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Nicaragua - Where to go?

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8 posts
Nicaragua - Where to go?

My fiancee and I just got back from Western Mexico and are very interested in visiting Nicaragua next year. I do not know much about the country, and was hoping someone may have some information regarding where to go (i.e. tourist areas, best beaches, etc.), or somewhere to get this information. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.



Madison, WI
2 posts
1 review
1. Re: Nicaragua - Where to go?

My husband & I traveled to Nicaragua in 2004. We were lucky to have relatives who worked for the US Embassy at the time. They took us to a lot of cool places. I would recommend Masaya volcano and Mombacho Volcano. Mombacho has a neat cloud forrest on top and you can go on zip lines. We also had a blast at San Juan del Sur. We took a day long sailboat cruise and had a wonderful time. The boat was the Pelican Eyes. I would highly recommend the sailing. We went in February and there was not much tourist activity so it was kind of nice for us.

tulsa ok
Level Contributor
9 posts
6 reviews
2. Re: Nicaragua - Where to go?

We took our family (3 kids ages 16, 19, and 13) and had a great time in Nicaragua. I'd highly recommend spending time in Granada, Playa Coco (south of San Juan del Sur), Little Corn Island (in the Carribean - you take a plane from Managua to Big Corn and then a short boat ride to Little Corn, the white villages (for handicrafts), Ometepe Island, and the Appoyo lagoon. Infrastructure is a problem in Nicaragua though you can always find a 'chicken bus' to get you from place to place. They aren't much accostomed to tourists in many parts of the country which I found to be a very good thing. We didn't make it to Leon though I understand it's an interesting town. Granada is a good base for exploring much of the country. Avoid Managua.

Level Contributor
16 posts
3. Re: Nicaragua - Where to go?

We travel to Nica almost every year. I am American and my wife of 25 years is from Managua. She has lived in the states since 1964. I first went there during the war in 1978. I was told that since it was during the festival of Santo Domingo, their patron saint, there would not be a shot fired. Well, unbelivably there was not. Very religious people. I have never been to a country that welcomes Americans as do the Nicaraguans. I have never felt threatened. Of course it helps when you wife speaks Spanish. This is why I'd recomend a guide that speaks English. If you wish, I'll give you some names. Here are some "Gotta See" in Nica. Lake Nicaragua..this is a fresh water lake that is inhabited by sharks and other salt water fish. This makes for interesting research.

The lake also has a three foot wave to the beach in some spots and sometimes during the year. There is supposed to be some sort of Volcanic activity on the lakes floor that causes this.

Granada is a town situated on the western shore of Lake Nicaragua. It is the Oldest Colonial Town in the Western Hemisphere. Lots of culture here. Great restaurants...Itallian, German, Chinese, American, Excellent French Rest. Oh yes and the Spanish restaurant....a lady from Spain opened this one back in 02 I think....great food. The town square is where everyone gathers in the afternoon. If you ever wondered what it was like in the USA back in the 50's.....go to this square at night. Husband and Wife w/stroller quietly walking through the park...an ice cream vendor on a three wheeled bike ringing a bell on his handle bars ( ring-ring, ring-ring). If your a baby boomer, you remember. So peaceful. There is this huge church across frome the park/square. Food vendors on all four corners. A lovely veranda restaurant, Alhambra, on one corner. This is a very international town.

If you like mountains...try Silva Negra....It is on a coffee, Starbucks, Plantation on the top of a mountain which overlooks the town of Matagalpa If my memory serves me. I haven't been there since 2000.

A must see is the shopping towns as I call them. They call them the White Towns. Just outside of Managua are Masaya, Nundiria, Nandasmo, Masatepe, Diria, San Juan De Oriente and lastly, my favorite Catarina. Each little town has there own specialty items. The pottery is wonderful in Diria. Catarina has a beautiful view of Lake Apoyo. This was a volcano thousands of years ago. The sulphur waters are said to heal what ails you. They are a magnificant green color. Almost like some of the waters off the Bahamas near the beaches.

San Juan Del Sur is a great beach town on the Pacific Ocean. You've got to go to Rick's Bar. This is not the Rick's of fame in Casa Blanca mind you but the cast of characters will make the evening enjoyable anyway.

