A fine day of wine tasting in the Barossa Valley, South Australia

A fine day of wine tasting in the Barossa Valley, South Australia

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for a fine day of wine tasting in the Barossa Valley, South Australia.

The Barossa Valley is one the most well-known wine regions in Australia. Located in the state of South Australia and just an hours’ drive north of Adelaide, the word “Barossa” is synonymous with good wine.

When my Mum and I planned a girls’ weekend in Adelaide, I just knew that we had to visit the Barossa. As we intended on tasting loads of delicious wine, hiring a car was out of the question. The best option for us would be to join a tour group.

After searching around on the web, I came across Taste the Barossa tours. What I really liked about Taste the Barossa was that they operated smaller groups (maximum 20 people) and were very reasonably priced in comparison to many other tours. They also operated 7 days a week, unlike other tour companies which may only run Barossa tours every 2-3 days.

Our Taste the Barossa Premium Tour had a packed itinerary, starting with a 9:25am pick up from North Adelaide (right in front of our hotel doorstop) and finishing with a drop off just after 5pm.

This is how our fine day of wine tasting in the Barossa Valley went down.

Planning a trip to Australia? Read our local guide for visitors to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Whispering Wall

The first stop of the day was a historical and fun site, although not wine related (don’t worry there’s plenty of wine tastings coming up soon!). The Whispering Wall is the curved concrete wall of a dam, called the Barossa Reservoir. The angle of the curve has created the ability of sound to travel from one side to the other.

Russell, our Taste the Barossa driver, encouraged us all to walk along the bridge of the dam to the other side, so we could test this for ourselves. Sure enough, when Russell spoke at a normal speaking level, we could hear him clearly from across the opposite side.

The Whispering Wall has some pretty interesting history and funny anecdotes, however I will let Russell tell you himself when you go on your own Taste the Barossa tour.

Château Yaldara

As the tour bus drives up to Château Yaldara, one of the first things you notice is the gorgeous archictecture. In fact, Château Yaldara is one of the most photographed buildings in South Australia. The winery was founded in 1947 and named “Yaldara” after the aboriginal word for sparkling.

After being directed into the tasting room, your first wine tasting experience of the day will begin. The tasting is a “structured” tasting which means the wines have been picked out and ordered specifically (usually from the lightest to most bold wines). At the end of each tasting, you will have an opportunity to purchase the wines you tasted, or any other wines on offer.

Chateau Yaldara, South Australia

Tanunda

The short stop in Tanunda was a really nice addition to the day. Tanunda is a small town in the valley of Barossa, with a real country feel. Russell dropped us off, armed with recommendations and directions to the lolly shop, then told us he would meet us at the other end of the road.

With so many choices of goodies, but also the knowledge that we would be eating lunch in less than an hour, my Mum and I settled with espresso coffees and candies. Although we were the last ones back on the bus (sorry Russell!) we were giggling and gleeful with our sweets in hand.

Peter Lehmann

Most drinkers of Australian wine will probably have heard of Peter Lehmann at some point. Don’t worry if you haven’t, both Russell and the expert staff will fill you in on all the rich history of Peter Lehmann wines. It’s a pretty inspirational tale.

Upon arrival, you are provided with a detailed handout of the tasting menu and Cellar Door sales list. This is handy so that you can remember which wine was your favorite, order a glass (or bottle) to have with lunch and even take home with you.

We tasted eight wines in total, with quite a few medium to full-bodied reds (my favorite!). This was also the first time that I ever tried a sparkling red, which is a unique Australian style of wine.

Peter Lehmann Wine Tasting

Following the tasting, we headed into a separate room to have our Weighbridge Platter Lunch. The whole lunch affair was a delight, with wine being passed around, platters and stories being shared. The food was absolutely sumptuous, with an arrangement of meats, cheeses, breads and olives (vegetarian platters are available upon request). I could not have imagined a better lunch to go with our day of wine tastings.

Peter Lehmann - Lunch

Langmeil

Fresh country air and a stretch of the legs are a good idea right about now. Following lunch, Russell will direct you on how to walk from Peter Lehmann’s to Langmeil Winery. Just a short and easy ten minute stroll away. Don’t worry if you don’t feel up to it – Russell is also happy to take you by bus.

Langmeil’s tasting room was very inviting with a warm roaring fire and helpful staff waiting to pour. This is the only tasting of the tour which is unstructured. It means that you can choose from their wine list, rather than the wines being picked out in advance. Compare your favorite or try something new. If you are completely stuck for ideas, then the staff at Langmeil will be happy to offer suggestions.

