Once we finally made it to Playa Maderas, we were slightly delirious. Mostly without a nights sleep, a search for a mysterious bus stop and a hectic border crossing later, we were just happy to lay our heads somewhere. (See post about crossing the Cost/Nica border)
Our taxi took us from San Juan Del Sur to Playa Maderas at around 5pm, and we were advised because it was “late out” it may cost more.
Late!? It’s 5pm, we thought.
However – the road to Playa Maderas is a bit of an interesting one, bumpy and gravel, and depending on how intense the rain has been, there could be washouts and deep pot holes, not to mention the large, steep dirt hill up and down into Maderas.
It’s funny how sometimes you can’t help but imagine what a place is going to be like, and then it’s completely different. I love to read about things and look at photos before I go somewhere. I love to get excited and visualize where I’m going to be. The trouble is that more often than not, it’s nothing like what I imagined. I’m never not surprised at what a new place looks and feels like.
Our taxi dropped us at the bottom of the hill where our hostel sat at the top. It had to have been at least a 45 degree incline on rugged dirt road, and it was getting dark out so we said that we would walk. (And he basically had said there was no way he would make it up that hill!)
Having no clue where we were going, but kinda/sorta an image in my head from my research, we set out to find Hostel Clandestino.
Dripping sweat by the time we got to the top of the hill, I spotted a structure that sort of resembled what I had seen on the website. On the walk up the hill we had passed other spots that I had seen on the internet, Buena Vista Surf Club, Maderas Village, and finally at the top of the hill – there it was, Hostel Clandestino.
We were welcomed by a sweet German girl, whose name I recognized from conversing over email, Johanna. She was so incredibly welcoming and showed us around this magnificent tree-fort like hostel in the jungle behind the beach at Maderas.
I was in awe of this place. The structures, the details that were put into the outdoors bathrooms (bamboo around the sinks and beautiful mosaic tiles laid into the concrete floors & mirrors). We settled into our cute little private room with a hammock on the porch ($40 USD/night) and proceeded to meet some of the other guests at the hostel.
Everyone was so epic. SO. EPIC. The law of attraction is really working at this place, and after meeting the owners, Stephen & Karina, a young German couple with two cuties of children, you can see why. Good people run a good place, who attract a good vibe of travels.
The main thing I loved about this hostel was that there were several places to hang out – a yoga/hammock platform for some quiet time, a big, beautiful table for everyone to gather and have a few beers at, another seated outdoor living room area, a cooking kitchen with a table and chairs, AND a space with hammocks in front of our own room. Not to mention the self serve cerveza station, free coffee, water and wifi. So important at a hostel.
We had to be pretty good planners though, purchasing mostly all of our food in town at San Juan Del Sur. The 4x daily Casa Oro Beach shuttle ($5 round trip) helped a lot though – quick and easy trips into town made for some good meals at Clandestino – one night we even made pizza in the stone fire pizza oven!
And of course – Rob needed to purchase a Surf Board from a used shop in SJDS for the rest of the trip.
We meandered around Maderas, (and eventually got really good at climbing that hill) and didn’t even mind when we would break a big sweat coming up it because we would just hop into the outdoor showers when we arrived back at the hostel.
Maderas is a popular spot for surfers, and there’s often day visitors from San Juan Del Sur so the beach itself can get kind of busy. There’s a few bars/food spots down at the beach, but it was so nice to have a quiet place to land up top the hill.
We spent time at the beach, swimming & surfing, but we also explored the coastline too a little bit. If you walk to the right just down a little bit, there’s a private swimming beach that’s beautiful – we enjoyed that a lot!
Clandestino was a beautiful mix of solitude, community and relaxation -it was hard to leave. But onward we had to go, off to explore new places and beach towns along the coast of Nicaragua.