8 Things That Shocked Me About Visiting Nicaragua For The First Time 

8 Things That Shocked Me About Visiting Nicaragua For The First Time 

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I’m simply over midway via a Central American journey, after beginning in Panama and dealing my method as much as Mexico, a visit which I’m finishing in 5 months whereas working full-time on-line as a digital nomad. 

While each nation has been wonderful (I’m penning this from the completely gorgeous Antiqua, Guatemala) one nation has stood out as an surprising spotlight.

I’m speaking about The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes itself, Nicaragua

Sunset in the streets of Ometepe Island with the Concepción volcano in the background, a bus in the front

Being American, most of every part I had heard about Nicaragua earlier than planning this journey was not optimistic, to say the least.

Let me wholeheartedly say that I’m so glad I didn’t hearken to the misguided warnings and that I used to be in a position to spend a month traversing my method throughout this gorgeous Central American gem. 

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Nicaragua is definitely not the only country in Central America that continues to be a bit undiscovered, and there are many in this region that it’s best to add to your journey plans this 12 months. 

Every day and each new place in Nicaragua was a nice shock, however listed below are 8 issues that actually shocked me: 

The Safety

Let’s begin with the one factor that involves thoughts whenever you first hear about touring in Nicaragua. Is it secure?

While some media protection on the nation and its management doesn’t paint the nation in the most effective mild, as a traveler there for a month, I by no means skilled something that made me really feel unsafe. 

That being stated, I wouldn’t stroll round many locations after darkish, however I wouldn’t do that in most international locations as we speak. Some research have proven that Nicaragua has a decrease crime charge than its way more widespread neighbor of Costa Rica (one other nation I by no means felt unsafe in). 

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Fisherment preparing to go fishing in Lake Managua, Nicaragua

Nicaragua is the second poorest nation within the Western Hemisphere, and touring from one location to the following, you will notice this firsthand.

There is loads of poverty right here, though from what I noticed, it was largely within the countryside, and the cities didn’t appear to have too dangerous of a homeless downside. 

Currently, Nicaragua has a degree 3 journey advisory from the U.S. State Department, largely on account of restricted healthcare availability and poor regulation enforcement points.

As a traveler, when you keep in the principle vacationer areas reminiscent of San Juan Del Sur, Granada, Ometepe Island, Leon, and the Corn Islands, try to be wonderful, though I’d completely carry medical insurance with you. 

Urban skyline of Granada city at sunset with its spanish colonial architecture, colorful cathedral and beautiful rooftops with the Nicaragua Lake in the background, Nicaragua, Central America

The Nature and Wildlife 

For a rustic that is called the land of lakes and volcanoes, it positive has… nicely, loads of them. One exercise many do right here is volcano boarding down the spectacular Cerro Negro, simply reachable from Leon.

I opted for a extra laid-back expertise and headed to Laguna de Apoyo simply exterior Granada, the place you possibly can chill and swim all day within the volcanic lagoon after which take a simple hike as much as the highest of Masaya Volcano to see the sundown and the effervescent lava (one of many solely locations on the planet you possibly can see this!)

Masaya Volcano with visible lava pool and glowing exhaust fumes and gases in twilight, Masaya, Nicaragua, Central America.

Nicaragua has about 7% of the world’s biodiversity, and you will notice stunning nature all over the place you flip. The birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, and every part in between will shock you.

I skilled most of this on the wonderful Ometepe Island, the place I used to be awoken by howler monkeys, noticed spiders greater than my hand (in my bathe, no much less) and big iguanas simply chillin’ across the garden.

Aside from these creatures, the sheer quantity of colourful and engaging birds I noticed in Nicaragua actually gave Costa Rica a run for its cash. 

toucan in nicaragua

The Colors 

On a stroll within the little city of Moyogalpa one night, I commented on all of the paint shops that this small city had. To which my husband replied, “Have you seen the houses?!”

I needed to snort as a result of, sure, after all there’s a paint retailer on each nook, as a result of each home on this nation is painted some neon shiny coloration, one after the following.

The entire metropolis of Granada, for instance, appears to be like prefer it may need been painted to be an Instagram backdrop, however nope. They are simply colourful right here.