Mengler’s Hill

A day of wine in the Barossa, wouldn’t be complete without seeing the view of the valley. The whole area is stunningly beautiful and this is made even more so evident from this elevated viewpoint.

View of the Barossa Valley, South Australia

Murray Street Vineyards

Just when we thought we would never be able to eat again after our huge lunch at Peter Lehmann, our wine expert at Murray Street Vineyards had us dreaming of dinner with her detailed description of food and wine pairings. As we tried each delectable wine in our structured tasting, our wine guide would describe in detail the perfect foods to match with it.

The other aspect that I really enjoyed about our visit to Murray Street, was that the tasting room was lined with wine barrels. The whole place had a real charm. It was lovely to sit out in the garden afterwards, soaking up the sun and looking out across the vineyards.

Murray Street Vineyards - Tasting Room


Taste the Barossa

Taste the Barossa is a family-owned company, run by Dallas and his wife Nikki. They provide both daily group tours and private charters (upon request).

We took the Taste the Barossa Premium Tour, which includes wine tasting at four different wineries and a platter lunch. Our driver, Russell, was very knowledgeable about wines and the history of Barossa Valley.

Taste the Barossa makes pickups from Adelaide and Glenelg.

Website: http://www.tastethebarossa.com.au/

Taste the Barossa Tour Bus

My Mum and I were complimentary guests of Taste the Barossa, however my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.


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Adoration 4 Adventure's recommendations for a fine day of wine tasting in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. Including stops at four different wineries.

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Celebrating the senses in Panama City, Panama

Celebrating the senses in Panama City, Panama

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for celebrating the senses in Panama City, Panama.

When was the last time that you truly spoiled all your senses?

Often when choosing a holiday destination and hotel, we think about what we are going to see and what the hotel itself looks like. But what about your other four senses? Don’t they deserve a great holiday too?

When deciding where to stay in Panama City, Darrell and I wanted to go all out. After all, it was the last stop of our eventful 9 week backpacking trip of Central America!

After a quick online browsing session, I had my heart set on staying at the Tantalo. A restaurant, roof top bar and hotel, Tantalo is not only visually appealing with its unique and artistic decor but also boosted a program to stimulate guests’ other senses.

And did it live up to the hype? You bet!

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Tantalo Hotel

This hotel is cooler than I could ever dream of being. Like the perfect cocktail, Tantalo has all the right ingredients to create a trendy and fun place to sleep, eat, drink and hang out in Panama City. Even if you don’t end up staying in one of their colorful rooms, you should definitely stop in to enjoy the restaurant, roof top bar and city views.

Tantalo Hotel, Panama City, Panama

Located in the historic area of Casco Viejo, Tantalo is a three story colonial building transformed into a modern attraction. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has enough to keep you busy for days. The charming streets are full of monuments, churches, restaurants and cafes. Almost every corner and plaza is “Instagram-worthy” and will have you cooing over its beauty (okay maybe that’s just me!).

After having traveled for so long, I was starting to worry that I had travel fatigue. It felt like I no longer appreciated the opportunity to play tourist. Well Casco Viejo changed that for me! Each day I was thrilled to head out with a map in hand, winding up each and every street to tick off all the attractions in the area. Tantalo provides a map upon check in and it has all the information you need to explore the area. Our favorite stop was at the Coca-Cola cafe, one of the oldest diners in Panama City and was visited by Che Guevara.

Casco Viejo, Panama City, Panama

Tantalo Kitchen

If this artwork doesn’t tempt you to wander in, then the smell of the food definitely will. The Tantalo Kitchen is situated street-level and serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails. Darrell and I had our breakfast here each day. The breakfast menu is very reasonably priced with dishes starting from USD $4. On our first morning, we both had the Omelet Calle which comes with toast and potatoes. Savored along with our coffee choices of an Americano and Soy Latte, we were in heaven. We loved the Omelet Calle so much that we had it two days in a row – it’s that good! Consider your taste buds and nose appeased.

Tantalo Kitchen - Ground Floor Restaurant

Tantalo Rooftop

Looking for a place to relax with a drink after your big day of sightseeing? Come by the Tantalo rooftop for the drinks and stay for the city views and fun atmosphere. The bar has a range of signature cocktails with food service available here too. We stayed at Tantalo on a Monday and Tuesday night in June (which is considered the off season) and can attest to the fact that the rooftop bar was still pumping up until midnight. On the weekends the bar is open to the early hours, with the possibility of a little salsa and live music. A treat for the ears.