I could go on about Leon for the arts and intellectuals, Esteli for Cigars, Jinotega for Coffee, Boaco for beef, San Carlos protects the entrance to the Rio San Juan....which holds the secrets to the Salt Water Fish in Lake Nicaragua. This river, Rio San Juan flows to the Caribbean Sea. What salt water fish swim up-stream? Non that I know of either. But only in Nicaragua, "the land of volcanos" ... no other place like it in the world.

Enjoy your trip...

6 posts
4. Re: Nicaragua - Where to go?

Southern comfort-Sounds like you know where to shop. We are going on a 2 day tour based in granade. We will be going to the volcano Masaya with stops in Masaya, catarina and San Juan de Oriente. I would love to return with some unique art, pottery and gifts. any suggestions? How does shopping work--do I need to barter [in spanish]--not my strength.

Also How about money -- since we are only there for 2 days before returning to Costa Rica, I do not want to change too much money.


Level Contributor
16 posts
5. Re: Nicaragua - Where to go?


I think I wrote too much but there is much to be said about Nicaragua. Enjoy!

Here's what you do....bring a pocket sized calculator with you.

I believe the exchance rate it 16.5:1 American dollar. The best place to exchance will be on the streets of Granada if that is the town you will be in. You can recognize these guys by the money in their hands standing on a busy street corner....We have been doing this every year for the past 8 years....don't worry. If you want to exchange $100 dollars for Cordobas, it would be 16.5 x 100 or $1650 Cordobas. When you go there, it may be more or less 16.5 to 1 conversion rate. If you wish to go to the banks...that's fine. But you won't get the same rate of exchange. It'll be less....their commission has to be made you know. In the 70's & 80's they called it the "Black Market Exchange!" It was an exotic thought back then. But now it's his job....each town may have a bunch of guys on street corners doing this....they get paid a commission by the banks for bringing in dollars....Capitolism at work!

If after you see what you have planned in Granada and have some free time....go to the docks and take a boat ride/tour of the Isletas. Those are tiny, some larger than others, islands formed by the last volcanic erruption...back in ???? the 1600's I believe. Pick an island, you can buy starting at about 20K.

Masaya offers a great Marcado. It can get a little dicy here. Dirty by the food courts, which are on the parimiter of the market. Venture inside to the shops....you will be approached by a little boy or girl who will ask if you want their assistance in finding something for you. Since you speak little Spanish, find one of the children that is bi-lingual. Barter through this child. Remember to tip this child. They earn their tips cleanly. They are not begging for money. They want to earn your tips.

If you like hammocks....you gotta, I mean gotta go to the factory. They make the best hammocks in the world right there. I mean hammocks that sell for $300 and more over in the states. The factory is Hamacas Esperanza. The owner is Jose Humberto Namendy Lopez. His address in Masaya is

4 Esquinas 1c. al Sur

2 C. arriba y 20 vrs. al Sur

Telephone # is (505) 522-6082.

They make a single person hammock or a double ( I like that one ) hammock w/this long fringe hanging down. In the fringe, Jose can put your name in there at no extra cost. First name, last name, the name of your school ( Ole' Miss, LSU, Ohio State, etc ) I had one made for my daughter last year. She attends Ole' Miss so I picked out the colors of the school and had Jose put Ole' Miss on one side (fringe) and the other side he put Rebels. She and everyone else up in Oxford, Miss. fell in love with it. Jose also makes these hammock chairs that are nice. I purchased one and suspended it from one of the Oak Trees in our yard. Very comfortable to lay back and enjoy a lazy afternoon.

Cigars: In Granada go to Dona Elba Cigars. The owner Silvio Reys will be glad to help you out. Their address is:

Iglesia Jalteva 1c. al Oeste

Granada, Nic.

Telephone # 552-3217

Cell # 860-6715

Get the Cigars that have been fermented in the Flor de Cana.

That's Nicaragua's Rum. Speaking of, you must bring a bottle or two back with you. Even if you don't drink rum. I don't either but my best friend in New Orleans swears by it. I brought him a bottle (he loves rum) about 10 years ago. Every time I go down there he reminds me to bring him another bottle. They have 4, 5, 7, 12, 20 year old stuff. The 7 year old is excellent. A cut above any Caribbean Rum, I guarentee it! I think you can bring up to three bottles back, duty free. You'll see it at the airport. Prices there are compatable with the Supermarkets in Managua. I already checked that out.

