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Top Nicaragua


Nicaragua (pop. 5.8 million as of July 2008) is working to overcome a decades-old reputation of political instability, violence, civil war and natural disasters. It remains one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere (with a 2007 GDP per capital of $2,800), but is now at peace and is relatively safe for travel. Less congested than Costa Rica, but with spectacular natural and colonial attractions, Nicaragua has been growing as a tourist destination among those who are willing to overlook the country's turbulent past and still underdeveloped tourist infrastructure. Visitors, who come to take advantage of Nicaragua's relatively low prices, find themselves falling in love with the spectacular volcanoes, the largest lake in Central America, colonial Granada and Caribbean beaches in areas like Bluefields.

Nicaragua's Geography

The largest Central American nation, Nicaragua, is full of parks and reserves and more lakes than any other Central American nation. Located between Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south and with long coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Nicaragua is about one-third tropical rainforests and is split in half by a mountain range scattered with volcanoes.

Nicaraguan Culture

Baseball-crazy Nicaraguans are friendly and helpful and will happily tell you their opinions about their country’s political past. In 1998 the nation was rocked by Hurricane Mitch which killed thousands and left 20 percent of the population homeless.

Some highlights not to miss on your trip to Nicaragua are:

Granada- Founded on the shores of Lago de Nicaragua and the base of Volcán Mombacho in 1524, today it is a hub for tourists taking daytrips in the area or for those who just want to relax in this peaceful town loaded with international restaurants and inexpensive lodging.

Lago de Nicaragua- The largest lake in Central America and home to the world’s only freshwater sharks, Lago de Nicaragua can be seen on a daytrip boat tour, or through longer stays on one of its islands.

The Corn Islands - These two Caribbean islands, Little Corn and Big Corn, are lined with picturesque palm trees and surrounded by beautiful coral reefs covered by crystal-clear water.

Leon - The second-oldest Nicaraguan town, Leon was the capital of Nicaragua until 1857 and is today considered its intellectual capital due to its large university-student population.

All information for this overview was written and researched by Dawn Wohlfarth.

23 Sep 2009

Nicaragua's Best Beaches

Acapulco Beaches

107432Acapulco offers beaches for all tastes and all are easily accessible from anywhere along the Costera road. West of town are the small bay beaches of Caleta and Caletilla, both of which are tightly ...
Acapulco, Mexico

Refugio de Vida Silvestre La Flor

El Refugio de Vida Silvestre, located 21 kilometers south of San Juan del Sur, is one of few in the world where you can witness massive congregations of endangered Olive Ridley turtles (called ...
San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Lands End and Lover's Beach

107555Take a trip to Lover's Beach by water taxi and you get a tour of the fantastic Lands End headland thrown in. Visit Pelican Rock, where a family of Pelicans pose for photos, and also stop off at a Sea ...
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

El Ostional

If you’re in the mood for a tranquil experience away from all the tourists, take a trip to El Ostional. Staying at this quiet and indigenous fishing village is like taking a peek into the San Juan ...
San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Playa Del Palmar

This beautiful white sand beach is lined with all of the area’s big resorts. Resort-goers are plentiful, and the chairs set up along the beach are for them. There are public entrances to the beach, ...
Ixtapa, Mexico

Isla Ixtapa

The beach at Isla Ixtapa is Ixapa’s version of Playa Las Gatas in Zihuatanejo. It is very popular and filled with restaurants, beach chairs, umbrellas and families having a good time. Because it ...
Ixtapa, Mexico

Playa Las Gatas

Based on the crowds, this is easily Zihuatanejo’s most popular beach both in and out of tourist season. Water taxis from the downtown pier at Playa Municipal only cost $3.50 roundtrip. This is the ...
Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Playa Linda

This  beach in Ixtapa is frequented by the locals. Busses go back and forth all day for about sixty cents. Patio chairs, tables, and beach umbrellas can be rented for about $5 to $10 for the ...
Ixtapa, Mexico

Playa Angelito

This is definitely the kiddie beach of Puerto Escondido. Lots of locals bring their families here, and you can see everyone from infants to the elderly enjoying themselves. Bring your inner tubes ...
Puerto Escondido, Mexico

