5 FAVOURITE SPOTS IN NICARAGUA
Our ambassador, Cat from D Bus Life, shares her 5 favourite sports when visiting Nicaragua.
Just after crossing the border between Honduras and Nicaragua, we passed by one of the largest centers of Nicaragua, the city of Chinandega. At the crossroads in Chinendega, we decided to take the road to the Pacific Ocean for Aposentillo and we were not disappointed.
This part of Nicaragua is little known and even we had not planned to stop there, but as we met a couple of Spanish who had bought a property there, we decided to make the detour to visit them.
Aposentillo is located at the edge of the Pacific Ocean and is known for its exquisite waves. There is a wave for beginners and one called "The Boom", which draws pro surfers from around the world.
The village is typically Nicaraguan with its dirt road and small tiendas (shops) at its edge. There are some surf camps and a hostel run by a Frenchman called the Badaboum in honor of the famous wave of the area.
The beach is beautiful, the waves uncrowded and the atmosphere extremely relaxing. When we were there, the avocado and mango season was in full swing. The ripe fruit fell heavily from the trees and we could stock ourselves every day.
In my opinion Laguna Apoyo is one of the most zen places I have ever visited. The lagoon itself is in the crater of a volcano that has not been active for several years. Its water is clear, fresh and soothing.
There is something special about this place and anyone who went there would be able to confirm it. A sort of soothing and revitalizing wave of energy that marks the visitors who pass by.
Laguna Apoyo offers a break from the overwhelming heat that can plunge over Nicaragua and the fresh water is enjoyable after spending a few days or even weeks near the coast of the Pacific Ocean and its salty water.
I recommend spending a few days here and while you are at it, to stop at the Masaya volcano. It is one of the active volcanoes of Nicaragua and it is possible to go to the crater, without leaving the comfort of your car (or taxi). Once at the crater we can see the lava bubbling at the bottom and the gases escape. An incredible experience, even more impressive at nightfall.
If you are traveling to Nicaragua, you have to make a stop in Granada. It is a colonial city with its magnificent Spanish historic buildings and cathedrals.
We stop for history, architecture, culinary experience, a visit to the small islas (islands), and maybe even for a fun-guaranteed evening in the bars of Calle la Calzada.
The hotels are beautiful with indoor gardens and breathtaking architecture. It is worth visiting some and possibly sipping a cocktail to soak up all the local atmosphere.
A visit to Granada will also conquer the hearts of gourmets, because it offers the best cuisine of the country. Take this opportunity to enjoy local specialties or international dishes with a Nicaraguan flavour.
I also recommend a stop at the Garden Café for its great atmosphere and delicious coffee. Then, a visit to the Choco Museo for gourmet who are curious to learn more about the manufacture of chocolate. Finally, open your eyes widely when visiting La Merced (catholic church) to admire one of the oldest churches in the city and take a tour of the Parque Central de Granada in front of the famous yellow cathedral, emblem of the country.
Ometepe Island is located on Lake Nicaragua, the largest freshwater lake in Nicaragua. There are two volcanoes at the ends of the island, the Concepción volcano (1,700 meters above sea level) and the Maderas volcano (1,400 meters above sea level).
Ometepe is known for its twin volcanoes as well as for the richness of its soil favourable to agriculture. Several eco-hotels grow their own fruits and vegetables and most of the food found on the island is organic because fertilizers are almost non-available and very expensive.
It is possible to volunteer on various fincas (farms) such as El Zopilote and many offer perma-culture workshops as well as self-study, meditation and wellness. If this is not your thing, we recommend visiting the San Ramon waterfall as well as the Ojo de Agua natural pools fed by fresh water to refresh you.
On the island there are several species of wild animals such as howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, coral snakes and several species of birds.
We were brave and we went up the Concepción volcano, but we warn you that it is reserved for experienced hikers. We are talking about a 5 hours, 1,700 meters ascent since the departure is made at sea level. All in an overwhelming heat and humidity. Think about it and consider perhaps doing the Maderas instead which is apparently easier.
Our favourite stop was definitely Popoyo. It is a small seaside town located in the municipality of Tola, which was initially a fishing village and a place famous for its salt fields.
Now, Popoyo attracts surfers and travelers from around the world appealed by its beautiful beaches, relaxed atmosphere and constant waves. Popoyo is located in southern Nicaragua but north of the famous city of San Juan del Sur.
It can be reached via the town of Rivas and it strikes a dirt road for about twenty kilometers, but the road is worth it. If you want an active and healthy lifestyle, look no further. You will also probably have the chance to meet people looking for the same state of mind.
We spent more than a week at the Café con Leche, the hotel of a friend from Quebec where we felt at home as soon as we set foot. Marc Bonds has one of the most beautiful gardens on which I had the chance to look with a view of the Pacific Ocean. The waves just in front of the cafe are constant and the sunsets are breathtaking.
Regardless of your plans and your travel itinerary to Nicaragua, you must visit Popoyo and have a good coffee with Marc and the family of Café con Leche.