Where To Go in Nicaragua

Where to go in NicaraguaNicaragua is high on my travel to do list (well what isn’t really?). When a friend took off with her husband and 20 month old son for a 2 week trip, I was captivated by their adventures! I loved following their journey on Facebook and Instagram, so I asked them to share their trip with us. Selfishly it’s partly so I will know exactly where to go when we finally make it down, but also I thought others might enjoy learning more about an up and coming family destination that is easily accessibly from Los Angeles. Thank you Misti for your contribution!

Nicaragua is a geographically diverse country, filled with volcanoes, lakes, beaches, jungles, mountains, coffee plantations, islands, wildlife, cities, villages, markets, lovely people and endless options for a travel itinerary. Deciding where to visit was difficult and involved loads of pouring over our Lonely Planet and various sites on the internet. We chose four varied destinations, deciding to spend a few days in each; a colorful colonial city, a peaceful volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua, a tiny and secluded Caribbean island and a hip but relaxing surf village on the Pacific coast.

Granada

05-Granada_Merced_Sunset - Where to go in NicaraguaGranada is a beautiful, interesting and historical colonial city on Lake Nicaragua bustling with opportunities for adventure. Granada perfectly fit our desire to spend time in one of Nicaragua’s colonial cities during our visit.  It’s proximity to our arrival port and subsequent destinations, also made it very convenient for our first stop.

Must Do’s:

  • Climb to the top of La Merced Cathedral at sunset for breathtaking views over the city, Mombacho volcano and the lake
  • Enjoy a stroll through Parque Colon at dusk with the sound of raucous bird chatter in the background
  • Indulge in a relaxing horse drawn carriage ride around the city in the late afternoon
  • Explore the Islets in Lake Nicaragua by boat
  • Take a leisurely day trip to the beautiful Laguna de Apoyo for lunch and a relaxing swim

Isla de Ometepe

09-Ometepe_ApproachFromFerryWho wouldn’t be intrigued by an island formed of two volcanoes in the middle of an enormous fresh water lake? From the moment I read about Ometepe I was excited to spend time there. It didn’t disappoint with it’s tranquil black sand beaches, majestic volcanoes, charmingly friendly people, delicious food and plentiful outdoor activities. After taking a ferry to the nearby port, we stayed on the East Coast of the Island in Santa Domingo. Our quaint hotel was nestled on a quiet beach between residential properties, one of which provided the dairy for our hotel. I left my heart in Ometepe.. well… at least part of it.

Must Do’s:

  • Watch the local families fish, bathe and water their farm animals in the lake
  • Explore the hiking trails around the volcanoes
  • Enjoy sunset and sunrise views over the volcanoes
  • Eat incredibly fresh, delicious meals sourced from the local farms
  • Wander amongst thousands of brightly colored butterflies at the Laguna Chaco Verde Butterfly Reserve
  • Let the kiddos play with local children on the shores of Lake Nicaragua

Little Corn Island

Little Corn Beach - Where to go in NicaraguaAmiable Little Corn Island may be the least convenient location to reach in Nicaragua, but to us, the sound of an island only reached by panga (small boat), no cars and with an authentic Caribbean vibe persuaded us to visit this enchanting isle. We were richly rewarded for our trouble. Stepping onto the dock from the panga, we left the hustle and bustle of the mainland behind and settled into a glorious, peaceful escape.

Must Do’s:

  • Embrace the experience of arriving by panga to a lively village with children running and laughing along the pathways that connect the areas of the island
  • Enjoy a cocktail on the sand while the sun sets
  • Play in the gentle surf (great for small kids)
  • Hike across the island to discover remote white sand beaches with turquoise waters

Playa Gigante

Playa Gigante Beach - Where to go in NicaraguaWe were determined to get a taste of as many different experiences as possible during our stay in Nicaragua and felt the need to check out the Pacific Coast. For our final few nights, we chose to splurge at a spa hotel near the sleepy little village of Playa Gigante.  We felt rejuvenated, refreshed and relaxed from our stay along this magical stretch of beach.

Must Do’s:

  • Enjoy a sunset dinner perched on the cliffs at the edge of town
  • Walk along the beachfront
  • Take a yoga class on the cliffs over Playa De Redonda
  • Drift off in the sea breeze during a massage at a local hotel spa
  • Kayak, hike and play on the beach in the bay

Where to Fly Into & Where to Stay

03-Granada_LagunaDeApoyoArrival/Departure Airport – Managua

We flew in and out of Managua. We had arranged for transport in advance to our VRBO in Granada. Once in Granada, we we rented a car to drive to Ometepe. We flew from Managua to Little Corn and then had a driver take us to Playa Gigante. Our itinerary was not the most efficient, but it allowed us to get in all of the places we wanted to visit!

Hotel/Accommodation

We stayed in a variety of places during our trip. We stayed in a VRBO rental in Granada, a local beach hotel in Ometepe, a rustic inn on Little Corn Island and finished the trip off with luxury in Playa Gigante. a luxury spa hotel.

Have you been to Nicaragua? What are your must visit places with a family?

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Trying to decide where to go in Nicaragua? Check out our thoughts on where to go with or without kids! Need some help deciding where to go in Nicaragua? Check out our thoughts on where to go with or without kids!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***All photos in this post by Misti Matthews***

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