Provides a fascinating mix of climates and landscape. Here are tropical savannas of the Pacific plains and mountain slopes; tropical rain forests of the Atlantic region; and cloud forests at elevations of 3,000 feet and higher. A natural must-see for visitors is a trip to Masaya Volcano National Park, where you can drive to the rim of volcano and take in the sight and scent of lava and steam amid the mysterious landscape.
Nicaragua is easy to travel within and home to rich festivals and exciting outdoor adventures. From “ash boarding” down the side of one of the youngest (and active!) volcanoes in the world, to scuba diving in the Little Corn Island — known for its remote, pristine beaches — along with the excitement of colonial towns such as Leon and Granada, in Nicaragua you can still travel under the radar and have great adventures.
Official Language: Spanish
To Do :
Explore Colonial Leon: Leon is smaller, more liberal, and less traveled than Granada. Here you will find an easy-going, family-friendly atmosphere that is popular with backpackers and independent travelers. Spend the first day simply walking around the city square, exploring Recoleccion Cathedral (sign up for a tour to the rooftop), as well as the baroque theater, street markets and sidewalk cafes. Enjoy a mojito made with the local, and fantastic, Flor de Cana rum at Bigfoot Hostel or Via across the street, then stick around for some live music.
Volcano Board Down Cerro Negro:
Cerro Negro is a very young volcano (only 161 years old) and is very much one of the active ones. In its young life it has erupted 23 times — the last one occurring in 1999 — so this baby is overdue for a hot lava and steam explosion.
Explore Granada Architecture:
As the oldest city in Central America at its original site, Granada is a fascinating and colorful city that is filled with interesting colonial-era treasures. Much of it has been built and rebuilt throughout the centuries, as various marauders and colonists have sacked the city. From 17th-century churches and museums to hidden courtyards and historic buildings converted to boutique hotels, Granada demands exploration.
Eat a Fritanga or Nacatamal:
Nica food is more than just gallo pinto, the constant dish of rice and beans that is popular in most Latin countries and seemingly on every plate. one of the dish is the Nacatamal, a moist tamale filled with pork, chicken, veggies or other fillings and wrapped in a banana leaf to cook. And for a cheap but yummy meal, try a “fritanga” or local food served from a sidewalk vendor. Everything is on display and you choose the dishes you want. Gallo pinto along with fried and soft-sauteed plantains are always there, as well as several meat or fish dishes. It usually comes all wrapped up in a banana leaf and stuffed into a plastic bag, and you can typically get a complete three- or four-dish meal for a cheap price.
Shop at the Niche Markets:
As in many Latin American countries, the markets are the center of everyday life here. In the main squares that are the heart of cities like Leon and Granada, food and handicraft stalls are active. In Granada spend a morning walking the Mercado Municipal, mostly a food market that is lively and colorful, with a few vendors selling crafts or jewelry.
Go Rustic on La Isla Ometepe:
From Granada you can take a 90-minute bus ride and then a 90-minute ferry to visit the rustic, completely low-key La Isla Ometepe, in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. This island is made up of two volcanoes, Concepcion and Maderas, around which everything revolves.
Get in the Water on Little Corn Island:
You have to really want to get to this tiny island off the Caribbean coast, only 10 square kilometers of palm trees and sand, fringed by a fantastic coral reef. It can’t be considered easy to get to by any stretch of the imagination. Flying from Managua to Big Corn Island (yes, there is a Big Corn and Little Corn island), you board a boat to take you across to Little Corn; they generally leave after the morning and afternoon flights, and can take anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours depending on the boat.
Surf or Chill in San Juan del Sur:
This southernmost spot, not far from the Costa Rican border, is a hippie-dude haven. It’s a cool little spot, although admittedly surfers will get the most out of it by far. The area and surrounding beaches are known for their top surfing conditions, and plenty of people throwing back beers in town have clearly been in the sun and checked out of real life for perhaps a little too long. Some people find it a little overly developed and gringo-ed, but it is a very pleasant place for even non-surfers to chill for a couple of days. Nice beaches, sea-turtle nesting and some really good waterfront seafood restaurants complete the picture.
Party at a Festival:
Nicas love a good party, and plenty of festivals keep the beat going. The biggest is Carnival in March, with its infectious drumbeats and costumed dancers in the streets. The biggest celebration of Carnival occurs in the capital of Managua. During the third week of January the San Sebastian festival occurs in Jinotepe, one of the most unique festivals anywhere. Combining religious themes with folklore and theatrics, this odd Catholic/Pagan celebration has continued without interruption since colonial times.
Easter and Christmas also present occasions for lengthy parties. Semana Santa, the week before Easter, is a beloved holiday that sees its liveliest celebrations at the beaches and Nica vacation spots. La Navidad, or the Christmas season, lasts from the third week of December until the second week of January and consists of many parades and parties.
Fly fishing the Salt :
the region where the fresh waters of the Rio San Juan meet the ocean – is a great way to catch huge freshwater tarpon, drawn by massive schools of baitfish that flock here. Outfits like San Carlos Sport Fishing will help take you add truth to your fish tales with catches like giant tarpon, marlin, dorado, sailfish and snook.
San Ramon Waterfall:
Is located about a third of the way up Volcan Merida. The hike is a tough, three-kilometer climb from the bottom of the Ometepe Biological Field Station. The entrance fee is cheap,is well worth the price of this amazing site. Even an experienced hiker will get winded from this one- to two-hour hike. The first two kilometers of the hike are the easiest of the three. The third is almost a climb through the stream, created by the falls.