Nicaragua: The land of lakes and volcanoes.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated 3/27/2018.
Nicaragua is THE best kept secret in Central America not just to us, but to the Huffington Post, and the Boston Globe as well! It is hard to believe that there are so many things to do in this little country. About the size of Alabama in the United States, Nicaragua is easily traversed by the safe and reliable public transportation system. When companies like Lonely Planet and International Living are writing that “Nicaragua is one of the safest countries in Central America,” people are listening. The tourism industry grew by double digit amounts in 2012 – 2017, making it the highest growth rate in the region. In 2017, tourism grew by 18%! What does all this mean? The word is out: people are flocking to Nicaragua in droves.
Comprised of three main regions (Pacific, Northern Highlands, and Caribbean) there is enough coastline, bodies of water, and volcanoes to go around. Nicaragua currently has 6 active volcanoes (San Cristobal, Telica, Cerro Negro, Momotombo, Masaya, and Concepcion) with some of the most unrestricted views that you will find on the planet. Literally, you can look down into Masaya Volcano as it billows away.
Slowly ascending from the Pacific Coastline, the Maribios volcanic chain is a nice transition to the mountains, canyons, waterfalls, and cloud forests to the north. There are two tropical rain forests on the Pacific side of the country: One on Mombacho volcano near Granada, and the other on Volcano Concepcion on the island of Ometepe. Then there is the Caribbean coast and the infamous Corn Islands. If diving or snorkeling in coral reefs isn’t your gig, kick back on the beach, and enjoy the laid back lifestyle on Little Corn Island. Without a single car on this island, get the feel for what island life should be like. Little corn island is only reachable by local boats or “lancha’s”, so make sure weather conditions are right. Traveling in December can be a little too adventurous for some folks.
In the past few years, Nicaragua has been popping up on the radar of backpackers and seasoned travelers. It is now becoming more and more mainstream, especially with the price hike across the board in neighboring Costa Rica. Although it is safe, you still need to stay alert, and live by “big city” rules. You may not be rich, but to the locals you are. The capitol of Nicaragua is Managua, with a population of over 1 million people. While the most popular destinations in Nicaragua are not always reflective of the local population, each city has its own flavor. San Juan del Sur, and Granada are extremely popular among visitors, yet they couldn’t be further apart. If you make it to the university town of Leon, you will be likely be pleasantly surprised. The energy of this town can be felt with just a walk down the street. Wall murals and paintings recounting the turbulent past, with an optimistic hope for the future.
Nicaragua is one of those places that continue to beckon people back. Once you get here, you will see why most people have a couple Nicaraguan experiences to share.