Casares is a traditional fishing village where the pace of life moves to the rhythm of the sea. The shore is lined with colorful pangas named Escarlet, Nancy Maria or Tu Loquita while locals push carts filled with ice and fush or boat motors along the streets. Diramba vendors know Casares as the place to go for the freshest seafood for their stalls.
The newly paved highway between Casares and Diramba (completed in late 2008) has started to bring some changes to what was once a relatively isolated villag; however, one obvious indication is a mammoth white mansion in mid-construction along the shore. At the moment though, Casares still has the best of both worlds: the tranquility of a fishing village but the luxurious accommodation of hotels such as Hotel Lupita and Hotel El Casino. While still heavily focused on fresh seafood, the dining options in Casares have also started to expand. Try one of the upscale hotels for fine dining, a local restaurant for Nicaraguan-style fish and, for fritanga, one of the informal grills at the top of the hill where the highway meets the village.
One of the best places to rest your head or grab a meal is Hotel and Restaurant Antiguo Casino (also known as Hotel El Casino and Restaurant Marcelo; 505- 2-532-8002). The hotel is a beautifully modern reconstruction of a former Casares establishment which had been destroyed in a devastating 1993 tidal wave. Rather than revert to the thatched, ranchero style, the new owners have created a space with star-spangled vaulted ceilings, stone sculptures and overstuffed leather furniture. They have been so successful at creating a feeling of comfortable, upscale living that you might start wondering if youâ€™ve wandered into a private beach home by mistake.
The rooms are just as swank; on the ocean side, the gauzy curtains and colorful paintings evoke more Italian villa than a Nicaraguan fishing village. All 12 rooms (six oceanfront with air conditioning, $35; six on the eastern side with fans, $25; $5 per additional person: breakfast and IVA not included) have private bathrooms; only one has a TV.
Hotel Lupita (505-8-856-8207 / 505-8-847-1805; firstname.lastname@example.org), a short walk from town, has decorations that tend toward more seashells and fishing nets than sculptures and fine art, but has two unbeatable lures: one swimming pool on the top of a cliff and another built into the base. Concrete stairs, leading from one to the other, also provide access to a trip of wave-washed rock and beaches at either end.
The rooms at Hotel Lupita (up to four people, including tax, US$50; Semana Santa, $60) are arranged along several levels and connected to the main building by wide stairs (this is not the place for handicap visitors).
The rooms are clean and spare, with TVs and private bathrooms. You might find that services such as a pool side bar and grill close down completely during the off seasons, although the restaurant is open from 6 to 10 p.m. daily. Credit card are accepted but include a five percent fee.
Hotel Lupita is relatively isolated at the moment, but locals have plans to develop the neighboring land, where the lingering ruins of houses (also destroyed in 1993) have been removed in anticipation of new construction.