Once a haven for buccaneers these islands offer white-sand beaches and turquoise waters alongside a cultural experience.
Once isolated from information, Nicaragua has reinvented itself and it is us who are out of touch with the country of today. Challenge your preconceptions and discover an understated laidback country that will charm and put a smile on your face. Now is the time to travel to Nicaragua before others discover the joys of a country rich in scenery, wildlife and culture.
Nicaragua is rich in biodiversity with sparkling rivers, rainforest, dense mangrove and some beautiful islands, both in the Caribbean and also in the huge inland sea of Lake Nicaragua.
Culturally it is equally diverse from bucolic rural villages to the colonial cities of Granada and Leon, from the compelling and curious pre-Columbian pottery in display in El Ceibo Museum to the world-class art museum of Ortiz Gurdian. But above all, it is about the people.
Bounded by the Caribbean and the Pacific, Nicaragua is the largest Central American country. There are 27 volcanoes in Nicaragua eight of which are active – Masaya is one of a handful of volcanoes in the world where you can see an active lava lake. Nicaragua’s infrastructure has not really gathered pace yet and the typical Central American somewhat delayed response time means that most things happen – eventually. If you can accept that way of travelling, you will find a very beautiful country with not only a rich plant and wildlife but also the impressive faded, grandeur of Spanish colonialism.
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Tucked into the forest canopy, stay in an eco-lodge with views of the ocean below.
Visit La Flor Wildlife Refuge and watch thousands of turtles come ashore to lay their eggs.
Hike through the forest where monkeys roar from the tree canopy.
Travel down the slopes of Cerro Negro volcano on an ash board.
Trek trails for some superb bird watching opportunities.
Take a walking tour in Granada of the historic buildings.
Tour one of the cigar factories in the university town of Esteli.
Take a boat ride out to Lake Nicaragua and visit some of the many islets.
Visit local communities for an insight into life and work on Ometepe.
Visit the surrounding villages famous for hammocks and rocking chairs.
Our experts have created and curated these holiday ideas to get you started. Take the time to search through them and find something to spark ideas for a unique adventure.
Some of the wonderful places to stay that we frequently recommended.
La Perla is one of Leon’s best hotels. It is very centrally located, just a couple of blocks from Leon’s cathedral, the central market and close to the National Theatre and the municipal palace. This mansion has been sympathetically restored by local artisans who have taken great pains to recreate the building’s full colonial neoclassical grandeur. There are just 15 rooms around a traditional central courtyard. The upper floor rooms have views across the city. The hotel has a small pool, bar and a respected restaurant that offers a good range of New World wines.
Yemaya Island Hideaway & Spa is a relaxed boutique hotel set on a palm-fringed beach overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Exceptional service and facilities compliment the low key and laid back feel of this charming hideaway. Each of the 16 beachfront cabanas sleeps up to four people and face straight out to the sparkling Caribbean Sea. An organic garden provides exotic fruit and vegetables for the table, while the wellness spa offers relaxing treatments.
Hotel El Convento is one of Leon’s most charming hotels. This was the site of the former San Francisco Convent. The lovingly restored colonial buildings and carefully maintained gardens all add to the ambience and character. All 32 rooms are simple but equipped with modern comforts. Restaurant El Victoriano has a great reputation and there is a good range of local restaurants and bars on your doorstep.
Tucked away just off Granada’s main square, the hotel is decked out with colonial features from head to toe.
Located in the Matagalpa Highlands, Selva Negra Ecolodge and Coffee Estate is a long-standing rustic rainforest lodge. Bungalows and chalets dot the grounds and the restaurant is in the main house, opening onto views of the lake. There are 20km of maintained trails across the property, great for horse riding and birding. You may also elect to take a farm, coffee or nature tour with one of the local guides. This is a simple lodge but one of the most comfortable and environmentally aware in the Matagalpa area.
Morgan’s Rock is set in 4,000 acres of jungle, overlooking its own private beach and the Pacific Ocean. Constructed of raw materials the 15 bungalows and three two-bedroom villas dot the hillside, decorated with salvaged items, softened with heritage crafts and textiles. Each accommodation has its own veranda and seating area and five of the bungalows, as well as the villas, have private plunge pools. Choose between a forest or ocean view – positioned at treetop level, it is not uncommon to have monkeys scamper across your balcony or sloth poised in the tree beside you.
A passion for travel runs right through every one of our experts - meaning they're always ready with first-hand insight about their specialist countries.
This volcanic country offers an epic landscape of smoking cones, and one of John’s recommendations is to climb the young cindercone of Cerro Negro before tumbling down a vertiginous slope of light and (fairly) forgiving pumice scree.
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