Tantalo Kitchen - Rooftop Bar

Tropi Exotica

All the rooms at Tantalo are individually created so you can choose the space that suits your personality. I am a pretty outgoing and confident person therefore was thrilled to be staying in a room that was equally as bold and vibrant in decor. The Tropi Extotica room was designed by artist “Yanneth Albornoz” and features a large Bengal Tiger mural next to the bed.

Tantalo Kitchen - Tropi Exotica Bed

Each room includes a well stocked mini bar, safe, luggage rack, hair dryer, iron and iron board (which I appreciated as my dress has become all wrinkled during our transit). The room we stayed in was a Grande, which comes with a luxurious king sized bed and soft linen. It feels so good on your skin that you will be looking forward to bed time!

Other amenities for Grande rooms include bluetooth speakers and a private terrace overlooking the beautiful Casco Viejo. Our walk-in shower was the most unique I have experienced while staying in a hotel. The floor was raised above the bathroom tiles with floating bamboo slates. It is such a nice feeling not to have water pooling at your feet or be standing on cold tiles. A luxurious experience for your sense of touch.

Tantalo Kitchen - Sitting Area

Panama Canal

A trip to Panama City would not be complete without a visit to the Panama Canal. If you are a little rusty on your history – don’t worry! There is a three story, interactive museum waiting inside to catch you up with the past century of events. In fact the Panama Canal recently celebrated its 100th year in 2014 and just two days before we visited, opened a new expansion.

Ships pass through the Panama Canal, working their way through a series of three “locks” to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific side (or vice versa). There are usually over 35 ships per day so it is highly likely that you will see at least one during your visit. Unlucky for us, we happened to arrive on a day where there were no ships scheduled that afternoon.

Once we arrived back at the Tantalo and told the concierge, César that we had not seen a ship pass through, he contacted the Panama Canal to find out their ship schedule for the next day. Sure enough, Darrell went back and was able to see not just one, but three ships passing through the lock. Thanks to the help of the Tantalo staff, Darrell could achieve his dream of seeing this incredible sight.

Panama Canal, Panama City

Getting to Casco Viejo, Panama

Panama City is an international hub with a modern airport, serviced by most major airlines. To get to and from the airport to Casco Viejo, you could take a taxi or travel by public transport. The closest bus station is within walking distance and connects with the railway stop of Albrook Station. From there, you can take the train to 5 de Mayo Station and walk 15-20 minutes to the Tantalo hotel.

We traveled to Panama City from Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro via an overnight bus. The bus left around 6pm from Almirante, on the mainland next to the islands of Bocas. You can travel to the station from Isla Colon by boat and then taxi. The overnight bus is advertised to arrive in Panama City at around 5am, however ours pulled into the station at 2am. I have also heard similar stories from people who caught the bus from Boquete. If you do decide to travel to Panama City by bus, make sure to keep this in mind and organize an extra nights’ accommodation if required.

Taxis are lined up at the front of Albrook bus station or you can travel metro train to Casco Viejo.


Tantalo, Panama City

Tantalo is a boutique hotel, rooftop bar and kitchen located in Panama City. Guests can choose from ten individually designed rooms. For details and pricing, check out Hotel.

Location: Calle 8 Este con Avenida B, Casco Viejo, Panama

Website: http://tantalohotel.com/

Tantalo Kitchen - Ground Floor Bar

Adoration 4 Adventure were complimentary guests of Tantalo, however our opinions are our own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.


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Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for celebrating the senses in Panama City. A trip to indulge the sense of sight, smell, sound, taste and touch.

Have you visited Panama City or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.

Escaping to the North Beaches of San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Escaping to the North Beaches of San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendation for escaping to the North Beaches of San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua.

San Juan Del Sur is located in the south of Nicaragua, along the pacific coast. A relaxed beach town with international influences, it is a popular attraction for backpackers. Particularly infamous for its weekly pub crawls, named “Sunday Funday”, many travelers time their trips to either coincide or avoid the weekends depending on their preference for big parties.

Darrell and I were both keen to explore the area around San Juan Del Sur, however wanted to skip the party scene. We had also heard that the beaches in the north of San Juan Del Sur were better for surfing, swimming and relaxing than the beach closest to the main town.

So we planned our escape to the beaches north of San Juan Del Sur.

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The North Beaches of San Juan Del Sur

Only a thirty minute drive from San Juan Del Sur, are three strikingly beautiful beaches called Playa Marsella, Playa Maderas and Playa Majagual. The beaches sit alongside each other, separated only by rocky cliffs. It is possible to walk from one beach to another, and in fact we actually rode horses along Playa Maderas to Playa Majagual.

