Nicaragua is a budget traveler’s dream destination. Whether you want to climb a volcano, visit colonial cities or surf world-class waves, you can move around this country with ease, regardless if you know Spanish. If you crave adventure, add volcano boarding to your list, and if you’re looking for a party, San Juan Del Sur is where you’ll want to be.
Nicaragua is the fourth country I solo traveled to in Central America after Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Although I never felt unsafe during my visit, you should always be aware of your surroundings, and trust your gut whether you’re traveling alone or with friends. Never leave any of your stuff unattended. To avoid overpaying, ask around, so you know how much tours, taxis and bus fares really cost.
During my visit, I sprained my ankle while walking on an uneven sidewalk in Granada and wasn’t able to do and see as much of the country as I had planned. Fortunately, I was able to see a doctor right away and got x-rays to make sure I didn’t break any bones. The doctor told me I had to stay off it for a few weeks if I wanted it to heal quickly, so I found a fantastic ocean view hostel in San Juan Del Sur, with an incredible staff who looked after me. I also felt fortunate that I met some amazing people on this trip who are now some of my closest friends. Thank you, Hannah, Michelle, and Halie, for looking after me. I owe you!
SOLO TRAVEL IN NICARAGUA
The great thing about traveling in Central America is that most of the travelers you meet are either going in the same direction or have already been to where you want to go. Since you’re likely to meet people going to your same destinations, it’s super easy to find a travel buddy if you decide you don’t want to do this portion of the journey alone.
ALSO CHECK OUT: 6 Ideas for Making Friends While Solo Traveling
6.3 million people live in Nicaragua, the official currency is the Córdoba, and the capital is Managua. The rainy season is from May to October; the dry season is November to April. To enter Nicaragua, you have to pay $10, plus an extra $2 if you are crossing the border by land.
Gallo Pinto, a mix of rice and black beans comes with almost every meal including breakfast and unlimited Flor de Cana happy hours exist in Nicaragua.
WHAT TO DO IN NICARAGUA
KAYAK IN LAGUNA DE APOYO
Located near Granada and Masaya, this natural reserve crater lake is a great escape from the city. Hostel Paradiso offers day passes and shuttles for $14 that includes kayak rentals.
VISIT THE COLONIAL CITY OF GRANADA
Granada is a busy city with stunning historical architecture. Pay the small fee to visit the bell tower inside Iglesia La Merced, built in 1534. You can also take a boat trip through the 365 islets of Lake Nicaragua.
SURF AND PARTY IN SAN JUAN DEL SUR
The fishing village of San Juan del Sur is located on the southwest coast of Nicaragua. There are several beaches for surfing easily accessible by taxi from here.
If staying in TreeCasa Resort is not in your budget, stop by for a day visit and hang out at the pool at this tree house lounge. Shuttles are available from San Juan del Sur.
San Juan Del Sur is also where you’ll find the “Sunday Funday,” party. It’s an all-day party at hostels with a final stop at a beach bar. (I missed it, but it’s held every Sunday if you want to go.)
VOLCANO BOARDING IN LEON
Another colonial town, Leon will likely be your first stop in Nicaragua if you are traveling by land from El Salvador or Honduras. Food and accommodations here are very cheap.
Just outside of Leon, you can go volcano boarding down, Cerro Negro. Tours provide clothing, goggles, and boards, and you’ll hike up a volcano so you can slide down. Keep in mind; it can get very windy here and holding the thin board can be a bit challenging. The $25 tour covers the National Park Entrance, gear, a drink, a tank top, and transportation there and back. It also includes a ride to and from Las Peñitas beach.
RELAX AT THE BEACH IN LAS PEÑITAS
The waves can be a bit rough here depending on the time of year, but it’s a nice place to enjoy the sunset. Come for the evening as part of the Volcano Boarding tour, or stay in one of the many beachfront accommodations.
Known for its twin volcanos, Ometepe is accessible by ferry. Rent a motorbike to explore the island or go horseback riding.
Located off the Carribean Coast of Nicaragua, you can access Little Corn and Big Corn Islands by plane or boat. Relax and enjoy crystal clear water that’s perfect for snorkeling, or swimming.
(Due to lack of time and my injury I didn’t get to visit Ometepe or the Corn Islands, but they are on the top of my list of places to visit when I come back to Nicaragua.)