The bus ride from Granada to Rivas was about two hours. Taxi drivers swarmed as soon as we got off the bus. One of them started to take my backpack. Espera, I said, almost pissed off. Calm down and wait for us to hire one of you before you take our bags. We needed a ride to Morgan’s Rock on BahÃa Majagual and we heard prices up to $40. I read beforehand that the ride to San Juan was about $18, but because Morgan’s Rock is a private hacienda, we negotiated with one of the drivers for $25. Moises followed the blue MR signs on La Chocolata Road for 30 minutes before we reached the security gate. The guard let us in after confirming our reservations and we kept driving through the private forest until we arrived at the main lodge where ice-cold cranberry juice was waiting for us. Staff members in white uniforms and khaki shorts took our bags to deliver them to our room while the manager showed us around. We laughed at ourselves because we’ve never stayed at a luxury place in Central America.
Inspired by the Lapa Rios Ecolodge in Costa Rica, luxury became an understatement the three days we were at the hacienda because it came with impressive responsibility. Morgan’s Rock is part of a 1,000-hectare tree farming and reforestation project as well as an 800-hectare private nature reserve. More than a million hardwood and fruit trees have been planted the last five years to bring back the animals native to the Pacific Coast. Howler monkeys woke us up in the middle of the night. Magpie Blue Jays and squirrels joined us for coffee in the mornings. Turtle eggs are monitored and protected on the beach. They have a sugar cane mill where they make their own rum, plus a farm provides food to the staff and the guests.
All the wood used to build the bungalows came from responsibly-managed logging sources and tree farming projects in the country to ensure ecological responsibility. The bungalows face west and have a view of the bay or the estuary and they were all designed to shelter guests from all kinds of weather. The designer and architect only used local materials and recycled wood while local artisans created and crafted the furnishings. The bungalows are connected to the main lodge by a 110-meter suspension bridge which was built so that trees weren’t unnecessarily cut. We had to climb 184 steps to our #15 bungalow so we made sure we packed everything we needed in the morning. There is no solar power but a bio-filter system was installed for water and the pool only uses natural salt to stay clean. They also built an on-site waste disposal plant and separation system and created a recycling project.
Ranchitos or huts sit on the beach to provide respite from the intense sun. A pool with an infinity-style edge is right next to the restaurant and bar. We signed up for a night walk one night with Juan where we saw all kinds of animals in the dark with the help of a flashlight. There were snakes, scorpions, bats, spiders, sleeping birds and butterflies and stinky howler monkeys. (When it started to smell like cow poop, Juan howled to attract them. We ran as soon as they responded because they apparently throw their poop to scare you away.) We also hiked around the forest one morning where we saw a few white-faced monkeys across the shrimp farm. We used the body boards when the waves were strong enough. Unfortunately, the estuary was too dry to kayak and it was too windy in the season to go fishing with the staff. We didn’t do much while at Morgan’s Rock except truly relax and tune out.
Where to stay in Bahia Majagual: Morgan’s Rock Ecolodge and Hacienda