4 REASONS YOU NEED TO TRAVEL TO NICARAGUA LITERALLY RIGHT NOW
FACT: Costa Rica is out and Nicaragua is in. What makes this small Central American gem special is that it is still so undiscovered as a mainstream traveler and backpacker destination. Americans are more inclined to visit Costa Rica, Puerto Vallerta or Belize and seem to overlook the nearby country that has so much to offer.
On my flight to Nicaragua, I sat next to a blonde hair, blue-eyed Aussie on a 15 passenger flight from Mexico City to Nicaragua. After realizing no one else spoke English, we began to chat. He let me know he had quit his job and was traveling to Nicaragua to “surf and stuff” for the next 3 months. I didn’t know much about the country before visiting, but he said that adventurous travelers from all over the world look to Nicaragua to enjoy hiking, surfing, fishing and breathtaking sunsets. After my trip I discovered that he was right!
So, before the the big hotel and resort chains swoop in, tourists takeover and prices rise, here are a few reasons you need to go literally right NOW:
1) BEACHES & LAGOONS
Nicaragua is home to some of the world’s most spectacular beaches, nature preserves and lagoons. No matter what brings you to Nica here are our top #wreckmendations:
Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve: If you do anything during your stay, you must see this magical place. Lake Apoyo is Nicaragua’s largest volcanic crater lake and it was formed over 23,000 years ago from an explosion that left a large crater in the Earth's surface. The lagoon is between Mombacho Volcano and Masaya Volcano and is VERY deep, like a frightening depth, of 328 feet under sea level. The lagoon is a natural preserve and limits the amount of boats and human activity each day. Don't worry you can still hike, catamaran, dive and paraglide at Apoyo!
Playa Pochomil: This beach nearest Managua runs for miles and along it you will find hotels, bed and breakfasts with restaurants and locally owned shops to explore. Activites include horseback riding, biking, quads and boating.
Popoyo beach: Highly regarded surfing beach with the best sunsets on the Emerald Coast. Cheap eats, strong drinks and a great day!
San Juan del Sur: Located in southwest Nicaragua, this vibrant beach town should definitely be on your bucket list. The town has shopping, restaurants, bars and attracts international surfers and backpackers. A famous statue of Christ resides on a neighborhood hillside.
2) VOLCANO BOARDING
Cerro Negro is an active volcano (728 meters high) located near the city of Leon. This activity is NOT a walk in the park at all and you must first take an hour long hike up the volcano. Basically what I’m saying is, I wouldn’t recommend doing this hungover because from personal experience, I nearly thought I was going to die after I tried to hike this thing after a 3-day bachelorette bender in Cancun. Nevertheless, the views at the top were totally worth it. The hike leaders provide you with protective gear, a board and after you slide down you can reward yourself with a drink (or 10) at Restarante Cocinarte! Learn more here: www.volcanoboard.com
One of my favorite parts about experiencing this country was the authentic boutique hotels. You won’t find cookie cutter Marriots or big hotel chains here, and even if they do eventually takeover, I wouldn’t suggest staying there if you are interested in really immersing yourself into the Nicaraguan culture.
Managua is the capital of Nicaragua and where many people fly into the country. About 45 minutes outside of Managua you will find yourself in León, the second largest city in the country. We wreckmend staying at:
Hotel El Convento: Located in a former covent, this colonial style Spanish hotel is a quick walk to main sites like the Rubén Darío Museum and León Cathedral. Eating breakfast outside overlooking the courtyard is still one of my favoite memories from the trip. There is a lounge and outdoor pool for guests as well. Pricing ranges from $75-150 depending on timing and room style
About 70 miles from Managua and León you will find Granada, a must see city while in this unbelievable country. The city’s main plaza is called Central Park and is filled with bright colors, Catherdral’s and Spanish colonial landmarks dating back to 1583. Here are our wreckmendations for where to stay:
Tribal Hotel: This luxury boutique hotel tops the list of every travel guide on the internet and there are many reasons why. One being the seven-room paradise, bohemian style decor and laid-back ambiance. $130+ depending on timing and room selection. Check out photos here: www.tribal-hotel.com/rooms
Los Patios Nicaragua: A small intimate boutique hotel offering beautiful Spanish decor and architecture with a pool and open patios. Just a short walk to the city center and historical sites. Pricing ranges, but average $125 per night.
Casa de las Hostel: If you are backpacking or on a strict budget but still want ridiculous views, this is the place for you. With an outdoor pool, bike rentals on site and 9 point rating, this place won't let you down. Less than $20 per night.
4) MACUAS AND TAJADAS
The national drink of Nicaragua is the Macua, a cocktail made with white rum and fruit juices (usually guava juice). Everyone drinks this and if they don’t they are sipping rum with ice or neat!
We wrekmend going to El Zaguan in Granada for dinner one night. With constant 4 and 5 star reviews, this steak and fresh fish forward restaurant is a must not miss! Wherever you find yourself sitting down for a meal you must try these traditional dishes while visiting:
Tajadas: Thin sliced plantains fried in oil until crispy
Gallo Pinto: A breakfast staple (mixture of fried rice with onion and sweet pepper, red beans and garlic, served with eggs for breakfast and pork or chicken for dinner)
Nactamales: Made from dough stuffed with pork and potato (think of this as a Nicaragua tamale) wrapped in a plantain leaf
Don't forget to check out the outdoor food markets in Granada. The markets are definitely something to see while visiting the country and explains a lot about the culture and how locals live (shopping for food as needed, daily).
Round trip tickets start at $300 from JFK and LAX, making this an affordable wrecked trip whether you decide to stay in hostels or boutique hotels, this travel designation won’t break the bank - do it for the Insta! What are you waiting for?!
All photography by The Wreckord. Follow us for more at @thewreckord #WreckedTravel