New year, more travels. Have you listed down your places to visit for this year yet? How does Nicaragua sounds? In case you are wondering, where is Nicaragua, it is in Central America bordering Hondoras, Caribbean, Costa Rica, and the Pacific Ocean. There are a lot of beautiful countries to visit in Central America and Nicaragua is one of them. If you do not have enough information about this beautiful country, here are reasons why your next family vacation destination should be Nicaragua:
1) Go volcano boarding in Cerro Negro
Yes, you read that right. You can actually go volcano boarding in Nicaragua. Cerro Negro, also known as The Black Hill, is a popular tourist spot in Nicaragua because of this sport. If you want to kick off your Nicaragua adventure doing outdoorsy stuff, Cerro Negro is a good start.
It is the youngest volcano in Nicaragua and it takes about an hour to climb to the top. From the top you will have the best view of the plains below. You can climb the mountain by yourself, but if you want a guided tour that is inclusive of transportation, entrance fees, snacks, and bilingual guides, there are also organizations that offer it. It takes an hour to climb up the top, but sliding down on a board takes just few minutes.
2) Explore around Corn Island
Also known as Las Islas del Maiz in Spanish, Corn Island has the best beaches in Nicaragua. If you are in a dire need of beach therapy and vitamin sea, you have come to the right place. Tourists flock to Corn Island for some sun, snorkel, and seafood. There are actually two islands in here- the Big Corn and the Little Corn. There is an airport in the Big Corn, but to get to the Little Corn, you can only take a ferry.
Big Corn is known for its diving spots. There are a couple of reputable diving shops in Big Corn that offers diving lessons, diving tours, and other water related activities. Beach resorts in the area also offers yoga sessions, massages, and spa services. It’s a perfect way to spend a relaxing vacation. If you prefer a quieter and cheaper options for activities and accommodations, jump on a ferry and head over to Little Corn.
This island is a backpacker’s haven. It is less crowded than Big Corn, so most days you will get to enjoy lounging at the beach without the crowd. The water is as crystal blue which is perfect for swimming and the shoreline is long and wide. If you are traveling with kids, you can let them roam around and play on the sand without worrying that they will get close to the water too much. The Corn Island also has the best beaches in Nicaragua.
3) Visit Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua at night
Driving up Masaya Volcano at night is a once in a lifetime experience that you should not miss when visiting Nicaragua. Masaya’s unique cauldron-like form makes it easy for visitors to look down what’s beneath the volcano’s crater. While it is a great experience to visit Masaya Volcano Nicaragua at daytime, a lot of tourists prefer coming here at night for a couple of reasons.
First, you will have a great view of the sunset since night tours usually start at 5PM. When the sun goes down, you will get to see the bright bubbling lava of the volcano. You will also get to see the lava change colors from yellow to orange. We recommend that you bring binoculars for better view. Depending on the season, your time of stay in the viewing deck might be limited, but even seeing the crater and the boiling lava for few minutes is totally worth it. If you do come during daytime, hiking up the volcano is also a popular activity here.
4) Spend a day or two in the town of Leon
Leon, Nicaragua is a tourist favorite. Aside from the outdoorsy activities you can do here that involves volcanoes and beaches, the Leon town in itself is a gem. You can start your day by going on a free walking tour around the town. The walking tour will help you get acquainted with Leon and in Nicaragua in general. Museums, important streets, and other revolutionary landmarks are usually covered by the tour.
There is a famous street art of revolution in Leon, Nicaragua that will give you a glimpse of the history of revolution in the country. The language in Nicaragua is Spanish, so most free walking tours are in Spanish, but sometimes bilingual guides are also available. In Leon, you can also find the largest cathedral in Central America. The Cathedral-Basilica of the Assumption of Blessed Virgin Mary cannot be missed if you are in Leon.
Often referred to as Catedral de Leon, Nicaragua, this cathedral is is huge, white, and beautiful. You can also go to the top of the cathedral for a minimal fee and be welcomed to the view of the town from up above. Nicaragua art is one of a kind and The Contemporary Art Museum in Leon showcases these art. Make sure to drop by while exploring the town.
5) Surfs up in San Juan del Sur
Another reason why your next family vacation destination should be Nicaragua is the waves of San Juan del Sur. The best time to visit Nicaragua and head over to San Juan del Sur is during summertime. You can enjoy surfing from sun up to sun down in the warm waters. You can also find here some of the affordable yet best resorts in Nicaragua. If you haven’t surfed before, worry not since you can get surfing lessons here for about $25 per hour.
If you are an intermediate or a pro and would just want to rent a surfboard, that would only cost you about $10 for the whole day. Another point of interest in San Juan del Sur is the Christ of Mercy. This is the second largest statue of Jesus Christ in the world, the first one being the Christ the Redeemer in Brazil.
