Family Hotel Review: Soma Surf Resort, Nicaragua
A small property popular with surfers, independent travellers and families like ours, Soma Surf Resort offers affordable luxury in a remote setting. We loved it.
Best For: Early to bed, early to rise; big kids and teens (but all ages welcome)
Reviewed by: Victoria Westmacott
Why You’ll Love Soma Surf Resort
Our stay at Soma Surf Resort was a real highlight of our trip to Nicaragua. This small hotel is owned and run by a lovely Californian couple, Casey and Bill, who have created a welcoming retreat that’s more like a private villa than a resort. Located in a relatively isolated spot in the hills behind Popoyo’s pristine beaches (home to some of the country’s best surf breaks), Soma Surf Resort does a great job of bridging the gap between backpacker hostels and crazily-expensive luxury hotels. Other guests during our stay included well-travelled European and American visitors who came for the nature, the seclusion and, of course, the surfing.
Owing to the prevailing offshore winds, this area is one of the few places in the world where visitors can surf for over 300 days of the year, and at any time of the day. The waves are consistent and there are breaks to suit all levels of surfers, from beginners to pros. There are also plenty of activities to suit non-surfing members of the family. I enjoyed an entertaining horse ride on the beach with Fabio, a characterful gaucho who, judging from all the waving, everyone in the village appears to know and like!
The property itself at Soma feels very Californian with large open-planned living areas that blend seamlessly into the outdoors. The bedrooms are spacious and comfortable, and the food is, as you might expect from surfing enthusiasts, healthy, nutritious and extremely tasty!
We spent our evenings here enjoying the warm, hilltop breeze that accompanies the dry season, and watching the sun set with a drink in hand. That said, this is definitely not the place to come if you’re looking for a raucous night out (who does that with kids, anyway?!) but more a place to relax and make the most of all the activities on offer.
Why The Kids Will Love Soma Surf Resort
Although not necessarily sold as a family hotel, Casey and Bill welcome children as warmly as they welcome all guests and our kids were happy to divide their days between jumping in the pool and jumping in the waves. The beaches of Popoyo are a 5-minute drive away and are simply stunning! There is very little development so you really feel like you’ve stumbled across somewhere special and undiscovered. Among our favourite finds was Magnific Rock, also known as Mag Rock, where the children would go scrambling and rock pooling at low tide. There’s a clifftop restaurant here too that offers magnificent views and good food.
One of the main reasons visitors come to Soma is for the surfing and this applies to younger visitors too. A friend of ours had recommended Bill, the owner and resident surf instructor, as she used to bring her son here for lessons. We had planned to get both children out paddling in the water but unfortunately a pool incident in Granada meant our son was out of (water) action for the remainder of our holiday! We had also intended to give our daughter lessons but were so happy enjoying our chilled out time together that the days ran away with us and we didn’t get our act together in time! (A good enough reason to return).
There are many other fun activities to do with kids in the area, which regrettably we didn’t have the time to check out. They include swimming with fish in tidal pools, bathing in natural hot springs and hiking to one of the largest nesting beaches of Olive Ridley turtles.
When we left, Casey gave the children a small turtle keyring each. These turtles are made by a local conservation organisation that recycles plastic bags found on the beaches and in the sea, and makes them into turtles – “One less bag one more turtle” from the women of Asterillo. I thought it such an inspiring project! The kids loved them and they are a wonderful reminder of a fantastic holiday and the friendly team who looked after us so well at Soma.
**Disclosure: We received a discount during our stay at Soma Surf Resort however, as always, all opinions are entirely my own.
This is a small property with two Deluxe Rooms and three Bungalows. The rooms are spacious with modern furnishings; beds are made from local woods, the walk-in showers are made from local stone and the pillows and throws are colourfully Nicaraguan. All rooms enjoy complimentary WiFi, in-room safes, high quality linens and towels, A/C and fans.
Deluxe Rooms: These house three twin beds and can sleep three people. They can also fit one rollaway bed. The deluxe rooms are positioned next to one another by the swimming pool.
Bungalows: The three bungalows house two double beds and can also fit a convertible twin bed.
Best Rooms For Families: The Bungalows are best suited for families, however, as all the bungalows were booked for our stay, we stayed in a deluxe room that actually worked really well for us. The hotel pushed two twin beds together to make a double bed and added a rollaway.
The food at Soma Surf Resort is excellent! The menu is full of innovative dishes using local produce and fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, beef, pork and chicken. All the meals we enjoyed were healthy, nutritious and tasty!
Like the hotel itself, dining at Soma is casual, and it’s easy to while the time away eating and drinking one of their very good cocktails.
Here’s an idea of the kind of food you might enjoy here:
Put an egg on it Avocado Style – Two poached farm fresh eggs and crispy bacon on top of arugula, along with avocado or chickpeas, depending on the season, all on a charred tortilla.
Tropical Pancakes – Banana, pineapple and seasonal fruit placed in buttermilk batter with a dash of coconut and cinnamon for a pancake like no other. Fresh cut fruit sprinkled on top.
All day dining menu:
The Cowboy burger – A seasoned beef patty, topped with shredded cheddar and grilled onion. Served on a toasted bun with lettuce and tomato and a side of parmesan fries.
Fish tacos – (These were my favourite!) Three tacos filled with seared fresh caught fish topped with shredded tequila lime red cabbage then topped with a tangy chutney.
For Kids: There is no kids’ menu but there’s plenty on the menu that will appeal to children.
