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 by means of 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 superb (I’m scripting this from the completely beautiful 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 all the pieces I had heard about Nicaragua earlier than planning this journey was not constructive, 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 beautiful Central American gem. 

@nomads_nook Replying to @bradxlee._19 📍Nicaragua🇳🇮 is positioned in Central America and is understood for its breathtaking sunsets and tropical seashores🌴 – #nicaragua #travel #traveltiktok #travelinspo #nicaragua🇳🇮 #tiktoktravel #nicaraguatiktoks #nicaraguatiktok #paradise – 📽: @david.tejada.73 @Leo Chavez @Visit Nicaragua @Colleen ♬ Me Gustas Tu – Sped Up Version – Manu Chao

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

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

The Safety

Let’s begin with the one factor that involves thoughts once 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 one of the best mild, as a traveler there for a month, I by no means skilled something that made me really feel unsafe. 

That being mentioned, I wouldn’t stroll round many locations after darkish, however I wouldn’t do that in most nations as we speak. Some research have proven that Nicaragua has a decrease crime price than its far more common 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 a variety of poverty right here, though from what I noticed, it was principally within the countryside, and the cities didn’t appear to have too dangerous of a homeless drawback. 

Currently, Nicaragua has a stage 3 journey advisory from the U.S. State Department, principally attributable to restricted healthcare availability and poor legislation enforcement points.

As a traveler, for those who keep in the principle vacationer areas corresponding to San Juan Del Sur, Granada, Ometepe Island, Leon, and the Corn Islands, you need to be high-quality, though I might 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, a variety 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’ll be able to chill and swim all day within the volcanic lagoon after which take a straightforward hike as much as the highest of Masaya Volcano to see the sundown and the effervescent lava (one of many solely locations on the earth you’ll be able to 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 in all places you flip. The birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, and all the pieces in between will shock you.

I skilled most of this on the superb Ometepe Island, the place I used to be awoken by howler monkeys, noticed spiders larger than my hand (in my bathe, no much less) and large 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 giggle as a result of, sure, in fact there’s a paint retailer on each nook, as a result of each home on this nation is painted some neon vibrant shade, one after the following.

The complete metropolis of Granada, for instance, appears 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 undoubtedly miss when this journey is completed. 

colorful house with van

The Beaches 

Let me get this out of the best way proper now; I’m under no circumstances a surfer. I’m far more of a let’s seize a drink and watch the sundown sort of traveler.

That being mentioned, I do admire a superb seaside city with a browsing vibe. The southern city of San Juan Del Sur is precisely that and makes a straightforward begin for any journey by means of 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 might presumably get by means of, this seaside city is one to remain some time and chill.

On the coast alongside the Pacific you will see different smaller cities, corresponding to 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 common seaside city of Las Penitas.

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

Beach Swing at Little Corn Island

The Ease Of Travel 

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

However, one of the best factor about Central America is that getting from level A to level B may be as straightforward or as low cost as you make it.

Chicken busses join your entire 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, principally attributable to time restraints and being previous and cranky and never wanting to hold my (additionally ever-growing) backpack round.

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

It’s value noting that non-public drivers may also be fairly low cost right here as nicely, and I used them a number of instances once I couldn’t make shuttle instances attributable to work. The greatest tip is to get a card from one you want and hold utilizing them. 

man standing outside bus

Undiscovered Gem 

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

@itsvivslifee Nicaragua – the land of lakes & volcanoes🌿🤍 #visitnicaragua #nicaraguatravel #travelnicaragua #nicaragua #volcano #traveltiktok #travelbucketlist #nicaraguatiktoks #visitcentralamerica #centralamerica ♬ video games – favsoundds

However, what did shock me was the place these vacationers had been coming from. In my month of assembly folks, I should 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 would possibly nonetheless think about Nicaragua not attention-grabbing sufficient or too harmful to go to.

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

Also, with an increasing number of flight options from the States, it couldn’t be simpler to succeed in this fascinating vacation spot.

Additionally, Nicaraguans might 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 keep 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 can be cheaper than others. For instance, I used to be ready for Costa Rica and Panama to be extra expensive than Nicaragua and El Salvador.

And but, simply how cheaply you might get by in Nicaragua nonetheless stunned me. 

Now, some places undoubtedly 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 out there.

Aside from lodging, every day bills corresponding to 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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