Whether it’s dipping your toes into the crystalline Caribbean or paddling out to the crashing waves of the pounding Pacific, Nicaragua’s beaches always deliver the goods. The big barrels of the Pacific coast are revered in surfing circles while the clear waters of the Corn Islands are superb for snorkeling. More sedentary beach bums can choose between accessible slices of sand lined with fine restaurants and happening bars, and natural affairs backed by a wall of rainforest. Even the best beaches in the country are refreshingly free of development, so you can experience them just as nature intended.
Nicaragua has long been a jewel in the rough, a well-kept secret, and a favorite among experienced surfers or those looking to get started. With over 30 miles of coastline, the Emerald Coast has emerged as one of the premier surfing destinations in the world, and it’s no wonder why. Its location right between Lake Nicaragua and the Pacific means the Emerald Coast is one of the few places in the world to enjoy offshore winds about 300 days out of the year.
Looking for the ultimate rush? Nicaragua’s diverse geography, intense energy and anything-goes attitude is perfect for exhilarating outdoor adventures. Get ready to check off lots of new experiences from your list including surfing down an active volcano, diving into underwater caves, canoeing through alligator-infested wetlands, swimming across sea channels between tiny white-sand islands and landing a 200-lb tarpon. Nicaragua’s great outdoors are relatively untouched – at many key attractions, there are no signs and few crowds – making this so-called “land of lakes and volcanoes” a fantastic place for an independent adventure.
Nicaragua’s colonial architecture comes in two distinct flavors. The elegant streetscapes of Granada, Nicaragua’s best-preserved colonial town, have been entrancing travelers for centuries with their architectural grace. The town boasts a meticulously restored cathedral, well-groomed plaza and perfectly maintained mansions that shelter lush internal courtyards. Working-class León offers a different colonial experience where crumbling 300-year-old houses and churches are interspersed with revolutionary murals, and architectural masterpieces house corner stores. It’s a vibrant city that displays its pride in its heritage without feeling like a museum.
Getting Off the Beaten Track
Few destinations have such beauty as Nicaragua, yet remain preserved. Before you know it, you’ve dropped off the tourist trail and into a world of majestic mountains, cooperative farms, wetlands thronged with wildlife and empty jungle-clad beaches. Rent a 4WD vehicle, if you’re up for it – it’s the best way to access some of the less-traveled corners of the country, or hop abroad an east-coast-bound boat – and forge onward to visit remote indigenous communities, overgrown pre-Columbian ruins and untouched rainforests.