Playa Marsella is the ultimate beach for relaxing. A sandy, white stretch of sand with clear water and only a hint of civilization. When we visited, there were only a handful of people on the beach and we were surprised that a place so lovely had so few visitors. It felt as if we had discovered a secret that not many visitors to Nicaragua knew about.

Playa Marsella, San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Playa Maderas is great for surfers and swimmers. A little bit more populated than its sister beach, with a restaurant and a couple of surf shops, however still a relaxed vibe. Darrell and I both enjoyed going for a dip in the ocean here, with the water being that perfect temperature between not too cold and not too warm. The tides can be a little strong, so if you are traveling with children or are not a strong swimmer, it is recommended that you stay where you can stand.

Playa Maderas, San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Playa Majagual looks very similar to Playa Maderas, however with less people. When we visited, there were only one or two small groups playing frisbee and hanging out with their dogs. The landscape is just beautiful, with the ocean meeting the sand and a backdrop of dramatic cliffs.

Mango Rosa

For our time in the San Juan Del Sur area, we wanted to stay in a place that had good access to the beaches and was still secluded enough to provide a calm and relaxing holiday. When we found Mango Rosa, it almost sounded too good to be true. A full-service resort hidden away in the jungle, with luxury amenities and walking distance to the beaches. We were excited for our visit.

Upon arriving at the reception area of Mango Rosa, the first thing that caught our attention was the glistening pool stretching out before us invitingly. We met with the owner and manager, Captain Greg, who welcomed us warmly to his Nicaraguan paradise. Greg shared with us that he had thought up the idea of Mango Rosa, sketching it out on a napkin. Years later, the resort is a reality with a layout resembling the original draft design.

Mango Rosa pool

Rooms

During our stay at Mango Rosa, we stayed in a One Bedroom Bungalow. From the pool area, we were led a short distance through the thick green trees up to our lodging. As we walked along the path, we could see where it veered off to the other bungalows, however with the dense jungle in between us, we felt completely isolated in our own private house.

The One Bedroom Bungalow is made up of a spacious lounge room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, as well as its own private porch. It is fully self-contained, providing the opportunity for a romantic getaway or tranquil alone time. During the night you can hear the howler monkeys calling out and the distant sound of waves crashing.

Mango Rosa One Bedroom Bungalow - Lounge Room

After entering through the front door, on the porch, the first room we saw was the lounge room. The room has a warm decor with cane furniture and bright colors. The couches were comfortable for stretching out on while watching the Copa Americana tournament or getting work done on the laptop. There is satellite TV and WiFi, with each bungalow having its own personal router.

The big, open kitchen is well appointed with cooking utensils and appliances. Darrell and I both loved our lazy mornings making toast and coffee while deciding our plans for the day. Each bungalow also comes with a filtered water bottle so you can fill up before heading out for the next adventure.

Mango Rosa One Bedroom Bungalow - Kitchen

Connected to the lounge room and kitchen is the bedroom. Wooden shutters open up to provide open space within the bungalow and can also be closed for maximum privacy. When we first arrived, we were amazed to find the bed and bathroom covered with flower petals. It was such a personal touch and made us feel really welcomed to Mango Rosa. The bed itself is a dream to sleep in and helped us to feel rested at the end of each day. Both the bedroom and lounge room have ceiling fans as well as air conditioning units, so you can always set the temperature you find most comfortable.

The bathroom is also very spacious with a huge walk-in shower. After staying in Ometepe and having only cold showers, we were ecstatic to find that Mango Rosa offers hot water showers. Those who have traveled in Central and South America will know that this is not always standard.

Mango Rosa One Bedroom Bungalow - Bedroom

Grand Rancho Bar and Grill

For those who want to socialize, watch the latest game, or have a drink and a bite to eat, you can head to the Grand Rancho Bar and Grill. The heart of Mango Rosa, this is the place everyone comes at the end of their busy days to swap stories over beers. The specialty here is the seafood. We tried the Ceviche and Mahi-mahi, both of which came in generous portions and were delicious.

Grand Rancho Bar and Grill, Mango Rosa

One thing that stood out to me during out stay, was how family-friendly Mango Rosa is. Often while parents were hanging out at the bar or by the pool, you could see children playing together in the water or the gardens. In addition to the One Bedroom Bungalow, the resort offers the Two Bedroom Rancher and Casa Rancho Maderas, a three bedroom house. This makes a great destination to bring the whole family.

Mango Rosa pool and Grand Rancho Bar and Grill at night

Activities and packages

While staying in the area of San Juan Del Sur, there are endless choices of activities to do. Mango Rosa offers a range of tours including sport fishing, horseback riding and hiking. Guests can also rent surf boards and kayaks from the resort. For those who haven’t come by car, Mango Rosa makes three complimentary trips to Playa Maderas each day and can assist with other transportation needs.

