited (but delicious) menu. There are really no other close food options, and you cannot use their kitchen, so you kind of have no choice but to buy food from their tiny restaurant. We usually steer clear of places where we can’t feed ourselves, but in this case having amazing food that we didn’t have to make was a much-needed luxury. We ate yummy sandwiches, delicious coconut soup, steak kabob, daily fresh fruit smoothies, and (my personal favorite) curry popcorn.
Our days were spent either exploring the island or laying in our hammocks at the Finca, reading and listening to howler monkeys. We spent our nights talking to other guests, playing games, and enjoying the warm tropical air.
Finca Mystica was an amazing place to spend a few nights and Ryan and Angela are some of the kindest, friendliest and most inspirational hosts we have ever stayed with. Next time we will be booking ahead so that we can experience the gorgeous private cabanas.
Dollars and Sense
Taxi to Finca Mystica- ~$20 (500-600 cordoboa) per taxi
Dorm room at Finca Mystica- $20 per bed (queen size)
TIP: Book ahead!! This place is pretty small (which is part of its charm), so as soon as you know your dates you should book it.
TIP: Getting to Finca Mystica is not particularly cheap (you have to take a four-wheel drive taxi), but it is SO worth it if you are looking for somewhere beautiful and remote. Obviously it is cheaper if your group is bigger (since you can split the cost).
TIP: Check out their website before you go, because on top of being amazing hosts Angela and Ryan are extremely involved in making their community a better place. The website has suggestions of things guests can do to improve the lives of local Nicaraguans.