Altragracia Beaches

The most popular beach near Altagracia is called Punta Taguizapa, and it's located just to the east of the city. If you head north towards the ferry about 2 kilometers out of town you'll pass a ...
Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

Playa el Yanke

This beach is a bit farther from the other beaches, but definitely worth the trip. The water is clear and the sand is white. For surfers, this is one of the best beaches in the area. Depending on the ...
Around San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Hit up Nicaragua's Historical Sites

The Great Pyramid

127735Covered in grass and crowned by the Catholic shrine to La Virgen de los Remedios, the Great Pyramid, built in 200 BC, initially resembles a big hill. Upon closer inspection you´ll be able to see ...
Cholula, Mexico

Teotihuacán Ruins

107393One of the country's cultural highlights, these impressive ruins can be visited easily in one day even if your base is Mexico City. Dating back to the days of the Maya, this former urban center has ...
Mexico City, Mexico

Chichen Itza trip

107040This is a must-do if you are in this area and trips are offered not only from Playa but also Ancun and Tulum. Organised tours usually put small groups into minibuses but do not befooled by the ...
Cultural Tour, Ruin, Adventure Tour
Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Tulum Ruins

107068This is one of the prettiest Mayan sites you can visit, neatly cared for with trimmed grass and palms surrounding well-restored ruins. The buildings themselves may not be as impressive as somewhere ...
Ruin, Cultural Tour
Tulum, Mexico


Maya legend tells of a dwarf in the ancient city of Uxmal, who claimed to have magical powers. Uxmal’s ruler, confident that the dwarf was a fraud, made a foolish wager that if the dwarf could ...
Merida, Mexico

Ruins of Cholula

127728The ruins of Cholula, constructed between 200 BC and 800 AD, are the bread and butter of the town´s tourist industry. Once a majestic city of 400 temples and rival to the mighty Teotihuacan, the ...
Cholula, Mexico

Ruinas Veracruz

Another casualty of the 1979 bombardment, these are probably the most impressive, intact ruins in Leon. The most likely reason for this is that they have been fenced-off, preventing people from ...
Barrio Sutiava, Leon, Nicaragua

Forteleza la Pólvora

122933This 250-year-old fort was built by the Spanish. It was later used as a torture and interrogation center during the Somoza dictatorship. The fort was rebuilt in the 1990's, and now houses a small ...
Granada, Nicaragua


122892Although the historical ambience of this old fortress is largely ruined by the prodigious graffiti covering its walls, it's still an interesting place to visit. For one thing, it offers a beautiful ...
Masaya, Nicaragua

Ball Courts

The presence of two ball courts in the ceremonial center of Tula is the biggest ace in the hand of the “Toltecs fled to Chichen Itza and established a regime there” camp of historians. Although ...
The Archaeological Site, Tula De Allende, Mexico

Hiking in Nicaragua

Volcán Maderas Hike

104568Volcán Maderas is Ometepe's junior volcano, rising up just 1394 meters, but can offer climbs that are just as challenging as Volcán Concepción. Since Maderas is dormant, most visitors head for the ...
Trekking, Hiking
Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

Hiking Mombacho

For an easier day hike outside of Camoapa, consider heading to Mombacho, a forested peak offering beautiful views of the surrounding lowlands. With ideal soil for growing coffee, this mountain is the ...
Camoapa, Central Nicaragua, Nicaragua

Reserva Silvestre Privada Domitila

This is a popular ecotourism destination bordering the southwest corner of Lake Cocibalca. They offer horseback riding and trekking, specializing in all-inclusive trips. ...
Reserva Natural Volcán Mombacho, Nicaragua

Northward Nicaragua Tours

This tour through the Nicaraguan mountains is ideal for those who like to hike. The tout take place in the country's largest natural reserve, Bosawás, an area of 730,000 square kilometers. The tour ...
Matagalpa Activities, Matagalpa, Nicaragua

Reserva Natural Miraflor

Located 35 kilometers (22 mi) northeast of Esteli, this campesino-owned nature reserve became protected in 1990, and is a haven for exotic flora and fauna including hundreds of species of birds and ...
Esteli, Nicaragua


Besides wandering through the uninhabited northwest of the island, a popular hike is to head up to the lighthouse that offers a spectacular view of the entire island. The trail up is located off of ...
Hiking, Hiking Info.

