6 BEST Places to Visit in Nicaragua

Nicaragua has some of the best preserved and isolated dive sites in the world. From the rocky reefs of San Juan del Sur in the Pacific to the virgin corals of the Corn Islands, off the Atlantic coast, Nicaragua offers diverse, world-class diving sites.

And while hitchhiking is a commonplace, women traveling alone should be careful, especially when carrying all their luggage. The lively and happy culture of the Nicaraguans, combined with its relaxed rhythm as the Caribbean, make this country a refuge of hospitality for all types of travelers in homestays, airbnb or resorts.

I have been to many different areas of Nicaragua, and these are the ones that I would most recommend spending your time and money on. They each play a part in making Nicaragua uniquely Nicaragua.

Places to Visit in Nicaragua

These are the top places to visit in Nicaragua, in my opinion.

1. Ojo de Agua

By far my favorite place in the world. Not that I've been to so many places, but this is seriously a place from my dreams. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Ojo de Agua so so much. Located on the small island of Ometepe on Lake Nicaragua, this fresh waterhole is a beautiful place. There are monkeys, palm trees, fresh coconuts to drink from.

I mean, c'mon, what more could you possibly want? Besides tropical weather, maybe some sunglasses and a bathing suit. It's kind of a trip to get there, but so worth it. The water comes out of the ground and pools in what could only be described as a nature-made swimming pool. It's long and rectangular and you can see right to the bottom. It has constant flow through it (but no strong current) so it's beautiful clear water, not stagnant.

2. Laguna de Apoyo

This fresh water lagoon can be viewed from above at a very touristy place called Catarina, piled with people and restaurants and street vendors selling all sorts of colorful items. If you like that busy touristy vibe, head over there. Or, as I much prefer, you can drive right down the steep side (well, actually a kind of roundabout drive) to the edge of the water.

There are plenty of good (and cheap) hotels, kayaks and other water toy rentals, and restaurants with delicious traditional Nicaraguan cuisine. Many of the restaurants have access to the water, so if you buy a meal you can hang out on their beach for the day. This is a bit nicer for a relaxing beach day than going to the ocean, because it's protected from the wind by the steep incline all around it, so the waves don't get very big.

For more adventurous shark finders, Shark Hole is a network of tunnels and swimming under the reef, home to black tip sharks, bulls and reefs. For those looking to mix, there is also freshwater diving in the volcanic craters of Apoyo and Xiloá. Usually, this is for more experienced divers but if you can go, you can simply glimpse numerous species of fish.

3. Cerro Negro (volcano boarding)

The ONLY place in the world you can board down the side of a volcano. This trip is amazing. Since it's kind of a drive down some bumpy side roads, your best bet is finding a tour agency that does daily tours to the volcano. Most of these tours include a 1 to 2 hour hike up, they give you a bodysuit and board for the ride down, and then offer free drinks and snacks as a bonus.

They're decent prices and you'll most likely be with a bus load of English speaking tourists (not the best way to immerse yourself in Spanish, very good if you just want to tour and don't want to have to speak Spanish). The hike to the top of the volcano is doable for those of us who don't regularly exercise, easy peasy for anyone who hikes on the regular.

Just remember Nicaragua has a WARM, warm climate, and the sun beats down mercilessly during their summer season. The view is incredible of course, and boarding down the volcano gives an adrenaline rush.

4. Cañon de Somoto

Way up in the north of Nicaragua, a river snakes through a canyon. Drive up there, park your car, and take a guided hike down to and along the river, swimming and hiking through the canyon. It's an amazing way to get in a hike but stay cool on the way. You get the views, you get to hike, submerse yourself to cool off, jump off the rocks into the water (if you so dare).

Then towards the end, when you start to tire out, you hop into a rowboat and your guide rows you down the last bit to rest up before hiking the rest of the way back to where you parked your car.

5. Salto de la Estanzuela

We tried to do the Somoto Canyon hike and check out this beautiful waterfall all in the same day - not recommended unless you are in tip top physical condition. To get to the waterfall, it's a hike along a very up and down road, then you take a couple hundred steps down a staircase to get to the bottom of it.

The waterfall varies at different times of year, sometimes is just a stream and sometimes roaring falls, but the pool at the bottom is a very peaceful place to bathe and skip rocks, and just hang out, enjoying the sounds and the view.

6. Corn Island

One other place that is absolutely incredible and makes Nicaragua uniquely Nicaragua, is Corn Island/Little Corn Island. Corn Island and Little Corn Island are the physical representation of the Nicaraguan Caribbean paradise.

Connected to both the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, there is a wide range of possible marine encounters. You can swim with eels, sharks, rays, groupers and African pompano along the 12 km of coral reef in the Caribbean Sea. Hit the best immersion of Little Corn, Blowing Rock, or the popular alternative and closest to the edge of the White Holes.
Kalyan Panja