Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa (Guacalito de la Isla, Nicaragua)
Credit: Courtesy Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa

Nicaragua is emerging as a tourist destination, and there's more to be found than mellow surf beaches and backpackers. The new $250 million Mukul Beach resort – a two-hour drive south of the Managua airport, on the Emerald Coast – features lavish suites with travertine tile bathrooms, hand-carved woodwork, and private pools and gardens. "Nicaragua seems to attract the pioneer," says Mukul's course architect, David McLay Kidd. "How much more adventurous can you get than a course that explores a tropical forest full of monkeys and huge guanacaste trees before emerging on the beach?" You'll need to contend with seaside breezes, so toss some grass in the air before you hit to gauge the winds. But beyond that, this trip is as easygoing as they come. "I imagined a course where the whole family could play in bare feet if they wanted," Kidd says. After a round, pick your pleasure: a rum-distillery tour, a spa treatment, a helicopter trip to a volcano. Get there soon: Mukul is the Mayan word for "secret" – but this place won't be one for long.

Stay here: Mukul offers villas as well as luxe teak-and-pine huts (called bohios). Stay-and-play packages from $880 for five nights, including club rental, greens fees, and massage.