For hassle free holidays, Mango Rosa also has a number of packages including accommodation, food and activities. The “Taste For Adventure” is a five night package packed full of activities in San Juan Del Sur as well as trips to Granada and Masaya. For more information, read Mango Rosa Packages.

Mango Rosa - Shop

Getting to the North Beaches of San Juan Del Sur

The northern beaches are easily accessible from San Juan Del Sur and Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. Mango Rosa provides assistance to guests with their transportation needs, as well as driving instructions.

Traveling by public transport, you can take a bus to Rivas and then to San Juan Del Sur. We traveled from Ometepe to San Jorge by ferry (50 Cordobas each), then by bus to Rivas (7 Cordobas each) and another bus to San Juan Del Sur (20 Cordobas each).

From San Juan Del Sur, there is a public bus that goes right near Mango Rosa (20 Cordobas each). Alternatively, shuttles run from most surf shops or hostels and can drop you right in front of the hotel (USD $3 each).

For those who are traveling up from Costa Rica, you would take the bus to San Juan del Sur or Rivas and then follow the same route.


Mango Rosa, San Juan Del Sur

Mango Rosa is an adventure travel and surf resort, offering one and two bedroom bungalows as well as a three bedroom luxury house. For details and pricing, read Rooms & Rates.

Location: Playa Marsella, San Juan Del Sur, Nicragua

Website: http://www.mangorosanicaragua.com/

Mango Rosa One Bedroom Bungalow

Adoration 4 Adventure were complimentary guests of Mango Rosa, however our opinions are our own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.


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Escaping to the North Beaches of San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. Including Playa Marsella, Playa Maderas and Playa Majagual.

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Why Granada should be your next destination

Why Granada should be your next destination

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for visiting Granada, Nicaragua by A4A guest writer, Darrell Whaley.

On the western shores of Lake Nicaragua sits the Spanish colonial city of Granada. A city filled with bright colors and beautiful architecture. It was founded in 1524 and is thought of as one of the first European cities in North America. Any visit to Nicaragua is incomplete without going to Granada and here are just a few of the many reasons why.

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Catedral de Granada

Masaya Markets

Mercado de Artesanias de Masaya is home to multitudes of merchants. In this market you will find many homemade or carved gifts, which are perfect to bring home as presents for family or even something unique to keep at home and remind you of your trip. Even though the market sits in a quite large area, the selection of items for sale is similar between most vendors. This gives an opportunity to haggle down the price at different shops and not feel worried about walking away from a store and missing out on the specific item you want. Try to time your visit to Masaya with one of their many festivals throughout the year.

Masaya Market

Masaya Volcano

If ever there was a time to visit Granada, that time is now! Due to recent earthquakes in Nicaragua, it is currently possible to see a constant flow of lava from the top of the Masaya Volcano. This is one of a handful of places in the world to see lava actively moving from a volcano’s crater and we were lucky enough to visit Masaya Volcano at night to see this spectacular sight.

No one knows how long this view will last or what will happen with it in the near future, but with the increase of earthquakes in Nicaragua recently, some scientist speculate the volcano itself may be building up pressure to explode. Just last year, Chantell had visited Granada and viewed Masaya Volcano in the exact same spot and there was no lava anywhere close to the top. Make sure to see this incredible sight as soon as possible!

Lava flowing in Volcano Masaya

Laguna de Apoyo

Laguna de Apoyo is a volcanic lake set in the caldera of an extinct volcano about 30 minutes drive from Granada. A nice place for a day trip, Laguna de Apoyo attracts visitors with its unique views and relaxing vibes of swimming, kayaking, and hiking. Many companies offer round trip shuttle service from Granada to a hostel at the Lagoon with available food and drink service for a small price. There are many options so look to find the best one suited for you.

Laguna de Apoyo

Hotel Plaza Colon

During our visit to Granada we stayed at the Hotel Plaza Colon, which is right in front of Parque Colon, the beautiful and always bustling Central Park containing La Merced Church. Hotel Plaza Colon is a fully restored antique colonial house that has been updated in sheer luxury.

Hotel Plaza Colon offers 27 luxury guest rooms, with 5 style options. We stayed in the Double Superior option. Here we had the availability of 2 extremely comfortable double beds, a ceiling fan and AC unit, minibar, coffee pot and coffee, cable tv, and a useful safety deposit box to store our passports in. There was even a perfectly sized desk to use for work.