Meal times are as follows:
Breakfast: 7am – 10.30am
Lunch: 12pm – 3pm
Dinner: 5.30pm – 7.30pm
**Note that advanced notice is required for some activities, and transport fees may apply
Activities for for the family on site
- Boxing and martial arts – The hotel offers group classes in boxing and sparring in TKD. Classes are taught by Bill Morton, a certified black belt instructor with over 10 years of experience. $10 per person per class
- Yoga – Classes are taught by Gabriela Prado who is certified in Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga helps relieve tension and promotes well being for mind, spirit and body. Suitable for all levels. $20 per person for 1 hour class
- Massage – These relaxing massages are designed to increase circulation, ease tension and relax muscles. $70 for 1 hour & 15 minutes
Activities for the family off site
- Surfing – Learn with the best instructors. No more than four students per instructor. Includes transport. All ages welcome. $80 per person.
- Intermediate and advanced surfers – Transport to breaks and board rental = $30 per person per day
- Sport fishing – Soma can arrange a panga boat excursion with all equipment provided. and a packed lunch. Go fishing for dorado, mackerel, wahoo and more and the chef will cook whatever you catch. My husband went out one morning but was unlucky. Apparently your best bet is when the sea is calm (which it wasn’t when my husband ventured out!). $160 for 4 hour trip (boat can take up to 4 people).
- Horse riding – Ride through countryside and along vast stretches of empty beaches.
- Tidal pools – Soma can arrange a trip to swim in natural, nearby tidal pools. We couldn’t do this because at certain times of the year the beach is closed off by a resident who has his holiday home on this particular stretch of coastline.
- Natural hot springs – 10 mins from Soma you can enjoy a theraputic mineral bath. $5 transport fee $3 entrance fee.
- Magnific Rock – Head here for spectacular sunsets and walks along the beach. There’s a clifftop restaurant with a good menu.
- Cococentre Reserve – Here’s where you’ll find the nesting beaches of the Olive Ridley turtles.
A/C, common rooms, doctors & hospitals (Racho Clemente clinic is a 15 minute drive and the Vivan Pellas Hospital – a 2.5 hour drive – is a very good hospital in Managua), extra beds, swimming pool, WiFi, eco-friendly.
Environmental Measures & Social Responsibility:
Soma is committed to this all important area while meeting the expectations of our guests.
- Soma maintained architectural integrity with the surrounding area using low impact style and utilized sustainable construction methods and materials wherever possible
- no live trees were cut down for construction
- minimal amount of land was used for the hotel leaving a small footprint thus greatly reducing the impact on the terrain
- intentionally built on a small scale so as not to add any additional stress to the fragile infrastructure in this area.
- no caged animals or clipped birds are on the grounds
- hired only local people from the community with an emphasis on education & training
- implementation of a plastic recycle program
- planting of only indigenous flora
- used only indigenous materials in the construction process
- used all local workers during construction
- in-Room towel and linen reminders of eco-washing *Save the Planet*
- in-Room friendly reminders on eco-friendly air conditioner usage when not in the room *Save the Planet*
- Soma buys in bulk to reduce waste in packaging
- uses reusable products wherever possible
- 98% of all furnishings constructed by local artisans
- Soma is part of a water conservation program in this region
- guests are continually educated concerning the local culture through community tours
Rates start from US $135 / night. Check their website for current rates and special surf tour packages.
When to go:
Nicaragua is warm all year round with temperatures around 31-35C. It has two distinct seasons: dry and rainy.
Dry Season: The dry season runs from November to April, with temperatures and humidity levels gradually ascending in March/April. With sunny days, a light breeze and blue skies, this tends to be the most popular period to visit with peak season falling over the Christmas, New Year and Easter breaks.
Rainy season: The rainy season runs from May to October and sees fewer tourists. The rains transform the dry landscape into a lush green environment, and many believe this season is when Nicaragua looks its best. Showers do not tend to last long on the Pacific side but there can be quite a lot of cloud coverage during this season. The Caribbean coast sees heavier showers with higher humidity.
Best time to surf: Nicaragua is one of the few destinations in the world where you can surf for 300+ days of the year and the prevailing offshore winds also allow surfers to catch waves at any time of day. In the dry season the waves are smaller and the water is cooler – an ideal time for beginners (a wetsuit is highly recommended). The rainy season is when Nicaragua receives all the southern swells and the surf is the most consistent and powerful at this time. This is a good time for intermediate to advanced surfers, although there are still sheltered spots suitable for beginners during this season.
Location & Travel:
Located near Popoyo, on Nicaracgua’s Pacific coast, Soma Surf Resort is one of Nicaragua’s premiere surf destinations.
From Granada, Soma Surf Resort is roughly 1hr 40 mins drive.
Take a video tour of Soma Surf Resort, Nicaragua
GET A 10% DISCOUNT!
Mention globetotting when you make a booking enquiry at Soma Surf Resort and receive a 10% discount (exclusive offer for globetotting readers).
Contact The HotelFor more information or to make a booking enquiry, visit the hotel’s own website by following the link below:
Victoria’s Top Tips!
Reviewed by: Victoria
- Owing to the relative isolation of the property it would be well worth having a rental car (we didn’t!). Casey and Bill can organise shuttle runs back and forth to the beach, but a car offers greater flexibility. As there are no rental services nearby, your best best is to hire a car when you arrive in Managua. If you do drive, be aware that the road linking Paso Real de Ochomogo with Popoyo isn’t great and isn’t serviced very often (leading to obstacles like fallen trees, and, or so we were told by one local, shady characters…). To play it safe, go via Rivas. Although it looks a lot longer on the map, it may only add 30 minutes, if that to your journey.
2. Parents with babies / toddlers should bring their own travel cot as Soma Surf does not supply these.
3. Definitely visit Magnific Rock for a drink and walk along the beach at sunset! It’s beautiful! We also heard amazing things about the tidal pools (see ‘Activities’)
4. The sea can get quite chilly in the dry season. A wetsuit is recommended if surfing.
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