Gracious Living Oasis

Grace Enjoying a SUP adventure in the local Estuary.

Northern Nicaragua provides an environment for health seekers, explorers, surfers, and entrepreneurs to find their own ‘oasis’.

Grace Van Berkum, from Toronto, Canada, has spent the past year doing just this by creating Gracious Living Oasis. Where she hosts and facilitates healthy vacations and nutrition focused retreats since February when she officially launched.

Her property in the Azul complex of Manzanillo, Nicaragua, is nestled at the top of a tropical incline over looking the near by ocean. In her own words her mission is to “teach people that being healthy is cool and possible and life becomes so much better when you can move your body with ease and abundant energy.” Grace “provides education classes and a lifestyle tool-kit to clients so they can bring what they learn back home.” Her focus at Gracious Living Oasis, is to offer different outdoor adventures, such as stand up paddle board yoga, beach fitness, volcano hiking, and, of course, tropical yoga are offered to help people strengthen their connection to nature, as this is sadly becoming an over looked topic in our modern society.

At the Gracious Living Oasis, there are five different ‘levels’ of retreats you can participate in.  For example, level one is an introduction to plant-based eating and level five is an intensive detox for clients who are trying to heal from diseases like IBS, Chron’s, Diabetes, MS, and even Cancer.  So no matter what your background is there can be a place for you at the ‘oasis.’

Several years ago, Grace’s father, Chris Van Berkum was diagnosed with cancer and told he was going to die in less than a year. He choose not to accept that information and drastically changed his life by beginning to study alternative medicine, quantum physics, yoga, meditation, and having a plant based diet. Grace, originally fearing for her father’s life urged him to try chemotherapy but he insisted that he was going to become cancer-free doing it his way.  Eventually Grace grew to accept this as well and began embracing the alternative medicine that was so helpful to her father.  Chris, alive and well today (and remarkably cancer-free for over 10 years!), happily lives with his daughter and flirts with her clients. Chris’s success story, is the primary source of Grace’s inspiration and a great example of how simple lifestyle changes can save your life.

Grace has plans to provide free monthly meals and yoga classes for locals in the area to share her passion for healthy living with her ‘neighbors’ and a country that also can greatly benefit from learning how to use food as medicine.

Learn more at

Sunset Yoga!






View on Instagram as well: @boomsurfreport

Words and Photos by: Tucker Cocchiarella @travelswithtucker

Local Wood Craftsman

Meet, Isaac, a local from the community of, Fransico Laguna.  He is a wood craftsman and accepts custom orders.  Help support the local community and artists by giving him a call. Celular: 8855-0050

Saving Sea Turtles

Robert Rothock,  a retired US Army veteran, has a passion for protecting sea turtles.  He uses his own time and some personal funds to make this happen in Jiquilillo, Nicaragua.

Sea Turtle Rescue Nicaragua started very informally in 2009 when several German travelers fell in love with helping some baby sea turtles they encountered during their adventures.  They built some of the first, Viveros, man-made turtles nests to raise the eggs safely.  Then a man named Denise Renfro managed the project for several years until he returned to the states, leaving Robert in charge of the project for the last five years.

The Olive Ridley and Hawksbill sea turtles used to come to the beaches of Northern Nicaragua by the hundreds to nest simultaneously each year. Now at peak nesting season only twenty five or less will be found at a time. This staggering decrease is due to the poaching of eggs, local fishermen, and pollution.  Turtle eggs are still very popular on the black market, providing food for people.  Hundreds of adult sea turtles are found dead in fishermen’s nets each year and hundreds more are found dead with plastic trash stuck in their throats.

Robert and his three employees currently have seventy three nests with about eighty three eggs in each nest, so close to six thousand eggs total. For Olive Wridley turtles, it takes approximately fifty days for the eggs to mature and be ready to hatch, depending on the surrounding temperature and moisture. Once the baby turtles hatch, they are released into the ocean at either sunrise or sunset.  Often a lucky tourist or local is able volunteer to swim out past the waves with the babies in a bucket to make the turtles’ entry into the sea, as easy as possible. Robert and his team find natural turtle nests and relocate the eggs to the safety of their ‘vivero’ until the turtles hatch. In the vivero, the eggs are monitored twenty four-seven to protect them from poachers, animals,  and storms. They also buy eggs from poachers.

Robert does all this work, as a non legal, non-profit.  His three employs are from three different families, therefore supporting various families in the community.  He accepts donations and helping hand. He hopes to make a positive difference with the sea turtle population, even with the odds against this endangered species.  Check out or find Robert on the beach in Jiquilillo to learn more about how you can help.
Words and Photos: Tucker Cocchiarella (Santiago)