Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Where to Spend the Holidays in Nicaragua?

Wow ~ Gran Pacifica is really raising the bar for Nicaragua luxury and lifestyle operators. Their new website, La Vida Nica, showcases their professionalism in the vacation rental and concierge area. Check it out when planning your next trip to Nica.

In case you are still trying to come up with a New Year's plan, the crew at GP is also offering a holiday feast for "Año Viejo" on December 31st on the grounds of Gran Pacifica. With Waldorf Salad, Roast Lamb and plenty of champagne on the menu, this party is bound to become a welcome tradition for expats and locals alike in future years.

The party will take place at beachfront restaurant Tasca: http://www.tascaontheocean.com/

Buen provecho!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Golf Membership Special at Gran Pacifica

For all you golf aficionados out there, Gran Pacifica just announced an offer for lifetime golf memberships starting at only $12,000. Anyone can own a right to play golf at the new Pacifica Golf Club - sans greens fees and even if you don't own a property within Gran Pacifica. However, you can incorporate investment with a golf membership by contacting them directly.

This is the LAST CHANCE to buy a membership at these prices, as the course will open very soon and when it does the golf memberships will increase.

For further info contact Lennette@granpacifica.com and tell her Kristin sent you!

About Gran Pacifica: Gran Pacifica is located less than 1 hour due west of Managua on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua.

The sweeping mission of Gran Pacifica Beach and Golf Resort is to create value through socially responsible development of real estate that promotes a higher quality of living for their partners and communities.

Their vision is to create high quality lifestyle environments in Nicaragua that appeal to the 100 million baby boomers who will retire over the next 15 years, who seek to live actively and well outside of the United States and North America. They strive to be the destination of choice for the 4.5 million North Americans considering living or owning property in Latin America, among them 500,000 U.S. retirees who currently receive their Social Security checks abroad.

Cheyne Cottrell enjoys one of many barrels in front of Gran Pacifica

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Surf Shop Hits Popoyo Area

Nicaragua expats vets Jeff Soderlind and friends at Surfari Charters Surf Camp in Las Salinas announced this week the opening of their new surf shop.

Says Jeff, "It's called the NICA SURF SHOP and we carry almost everything you could need - wax, leashes, tail pads, sunscreen, ding repair kits, fins, rash guards, spring suits, etc. We also have all the new Surfari gear in stock, including the new women's and children's line. If you're looking to rent, buy or sell boards this is the place to come. A list of our current boards for sale is attached so check it out if you're in the market for a new board. We have a large selection and the prices are great!"

To all of us who are familiar with the Popoyo area, any new surf shop is great news to our ears! There are so many waves in such a short radius, which can mean broken boards and leashes for the locals, travellers and guests at the many surf camps and vacation rentals in the area.

Thanks to Jeff and Surfari Charters for paving the way for future generations of surfers to enjoy the area of SW Nicaragua!

In case you thought it couldn't get any better, The shop also features high-speed wireless internet and they serve cold beers and fresh fish tacos....a perfect reason to swing in sometime and check it out.

Fish Tacos... Yum!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

France Cuisine, Cabinas and Babies Conquer Nicaragua

My good friends and clients, William and Xavier, are having a great year. Not only do they live in Nicaragua and own 7 sprawling acres of green, ocean view property, but they have nearly finished building the first phase of their new home, restaurant, cabins for rent, pool, pétanque pit and garden. IN ADDITION, William and girlfriend Julie from NYC, owner of Grande Voce real estate in Northern Nicaragua, just welcomed their new baby, Madeleine.

William and Xa are professional French chefs with a local reputations for learning how to surf in record time, infusing Flor de Caña rum with everything from vanilla to jalapeños and for having crafted possibly the best pizza recipe and cooking technique known to man. As soon as they are open for business I'll be sure to let everyone know!

Below are a few photos of their property under construction...


Traditional-style Floor of the Rancho

The first seedling of the garden!

Home for the first few months

Guard Shack

Construction Zone and a Heavy Duty Vehicle, there


...and a couple photos of the newest member of the expat family. Bienvenida Madeleine!

With the "happiest dad" William!

Uncle Xavier and friend Kevin

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sector 9 Surf Team Visits Nicaragua

I am a Sector 9 skateboards fanatic/loyalist/enthusiast/team rider for 10 years now. I have traveled with company team riders, execs and sales reps throughout Costa Rica and Nicaragua throughout the years and we always have a great time. I was really excited when some of them came down for a visit to surf and shoot photos last year.