Double Superior Room at Hotel Plaza Colon

Eats

When we arrived, we received a voucher for a welcome drink at El Bar. The welcome drink, called El Macua, is the national cocktail and was unlike any I have ever tasted before. It included tamarind, which gave a nice balance of bitter and sweet at the same time. El Bar not only has cocktails and wines, but delicious food as well. It is the perfect place to sit and people watch throughout the Plaza.

El Bar

All stays at Hotel Plaza Colon include a fantastic breakfast served buffet style. Every morning you have the option of eggs freshly cooked to your liking, meats, breads, fruits, Nicaraguan coffee, fresh squeezed juice, and so much more. This was always my favorite part of the day while staying here. In case you need more caffeine throughout the day, Café Las Flores is on the south side of Hotel Plaza Colon and is another perfect option for watching the bustle of the Plaza.

Hotel Plaza Colon Breakfast Buffet

During your stay at Hotel Plaza Colon, make sure to learn about their sustainability practices. Hotel Plaza Colon is the only boutique hotel in Granada fully owned and operated by Nicaraguans. Many of the sustainable practices they use are not only helping the environment, but also giving back into the community to help it continue to grow. They buy all local produce, employ only local tradesmen, recycle, execute water and electricity conservation, and support community projects including their Eco School project.

Poolside at Hotel Plaza Colon

Service

The staff of Hotel Plaza Colon was simply the best. They helped to answer any questions we had, pointed out where we needed to go, and always were always quick to greet with a smile.

Daily housekeeping is provided by the staff with fresh linens, towels, and additional supplies of soaps and ground coffee for the pot.

Reception Area of Hotel Plaza Colon

Getting to Granada

Granada is easily accessible throughout Nicaragua by car, shuttle, taxi, and local transit. We arrived via Leon with a brief layover in Managua at the UCA bus station. From the south it is possible to catch a bus direct from Rivas to Granada.


Hotel Plaza Colon, Granada

Hotel Plaza Colon offers Double, Queen and King Rooms, with or without a balcony. There is also suite, including two rooms and a balcony. For availability and pricing of all options, read Guest Rooms.

Location: Parque Central, Granada, Nicaragua

Website: http://hotelplazacolon.com/

Outdoor garden at Hotel Plaza Colon

Adoration 4 Adventure were complimentary guests of Hotel Plaza Colon, however our opinions are our own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.


Pin it for the next adventure!

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for visiting Granada, Nicaragua. Including Masaya Markets, Masaya Volcano, Laguna de Apoyo and Hotel Plaza Colon.

 Have you visited Granada or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.

A day at a chocolate spa and museum in Granada, Nicaragua

A day at a chocolate spa and museum in Granada, Nicaragua

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for a chocolate spa and museum in Granada, Nicaragua. 

Most of us have day-dreamed about visiting a chocolate factory at some point in our childhood (or maybe even more recently). A place where you can see how chocolate is made, eat copious amounts and even cover yourself with it. Well, what if I told you that there is a grown-up version of this magical chocolate land?

Mansion de Chocolate is a chocolate-themed hotel with a spa, museum, pool club and chocolate-making workshops. Located in the city center of Granada, Nicaragua, Mansion de Chocolate is a choco lovers delight. We spent a full day there and it was one of the most fun indoor activities we did during our Central America backpacking trip.

Want to know what a day at at the Choco Spa and Choco Museum looks like? Here it is.

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The Cacao Pool Club - Pool Entrance

9am: Welcome

You will want to arrive bright and early for your big day of indulgence. We were warmly welcomed by the staff at the reception desk at 9am, where we confirmed our treatment appointments for the day. If you haven’t already made a reservation, you can browse one of the treatment menus and register for one of the four Bean-to-Bar workshops held each day.

For our big day, we chose the Azteca package which included Choco Therapy, Choco Mani and Choco Pedi. There are five different package options for chocolate treatments with combinations of facial, manicure, pedicure, therapy (body scrub) and reflexology. If being dipped in chocolate isn’t your thing, then there are plenty of other classic spa treatments.

9:30am: Choco Therapy

Choco Therapy is a full body scrub and exfoliation with chocolate. As far as sweet dreams go – this is the jackpot! Darrell and I met with our masseurs and were escorted into our individual treatment rooms. Much like a traditional massage, you are provided an opportunity to disrobe in private.

After you have settled, the masseuse returns with a bowl of warm chocolate to be used as a body scrub. The chocolate is 100% organic and prepared on site. You can even taste it beforehand. The masseuse provides a light massage, while rubbing it into your skin. After one side is covered, you are left to soak in the cacao goodness for ten minutes. After this, it is repeated for the other side of your body. It is optional how much you want to be covered and the masseuse will check before applying.