Pottery: Go to the white towns or the Marcado in Masaya

Paintings: The Marcado in Masaya

Caution, stay away from the "Fake" Cuban Cigars in this Market

They will try and sell you a box of 20 Cuban's for $80. That same box in Cuba sells for $200. Their either hot or fake!

Artist's at the source: The Archiplego Islands. These islands are near San Carlos & the Costa Rican border. They are Isla La Vernada, Isla Chicaicaste, Isla Mencarron, Isla Mencarroncito and Isla San Fernando. These islands are inhabited by Monks and Artists so I've been told by my driver. I have not been there yet. Hopefully that will change in a week when I'm down there. At least we are planning on the boat ride to these islands for a day or two.

Speaking of drivers, I really admire ours. I'll call him Don (not his name).....he fought w/the Sandanista's against the brutal Somoza regime in the late 70's. When the Sandanista's took control of the country around 1980, it was discovered that is't self appointed leader had ties w/Castro and Cuba. I guess he owed Castro some favors. He imported communism to Nica. by using all Cuban teachers in the primary education levels. They were brain washing the children. My wife's aunt who is a nun down there related to us some stories of how they did this brain washing. Really terrible. Anyway, Don broke away from the Sandanista's and fought against them with the Contra's. He was part of the deligation that went to Washington asking for support to oust the Communistic Regime. Of course they said "NO" and in came Oli North and the rest is history. By the way, Oli North is a true hero to most Nicaraguan's. This country would probably be still communist if not for that deligation. Don is writing a book about the time period of the 70's on throught present. He has related to me many stories that are heartwarming. Some not so nice. My wife lost many relitives during this period. The political climate of Nicaragua today is a direct result of many Nicaraguans standing up for Democracy. Today we have the fortune of being able to enjoy this Interesting Country and it's Beautiful People.

Richmond, California
Level Contributor
56 posts
32 reviews
6. Re: Nicaragua - Where to go?

I am planning to visit Nicaragua at the end of the month with a small group adventure company called "Adventure Center" in Emeryville, CA. I have done several of their trips and been very pleased with them. They are less expensive than traveling alone and you have flexibility away from the group - it is mostly Europeans/Australians. I'm usually the only American.

tulsa ok
Level Contributor
9 posts
6 reviews
7. Re: Nicaragua - Where to go?

In addition to the other items mentioned, one can buy gorgeous guitars in Masaya straight from the workshop - they give out maps at the central tourist market with workshop addresses.

St Louis, Missouri
1 post
8. Re: Nicaragua - Where to go?

Hi, there. My name is Denise Downing & I am half Nicaraguan. I left Nicaragua in 1979 when it became Communist, and now that it's a free country I am going again in October. My family is mostly there. I lived there for 25 glorious years before the Communist takeover but had to leave because my husband was a high ranking official in President Somoza's army and we barely escaped. Anyway, I wanted to direct you to the following website so you can se how truly beautiful Nicaragua is. It is www.edicioneslupita.com or you can go to Google and just type in Nicaragua Postcards and click on "Postcards from Nicaragua". Then click on the postcards and you will just die when you see and read about the beautiful places to see. My father iwas born in Granada and it is gorgeous. Also, my aunt owns an island in Lake Nicaragua (there are 300 islands) and a boat tour is really cool! NICARAGUA IS BEAUTIFUL STILL.

6 posts
9. Re: Nicaragua - Where to go?

hey agree wholeheartedly with info on Grenada and justwanted to add that the church he mentions, if its the one I'm thinking of (that looks burnt) then if you pay the priest a donation you can climb on the roof for the best view in Nica!!!!!!!

Level Contributor
16 posts
10. Re: Nicaragua - Where to go?

Please see previous posts....I believe most has been discussed.

If your into ruins....Old Leon is a must.

If you enjoy culture....New Leon and of course Granada


Explore a tropical rain forest while climbing a volcano? Try the one overlooking the Isletas of Lake Nicaragua...I believe it's Mombacho.

How about a island.....Corn Island

Seculed island.............Little Corn Island

Mountains......visit the North Country...

Cigar Factories....better than Cuba....I guarentee....Estalie .spelling may be off there.

A coffee plantation in a rain forrest on top of a mountain...Silva Negra.

How about an authentic Swiss Challet on top of a mountain...Silva Negra

A fresh water lake inhabited by Sharks....Lake Nicaragua. And check out it's surf....amaizing for a fresh water lake.