20 Things You Have To Experience In Nicaragua
There is a lot of things to do in Nicaragua, and you can easily spend months here. Without realising that the time goes so fast, we stayed two months and would easily do another month if we only could.
There is surely a lot one can do in Nicaragua, and we tried to make the most of it. Every backpacker will give you their bucket list of things to do in Nicaragua, and we did our top recommended activities.
Here are our top 20 things to do in Nicaragua:
1. Surf the Romanzo beach near San Juan del Sur.
Jump on one of many shuttle buses leaving San Juan del Sur to playa El Remanzo. Short 20min drive on a bumpy road and you get off a small yet beautiful beach.
Short 20min drive on a bumpy road and you get off a small yet beautiful beach. Playa El Remanzo has two restaurants with kind staff and apparently the best tacos in town.
There is no need of renting a surfboard beforehand as you can do so at the beach for roughly $10 for the entire day.
This is a great beginner surf spot, the waves are typically quite fat and slow.
If you are looking for more challenging waves be sure to check out Maderas or Hermosa beaches. They are about a 30 – 45 minute drive away and offer more dining options.
2. Hike up to the Christ of the Mercy statue.
Seen from the San Juan del Sur beach, stands the Christ of the Mercy statue. You can get to the statue by just walking the beach and crossing the river at low tide or walking over the bridge.
Either way, it takes about 20 – 30 minutes to get to the top. It is a pleasant hike, but it gets steep the last 10 minutes up. The view from the top is breathtaking though.
You can walk from the very bottom or take a taxi up and hike up for 3-5 min to the top. There’s small $2 entry fee once you get to the gate.
Make sure you put this hike on your list of things to do in Nicaragua.
3. Go on a ‘Sunday Funday’ session.
San Juan del Sur is home to Sunday Funday. Every Sundays crowd of backpackers flood the town to join the pool crawl. For $35 you get a wristband, top and a shuttle that will take you to the three spots. Trust us it is crazy, and you are lucky if you survive the day!
4. Taste seafood in El Timon.
This beach restaurant isn’t only one of the most famous in town, but also one of the most expensive in the area. It is a trendy dinner spot with live music on the weekends. We had the craziest seafood plate one can imagine for about 1100 cordobas. El Timon serves one of the best fresh snapper plates in Nicaragua in our opinion. Worth a try.
5. Go zip lining.
There are quite a few zip line locations in Nicaragua. Our favourite ones include Da Flying Frog Canopy Tour by San Juan del Sur, Mombacho volcano zip lining and in Ometepe island. On the last one, you get to zip line between the two volcanoes with Chico Largo Adventures. The views on all of these are breathtaking, so it’s tough to choose which one is best.
6. See the olive ridley turtles.
Imagine seeing thousands of turtles hatching in front of your eyes. The La Flor wildlife refuge reserve is a home to the olive ridley turtle nesting. More than 100 000 olive ridley turtles lie eggs on this particular beach each year. The turtle’s existence considered vulnerable as the current population is decreasing.
7. Go on a fishing trip.
You can go on a fishing adventure just off the coast of Nicaragua. The chances of catching a big fish are excellent even for zero experience person. In the season you might even be able to spot whales and dolphins.
8. Go island hopping on Granada Lake.
Just off the city lies the largest lake in Central America. There are well over 300 islands scattered around, and you can visit some of them. The tourist offices in the town centre offer boat tours throughout the day for about $10-15 per person. The guided tour takes about 3-4 hours and will take you around some incredible little islands.
9. Do yoga on a stand-up paddle board.
San Juan del Sur is very popular amongst expats and travellers for its culture, beach life and of course relaxed laid back lifestyle. The town has few great yoga spots, and our favourite is yoga in the water. The yoga classes are seasonal so make sure to check before heading over.
10. Take a horse carriage in Granada.
The main spot where you can rent one of the horse carriages is by the Central Park. For about 300 cordobas ( for two pax) you can rent a carriage that will take you for an hour long journey around Granada. Here you will learn the history of the town from a friendly guide.
