Travel: Nicaragua

 Nicaragua’s unspoiled rainforests are home to 7% of the planet’s biodiversity. A great way to observe this abundant flora and fauna is with a canopy tour. Visitors traverse between varying platforms ranging from 10 to 100 feet in the air, using high-climbing techniques and equipment. It offers an escape from the “real world” atop treetop perches surrounded by vistas of Nicaragua’s majestic volcanoes and a melodious symphony presented by native jungle birds. Mombotour offers such a tour from the Mombacho Volcano (located 9 miles south of Granada), which culminates with a 70-foot rappel from a 250 year-old Ceiba tree.

Canopy adventures can be experienced around the country in a variety of environments and settings, whether taking an exhilarating ride through rainforests, coasting over lakes, rivers, lagoons or flying high above coffee plantations. With all tours, whether wildlife watching or adrenaline-pumping adventure, safety is always a priority. Guides are well trained and equipment is maintained to stringent standards.  or

Granada is the oldest city in Central America to remain on its original site. The most colorful and comfortable of Nicaragua’s cities, Granada has been charming travelers with its red-tiled roofs, grand cathedrals, breezy lakeshore, and drowsy lifestyle since the days of the Spanish, who used the city as their first Atlantic port (via Lake Cocibolca and the Río San Juan). Just 27 miles from Managua on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, this fascinating and colorful city was founded in 1524 and is now considered a showcase of Nicaragua’s Spanish Colonial treasures. Seventeenth century churches, courtyards filled with flowers, impressive museums, European cuisine and historic buildings converted to boutique hotels distinguish Granada as one of the most popular tourism destinations in the country.

The beaches of Nicaragua, especially those on the country’s Pacific coast, are known for impressive surf and unexploited beauty. The most popular destination for surfers from around the world is a 37-mile stretch of beaches called San Juan del Sur. This region, located on the southwest coast of the country, was a stop on Quicksilver’s The Crossing in 2003, a worldwide quest in search of “the perfect wave.” Maderas, a secluded beach beloved by locals and visitors alike, is one of the surfing community’s best-kept secrets.

For information on local hot spots and some general information about surfing and traveling in Nicaragua, visit and

On Nicaragua’s central Pacific coast near its border with Costa Rica, San Juan del Sur is the country’s primary surfing destination and Nicaragua’s favorite beach town, the most popular with foreign tourists. Described as a port town, fishing village, surfing and backpacker’s haven, San Juan del Sur has undeniably become a tourism hot spot that has lured not only travelers, but a good deal of foreign investment as well. In addition to a crescent bay lined with barefoot restaurants and sandy bars, San Juan del Sur offers a slow-paced, tranquil setting, fresh seafood, and charming guesthouses. Several high-end residential communities are springing up and San Juan del Sur is also a favorite weekend getaway for wealthy Nicaraguans.

Visitors can choose from a variety of perfect beaches surrounded by towering cliffs and a nearby wildlife refuge with a turtle-nesting beach. Various new restaurants and hotels, such as the Morgan’s Rock Eco-Lodge, accommodate an increasing number of sophisticated visitors. San Juan del Sur is also becoming a port destination for many international cruise ships.

At the turn of the 21st century, San Juan del Sur again grew in international popularity to the steady drumbeat of high-profile international press coverage declaring the area a real estate hot spot. The area attracted a frenzy of property pimps, land sharks, and a flock of checkbook-toting prospectors scouring the coastline for a piece of the pie. Some of the investment led to progress, new establishments, and healthy relationships between foreign investors determined to make money and a positive impact for their Nicaraguan colleagues and beneficiaries. But the economic growth was not without scuffles.

Meanwhile, sunsets continue to paint the silhouettes of fishing vessels in crimson, and the mood in San Juan del Sur is low-key and fun. The noon sun is scorching, so life is languorous and measured, spent swinging in breezy hammocks, enjoying fresh fish and cold beer at seaside, or splashing about in the surf.

Nicaragua has shaken off its past and has now garnered a name as an emerging luxury ecotourism and surfing destination, and foodies are raving about the restaurants, putting Managua on the culinary map. A special place for sure that should be on your short list for your next vacation.

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