Paradise, Diving, Cigars, Volcanoes, Turtles, and a little bit of sun for your soul.
If you have read the book “The Beach” by Alex Garland, or have seen the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, then you yourself, like most travelers, are on a quest for that magical place where tourism hasn’t yet exploited paradise.
Alas, I have found Nicaragua, or more accurately… Nicaragua has found me. A Central American country not yet littered with all inclusive resorts, cruise ports and celebrity vacations it presents all of the natural beauty of it’s neighboring Costa Rica without the prices or parades of tourists.
Due largely to the fact that there are no all inclusives, Nicaragua has become a destination for traveler; vagabonds who are backpacking through Central America and stumble upon this magical country.
I have been a couple of times now and I absolutely love it – all of it and as you don’t want to read about everything, I will share to you 4 unique experiences that have helped wedge Nicaragua into my heart.
1. Little Corn Island.
This place is stunning – it is not accessible for any major airline. Basically out of Managua you hop on a tiny little old, questionably working plane that lights up with working lights when it turns on and fly over to Big Corn Island. Once there you have to wait for a panga (30 person water taxi) that comes twice a day and makes the 30 min open water journey to Little Corn Island.
This place is unbelievable… about 3 km long and 1 km wide it is completely inhabited by people who live for beauty of life. There are no vehicles on the island, no roads, no reliable source of electricity. To get around there has been a type of sidewalk built around the perimeter but most of the gems are accessible through dirt paths paved by barefooted beach bums who have taken up refuge there. This place is stunning, with what little space exists a commune of divers and sun worshippers have set up dive shops, restaurants and beach huts for you to explore, indulge, and relax in this pristine setting.
Attention Divers – I have dived around the world, everywhere from the Andaman Sea, Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and many others and this is the best diving I have ever done in my life. Visibility is like being under water in High Definition and the lack of motor boats and ships have left this coral literally untouched – the night dive I had here is one of the top 5 experiences of my life.
2. Volcano Boarding
So I am not sure how this became an activity that is allowed and doubt it would be anywhere else in the world without serious liability forms but for about $30 USD you can do the following.
Get driven out of Leon to Cerro Negro (an ACTIVE volcano), carry what I can only describe as a reinforced 2×4 (apparently it’s a sled) up to the crater while having your nasal passages romanced by the overwhelming scent of sulfur, put on an orange jump suit and safety goggles and come down.
Sounds simple enough – but at speeds averaging 40 km/h with no real protection there are plenty of injuries because lava sand, unlike powdery snow, has zero give – so when you fall – you’re falling hard and your body is bouncing off what is essentially a giant rock. INSANE but amazingly fun. If you survive without any serious injuries – kudos
3. Roll your own cigar.
On the main street in Central America’s oldest city you can visit Casa Mombacho. This beautiful villa in Granada is home to Mombacho Cigars and opens it’s doors daily to tours of the walk in humidor and compound during which you can learn about the process of tobacco harvesting, how cigars are made and pressed and you can even roll your own.
Then once you are done rolling, you can sit outside on the deck in their courtyard, enjoy a mojito on one of their lovely brown and gold whicker chairs and smoke your creation (or if you are like me and can’t roll a cigar to save your life) or choose one of fine quality from the Mombacho line while you enjoy the view, the company and life at it’s best
4. Embrace Life by the ocean
This part is simple, check into Surfing Turtle Lodge… eat, drink, surf, sleep, wake up and repeat… for however long it takes until you find peace within your soul again.
This place is the true beauty of Nicaragua for me. Nestled on a small islet on the pacific coast 20 minutes outside of Leon lies this beautiful ecolodge. This place is my heaven on earth, you have good people, warm water, sunshine and an energy that just empowers you. Plus if you’re lucky they have a turtle hatchery to try to stop the poaching and you can witness the miracle of life when the little turtles break out of their eggs and try to make their way back to the ocean.
So that’s it, 4 reasons, amongst about a million I have as to why you should visit Nicaragua… I am going back in a few weeks as I can’t get enough and if you are looking for a getaway in this hemisphere a little bit off the beaten path I would definitely put Nicaragua up there on your list of places to explore
xx lil miss planet
I do realize writing this article will likely convince people to go… but consider it my map to you my fellow travelers to a perfect getaway (and chances are if you are reading my page you share my sense of adventure and will appreciate it)
As well – if anyone does want to come – I am going Oct 24 – you should too