The Atlantic coast is a remote labyrinth of mangrove swamps and classic Caribbean colors while the Pacific side is a bold stretch of hills, plains, and pueblos, its bays and beaches washed by superb surf.
Ride a horse among mountain villas, duck through cloud forest canopy, summit an active volcano — or just soak up a series of languid afternoons over homecooked meals and the company of your Nica hosts.
What was once a nascent travel industry in a little-known, misunderstood nation is finally coming into its own. More than a decade of economic growth has catalyzed the slowly maturing Nicaraguan tourism industry, from resurfaced roads and new hotels to a panoply of chic clubs and restaurants.
Granada has blossomed into an ex-pat hotspot and tourist destination the international press can’t keep quiet about, while San Juan del Sur’s surroundings have become a patchwork of farmland, gated gringo communities, jungle hills, and a smattering of luxury resorts.
Still, travel in most of Nicaragua involves compromises you wouldn’t be asked to make in more prosperous countries. Patience is key, and Nicaragua’s greatest adventures require daring and imagination, not to mention some conversational Spanish (if your Spanish is rusty, enroll in one of the many excellent language schools, where you can brush up in beachfront classrooms and colonial cities).
Nicaragua is a place where independent spirits can easily fall off the map, to live simply, and witness life at a slower pace. Red beans and toasted corn tortillas cooked over a wood fire, a crisp night sky behind a volcano’s silhouette, a simple, friendly exchange with a campesino in the town plaza.
There’s something to see and learn around every corner.
Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Nicaragua.