What airport should I fly into? The brand new Emerald Coast International Airport (Airport code – ECI) just started flights in November 2015 and is literally only a 1 minute drive from Hacienda Iguana’s entrance and 10 minute drive from the properties in Hacienda Iguana. Direct flights are from Managua on La Costeña and from San Jose or Liberia, Costa Rica on Sansa Air. You can also fly into Managua airport (Airport code- MGA) and drive 2.5 hours to Hacienda Iguana.
Is Nicaragua safe? Yes, Nicaragua is very safe. It is actually rated the 2nd safest country in Central America. The only crime in our region is occasional petty theft, but Hacienda Iguana is a gated community with guards everywhere for added comfort so you have nothing to worry about at all.
Do I need to know Spanish? It is very helpful if you know a little bit of Spanish. In the bigger towns some people may know a little English, but generally speaking, in the Tola region you will be getting by mainly with Spanish or charades.
Do I need to get any vaccinations? It’s best to talk with your doctor but we would only recommend that you are up to date on your tetanus shot. We do not have Malaria in our area and unless you will be dealing directly with animals a lot you don’t need a rabies shot.
Do I need a visa to travel to Nicaragua? When traveling with a passport, citizens of the U.S., Canada and EU countries may stay in Nicaragua for 90 days. No visa is necessary for travelers from the U.S., Canada and Western Europe. Citizens from some Latin American, Asian, African, and Eastern European countries may require visas, which can be obtained at a Nicaraguan Consulate.
What kind of medical facilities are there? All public and private hospitals and medical facilities in Nicaragua will treat foreign visitors in case of emergency, accident, sudden illness or a chronic disease. Most often you have to pay cash for treatment however some private hospitals accept payment by credit card. While medical facilities are rather limited outside of Managua, there are well equipped private facilities in the capital. If you need medical attention while in Nicaragua, the Metropolitano Vivian Pellas Hospital in Managua is a good choice.For minor colds, bumps, scratches, or stitches, the US funded private Rancho Santana Clinic, located about 15 minutes north outside of Hacienda Iguana is a good choice as well.
What if I have a medical emergency? The Rancho Santana clinic does have an ambulance that is on call in case of an emergency. We also have numbers for 2 private helicopter businesses that can help with medical emergencies if they have a helicopter available at that time.
What’s the local time zone? Nicaragua is six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and has no daylight saving time, during which time it is seven hours behind Greenwich. There is little seasonal variation at dawn (approximately 6.00 am) and dusk (6.00 pm).
Do I need to bring a voltage adapter? If you are coming from the US or Canada you will not need a voltage adapter. Nicaragua operates on 110 – Volts AC (60 – cycle) nationwide.
Do I need to exchange my USD to Cordobas? No, everywhere in Nicaragua accepts USD although you may lose a little money when buying things due to discrepancies in exchange rates so sometimes it is good to pay in Cordobas. Many people don’t accept ripped bills so make sure yours are in good condition.
What is the current exchange rate? The exchange rate is changing rapidly. In order to find an accurate exchange rate, please go to www.bcn.gob.ni and check the “Tipo de Cambio”.
Can I use credit cards in the area? A few places do accept credit cards but most do not. So please bring an ample amount of cash.
Are there any ATMs in the area? We now have an ATM inside Hacienda Iguana in the commercial area, it is located right next to Iguana Surf Rentals office. There is also an ATM located just outside Iguana’s main gates (about 4 kilometers away) that is open from 6am-12pm.
What’s the local sales tax? There is normally a 15% tax added to sale of goods and services. A 10% service fee is usually added to the bill at most restaurants. In essence this is the tip although we suggest you leave a bit more. If not included, it will be specified on the menu.
When is the best time for surfing? High surf season is considered April through September although you can still get great waves other times of the year.
What is the weather like? The temperature here stays pretty constant year round, only fluctuating between around 85-93 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainy season is from the beginning of May until the beginning of November. May through September there is intermittent rain and the majority of the rain is at night. October is considered the super rainy month. Historically it can rain all day and night for weeks and it wouldn’t be unusual to get “stuck” here as the rivers are often too high to cross at these times. That being said, we have had a severe drought here in Nicaragua for 6 years now and have not experienced a “normal” October in that long. November and December are still green and comfortable as the wind starts to pick up and it is dry from January through April. April and sometimes May are generally the hottest months (depends when they rain comes).
What is the water temp? Most of the year the water is comfortable (around 80 F), sometimes even warm, but November through March the water can get a bit chilly due to upwelling caused by the constant offshore winds. This time of year I recommend bringing a 1-2mm wetsuit top or shorty wetsuit.
Can I rent a surf board? If you’re looking for a long board we have a couple for rent, otherwise there is a surf shop here in Hacienda Iguana that rents all sizes and shapes of surfboards. You can view their quiver and prices on the NSR website.
Can you arrange airport transportation from MGA to Hacienda Iguana for me? You bet! We can arrange a Nica taxi for $90 for 1-2 people, $100 for 3 people and $110 for 4 people an SUV for $120 for 1-2 people, $130 for 3 people or $140 for 4 people each way or a 15 passenger van (fits 10 people with luggage) for $160/each way. Please just let us know your number of people, preferred type of transportation, exact arrival time, airline and flight number and we can arrange your transportation for you. Your ride does include a stop at the grocery store as well.