Click here for the story documenting their experience on Surfline.com

Below is the link to a video from their trip to Central America in mid-2008, with footage taken from just down the street from my house. Enjoy!

Sector 9 in North Nicaragua http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-T-ynPtqUE

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Nicaragua's Coastal Law

One of the most common questions I get as a real estate consultant in Nicaragua is, "is it safe to buy property in Nicaragua?" That answer is a resounding "yes", in the case that a proper due diligence has been successfully performed on the property in question. I also like to compare buying property in Nicaragua to buying fee simple titled property anywhere in the world:

Would you buy a property in the US or Canada without checking the title first?
Would you buy a car without transferring the title in your name?
...Of course not.

The same goes for buying property in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, or any other exotic country that extends equal property rights to foreigners.

That being said, there are stark differences to researching property ownership in Nicaragua compared to, say, Costa Rica, for example. Costa Rica boasts a central, digitized property registry, while Nicaragua has a separate, hard-copy registry office for each of the country's 15 main provinces. However, any property duly registered with a clean title and history can be deemed a safe buy. Of course, always check with your lawyer or real estate agent before giving a cash deposit to a Seller.

So what's the deal with beachfront property? Why is it so hard to find property one can actually buy out-right on the beaches of Central America? This is basically because most countries on the isthmus have installed measures to protect their coastal sovereignty and environmental balance. If the Central Governments of the "Big 3" (Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama) allowed 100% ownership to foreigners, things could get out of hand fast. Rapid development mimicking Miami Beach's coastline have created quite the challenge for the governmental agencies of these 3rd world nations. In order to retain some control, "Concession Law" has been put in place on all properties that did not already have prior registered title. This means between 3-5% of beachfront properties boast fee simple title (and a hefty price tag), while the rest of the land can be obtained for a lower land value and ownership is portrayed through paying an annual leasing fee to the local municipal government. Maybe this isn't the perfect scenario for a foreign investor, but as long as taxes are paid on-time, there should be no reason to worry about anyone encroaching on your property line. Besides, paying 1/16 of the price for the same product isn't such a bad deal, especially when the product at hand comes with white sand and a sunset.

The confusion in Nicaragua's Coastal Law was based on generations without communicating a specific beach setback for concession/title property. Some courts interpreted the law as being 20 meters from the beach, others 50 meters, and others claimed the law intended for all property within 2 kilometers to be considered beachfront concession zone. This hindered the country's real estate development for nearly 4 years while the legislation was slowly and heatedly debated, because no one knew if properties in the process of being titled would turn out as concession or title parcels.

Much to the relief of the international and local parties with interest in Nicaragua's economic future, the final version of the Coastal Law was presented to pass just days ago to the legislature, after the gesture being approved unanimously on June 4. Economic consultants, advisors, ambassadors, developers, international organizations and institutional and individual investors alike breathed a sigh of relief that their years of lobbying and planning were not in vain. The government made the right decision to support investment and interpret the law correctly, recognizing the first 50 meters from the mid high tide line as public domain, just like neighbor Costa Rica. All existing titles on property within this zone will be recognized and the hold on pending beachfront property registrations will be lifted.

Surfers Enjoying the Benefits of Nicaragua's Coastal Law

This is very promising news to the future of tourism and investment in Nicaragua, as the Tico Times/Nica Times recently reported over $1 billion in coastal development projects pending approval of the bill.

Specific text from Article 19: “The coastal zone of public domain is the area contained between the 50 meters counted from the high tide line. It is hereby established, however, that within this area all ownership rights legally acquired will be respected…”.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Peace, Love and the Economic Crisis: NiCaribbean Style

When most people think of "Nicaragua", visions of volcanos, wide open spaces, a tumultuous history and lots of farm animals probably come to mind. Perhaps travelers are also starting to become aware of historical sites such as Granada and León, and Pacific beach resort towns such as San Juan del Sur and Popoyo.

Despite Nicaragua's burst onto the scene as one of the top global travel destinations, the most well known locales are not always the most authentic. Although Nicaragua boasts a rich national history, there is one aspect of the country's geography that has been consistently separated from traditional Nicaragua and its Spanish influence. And with good reason. East of Managua, roads quickly become scarce and unmaintained. The over 500 kilometers of Caribbean Coastline which make up Nicaragua's Mosquito Indian Province are separated by the largest rainforest in the New World after the Amazon Basin. Sadly, the indigenous residents of these formerly Dutch and British colonies suffered the brunt of brutality during the country's civil war, but are a peaceful people who, while still struggling economically, have colorful customs and a unique culture compared to the rest of Nicaragua.

