After spending a few dreamy nights at Jicaro Ecolodge’s petite island paradise on Lake Nicaragua I was looking forward to enjoying a change of scenery: from freshwater lake to roaring ocean, tiny private island to expansive nature reserve. Opened in 2004 by the Poncon family, Morgan’s Rock can be found on the shores of the Southern Pacific Coast of Nicaragua, a short 20 minute drive from the breezy surf town of San Juan del Sur.
Located on a 4,000 acre expanse of Nicaraguan jungle, nearly half of Morgan’s Rock is a government protected reserve. The huge property plays home to just fifteen luxury bungalows which offer guests stunning views over a private 1.2 km beach. Enjoy the best sleep of your life from a plush king sized bed while waking up each morning to the sounds of an enthusiastic jungle community made up of hungry howler monkey, languorous sloths and tweeting tropical bird. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a total failure when it comes to “finding the time to relax,” so you can imagine how surprised I was when after my first nights sleep at Morgan’s Rock I slept a jaw dropping 10 hours! I couldn’t remember the last time I had woken up feeling so rested. I spent my morning evangelically gushing to my fellow hotel guests, “we may have found the most relaxing retreat on earth.”
Fast facts on Morgan’s Rock eco-friendly endeavours:
- since owners purchased the land in 1998, 1.5 million trees have been planted on the property. A Rainforest Alliance-certified sustainable forestry project.
- bungalows are sustainably constructed, built and furnished by Simplemente Madera an international sustainable wood products + furniture company.
- low-impact agriculture provides the resorts restaurant with fresh produce, meat and dairy (providing 60% of the basic food consumed at the lodge).
- engages in an ongoing sea turtle conservation project with hatching/nesting throughout the year.
- a centralized bio filter system runs on property and once treated water is used for irrigation.
On arrival day enjoy “the luxury of lazy” by working on your tan at the pool, swaying in a hammock on the beach, treating yourself to a massage and sipping a tart margarita. Tour guides also offer a lengthy menu of excursions for those antsy on the beach. An excellent opportunity to tap into the regions unique history, culture and ecology. Highlights of my stay at Morgan’s Rock include:
Sips and Nibbles
Make sure you’re sitting at the bar at 6pm sipping a rum or tequila spiked cocktail as the best views of the sunset can be found here. The bartender makes a mean margarita best paired with the crunch and munch of pre-dinner bar bites which feature deep fried cheese, caramelized onion fondue and smokey bbq chicken wings. Don’t leave without trying a few spoonfuls of gallo pinto, Nicaragua’s national dish (beans and rice) which makes a perfect companion to fried fish or crispy shrimp tacos.
Horseback Riding with a View
Saddle up in the late afternoon to enjoy an adventure through the jungle, spotting playful monkeys, sleeping sloths and a wild variety of exotic birds along the way. After a quick climb, emerge out of the forest onto a coastal hill which offers a jaw-dropping panoramic view of the property below. Trot past butterfly adorned mango trees before splashing on the beach arriving just in time to watch the sunset.
Breakfast on the Farm
The most popular activity at Morgan’s Rock is an educational and edible one! Perfect for curious kids and food writers with a penchant for rolling up their sleeves in search of an authentic taste of place. As soon as I arrived at the farm I was put to work, enjoying a quick lesson on how one milks a cow. After mastering the art of uttering I headed into the coup where hilarious hens roam free, marching to the beat of their own drum. After stealing a few warm eggs I walked over to the kitchen where I watched the lady of the house throw together a hearty Nicaraguan breakfast. We threw a few fresh tortillas on the wood stove and sat together for an unforgettable farm-to-table feast which featured a hot mug of locally grown coffee, crispy tortilla, beans + rice, scrambled eggs, fresh cheese and spicy pico de gallo.
Kayak Through the Estuary
While exploring the mangrove forest with a friendly guide via tandem kayak, view exotic birds and experience some much needed tranquility. Morgan’s Rock estuary is 1.5 kms long and offers plenty of nooks and hanging foliage to navigate through. Ornithologists estimate that 70-90 species of birds live on the reserve, making Morgan’s Rock a sanctuary for bird lovers. For a few moments all you can hear is the drip of water plopping off your paddle, the squawk of a nearby egret and the clickity clack of crabs who zig zag along the muddy shore.