At the end of last year, I traveled to Central America for the first time. Truthfully, Nicaragua had never been on my radar before but after a week traveling through the beautiful country, I already can’t wait to get back.
Situated between Costa Rica and Honduras lies Nicaragua, the land of lakes and volcanoes. As I learned, most of eastern Nicaragua is a dense rainforest and protected by the federal government. The more populous and touristy places in Nicaragua all happen to be on the west coast. People come in from all over the world to ride the waves. Flying in and out of Managua, the nation’s capital happens to be ideal as it’s pretty centrally located on the west coast. I traveled to three cities while in Nicaragua: San Juan del Sur, Granada & Tola.
San Juan Del Sur was our first stop of the trip. We stayed at the Hulakai Hotel, just a stone’s throw up from the surfing beach. The food, staff (and coffee!) were all exemplary. With an infinity pool that stretches out toward the sunset and a mini putt-putt green, the hotel had more than enough things to do to stay relaxed throughout the day. In town, there were many trendy retail boutiques
San Juan Del Sur:
- The Beach House – clean & airy boho-chic restaurant. Great for drinks by the beach
- Restaurante El Timón – authentic Nicaraguan cuisine by the beach
- Simon Says – an eclectic coffee shop with a restaurant & garden in back
- The Taco Spot – casual taco joint
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- Barrio Cafe – Good brunch spot or on-the-go coffee
- Dale Pues
- STAY: Hulakai Hotel
- Catamaran sailing
- Surfing – know for the amazing surf, be sure to grab some lessons if it’s your first time!
- STAY: La Gran Francia Hotel
- Iglesia La Merced – 1534 church that is still in service. you can pay $1 and climb to the bell town with great views of the city & volcanoes
- The Garden Cafe – Great spot for lunch, non-profit and community center that empowers young women
- El Espino – a private island eco-resort on Lake Nicaragua – great for a one-night stay or have drinks during the day
- Laguna Apoyo
Tola (Playa Santana):
I went with an amazing group of travelers with El Camino ~ they curate some really unique trips with authentically local experiences. This was actually my second trip with them – the first was to Cuba last June ~ which I’ve very overdue for creating a city guide for Havana! They go to Nicaragua and a few more destinations in Central & South America as well as the Caribbean. Check them out if you are a solo traveler or interested in heading to any of these destinations with a rad group of travelers!