Weather and Surf Conditions
What airport should I fly into? Our local airport, Emerald Coast International Airport (Airport code – ECI), started flights in November 2015 and is literally only a 1-2 minute drive from Hacienda Iguana’s entrance and 10 minute drive from the properties in Hacienda Iguana. Direct flights to ECI are from San Jose or Liberia, Costa Rica on Sansa Air (www.flysansa.com). You can also fly into Managua airport (Airport code- MGA) and drive 2.5 hours to Hacienda Iguana or fly to Liberia, Costa Rica and drive 2.5-4 hours (depending on how busy the border is) 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 although many establishments now have at least one English speaking employee.
Do I need to get any vaccinations? It’s best to talk with your doctor but for Americans and Canadians 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.
Yellow Fever Vaccination: Does not apply to Americans and Canadians. Nicaragua requires proof of a yellow fever vaccination from travelers who, less than 11 days prior to their planned entry into Nicaragua, have visited countries designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as places with the potential for active transmission of yellow fever. The vaccination must have been given at least 10 days prior to entry to the WHO-designated country. The WHO-designated countries currently include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, and nearly 30 countries located on the African continent. The United States and Canada are not listed as countries with the potential for active transmission of yellow fever.
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? Hacienda Iguana now has it’s own First Response Center (Nica Heartbeat First Aid Center) located in the commercial center of Iguana just past Rios Market. The Nica Heartbeat First Aid Center is equipped to stabilize injuries, administer stitches, treat sting ray stings and other surf related injuries, prescribe basic meds, cleanse wounds, administer various medications via shot and provide basic medical attention. The First Aid Center is fueled by donations and open and available to the local Nicaraguan community, travelers and expats.
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 Managua. If you need serious medical attention while in Nicaragua, the Metropolitano Vivian Pellas Hospital in Managua is the best option and is about a 2-2.5 hour drive away.
What if I have a medical emergency? The Nica Heartbeat First Aid Center has a trained doctor for immediate stabilization and the Rancho Santana Clinic (20 minute away) does have an ambulance that is on call in case of an emergency. Nicaragua does now have a helicopter company equipped and ready for medical emergencies.
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.
Can I bring a drone? It is illegal to bring drones into Nicaragua and if customs finds it they will hold it at the airport until you depart and charge a “storage fee” so we highly suggest not bringing your drone with you.
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 or bills with markings on them 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? There is a Banco La Fise ATM in the community that it is located in the commercial area of Iguana, across from NSR surf shop and in between our office (Iguana Surf Rentals) and Satori Spa. There is also a BAC ATM located just outside Iguana’s main gates in the Riviera Market (about 4 kilometers away) that is open from 6am to 12pm. The La Fise ATM inside Iguana is often out of money and doesn’t take all cards so it is a good idea to stock up on cash in Rivas or go to the BAC ATM outside the gates on your way to Iguana.
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 but it is generally divided between the whole staff so we suggest you leave a bit more specifically for your server. 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 in October it can rain all day and night for weeks. That being said, in the past 10 years we have only had 2 Octobers that could fit this descrpition. November and December are still green and the temperatures are comfortable. It is dry from January through April. For about 2 months between January and March the winds generally get very heavy. April and sometimes May are generally the hottest and most humid 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.
DRIVING & TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS
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…
Driving Directions from the Airport (Managua) to Hacienda Iguana
Do I need a 4X4 vehicle? Not anymore. The road is paved all the way to Hacienda Iguana but 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.
Where should I rent a car? There are 2 car rental agency options that are close by or service the Hacienda Iguana community. Alamo/Enterprise/National will deliver and pick up vehicles to and from your rental property in Hacienda Iguana. There is also a Dollar kiosk at the Costa Esmeralda Airport that upon reservation will pick guests up in Iguana and bring them to the airport to get pick up a car (free of charge).
Can I rent a golf cart? You bet! We offer golf cart rentals for $40/day or $240/week if paid for in cash. They are 4 person, battery powered golf carts that you can charge nightly at your property. You can use them anywhere within the community and to go out to the Preschool.
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.
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? In Hacienda Iguana we have the Stop and Go Surf Market and the Rios 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 La Colonia (most Americanized grocery store) 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 seven 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 salads, sandwiches, wings, bar food and pizza, has a full bar. Iguana Brewery is just below Don Eloys and has craft beers, a full bar and serves salads, sandwiches and pizza. Don Eloys and Iguana Brewery are both great places to watch sports games. Scoops and Spokes is an artisan ice cream, coffee, juice and panini shop. Scoops and Spokes is also the place to go for bike rentals. VeGarden is located right next to Stop and Go Surf Market and has Vegan specials and baked goods. Casa Maderas is a restaurant with local Nicaraguan cuisine, open for lunch and dinner, and located in the wood house just east of the golf condos. They also have a pool that is open to anyone that is eating at the restaurant. Lastly, Casa Ananas (located just east of the golf condos) is open for dinner on selected nights with special menus including: seafood, pizza, Italian, Mexican or Thai cuisine. It is best to check their Facebook page for each night’s special. Don Eloys, Iguana Brewery, Scoops and Spokes and VeGarden are all located in Iguana’s growing commercial center where you will also find a La Fise ATM, NSR Surf Shop, Stop and Go Surf Market (groceries), Rios Market (groceries), Satori Spa, Nica Heartbeat First Response Center and our office, Iguana Surf Rentals and Real Estate.
The Satori Spa and Gift Shop is located in Iguana’s Commercial Center just across from NSR Surf Shop. Satori Spa is a boutique day spa that offers massage, facials, manicures and pedicures, waxing and body treatments and offer in home treatments upon
Just outside of Iguana’s gates (3km away) there is the Rivera Market Place with a BAC Bank Branch and ATM and Jasco’s Restaurant (specializing in sushi but has other options too). 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 two 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 or casita we offer cleaning service every other day. In Casa Cartagena we offer a daily half day cleaning and in the beachfront houses daily cleaning is offered.
Can I arrange for more frequent cleaning than what is offered? You bet. It will just cost $10 for each additional cleaning that you would like.
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.
For information on activities, please see our day trip ideas, activities, and hikes pages.