You can see it from the shores towering over the quaint town. If you want to ride off into the sunset literally, you can book a horseback riding on the beach package here. This is not only romantic, but also fun. You can book this activity anytime of the day, but at the break of dawn, just before sunrise, and before sunset would give you the most perfect breeze and the best views. Make sure to have your camera ready for those awesome photos. Afterwards, you can chill by the beach with your favorite cocktail or lay on the beach and wait for the stars to come out.
6) Take a photowalk around Granada Proper
Granada is one of the popular Nicaragua cities. Granada is located on the shores of Lake Nicaragua and is considered as one of the most important cities in the country due to economic and political reasons. But one thing that is easily noticeable once you arrive in Granada is how colorful and aesthetically pleasing the city is.
Head out on a photowalk because it seems like every corner of the city is worth taking photos of. If you would like to take a photo from a bird’s eye view, climb up the bell tower of Iglesia La Merced and have the best view of the candy-colored Granada. The best time to go is during golden hour for the picture perfect shot.
Afterwards, head over to Central Park. Yes, Granada has their own Central Park, locally known as Parque Central, just like New York. This is just right by Iglesia La Merced. This is a great place to interact with locals, people-watch, or just chill. If you would like to go on a bar and grab some food and drinks, La Calzada is the place to go.
This is Granada’s main tourist stretch filled with bars and restaurants. You can also meet fellow travelers here with stories to tell about their Nicaragua explorations. Don’t miss out on the popular chocolate massage in Granada after a long day of touring. It is what it sounds- you will be covered by chocolate instead of oils and then you’ll have a refreshing massage afterwards. Sounds fancy, isn’t it?
7) Chase waterfalls and hike up volcanoes in Ometepe
Ometepe is easily one of the best places to visit in Nicaragua. If you are traveling to Nicaragua with kids, you will not be disappointed with the varied and kid-friendly activities you can do here. One of the best Nicaragua waterfalls is the San Ramon Waterfalls in Isla Ometepe. This is a 197 foot waterfall in the middle of Nicaragua rainforest. It is highly recommended to book a guided tour when visiting this waterfalls especially if you have small children.
The tours usually start very early in the morning to avoid large crowds. There is a small pool at the base of the waterfalls where you can swim. The water is always cold and refreshing which is perfect after spending time trekking getting here. This is a tropical country, so Nicaragua weather all year round is pretty hot. The wet and rainy season is from May to October and this is the best time to travel to Nicaragua if your main goal is to chase waterfalls.
The trek towards the falls could be slippery and wet, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes with a good grip. Bring lots of water as well to stay hydrated when visiting during summer time, although the locals will tell you the waterfalls will not look that great because of the lack of water during dry season. Pack light for the hike and bring cash.
The currency of Nicaragua is Cordoba. One US dollar is equivalent to 40 Nicaraguan cordoba. Ometepe is also known for its two famous volcano- Maderas and Concepcion. One of the best things to do in Nicaragua is to rent a bike and drive towards these popular volcanoes in Ometepe. You can hike up these volcanoes, but seeing them from a distance is also a sight to behold.
8) Spend a day or two in Managua- the capital of Nicaragua
Managua is the capital and one of the major cities in Nicaragua. There are a lot of airlines offering Nicaragua flights. The major international Nicaragua airports are in Managua, so most likely this will be your entry point before heading off to explore other parts of the country. Some of the best places to visit in Nicaragua are in Managua.
You can also find the best shops here. If you would like to go souvenir shopping, the huge Mercado Oriental and Mercado Roberto Huembes in Managua are must-visit places for you. You can buy anything in these markets- from local crafts to delicacies that you can take home.
Other points of interest in Managua include Santiago Cathedral. This was built in a Neo-Baroque style and one of the few structures in the city that survived the deadly earthquake in 1972. Due to safety issues though, the cathedral has been closed, but still to date it remains as one of the most iconic landmarks in the city.
The Museo Arqueologico Huellas de Acahualinca is also a must visit in Managua. If you are a fan of archaeology, you will surely appreciate this international treasure. The fossilized tracks discovered here record the passage of ten people. The discovery was courtesy of the miners digging the site in 1874. Fossils of animals such as deers, raccoons, and even birds were also found in the site.
If you would like to take a break from exploring, Managua has a lot of great restaurants that offer authentic and delicious local cuisine. Make sure to sample some quesillo. A quesillo is a medium sized tortilla rolled into a burrito with cheese, pickled onions, and sour cream. Nacatamales, Fritanga, Vigoron, and Baho are also some of the meals you should look out for in the menu.