How long of a drive is it from the airport to Iguana and how do you get there? The drive from the airport to Iguana takes about 2-2.5 hours. The road is now paved all the away to Iguana’s gates so you will only be on a dirt road for the last 10 minutes or so. Please find directions from the airport below…
Do I need a 4X4 vehicle? Not anymore. Not long ago there was 30-45 minutes of dirt road to Hacienda Iguana but the road is now covered in pavers making for a much smoother ride. Please be aware that the 3 kilometer road into Iguana and the interior roads of Iguana are all dirt. If you plan to head north (towards Rancho Santana or Popoyo) on the main road then the road will be dirt as well but it will slowly be getting paved.
Where should I rent a car? We now have an Avis rental car agency just outside of Iguana’s gates (Location name: Riviera Market, Tola). We recommend making a reservation for a car in advance as there is limited supply. The car rental company will also deliver the car to you within Iguana upon request.
Are there any gas stations in the area? Your best bet is to fill up in Rivas. There aren’t any actual gas stations in this area but there are a few places that sell gas and will siphon it into your tank.
What about the policia? They are pretty harmless here but if they see you driving a rental or see surfboards on top of the car there’s good chance they’ll pull you over to try and get a little bribe out of you. Our friends at NSR wrote a great article explaining how to deal with this situation.
Is there local transportation available? Local taxis (cars and vans) are available for trips outside of the community.
Can you drink the tap water? The water in our area is actually spring fed and is fine to drink, but we do also provide our guests with 5 gallon bottles of purified water for drinking.
Where is the closest grocery store? We now have the Stop and Go Surf Market and the Rio´s Market both located here in Iguana’s commercial center. Both are small stores that have a little bit of everything. Another option, Rivera Market, is located just 4 kilometers from Hacienda Iguana. If you don’t have a car they will deliver groceries for a small fee. Your best bet is still to do the bulk of your shopping in Rivas at Maxi Pali or at La Colonia (most Americanized grocery store) in Managua, Masaya or Granada and use the local smaller stores to restock on provisions but if you land too late to hit the grocery store, don’t fret, you will still be able to stock up here.
What amenities are there in and around Hacienda Iguana?
Within the community of Hacienda Iguana there are currently five restaurants. The restaurant at the beach club serves healthy and delicious plates for breakfast, lunch and dinner and has a great beach bar with happy hour specials. Don Eloy’s bar and restaurant serves sandwiches, wings, bar food and pizza, has a full bar and is open for lunch and dinner. This is also a great place to watch sports games. Casa Maderas offers Nicaraguan cuisine. Vana Tacos serves burritos, quesadillas, tacos and tostones. Casa Ananas offers health/deli cuisine (vegetarian and vegan options) and a small bar with specialty beer, wine and cocktails.
Scoops and Spokes is an artisan ice cream, coffee and panini shop that also offers bike rentals and tours. Vana Tacos, Scoops and Spokes and Don Eloys are located in Iguana’s growing commercial center where you will also find the NSR Surf Shop (surfboard, moto and scooter rentals and retail), Stop and Go Surf Market (groceries and some souvenirs), Satori Spa (offering massage, facials, waxing, pedicures and manicures) and our office, Iguana Surf Rentals and Real Estate (condo and house rentals and real estate).
Coco’s Beach Boutique is now open and is a boutique store offering women’s clothing, jewelry, hats, bags and more. This boutique is located in Casa Anana, the small white house just east of the golf condos.
Just outside of Iguana’s gates (3km away) there is the new Rivera Market Place with an Avis Car Rental Company, BAC Bank Branch and ATM, Rivera Market/Grocery Store and Boardport Surf Shop (long term surfboard storage, surfboard sales and retail). There are many other great restaurants within a 10-20 minute drive from Hacienda Iguana. Please check out our Restaurant Guide for more information.
Do you offer any sort of meal package or catering? We do. We have three great local Nicaraguan cooks that work for us and can be hired for full meal packages based on availability. The meal packages include food, non-alcoholic beverages and a chef to prepare, cook and clean-up. For the meal package, breakfast usually consists of a combination of pancakes, banana pancakes, French toast, eggs, omelets, gallo pinto, hash browns, fresh fruit, tortillas and/or toast. Lunch and dinner are generally a meat (chicken, fish, beef or lobster) with a potato, rice and/or tostones and a salad and/or fresh veggies. Our chef also makes sandwiches, lasagna, tacos, pasta, hamburgers, BBQ or pizza. If there is anything in particular you’d like him to cook he’d be happy to do it. Also, we would reimburse you for any meals you choose to skip if you want to go out to eat as long as you give us a 24 hour notice that you will not want a certain meal so our chef can plan his day. We can offer you 3 meals a day for $35/person/day, 2 meals a day for $25/person/day or just dinner (no drinks included) for $14/person (or $17/person for lobster dinner). Kids under 12 can have a smaller portioned plate at half price. The minimum meal package we offer is for 4 paying adults. We can of course still arrange the meal package for 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 kids but we will have to charge as if it was for 4 adults.
How often is maid service offered? In the condos we offer cleaning service every other day and the beachfront houses daily cleaning is offered.
Can I arrange for more frequent cleaning than what is offered? You bet. It will just cost $8 for each additional cleaning that you would like.
Is there a phone I can use? Yup, we provide a cell phone in each house and condo that you can easily add money onto to make local or international calls. Please find the instructions on how to load money in your check in info of Info Guide in the condo.
Is there internet? Yes, every house or condo we manage has wifi internet. The internet here is pretty consistent but it does go out on occasions.