“We were drunk and we decided to Google ‘cheap land in the world.’ Nicaragua, Philippines and Borneo came up. We read that beheadings were a common occurrence in Borneo – too sketchy. The Philippines – too far. So we settled with Nicaragua because it was closer and seemed the safest of the three.
It’s a Monday morning and I’m sitting pool-side at the Surf Ranch Hotel and Resort, just on the outskirts of San Juan del Sur – appropriately nicknamed “San Juan del Surf.” It’s hot and humid out, and the pool water looks so blue and inviting. I’m sipping my moringa-infused water (my newly discovered hangover remedy) and listening to Lucas and Travis Boychuck recount the story of how they ended up in Nicaragua and opening the world’s first action sports resort.
“We decided to go for it.”
Feeling inspired after their night of Google and beer, the brothers from Kelowna, BC., flew down to Nicaragua in 2008 to scout land with the hope of bringing their vision to fruition.
Unfortunately for the Boychucks, it wasn’t all surf and skate from the get-go. Pretty soon upon arrival, they discovered that land in Nicaragua was a lot pricier than they had originally anticipated. Discouraged, they nearly gave up their dream, but then met an American selling land who offered to sell the brothers a plot of land for a $1,000 down payment. They agreed, ended up finding an investor, and returned home to BC where they sold everything they had, worked vigorously for an entire year, said “adios” to their girlfriends, and moved to Nicaragua. They began construction of Surf Ranch Resort and sold 26 units within the first year and a half – the first unit, in a funny twist of fate, sold to a girl Lucas went to high school with.
Today, the two acre resort is nearing the end of its third year in business and boasts units ranging from your standard room, to villas that house up to six people, and deluxe condos – all with air-conditioning and hot water. Yesterday afternoon, I checked into my own private deluxe condo. The room, clean and spacious (considering I’m the sole occupant) with a full-sized bathroom, an armoire, a balcony with a view of the skate park and the bar, and my favourite amenity – a winding staircase that leads up to my own private rooftop, equipped with a hammock. Watching the sun set above the sprawling palm trees and over the neighbouring farms last night definitely ranks high up on my list of most memorable moments in Nicaragua.
The resort also features a rock climbing wall, an air pad drop into a giant, inflatable airbag (which I am attempting to summon up the courage to do before the end of my stay), offers surf lessons and adventure packages, and is home to Central America’s first and ONLY skate park. The skate scene in San Juan del Sur is only a few years old and although it has yet to gain the esteem that surf in SJDS has earned, it’s present and it’s growing – great news for the Surf Ranch. The Boychucks themselves grew up skating, and every year, they host a variety of skate camps and contests, bringing over pros like skateboard idol Chico Brenes to host demos for the public, an event that usually attracts over 400 people.
As I stroke sweet Buddy’s head – Lucas and Travis’ sweet adopted pit bull, the brothers excitedly tell me about their newest development, another resort in Popoyo, a small surf town less than two hours North from San Juan del Sur and a destination that is quickly becoming the new real estate “hot spot” in Central America, mainly for it’s incredible surf and proximity to Costa Rica.
The concept for the resort in Popoyo is the same as San Juan del Sur – except on a much bigger scale, 25 acres bigger to be exact. Lucas tells me that the new resort will be 300 feet from the ocean and that the timing coincides well with the completion of the Costa Esmeralda Airport. The terminal is expected to draw more visitors to the region and the country, and boost tourism.
The Boychucks hope to eventually put in a convention centre, as well as a grocery store, and potentially even a casino.
I convince Travis to try some of my moringa. “Earthy,” he describes it and then asks me if he can take some over to his girlfriend who’s not feeling too well. I finish chatting with Lucas and make my way back up to my room, to pack up a few things for the day trip to Maderas Beach the guys set up for me.
I can’t help but feel a sense of pride towards these two. Maybe it’s due to our mutual Canadian-ness.
I think I’m going to have a good time here.
For more information on the Surf Ranch, visit their website at http://www.surfranchnicaragua.com