Nicaragua is an incredible and beautiful destination that, until recently, hadn’t received nearly enough attention in the travel press. Early on, major papers like The New York Times and the Guardian-Observer had sent their best travel writers do stories on Nicaragua, but always with an angel of some type.
Back then, Nicaragua was called “the next Costa Rica” and the writers inevitably mentioned the 1979 Sandinista revolution. Nicaragua was cool; a historically significant cold-war bit player wrapped-up in stunning tropical flora and surrounded by pristine beaches.
It was a bit of an insider travel secret, passed from backpacker to backpacker.
Recently, however, it seems that the destination has experienced a bit of a surge in popularity. Travel companies have sprung up offering vacations or bespoke holidays in Nicaragua. Basically, it seems that Nicaragua is on the verge of going mainstream… but not quite yet.
Once you learn what the country has to offer, it may be clear why there is still time to enjoy Nicaragua as the last authentic, unique country of the Latin American isthmus.
Hotels in Nicaragua
One of the primary reasons so many people are visiting this country is simple. A Nicaragua vacation package can be inexpensive and value packed. Unlike other countries in Latin America, Nicaragua has only one beach resort. Most other beach lodging consist of small hotels of 36 rooms or less. Hostels known locally as “hospedajes,” or small locally owned boutique hotels, to small lavish private resorts such as Mukul dominate the offerings for lodging.
Decent clean private rooms for back packers can easily be found for anywhere from $19 to $25 per night on the budget end. Boutique hotels prices range in the $90 to $130 dollar range, and ultra exclusive rooms with butlers from $600 to $800 a night for the ultimate luxury experience.
Nicaragua’s name is derived from Nicarao, the name of the Nahuatl-speaking tribe which inhabited the shores of Lake Nicaragua. Christopher Columbus sailed down from Honduras and explored the eastern Nicaraguan coast on his fourth voyage in 1502. The country was established when the Indians were conquered by the Spanish in the 16th century.
Interested in checking out Pre Columbian petroglyphs? Want to see perfectly preserved examples of classic Spanish architecture? Nicaragua has all that and more.
Planning an itinerary is key here. You’ll want to visit the less touristy attractions that come from creating a bespoke Nicaraguan holiday or Nicaragua vacation. In the company of a knowledgeable guide, you’ll find that the countries vibrant history can be uncovered and on display in hundreds of incredible colonial buildings and museums located throughout the nation.
Nicaragua has a rich heritage that makes for some wonderful dining. The food is a simple combination of fresh local ingredients served in generous portions. It may not be full of “artistic plating” or “delicate flavors for a refined palate” it’s just plain good.
Beef, fish, and pork dishes are complemented with fresh vegetables and ever-present rice and beans.
The mention of beans and rice would not be complete without a nod to the national breakfast dish knows as Gallo Pinto. Nicaragua has its version which uses a larger red bean which is to be distinguished from the Tico version which uses black beans. Count on healthy portion of Gallo Pinto being served at every breakfast alongside of eggs or pancakes.
Another Nicaraguan favorite is known as Vigoron (made from pork, yucca, and cabbage) is popular among tourists and locals as well.
Nicaraguan food is hearty, very lightly salted and almost always non-spicy. The local food as an amazing combination of fresh ingredients that is sure to leave your mouth watering for more.
The best part is that these meals can often be purchased for under $6. On the otherhand, pricing at an upscale restaurant, for a four course meal with a bottle of Chilean wine, is still a great bargain at $30 to $35 per person. This includes taxes and the 10% tip that’s included on all restaurant bills.
Exciting Nicaragua Adventures
If you’re looking to get your adrenaline pumping, Nicaragua has several exciting activities. One of the most popular sports among tourists is to head down to the ocean and pick up a surfboard.
Even if you’ve never surfed before, the warm water and mild waves of a beginner surf beach like Playa Hermosa make it an easy sport to try for first-timers.
If that isn’t quite exciting enough for you, why not try volcano boarding down famous black sand slopes of Cerro Negro Volcano. You begin with a long wooden board, and casually hike to the summit of the volcano. Once you reach the top, you launch yourself down the hill at incredible speeds.
This is possible because the volcanic rock tends to break up into very small sand like pieces, making volcano boarding akin to snowboarding.
There are also canopy tours, horseback riding and kayaking tours available in colonial city of Granada.
Relaxing Scenery and Beautiful Beaches
One of the things most people look for during their trips to Nicaragua is the chance to decompress. If you’re looking for incredible weather year round, breathtaking leisurely hiking opportunities, and beautiful expansive beaches, Nicaragua may be the perfect country for you.
Although the country has a bit of a reputation for being a backpacker’s destination, the vibrant laid back culture of the nation makes it a great choice for an adult getaway.
Just because it’s affordable doesn’t mean it’s not classy. Nicaragua is a favorite among tourists for a reason. We could write hundreds of pages about how incredible this country is, but you’ll never truly know until you experience it for yourself.