Regardless of the fact that we are in 2009, Caribbean Nicaragua is still largely unexplored and greatly inaccessible. The thick jungles and rivers of this area can only be accessed by foot or boat in many places. To reach the most populated provincial town of Bluefields in the southwest, the only way by land is through tedious hours on buses and boats... Luckily, today there are regional flights from Managua that convert this formerly 12 hour journey into a semi-luxurious 50 minutes of viewing Amazonian-like terrain below while sipping on Rojito soda, compliments of La Costeña operated by Taca Airlines.

Upon arrival to Bluefields, the next logical step is to connect through to Big Corn Island, just another puddle jump east into the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Big and Little Corn Islands are the center of Caribbean Nicaragua tourism, although the footprint of the Gringo is still not so obvious. This is reflected in the low crime rate, low prices for food and hotels and low technology in getting from Big Corn to Little Corn (at least the boats have life jackets).


So let's say you make it from the US to Managua to a rogue Caribbean island all in one day, which is quite possible with the frequent flight table. What is there to do in the middle of nowhere, you might be wondering? Plenty, if world class fishing, diving, snorkeling, relaxing and feasting on fresh lobster appeals to you. Sound expensive? It's not, unless you're looking to actually BUY an island. In fact, Little Corn was recently ranked one of the best global travel destinations during the current economic crisis on MarkerMap.com.

I have traveled to Little Corn Island a few times now since living in Nicaragua, for work and play and I can never wait to go back. This past trip I stayed at a place called Farm, Peace & Love on the less traveled North side of the island. When I say "less traveled", I mean that most of the accommodations are located on the West side, although you can walk around the island in a matter of a couple hours. There are no cars on Little Corn. Although there are roads on Big Corn, I prefer to get from point A to point B in a golf cart. It's all a matter of personal preference. Anyway, if you like B&Bs, organic food, privacy and friendly hosts, FarmPeaceLove may be for you. (Disclaimer: Power is from a generator on Little Corn, so it is not reliable and cold water showers are the norm).

A few things I love about Little Corn Island:

~Crystal Clear and Calm Water

~Amazing Sunsets

~White Sand Beaches

~Huge Variety of Dive Spots
~Perfect for Snorkeling, or Fishing, or Reading, or doing Nothing...
~Hiking Around w/o Seeing Another Person

~Coconut Bread

~Cacao Bread
~Organic Coconut Oil

~Lobster for $12/plate
~No Cars (there is a sidewalk around the Town side)
~Nice People

~No Crime
~No Phone Reception (unless you really look hard for a signal)
~Perfect Place to Relax
~Ridiculously Perfect for a Honeymoon or Romantic Getaway
~Everyone Speaks English (for those of you still working on your Spanish)
~Huge Variety of Tropical Plants, Birds and Flowers

During my first trip to Little Corn I tried to do some sort of activity every day and dive multiple times, but on my last trip I felt content simply strolling around the coquina sand beaches, reading and swimming in the clear, blue water. The Corn Islands are not for surfers, but I think surfers can still appreciate the beauty of this place and it's great to recuperate from a long surf trip on the Pacific side. They are also not really a place for night life and partying, although Big Corn offers substantially more ambiance (Arenas Beach is a good pick for this with a more lively and all-inclusive feel, complete with shipwreck beach bar). Despite the Hostel subculture on Little Corn and Big Corn's annual Carnaval, life on the islands is quiet and relaxed. Hopefully visitors in the future will respect that as much as people do now.


Land is still quite undervalued in the Corn Islands, and free, clean and clear property is available through the right contacts. In contrast to the rest of the country, this market is still fairly under-explored and has untapped potential, but some sustainable development is currently in planning phases on Big Corn. It's actually quite amazing to be able to buy ocean view or beach front property here that is at a fraction of a fraction of the cost of The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands and even Roatan in Honduras, which has undergone triple digit price increases in the past few years.Please contact me with any specific questions on buying property in this province.

While the Corn Islands are only a very small speck in the Atlantic Province of Nicaragua, they are a must-visit for anyone who wants to see a different side of the country's culture.

For more info on travel and accommodations to the Corn Islands, please see this helpful website: http://www.bigcornisland.com/.