Hiking in San Juan del Sur

The main hiking option in San Juan del Sur is the trail on La Questa Hill. Either rent a car, or take a taxi to the northeast side of town, past the Texaco and about 6 km up the road, until it ends. ...
San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Reserva Natural Cerro El Arenal

Twelve kilometers from Matagalpa on the way to Jinotega, this small, fertile reserve is home to organic coffee plantations, farms cultivating produce and flowers, artisan workshops producing crafts ...
Matagalpa, Nicaragua

Reserva Natural Meseta Tisey-Estanzuela

131175Less frequented than Reserva Miraflor is Reserva Natural Meseta Tisey-Estanzuela, also located outside of Esteli. Trails within the expansive forest offer views of Honduras and El Salvador, as well ...
Esteli, Nicaragua

Hiking Cerro Apante

130615This short, easily accessed hike is a good way to stretch your legs and get your heart rate up during your stay in Matagalpa. A guide is not necessary as the hike is a well marked loop. Starting at ...
Matagalpa Activities, Matagalpa, Nicaragua

Santiago Crater

104584 From the park entrance at the side of the main road, transport (50 Cordobas/US$3 one-way) can take you up the hilly road to the edge of the active Santiago crater. It last erupted in 2000, toppling ...
Hiking, National Park

Nicaragua Shopping Spots

Mercado de Artesanias

This is Nicaragua's most famous market, located in an elegant century-old structure. Every Thursday, the “Night of Revelry” features folkloric dancing and music, as well as local food. It's a ...
Masaya, Nicaragua

La Ciudadela Mercado de Artesanías (La Cuidadela Handicrafts Market)

135244This compact, filled-to-bursting market of handicrafts could be your one-stop shopping for all of Mexico (if you want to pay a little more than what you might haggle for in each locale represented ...
Mexico City, Mexico

El Huembes Market

124915The popular, bustling El Mercado Carlos Roberto Huembes, like many places around the country, was named after communist guerrillero Carlos Roberto Huembes. Some estimates pin the number of small ...
Managua, Nicaragua

Mercado Central

Granada's main market is located on Calle Vega two blocks south of Parque Central. While the building is quite attractive, the interior is just a collection of ramshackle stalls selling clothes, ...
Granada, Nicaragua

Mercado Central

134435A visit to Antigua's central market is an excellent way to experience local culture first hand. Open daily (6am - 7pm), rows of wooden stalls are alive with color and the hustle and bustle of vendors ...
Antigua, Guatemala

Shopping Summary

125299Kids Saving the Rainforest Souvenir Store and Headquarters is a great place to get cheap souvenirs and help out the environment, as 100% of profits go towards conservation. See the Quepolandia ...
Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Santo Tomas Jalietza

104842 Charming and rustic, Santo Tomas Jalietza is one of many small artisan pueblos in the Oaxaca City region. Head south from Oaxaca City on Route 175, pass San Bartolo Coyotepec (or stop for a peek ...
Market, Shopping, City

Chichicastenango Market

136196No visitor should come to Chichicastenango without stopping to witness the weekly market. The town becomes a different place on Sundays and Thursdays, when the usually-quiet highland settlement is ...
Chichicastenango, Guatemala


136564The market bubbles with life every day, and is a good place to stroll, taking in the smells, the colors and textures of all manners of fresh fruit and vegetables, weighed on hand-held scales, or ...
Salamá, Guatemala

Bazar Sábado/ Plaza San Jacinto

A popular weekend tradition for chilangos, as citizens of México City are called, is to visit San Ángel’s Plaza San Jacinto for lunch at a sidewalk café then stroll through the Bazar Sábado, or ...
San Ángel , Mexico City, Mexico
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