Nicaragua's Family-Friendly Finca Las Nubes

This San Juan del Sur sanctuary is a welcome respite for families traveling to this central american gem

A howler monkey rests in a tree outside Casa Buenavida, Finca Las Nubes. It was a treat to watch the monkeys--even babies--either in the morning during breakfast or at sunset. Photo by Michael Mundt

A howler monkey rests in a tree outside Casa Buenavida, Finca Las Nubes. It was a treat to watch the monkeys--even babies--either in the morning during breakfast or at sunset. Photo by Michael Mundt

     The LED golf balls light up with each bounce as Chris Robertson playfully slings them on his golf green, arcing in neon shades of purple, blue, red and green as they make contact with the stiff ground. The Nicaragua night sky grows darker as kids run around the green in anticipation of the family golf game, the air heavy with excitement for the impending contest.

     That is, until one errant ball knocks my 10-year-old son smack in the forehead.

     “Oh, I’m so sorry, dude,” says Finca Las Nubes (FLN) patriarch Chris Robertson, his face a knot of concern as my child rubs the offended part of his forehead, already a rising, throbbing bruise beneath his bangs.

     “I’m okay,” my son says, as Robertson’s daughter, Natalie, rushes to his side with an ice pack.

     In no time, despite the goose egg, he had rallied for the post-dinner shootout on the Farm’s par-3 short course, one of the many unique, family-friendly amenities available to guests at this “Farm in the Clouds.”  

     A 240-acre nature reserve etched on a hilltop above Nicaragua’s legendary beach destination San Juan del Sur, it started nearly 20 years ago with Robertson’s utopian vision of a self-sustaining, organic farm that would provide a safe, healthy haven for three his kids and future generations while also enhancing the local community.

     Today that self-sustaining vision also includes 40+ staff, who receive room and board while working there; an on-site school, the San Juan Day School, where staff children, including Natalie’s daughter and son, are taught alongside local kids; and several houses—Robertson’s and Natalie’s—as well as five private villas for rent.

     Families can choose from five houses—accommodating four to 10 guest—for an all-inclusive rate of $999 per person (discounts available for groups of five or more).

     The rate includes a house with a private infinity pool and panoramic views of San Juan del Sur (just 2 miles away); cleaning and cooking staff; laundry service; and all meals, made primarily with ingredients cultivated on the Farm, including coffee, honey and a “superfood” known as moringa.

     As well, the fee includes a vehicle/driver and all activities (with rare exception) throughout the area of Nicaragua known as the Triangle of the South, including San Juan del Sur, Granada to the north and Ometepe Island to the northeast on Lake Nicaragua.

     The idea is to give families a safe, fun, activity-filled vacation in Nicaragua that maintains the authenticity of Nicaragua.

     “Our role is to act as local Nicaragua experts,” says Brad Holland, FLN marketing manager and owner of the property’s newest home, Casa Buenavida, completed in 2016. “We can customize family vacations that are tailored to the kids’ ages. We’ll set up something specific to each family so it’s not the same five days in a row.”

     “This place is one-of-a-kind,” says Natalie, who now owns and manages FLN. “When my guests visit, I hope they reconnect with their families, with nature, with themselves. I want them to be able to check out of their crazy world and see this as their wonderland. This is our own little slice of heaven.”

     Here is a brief rundown on my family’s weeklong visit to Finca Las Nubes:

ON-SITE ACTIVITIES

A guest zip-lining at Parque de Aventura Las Nubes, located on the Finca Las Nubes property. Photo by Michael Mundt

A guest zip-lining at Parque de Aventura Las Nubes, located on the Finca Las Nubes property. Photo by Michael Mundt

 

My family’s week-long stay there included on-site activities like horseback riding; zip-lining at Parque de Aventura Las Nubes, located on the property as a separate business; and playing mini-golf on one of two turf greens, the Farm’s singular artificial features.

Oh, and let’s not forget poolside massages for my husband and me while our two kids met the farm animals and searched for sloths, “perezoso,” in the nearby trees.

 

 

 

OFF-SITE ACTIVITIES

Our group watches an olive ridley sea turtle lay eggs on the beach at La Flor Refuge. Photo by Michael Mundt.

Our group watches an olive ridley sea turtle lay eggs on the beach at La Flor Refuge. Photo by Michael Mundt.

Off-site excursions included surfing lessons on San Juan del Sur's Playa Maderas; riding a horse carriage through Spanish-colonial stronghold Granada; boating through Lake Nicargua’s Las Isletas; viewing the angry lava lake in the bowels of Masaya Volcano’s Santiago pit crater; diving in the clear waters of the Apoyo Lagoon; watching olive ridley sea turtles lay eggs one night at the beach; and taking a ferry to the uber-hip Ometepe Island for up-close views of its famed, twin volcanoes, Concepción and Maderas, and swimming in the crystal-clear spring waters of Ojo de Agua.