What To Do In Nicaragua
Nicaragua is fast becoming one of the most popular destinations for surfers and with good reason. With a virtually unlimited number of stunning beaches, warm water, and memorable scenery, it delivers nearly everything a surfer could wish for, waves included. And once the day is over and its time to relax and enjoy yourself on land, the food is delicious, and the atmosphere and friendly communities will leave an indelible impression on you forever.
However much we all love to surf; it is physically impossible for anyone to spend all day and night catching the waves. When you are visiting this gorgeous country, why not embrace the culture, and visit some of the fantastic locations dotted around the country. Having been to Nicaragua, numerous times, and becoming a little obsessed with it, there are lots of different sites and sounds to experience. When writing this article, there was a lot of discussion about which of the numerous places to visit should come up on top. After many hours of debate, we tried to provide a range of activities that would appeal to everyone. Just be warned that much like getting a tattoo, once you visit Nicaragua for the first time, it is highly unlikely to be your last.
Granada is the oldest town in Nicaragua and is steeped in history. It is hugely popular with travelers to the country, with many people choosing the city as their base from which to get around the country. You can almost sense the history, with the lovely cobbled streets and the numerous churches which are dotted all across the city. For anyone that has a keen interest in photography, Granada provides various opportunities, with the added benefit of being surrounded by lots of green and luscious countryside. Wherever else you choose to visit in Nicaragua, do not miss out on all the fantastic experiences that Granada delivers daily.
Nicaragua has become a popular destination for American tourists, and as the capital city of the country, Managua is another focal point for many tourists. Managua lies about 50 meters above sea level and will appeal to anyone who likes warm weather, as its location makes it one of Central America’s warmest capitals. Unfortunately, a lot of Managua was destroyed in 1930 by an earthquake and fire, with another earthquake causing more devastation in 1971. As well as being the country’s capital city, it is also the center for both culture and commerce; it even has its own oil refinery. Local tradesmen and women produce furniture, metal, and textiles, and the country itself produces a lot of coffee and cotton.
There is something breathtaking about Mother Nature, and volcanoes are held in awe by many tourists. The Masaya Volcano is the most active volcano in Nicaragua, with the first historical record of it being made back in 1524. Since then, the volcano has erupted at least 19 times, with the most recent eruption being in 1993. Apart from visiting the volcano, many people also enjoy the beauty of the Mayasa National Park, so if you have a day free in your schedule, then a trip to Mayasa, which is only 25 miles outside of Managua could well be worthy of a visit.
Although surfers are normally fit and healthy individuals, who are focused on their diet, there is something about chocolate that most people struggle to resist. This is relevant to the discussion because Nicaragua is the biggest exporter of cocoa in Central America. Urban Myth has it that it was in Nicaragua, where Christopher Columbus first discovered the delights of cocoa. Although chocolate is now adored across the world, it was once worshipped as a sacred food by the Aztecs in Mexico.
How would you like to indulge yourself in chocolate? If you visit Nicaragua, then you can pay for an indulgent chocolate massage, just try not to eat too much of it in the process.
Let’s Burn Some Calories
If you chose to indulge in the delicious but slightly fattening chocolate, then it might be time to burn some calories while taking in some of the stunning views that the country has to offer. The layout of the land, with its numerous volcanoes, and undulating hills, makes it the perfect country for anyone who likes to hike.
- Concepción, which is one of two volcanoes on the island of Ometepe, is not for the faint-hearted, and could even be a challenge for some people. It is exceptionally steep, and you will need to be agile, as the upper levels require some scrambling up volcanic spree, and few are prepared for the cold winds that will chill your bones once you arrive at your destination.
- Cosigüina – As surfers, we all have a close affinity to water, which is why everyone has to hike up this volcano. Set in the far north, in an area known as the Fonseca Gulf, the views from the top of Cosigüina will take your breath away. Once you have experienced the fantastic views of the sea, there is then the option afterward to walk down to the crater lake for a cool and refreshing swim.
Miraflor National Park
Although we have tried in this article to introduce you to some of the most popular destinations in Nicaragua, there are certain hidden treasures that require the expertise and knowledge of a local guide. The Miraflor National Park is situated in the northern province of Esteli and has numerous attractions for the intrepid tourist. Waterfalls, rivers, and cloud forests can all be experienced here, but you will have to pay for the services of a local guide. The good news is that all monies raised from this tourist attraction go straight back to the local community.
Americans have a tendency to tackle life at 100 miles per hour, which is why it is good to experience other lifestyles, kick back a little and relax. For anyone wanting a drastic change in lifestyle for a few days, a visit to the Corn Islands is the perfect solution. Although it is known as Big Corn Island, you could cycle around the entire island inside an hour. During that trip, you would be able to visit at least seven beautiful little beaches, which in most cases you could enjoy all on your own for the duration of the day. Little Corn Island takes 40 minutes to get to, on a thrilling panga (boat) ride. There is a lot of fun to be had walking around the island and discovering all of the little hidden coves. However, the real joy is for any divers, who can experience Blowing Rock. Blowing Rock is a tower of coral that benefits from a plethora of colorful marine life.
For any history buffs, León is a fantastic city to visit, as the home of the 1979 revolution where poets, students, and farmers were successful in overthrowing the US-backed Somoza dynasty. The city is littered with murals depicting the event, and there are still numerous bullet holes evident in the brickwork around the city.
For those who like to take a little risk, and experience travel like the locals, it is time to take the chicken bus. These buses are old American school buses, which have been souped up, painted Las Vegas-style, and drive all over the country at breakneck speeds. Although not for the faint-hearted, this is precisely how farmers and other locals get around. Interestingly the name of the buses is derived from trucks loaded with chickens because these buses can get mightily overcrowded. In some instances, farmers still transport their chickens to market using these buses, so don’t expect a first-class luxury ride.
When it comes to León, we have saved the best for last in terms of experiences. Quetzaltrekkers, which is a non-profit, adventure hiking company, runs regular tours to the Maribios volcanic valley. Part of the trip involves allowing tourists to surf down an ash-black active volcano. It just goes to show that you don’t necessarily need an ocean to show off your surfing skills.
Time To Party
Nobody likes to party more than a group of surfers, and San Juan Del surf is renowned for its party scene. Every Sunday, they have an event called Sunday Funday, which is effectively a massive pub crawl. It is very inexpensive to take part, and the price of admission also includes some pool parties.
Venture Out On A Catamaran
Another fantastic day of fun for water lovers can be had by taking a catamaran ride at San Juan Del Surf. If you enjoy partaking in some alcohol and let’s face it who doesn’t, then you can spend $70 for a day trip, which will include food and drink for the say, and some snorkeling as well, if things get a little too hot for you.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Nicaragua As A Surfer?
The good thing about surfing in Nicaragua is the waves are excellent all year round. Peak season falls between November and April, where the weather tends to be dry and pleasant, but not too warm. If you are new to surfing and are attending one of our surf schools, then we would advise you to book a minimum of two weeks, as this will give you sufficient time to perfect your skills, and become competent and confident in your abilities.
Is Nicaragua Expensive?
Nicaragua is one of the most amazing countries to visit in the world, but as with most tourist destinations, you need to plan and do a little exploration to get the best deals. If you decide to eat at the beach restaurants, you should expect to pay considerably more, but venture inland a little, and it is easy to have a wonderful time for as low as $20 per day.
For the aspiring surfer, Nicaragua is truly the full package. Beautiful, deserted beaches, excellent conditions for surfing, friendly hospitable people, and excellent food. It is the ultimate destination, which is why we choose it to be the venue for our surf schools.