I found this to be an utterly unique experience. While laying in the treatment room, fully coated in chocolate, I couldn’t help but giggle to myself about how surreal the situation was. The entire process takes one hour. Following that, you can hop into one of the Choco Spa showers and rinse yourself off.

Choco Spa Treatment Room - Massage and Treatments

10:30am: Choco Museum and Shop

While in between appointments, why not wander around the mansion and grounds. Tony, the concierge, will be more than happy to show you all the facilities, including the Choco Museum and Shop. He took us here to give us an overview of the history of cacao in Nicaragua, a few samples of chocolate (from light to dark) as well as chocolate tea, liquors and wine.

ChocoMuseo - Chocolate

11:00am: Choco Workshop

The “Beans to Bar” workshop is more than just a chocolate-making class. It is a mini-lesson in history, agriculture, cooking and how to have fun. We had Jose as our instructor and enjoyed trading travel stories as well as playful banter during our workshop.

During the class, guests make three different chocolate drinks. Starting with dried cacao beans, we roasted them and then cracked the shells, revealing the nibs. Using mortar and pestle bowels, we ground the nibs until they were a refined into a shiny paste. With the addition of a few typical kitchen ingredients, we whipped up the traditional chocolate drinks of the Aztecs, Mayans and Spanish. It was interesting to hear the history and tastes the difference between each.

As edible chocolate requires tempering, a more time consuming process, we skipped a few steps in order to make our bars. Presented with the pre-made batter, guests are able to choose from a variety of nuts and spices to add into their chocolate before setting. I picked cashews, while Darrell chose coffee. The third bar was a mixture of both. Once the batter is mixed and poured into the trays, it just needs to cool in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before you can take your bar away with you.

Choco Workshop - Chocolate Bars

1:00pm: Pool Time

After a full morning of rich indulgence, you may need to take a breather. The Cacao Pool Club is the perfect place to cool down with a dip in the swimming pool or a drink at the bar. I enjoyed a $2 USD daiquiri (drink special of the day) while chilling out by the pool and enjoying the complimentary WiFi.

There are plenty of meal and snack options available too, if you are feeling peckish after your treatments.

The Cacao Pool Club

3:00pm: Choco Mani Pedi

The next extravagant experience is the Choco Mani Pedi. The difference between this and a traditional Mani Pedi, is the cacao paste that is used as a skin exfoliate. Like the Choco Therapy, the batter is applied to your hands and feet, then left to soak. The end result leaves your skin feeling silky smooth and smelling delicious.

The other benefit of having a Choco Mani Pedi, is the amount of attention and time that you receive. With most standard manicures and pedicures, it usually takes anywhere from forty to sixty minutes for both treatments. As this is a treat, it’s not something that should be rushed. Which is why I appreciated the two hour treatment at Choco Spa.

This unique place is like any others that we haven’t encountered during our travels. At the end of day of our decadent day, Darrell and I left feeling rejuvenated, pampered and refreshed.

Choco Mani - Chantell Collins


Mansion de Chocolate

Mansion de Chocolate is also a chocolate-themed hotel in the heart of Granada. Each morning, hotel guests are treated to an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. All facilities and activities, including the breakfast buffet, are open to the public for day visits.

Location: Calle Atravesada (corner of Calle El Arsenal), Granada, Nicaragua

Website: https://www.mansiondechocolate.com/

Mansion de Chocolate - Choco Spa

Adoration 4 Adventure were complimentary guests of Hotel Mansion de Chocolate, however our opinions are our own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.


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Adoration 4 Adventure's recommendations for a chocolate spa and museum in Granada, Nicaragua. Including a chocolate making workshop and spa treatments.

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Surfing paradise in El Tunco, El Salvador

Surfing paradise in El Tunco, El Salvador

Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendations for surfing paradise in El Tunco, El Salvador by A4A guest writer, Darrell Whaley.

El Tunco is a surfing paradise. Sitting on the West Coast, two hours outside of the capital San Salvador, this is a frequented weekend spot for city locals and surfers from all over the world. Playa El Tunco is highlighted by a distinguished rock formation rising out of the water on the west end of the beach. The black sand beaches covered in thick layers of pebbles make this a unique view compared to most beaches.

The town itself consists of two small streets, however they are packed with everything you could possibly need for a surfing trip or relaxing holiday. Surf gear and rental shops line the streets, as well as trendy restaurants and bars featuring almost any cuisine you can think of. Most breakfast are well-priced from between USD$2.50-$5.00. Dinners usually start around USD$5.00. Drink specials are easy to come by every night. For those on a budget, pupusas are a quick solution and easy to find from as little as USD$1 for 3.

