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Trip Report: Nicaragua - August 2018

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
168 posts
20 reviews
Trip Report: Nicaragua - August 2018

Just two days ago I returned from my vacation to Nicaragua. We were a party of four (myself, my wife, my brother, and a friend) and it was the first time there for all of us. We booked the airplane tickets prior to the social unrest and I monitored the situation closely in the months and weeks and days leading up to the trip. I decided that being pragmatic about things would result in minimal risk, so we continued the trip exactly as originally planned. We visited the Corn Islands, Ometepe Island, Granada, and the Masaya Volcano. Everything went extremely well and there was never any threat of danger from anyone. Further detail:

We landed in Managua on Saturday August 25th and grabbed a beer at the airport to enjoy before our onward flight to Corn Island. There we followed the usual procession of taking a taxi to the ferry and taking a ferry to Little Corn Island. There we stayed at Los Delfines, adjacent to Dolphin Dive, as we were intent on scuba diving, which we did. We also stayed at Little Corn Beach & Bungalow for a couple nights to mix things up, though they closed their doors the day we left.

Things on the island are extremely calm. I was told a few times that in normal times, the main village is far more packed with tourists, but when I was there there were enough people to keep one occupied. At any given time there were ~5-10 people at the Tranquilo Cafe, double that at night. Many businesses have shuttered, but there is still a variety of restaurants and things to do. We also went fishing out on the ocean and caught four barracuda, an excursion arranged by the proprietor of The Shack (which has a great breakfast).

After that, three of us traveled onward to Ometepe while one of us got left behind on Big Corn because the flight was full. She had a great time horseback riding and staying at El Paraiso in the interim before we met up later in the trip.

Ometepe was beautiful. We took the Santa Martha (ferry) over on an especially windy day, which was terrifying, though a story to tell. We took the Che Guevera (again, ferry) back on a calm day which was a perfectly nice experience. Ometepe is a bit of a ghost town, though there is the odd group of tourists floating around. We stayed at Hospedaje Soma which was a phenomenal place I highly recommend. We summited Volcan Concepcion and saw two other guides/tourists on the trail that day. The morning after the trek, my wife and I received massages in our room, arranged by Soma, which were excellent and a great deal.

Onward to Granada, at which we met back up with our abandoned friend. Granada was tranquil as well, if not a bit sad to see knowing that the main square was probably booming this time last year. We ate lunch in a restaurant which served me a very, very old hamburger patty which I had to politely return. They did comp it on the bill, though, so I gave a couple extra dollars tip in appreciation. That night we hired a taxi to take us to the Masaya Volcano. The volcano is gorgeous and captivating. We were the only ones there. Our driver told us that usually there is a massive crowd of people there to watch the bubbling lava. Seeing it on our own was eerie but a fun experience.

The following morning we returned to Managua for our flight back to the US. All in all this was a phenomenal trip. Nicaragua is gorgeous and its people are incredibly polite. Not once did I feel in any sort of danger, nor did I feel resented for being there "enjoying" the country while people were struggling. Quite the opposite, actually - many people thanked us for coming despite the issues. It was certainly an interesting time to be there.

All of the transport went off without a hitch. We unfortunately did not take any public buses, as I had wanted to (some members of our party brought far too much luggage...), but all of the airplanes, ferries, and private taxis ran on time and well. Anyone who has plans to go, in my opinion, should stay the course, assuming things don't change for the worse. The country has a lot to offer.

19 replies to this topic
Comox, Canada
Level Contributor
1,427 posts
337 reviews
1. Re: Trip Report: Nicaragua - August 2018

Thanks Derek except for the burger part which diminished my appetite. I have never had a problem with food there. I have been 4 times to Granada. I don't go to Corn or Ometepe. It is still not the tourist season but yes even in January I expect to see few tourists. I have friends there. I hope my vendor pals are still in Parque Central. The people of Nicaragua deserve out support

Hong Kong
Level Contributor
49 posts
1 review
2. Re: Trip Report: Nicaragua - August 2018

I'm also planning not to skip Nicaragua. Just for reference, Derek, how much was the return trip by taxi from Granada to see the Masaya volcano? Did you see lava?

Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
168 posts
20 reviews
3. Re: Trip Report: Nicaragua - August 2018

We booked one taxi driver from San Jorge (the ferry port to Ometepe) to our hotel in Granada, and then a few hours later from Granada to Masaya and back, and the total charge was $80 USD. So I would imagine a taxi driver from Granada to Masaya and back would be roughly $40. This does not include the $10 per person entry fee to see the volcano.

Yes we saw and heard the lava very clearly. You can see it bubbling and hear it splashing around :)

Level Contributor
526 posts
1 review
4. Re: Trip Report: Nicaragua - August 2018

Re volcano..our guide insisted that our driver back into the parking space next to volcano wall..wanted a quick getaway lane in case of eruption...which does happen! Adds a little anxiety.

Union City, New...
Level Contributor
132 posts
54 reviews
5. Re: Trip Report: Nicaragua - August 2018

Thanks for the report Derek. And tomtomhongkong, I was in granada a few nights ago, I'm traveling solo and was charged $25 round trip to the masaya volcano (night cost less worth more people), which included the entrance fee and got to stay as long as we wanted to that night.

As with you Derek, so far no one is upset that I'm visiting the country during these troubling times. Instead they appreciate our business.

While I was there, I did get to hear the viewpoints for both pro and anti Ortega, don't want to get all political here, but in the end, both sides agreed that this has really put a hurting in the country's tourism business that will take years to recover.

BTW, while in Ometepe, I tried going to the Finca Magdalena,I was told the coffee was really strong, which for some reason is tough to find in Nicaragua - when I arrived it was closed. Spoke to someone there and told me there will attempt to open up next week, if more tourists come.

Edited: 2:02 pm, September 06, 2018
Union City, New...
Level Contributor
132 posts
54 reviews
6. Re: Trip Report: Nicaragua - August 2018

Correcting the auto correct from my phone. It's 2018 I didn't think I'll be doing this.

What I meant to say.

"I'm traveling solo and was charged $25 round trip to the masaya volcano (may cost less with more people)"

Albuquerque, New...
Level Contributor
1 post
11 reviews
7. Re: Trip Report: Nicaragua - August 2018

Thanks for sharing. I plan to visit over Christmas and was getting worried! I have almost the exact same itinerary as you, but I thought I needed to cut out Granada and Masaya due to political unrest. Do you have any contact info for drivers that you used? We were going to rent a car but feel it will be safer using a driver. What did you do for transport on Ometepe?

Edited: 5:06 pm, September 06, 2018
8. Re: Trip Report: Nicaragua - August 2018

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Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
168 posts
20 reviews
9. Re: Trip Report: Nicaragua - August 2018

I sent you a private message here on TripAdvisor.

I'd suggest editing your above comment to remove your email address. Not a great thing to give out on a public forum.

Hong Kong
Level Contributor
49 posts
1 review
10. Re: Trip Report: Nicaragua - August 2018

Thanks Derek and Comphollic. Comphollic, did you use public transport at all? I'm still in the planning stage. If I go from Leon to Granada using public transport. I'll need to change at UCA. I have researched how it could be done. There would be minimal walking between one microbus to another. But I also understand that UCA is not that safe with the protests, so just want to learn about other people's experience. I'll be travelling alone as well. Thanks for any input.

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