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Travel Guide: Nicaragua Highlights

12th Oct 2011 2:01am | By Editor

Volcanoes, surfing beaches and colonial Granada.

Natural attractions

Nicaragua is a land rippled by dramatic volcanoes — 17 in all — and cloaked in rainforest. Masaya and Mombacho are two of the best volcanoes if you want a good hike with stunning vistas once you reach the summit.

Granada

On the shores of Lake Nicaragua, Granada is perhaps the most famous city on the whole peninsula. Founded around 1524, some streets look like they've scarcely changed since then. Besides stunning colonial architecture, particularly the magical dusk atmosphere around Plaza de Independencia, it's a good base for exploring the islands in Lake Nicaragua.

Isle Ometepe

Visit this fantasy volcanic island on the great Lake Nicaragua for beautiful volcano viewing and climbing. Take a boat across to the Solentiname Islands for more stunning scenery.

Caribbean vibes

Don’t miss out on the Corn Isles’ laidback Caribbean vibes. Very different from the rest of Nicaragua, it’s strictly reggae on the radio here and the tloughest decision is deciding when to take your next dip in the balmy waters.

Fauna

The mountainous central region around Matagalpa is a hiking and bird watching hot spot. Close to 20% of the country's territory is protected as national parks and nature reserves, which contain five species of cats including jaguar and cougar and three monkey species.

Few tourists

With no Mayan ruins like Guatemala or internationally renowned national parks like Costa Rica, few tourists bother to delve into Nicaragua. Revolution and war has also destroyed many museums and galleries. But for the purists, that’s what makes it worth visiting.

Pacific beaches

Popular with surfers and sun-worshipping backpackers, Nicaragua has a smattering of quality surf breaks and beaches on the Pacific coast. Try Popoyo for several great wave-riding spots. You can rent a room from a family for only a dollar or two a day.