There are many things to do in Nicaragua, and you can easily spend months here. These are some our the best tips and experiences we did on our 2-month trip around Nicaragua.
Undoubtedly, there is 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.
Nicaragua was one of the best places we visited during our six month trip up through Central America. Make sure while you are here you stopover in Ometepe Island.
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, 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.
The Christ of the Mercy statue is seen from the San Juan del Sur beach. You can get to the figure by walking the beach and crossing the river at low tide or walking over the bridge.
It takes about 20 – 30 minutes to get to the top. It is a pleasant hike, but it gets steep in the last 10 minutes. The view from the top is breathtaking, though.
You can walk from the bottom or take a taxi up and hike up for 3-5 minutes to the top. Once you get to the gate, there’s a small $2 entry fee.
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.
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 new 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 Ometepe island.
You get to zip line between the two volcanoes with Chico Largo Adventures on the last one.
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 home to the olive ridley turtle nesting.
More than 100 000 olive ridley turtles lay eggs on this particular beach each year.
The turtle’s existence is 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 a zero experience person. During the season, you might also 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 tiny islands.
9. Do yoga on a stand-up paddleboard.
San Juan del Sur is very popular amongst ex-pats and travellers for its culture, beach life, and relaxed, laid-back lifestyle.
The town has a 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 central spot where you can rent one-horse carriages in 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, it is also home to several art galleries. The 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 (the best-spent money to watch the sunset). And you can take pictures of the bell.
13. See the lava on Masaya volcano.
Masaya’s lava can surely impress the best viewed in the evening on a bright day.
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, visit it.
15. Spend a 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 the activities covered in our article ‘things to do in Ometepe’ here.
This was the highlight of our trip and the favourite of our 20 things to do in Nicaragua.
16. Spend the day at Apoyo Lake.
Located only 20 minutes away from Granada, it is one of the cleanest lagoons we’ve seen so far.
The volcanic lake’s deep blue colour and the water temperature are perfect.
You can spend a day or two at the Laguna de Apoyo and enjoy some 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 more excellent in the evening. We’ve seen a red-eyed frog, snakes, and different types of monkeys in the space of an hour.
There are a few different trial options, from 1.5hrs to 4hrs.
A guided tour from Granada will cost you approximately USD 35-50, depending on the company you choose.
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, or a bite to eat, the place has it all.
Sip a cocktail while watching surfers catching waves, or 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 Nicaragua’s most famous surfing spots.
The waves here are one of the best and suitable for beginners or advanced surfers.
The town itself is tiny and relaxed, making it a perfect lied back spot.
If you want to get a few lessons, there are 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.
Cerro Negro volcano is the only spot to ride down an active volcano as part of the famous Ring of Fire.
The prices for the tour vary depending on where you are coming from. It can be anything from $USD45-100 per person, depending on your company.
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 more time, visit the Corn Islands on the Caribbean side. We didn’t get to go there, but they were meant to be amazing!
We hope you have enjoyed this list of things to do in Nicaragua.
There is indeed a lot to do in Nicaragua, and by far, we haven’t explored it all. It is a magical place and one which we are sure you will not forget. The 20 things you need to experience in Nicaragua are what we most enjoyed.
We hope you will love the country as much as we did. Please share and comment if you plan your Nicaraguan adventure or have any additional tips.
Thanks for stopping by,
Sabina and Steve