11. Explore Granada’s colonial streets.
Granada holds a lot of hidden treasures around every corner. Packed with shops, bars and restaurants, is also home to several art galleries. Best way to explore the city is by far on foot. There’s just so much to see. Take your time and walk the cobblestone streets. Don’t forget to take your camera.
12. Ring the Granada church tower bell.
Well not exactly. The Iglesia La Merced in Granada is home to one of the most incredible city views. The entry fee is only one dollar (best-spent money to watch the sunset). And you can take pictures of the bell.
13. See the lava on Masaya volcano.
Best viewed in the evening on a clear day, Masaya’s lava surely can impress. Tours from Granada city are available for $20-35 depending on the company you are going with. You can also drive there directly and pay the entrance fee. Make sure to get there before 4:30 pm as cars line up quite early to access the park. The price at the gate is USD 10 per foreign tourist. The place gets crowded, and there isn’t much time for pictures. The volcano is one of the popular things to do in Nicaragua.
14. Try traditional food in Granada’s Central Park.
No doubt Nicaragua’s cuisine is packed with flavour. Vigoron and Cedro con yuca are the most popular on the menu. Central Park restaurants are constantly packed with tourists and locals. If you are looking to experience the traditional local cuisine, make sure to visit it.
15. Spend few days in Ometepe.
Ometepe island located on Granada lake is one of our favourite spots in Nicaragua. We spent three nights on this stunning island and loved it. There is a lot to do in Ometepe, and we have all activities covered in our article here.
This was the highlight of our trip and by far our favourite of our 20 things to do in Nicaragua.
16. Spend the day at Apoyo Lake.
Located only 20 minutes away from Granada, is one of the cleanest lagoons we’ve seen so far. The volcanic lake deep blue colour and the water temperature is just perfect. You can spend a day or two at the Laguna de Apoyo and enjoy some of the water activities. Laguna Beach Club, for example, allows you to use their water equipment for a fee of $6 per day. If you decide to stay there for the night, listen to the many birds and monkeys surrounding the lagoon.
17. Hike the Mombacho volcano.
Best go in the afternoon as it’s less crowded and there’s a big chance the skies are clear. The hike is also much nicer in the evening. We’ve seen a red eyed frog, snakes, different types of monkeys in a space of an hour. There are few different trail options, from 1.5hrs to 4hrs. A guided tour from Granada will cost you approximately USD 35-50 depending on the company you choose. Make sure to take comfortable shoes and a light jacket as it can get chilly on the top.
18. Enjoy the views from Magnific Rock.
One of the most popular Popoyo spots is Magnific Rock. Whether you are looking for accommodation, surf lessons, a bite to eat, the place has it all. Sip a cocktail while watching surfers catching waves, or simply take a dip in the pool. It’s your holiday in the end.
19. Take a surfing lesson in Popoyo.
Located on the Pacific coast, Popoyo is one of the most popular surfing spots in Nicaragua. The waves here are one of the best in the country and suitable for beginners or advanced surfers. The town itself is tiny and relaxed which makes it for perfect lied back spot. If you are looking to get few lessons, there is plenty of surfing schools or only rent a board from one of the shops for $10 a day and enjoy the waves
20. Go volcano boarding in Leon.
Out of all of the things to do in Nicaragua, this one is the only place in the world where you can do this! Volcano boarding is one of the top things you have to experience in Nicaragua.
As part of the famous Ring of Fire, Cerro Negro volcano is the only spot to ride down an active volcano. The prices for the tour vary depending on where you are coming from. It can be anything from $USD45-100 per person depending on the company you go with.
We recommend taking the bit more expensive option as you will receive a better suit, board and hopefully go with a smaller crowd.
If you have a little bit more time make sure to check out Corn Islands on the Carribean site. We didn’t get to go there but they meant to be amazing!
Conclusion on things to do in Nicaragua
There is certainly a lot to do in Nicaragua, and by far we haven’t explored it all. The 20 things you need to experience in Nicaragua are the things we most enjoyed.
We hope you will love the country as much as we did. Please share and comment if you are planning your Nicaraguan adventure or have any additional tips.
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