Should You Travel To Nicaragua?
Nicaragua holds a special place in the heart of Soul Free Travels. Having lived here, we know this country intimately and wholeheartedly think there are more reasons to go than can be counted. There are also many misconceptions and many unknowns about this lovely country—some going back to the 1970's. We'll deal with the recent issues that you should be aware of.
Currently, the “why go” questions is somewhat of a tough one, but it is certainly one that should be asked. In April 2018, the socialist government of Nicaragua took a very wrong turn. We highly suggest that you learn more about this, especially if you are considering travel to the country and to also consider the travel warnings issued by numerous governments.
With this disclaimer noted, travel here is still possible, but with heightened security precautions and armed with information about how not to get yourself in trouble. The decision to go should not be made lightly and real issues do exist.
Nicaraguans are some of the friendliest and welcoming people we have encountered in our own travels. Not going to Nicaragua puts a very large portion of the population who work in tourism out of work, and the effects in the loss of tourist numbers has already been felt by a large number of local workers and entrepreneurs.
For that reason, we urge you to consider the pillars of responsible travels when going and that requires diligent research. We have done that for you and for the record we would would go at this this time. Just be aware there are armed military hanging around in many places and you are best to avoid them.
Back to the great reasons to go! There are beautiful and diverse landscapes, amazing beaches, and an incredible array of things to do from seeing the spectacular colonial architecture, killer surfing, abundant fishing, spectacular trekking, and even sliding down volcanoes for your thrills.
If you are considering Nicaragua, part of our service is helping you with an amazing itinerary and referring you to reputable locals to assist in your activities and getting around safely.
Nicaragua's Travel Highlights
The Corn Islands
If you are looking for a seriously laid back beach experience, with a bit of adventure and an authentic vibe, look no further than these two lovely islands off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua.
Big Corn Island has more tourist infrastructure than does Little Corn Island but, both are very worthy of visiting. With absolutely perfect beaches and swaying palm trees, spending a few days here is a perfect way to relax—either save up you energy for further explorations in Nicaragua or to recover from ones you've already had.
Unless you have already been here, no visit to Nicaragua should happen without spending at least couple of nights in this wonderful colonial city. Amazing architecture, a lively town center, bustling markets, incredible cafés and galleries to enjoy.
Just walking around the city and checking out all of the colorful doors of the colonial buildings is another great way to spend a few hours. Two of our favorite things to do here are to climb the tower at Iglesia de La Merced for a stunning sunset with views to the city below and to take a boat ride through Isletas de Granada for another sunset.
San Juan del Sur
SJDS is one of Nicaragua's most popular destinations. With amazing beaches for sun worshippers and surfers, the good life is what this town is all about. There is a lively nightlife here and a very laid back vibe. There are many wonderful accomodations here from charming boutique hotels to swanky villas tucked away in hills amongst the jungle, or right in the beach.
For nature lovers, just south of SJDS, is the La Flor Wildlife Refuge. This is a beautiful beach where around 30,000 Olive Ridley turtles (known as Tortuga de Paslama in Nicaragua) arrive each year to mate and make their nesting areas. In the reserve there are also tropical dry forests and mangroves filled with wildlife including such animals as howler monkeys, white face monkeys, the Garrobo Negro (black lizard), and an array of birds species.
Matagalpa is in the northern highlands of Nicaragua and is one of our favorite places in the country. Both a region and a city, there are charming villages such as El Chile, coffee plantations, excellent hiking and trekking, and a laid-back charm that makes for special experiences.
León is the perfect place to immerse into for a truly authentic feel of Nicaragua. After Managua, León is the second largest city in Nicaragua, but it feels much smaller as walking around here is an excellent way to pass the time and see some of the sights like the Museum of the Revolution where you can learn about Nicaragua's revelutionary past.
When you've worked up an appetite, there is a wealth of great food in León. If you seek street food, there are food carts with delicious quick bites and visiting a comedores in the Mercado Central is a the perfect way to immerse into the local culture and enjoy freshly prepared local favorites. León is also a good place to base out of if you would to go to nearby beaches or take trips to the many nearby volcanoes like Telica or Cerro Negro.
If you are up for an adventure and want to get off the beaten path, Somoto Canyon is an incredibly beautiful area in the north near to the border with Honduras. One of oldest rock formations in Central America, this is a great place to go kayaking, swimming and rock-climbing.
The Cementerio de Granada is a beautiful and historic place to visit in Granada. A walk through is a fascinating stroll through through Nicaraguan history, art, architecture and their values.
Ometepe Island - From Rivas, you can take a ferry to the island where there are two of Nicaragua's nineteen active volcanoes, lush forests and an amazing—albeit now touristic, swimming hole known as Ojo de Agua, a natural springwater pool that is fed from an underground river coming from the volcano Maderas.
Travel Experiences in Nicaragua
The Best Times To Travel To Nicaragua
The question to go does present an ethical dilemma. The current U.S. Department of State status is a Level 3 Advisory, which is a recommendation to reconsider travel to Nicaragua.
While we would feel as safe here as we would in Chicago or Los Angeles, making sure you understand the risks and why these exist is extremely important. With respect to the government, there is still reason for concern. Canada's advisories spell it out very well. A tourist’s perception of the country is much different than that of a citizen’s.
Nicaragua is still a corrupt country and has been for a very long time. If driving and being stopped and asked for bribes from the unarmed police was not uncommon prior to the unrest, with the loss of tourism numbers and people having any spare change for what we used to consider "tolls", this can only be worse as people are feeling the economic downturn and law enforcement is nothing short of a joke here.
With the armed military walking around tourist towns, the presence is unsettling to locals and tourists alike. You are best to avoid them. Some harbor resentments and you can never be sure of thier actions. There are many hotels that have to close their doors indefinitely that have not yet re-opened and the news media does not do a very good job of reporting the real travel news here.
With that, the most pleasant time weather wise is about mid-November to January. By February, it begins to get hot fairly hot in February and when they rains come around May...whew, humidity! Still, these can be great times to go.
In April, Semana Santa (Holy Week) takes place and is a great time to experience the culture of the Nicaragua. The entire country takes place in this more than 450 year old celebration.
There is always a great place to go in Nicaragua even during the wet season. Surfing is usually best toward the end of March through September and the turtles near San Juan del Sur are nesting from July to January.
Click on the first image to expand the gallery & get more destination information & travel tips.
You can do all of your travel research & planning right here, but why not let us help you cut through the clutter?
Our services are almost always free to you and we have none of the fees
like you will find with the usual suspects in the world of travel.
We are real people, with the ability to think way outside of the box. Our services are almost
always at no additional cost to you and we can more often than not, save you money,
We understand that part of the fun in traveling is the planning, some love it and others—not so much.
We do not take away from the fun, in fact we add to it!
Travel planning is a collaborative process with as much or as little involvement you care to participate in.
Get in touch and see how we can make a difference in your travels.