El Tunco has a unique vibe with a mixture of influences from surfers, backpackers, and even luxury travelers. This little town tends to be sleepier during the week, but comes alive on the weekends with the arrival of many locals from El Salvador.

Planning a trip to Central America? Check out our posts on BelizeGuatemalaHondurasEl SalvadorNicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

Surfing

El Tunco is a popular spot for surfers as it is easy to travel to from San Salvador and an affordable place to stay for an extended period of time. The beaches around El Tunco tend to be better suited to surfers with more experience, however beginners can start off at the nearby Playa San Blas. Surfboard rentals start at about $10 per day, with lessons around $10 per hour. Surf schools also provide shuttles to Playa San Blas.

For those who don’t surf, you can take a day trip to the waterfall, Cascadas Tamanique. Or you may just prefer to hang around town, stretch out by your hotel pool and take in the ocean views, as we did.

Surfer riding the waves at Playa El Tunco.

Hotel Tekuani Kal

Hotel Tekuani Kal was our stay of choice while in El Tunco. This beach side property is found on the main street soon after getting off the highway and just a few steps away from all the action happening in town. After walking down the extended driveway and up the steps to the open-air restaurant, you can quickly see the waves that cause surfers to flock to the area.

With numerous rooms to choose from, all the way from single to quadruple room options, there is something for everyone. We stayed in room 8, which included two double beds, a comfortable sitting area, a huge bathtub and shower, and even an underwater view of the outdoor pond. The first thing we noticed upon walking into the room was how spacious it was. Unlike many cramped hotel rooms, we had a full-sized sitting area and expansive bathroom.

Picture of room accommodations.

The room had an earthy-style with many natural colors and elements. From the sheer white rock walls, to the thick wooden-slab coffee table and the sea blue tiles in the bathroom, we could see that Hotel Tekuani Kal had encompassed nature into its interior design. The large mirror and clear windows give a feeling of endless space, while the strategically placed pond and walls provide the utmost privacy.

All rooms at Hotel Tekuani Kal are furnished with air conditioning, television with cable, private bathrooms, and even a private terrace. Numerous rooms within Hotel Tekuani Kal have ocean front views from their balconies. As our room was ground-level, our terrace led out to a garden courtyard with a magnificent tree.

Huge Bathtub in room 8.

Restaurant/Bar

Hotel Tekuani Kal contains a restaurant and bar overlooking the ocean. Depending on the time of day, you can easily view surfers riding the waves, take in the calming sounds of the ocean, or even view the beautiful sunset from the infinity pool. This same infinity pool spills over, in waterfall fashion, into another pool two stories below.

Infinity pool overlooking Playa El Tunco.

The menu of Tekuani Kal Restaurant consists primarily of fresh seafood, along with different meats, pastas and much more to choose from. There is also a large selection of drinks, both on and off the menu.

During our stay the UEFA Champions League Final was being broadcast. This event was promptly on and quickly drew a crowd at the bar. One of the positive things about Tekuani Kal’s bar was they were not enforcing a minimum spending amount to view the match, unlike many of the surrounding bars. They always continued to have a relaxed vibe in their service.

Tekuani Kal's Restaurant and Bar.

Service

Hotel Tekuani Kal’s staff are all more than happy to assist in whatever is needed. Whether it be searching for the best deals on surfing rentals, finding a place to do laundry, or just local bus directions, they are always there.

Daily housekeeping is provided by the staff, making sure the floors are clean, new soaps are in place, and fresh towels are provided.

Getting to El Tunco

El Tunco is easily accessible from all over El Salvador by car, shuttle, or even local transit. We arrived via Sonsonate on the local bus #287, which leaves twice daily and costs only USD$1.50 per person. For those coming from La Libertad, bus #80 can take just 20 minutes.

Extend your trip in El Salvador with a visit to nearby beach town, El Cuco.


Hotel Tekuani Kal, El Tunco

Hotel Tekuani Kal offers single to quadruple room options, many with beach front views. For availability and pricing, contact info@tekuanikal.com.

Location: Playa el Tunco, La Libertad, El Majahual, El Salvador.

Website: http://tekuanikal.com/

Walking Path through Hotel Tekuani Kal.

Adoration 4 Adventure were complimentary guests of Hotel Tekuani Kal, however our opinions are our own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to our readers.


Pin it for the next adventure!

Adoration 4 Adventure's recommendations for surfing paradise in El Tunco, El Salvador. A frequented spot for locals and surfers from all over the world.

Have you visited El Tunco or planning to anytime soon? Tell us about it below!

And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.