Nicaragua: Authentic Beach Life…at a Bargain Price

I came away from my first visit to Nicaragua, in 2004, with a lopsided image of the coastal lifestyle in Central America’s largest country…an image based only on the southern Pacific coast and its network of luxury, planned communities designed specifically with expats in mind.

But it turns out—as I discovered on subsequent visits—there’s another, far more “authentic” and affordable environment to explore along this country’s central and northern Pacific coast.

I revisited two pairs of villages recently—near Managua and near Leon—to see how this area has fared in the last few years. The verdict? The values (and views) are more alluring than ever.

When I reached the coast at Masachapa, I was greeted by a small, simple town mostly built around one street. Just 35 miles from Managua, it offers a good collection of markets and shops with girls selling handicrafts, while there are a couple of mouth-watering seafood restaurants along the beach.

The town has undergone a face lift since my first visit in 2004, with many of the buildings spruced up and freshly painted. The village of Pochomil, which adjoins Masachapa, feels less rustic and has a higher percentage of vacation homes and fewer full-time residents than its neighbor. (See a video of Masachapa here.)

Pochomil’s most prominent commercial activity is still its string of large, open-air seafood restaurants on the beach. Here, families stake out an umbrella or table for the entire day, enjoying seafood delicacies, cold drinks, and protection from the sun while they play in the surf and sand.

The beach these towns share is wide and sandy—the widest I’ve seen in Nicaragua—running about 10 miles long. The sand slopes very gradually into the blue Pacific, which is calm and warm on this section of coastline…perfect for swimming.

The nearby luxury resort of Barceló at Montelimar and the former presidential seaside retreat both attest to this beach’s place in the pecking order of Nicaragua’s shoreline.

The Masachapa/Pochomil area is the nearest developed shore point to the capital of Managua and it’s the destination for many Managuans going on day trips to the beach. It also hosts many second homeowners, including a diverse mix of international residents.

During my trip, I looked at a string of properties—everything from a quarter-acre beachside lot to a five-bedroom, resort-style home. My favorite house was perched on a hill about a half-block from the beach. It had three bedrooms and two baths, was nicely remodeled and had an awesome wraparound porch with a sparkling ocean view. The asking price? $149,000.

My full “Nicaragua Beach Bargain” report, including property picks and contact details, is in the current issue of International Living magazine. Subscribe now to get access.

Editor’s note: There is plenty more for beach lovers in our August issue. Real estate expert Ronan McMahon headed to Brazil where he found beach houses priced from an astonishing $15,000 each. Meanwhile, Dan Prescher went to Panama where he uncovered a “Pirates of the Caribbean coastline where sailors anchor in hidden coves and people stake out homesteads on island hilltops.” It’s a fantastic issue, and you can get your copy here.


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