The colours of locations like this in Central America are one factor I’ll positively miss when this journey is completed. 

colorful house with van

The Beaches 

Let me get this out of the way in which proper now; I’m on no account a surfer. I’m way more of a let’s seize a drink and watch the sundown sort of traveler.

That being stated, I do recognize a superb seaside city with a browsing vibe. The southern city of San Juan Del Sur is precisely that and makes a simple begin for any journey via Nicaragua, because it’s simply over the border from Costa Rica.

_back view of a young girl sitting on a swing overlooking the volcano concenpcion on ometepe island, Nicaragua

With a Jesus statue that can remind you of a mini Rio De Janeiro and extra locations to eat and drink than you would presumably get via, this seaside city is one to remain some time and chill.

On the coast alongside the Pacific you will see that different smaller cities, reminiscent of Playa Mardras and Playa El Coco, each good choices for a really quiet vibe. In the northern a part of Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, you’ll find one other widespread seaside city of Las Penitas.

Across the nation, situated about 50 miles into the Caribbean, you will see that the idyllic Corn Islands, and whereas I couldn’t embody them on this journey on account of time, they’re positively on my radar for an additional go to. 

Beach Swing at Little Corn Island

The Ease Of Travel 

Before this journey, I had loads of reservations about touring round Central America. I used to be uncertain if it might be simple to navigate the transportation and the best way to attain all of the (ever-growing) variety of locations I needed to incorporate.

However, the most effective factor about Central America is that getting from level A to level B could be as simple or as low cost as you make it.

Chicken busses join all the sub-continent roughly and oftentimes price lower than a cup of espresso.

top of white church in leon nicargua

Next up is shared shuttles, which I used 99% of the time, largely on account of time restraints and being outdated and cranky and never wanting to hold my (additionally ever-growing) backpack round.

Where any customer will probably wish to go in Nicaragua is nicely related by transportation, and shuttle busses typically price lower than $30 an individual, with door-to-door drop-off.

It’s price noting that non-public drivers can be fairly low cost right here as nicely, and I used them a number of instances after I couldn’t make shuttle instances on account of work. The finest tip is to get a card from one you want and hold utilizing them. 

man standing outside bus

Undiscovered Gem 

One factor that actually shocked me in Nicaragua (and in El Salvador as nicely) is the variety of vacationers it appears to obtain. Now, there have been vacationers all over the place we went; sure, this nation will not be a secret anymore, and folks do come right here.

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However, what did shock me was the place these vacationers had been coming from. In my month of assembly folks, I will need to have solely come throughout 4 different American vacationers. Many I met got here from Australia, some from Germany and France, and some Canadians. 

It appears to me that Americans may nonetheless contemplate Nicaragua not attention-grabbing sufficient or too harmful to go to.

Both of which couldn’t be farther from the reality.

Also, with increasingly more flight options from the States, it couldn’t be simpler to succeed in this fascinating vacation spot.

Additionally, Nicaraguans may desperately use some extra vacationer {dollars} of their financial system, they usually deserve it.

Tourist tour for jesus christ statue in Nicaragua. Above view on San juan del sur

The History  

One declare to fame of Nicaragua is that it gave the world one of many best names in Spanish literature, Ruben Dario. After spending his life as a diplomat, poet, and journalist, Daio is now a nationwide hero. 

If you wish to see some stunning preserved historic cities, Leon, Granada, and Ciudad Antigua had been the primary established by Spaniards after they reached the shores of Nicaragua.

Wander their historic facilities and take within the structure and tradition; simply bear in mind to look each methods for the quite a few horse and buggies that zip round these streets all hours of the day. 

Guadalupe Church at Granada, Nicaragua

The Price-tag 

Going into this journey, I knew some counties in Central America could be cheaper than others. For instance, I used to be ready for Costa Rica and Panama to be extra dear than Nicaragua and El Salvador.

And but, simply how cheaply you would get by in Nicaragua nonetheless shocked me. 

Now, some areas positively price greater than others. For instance, San Juan Del Sur didn’t appear all that low cost to me, particularly when it got here to lodging.

However, it’s doable to seek out lodging on the otherworldly island of Ometepe for subsequent to nothing, and Granada additionally has many low cost choices obtainable.

Aside from lodging, every day bills reminiscent of transportation, sim playing cards, meals and drinks all additionally price lower than I anticipated. 

cliffs in sunset on coast of nicaragua

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