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Top Nicaragua

Pacific South West Things to See and Do

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Nicaragua’s Pacific South West may be as skinny as a runway model, but head there and you discover that the area actually has a hefty number of things to do. You might find yourself in the swirling markets of Rivas; standing at the feet of the Bride of Tola, a monument to Nicaragua's most famously jilted woman; or watching turtles heave themselves out of the sea to lay eggs along the beaches of the Chacocente reserve.


The Pacific South West is rimmed with long, sandy beaches that, unlike similar places along the popular Caribbean coast or neighboring Costa Rica, have only started to draw tourists. Take San Juan del Sur -- nestled in a crescent bay the little town is the perfect antidote to the over-hyped sands across the border. San Juan del Sur has maintained its fishing village charm while still providing all of the services foreigners require, including a wide range of restaurants, hotels and Spanish schools.


When you decide to venture further afield, San Juan del Sur also makes a perfect jumping-off point for a incredible number of beaches, such as Playa Maderas, Playa Majagual and Playa Marsella, to name a few to the north. There are also enchantingly named spots like Playa Hermosa (Beautiful Beach), Playa El Coco (Coconut Beach) and Arena Blanca (White Sand).


Before you leave the area, make sure to set aside some time for the boat ride to Isla Ometepe, with Nicaragua’s famous twin volcanoes. The island, which has been inhabited for some 4,000 years, has loomed large in the country’s mythology, serving as a pirate base, a refuge from Nicaragua’s civil wars and as a time capsule for indigenous artifacts. The island is still half lava threat (Volcán Concepción) and half peaceful lagoon (Volcán Maderas) with land that’s sprinkled with petroglyphs, hiking trails and coffee plantations.

Other Activity pages in Pacific South West that may be of interest: Isla de Ometepe Activities, Horseback Riding, San Juan Del Sur Activities and Rivas Activities.

By Rachael Hanley
A sometime newspaper journalist with a heavy side of wanderlust, Rachael moved to Quito in November to work on the V!VA staff. She is currently...
14 Oct 2009

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San RamĂłn Waterfall

The San RamĂłn Waterfall is a spectacular natural wonder, and one of the highlights of a trip to Ometepe. In June 2008 the path to the waterfall had...

Other Activity
Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua


These ancient stone carvings are one of Ometepe's most famous attractions. The earliest date back over 4,000 years – some of the oldest art you...

Other Activity
Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua
Volcán Maderas Hike

Volcán Maderas Hike

Volcán Maderas is Ometepe's junior volcano, rising up just 1394 meters, but can offer climbs that are just as challenging as Volcán Concepción....

Trekking, Hiking
Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua


One of Ometepe's most popular activities is kayaking, particularly around the area of Charco Verde. Isla el Quiste, located just offshore, is one...

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

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...

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Turtle Watching

From the months of July to January or February, it is possible to see thousands of turtles laying and hatching eggs along local...

Other Activity
San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

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...

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Volcán Concepción

At a towering 1,610 meters, Volcan Concepcion is the taller of Ometepe's twin volcanoes. It's also highly active, making it the more dangerous of the...

Other Activity
Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua


Ometepe is quite a big island, and it's unreasonable to expect to conquer the whole thing by bike. It's also important to remember that many of...

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

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...

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

Circumnavigate Maderas

One fun day trip is to circumnavigate Volcan Maderas. The path around is rough, but it can be traveled easily by motorcycle, bicycle or even 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...

Around San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

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...

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Diving in San Juan del Sur

The surrounding beaches in the municipality of San Juan del Sur offer greet coral reefs and a variety of interesting and colorful tropical fish. From...

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua
Cycle to Petroglyphs

Cycle to Petroglyphs

The ride begins hilly but becomes flat and takes around 45 minutes to reach an isolated house, where there is a sign to the petroglyphs. There are...

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua
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