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Introducing Nicaragua

Discover the best of Nicaragua.
Bet your vacation days on Nicaragua, and you'll be mightily rewarded. Expect perfect surfing beaches on the Pacific coast, beautifully preserved colonial architecture in Granada, and opportunities for truly out-of-this-world adventure—think underwater cave diving and hikes to hidden jungle fortresses. With a tourism infrastructure that's still catching up, Nicaragua still feels like a hideaway—book your trip before the secret's out.

When is the best time to visit?
Nicaragua's high season runs from December-March, but November and April may actually be the best time to visit. During these shoulder season months, you can expect mostly dry and sunny weather with a fraction of the high season crowds. Most travelers will want to avoid the rainy season, which usually lasts from May through October—rough roads and stormy days can make logistics tricky, though you'll score bargain hotel deals.

Where should you go?
Nicaragua may be a small slice of Central America, but it has an impressive diversity of outdoor and cultural options. Tola and San Juan del Sur in the southwest are perfect for surf-happy beachgoers and travelers looking for the perfect wellness retreat. Head north to Estelí and Matagalpa for a dose of local culture, while western León has it all: nature, crumbling colonial history, and adventure are at your fingertips here.

The intrepid traveler will also want to consider a visit to Ometepe Island. Formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua and connected by a low strip of wetland, Ometepe is one of the largest freshwater islands in the world—and the only island with two volcanoes in a freshwater lake. Designated a biosphere reserve, the area offers plenty of untouched nature to explore—but it's also a historical gem. The influence of ancient aboriginal tribes can still be seen in petroglyphs dating back 1,700 years.

How many days do you need?
In just 5 days, you can see a number of Nicaragua's highlights. Start by exploring León with a private guide, check out Granada, take a Las Isletas boat tour, and finish the trip with a day at Masaya Volcano and Pueblos Blancos. With a week or more, you should consider adding two nights at Ometepe Island and some leisure time on the beaches of Tola. In 2 weeks, you can complete a true grand tour, with unique opportunities to engage with local culture. Take a coffee farm tour in Matagalpa, check out the Indio Maíz Nature Reserve, snorkel off the coast of Corn Island, and so much more.

Nicaragua Travel Insights

Cayos de Perlas, Nicaragua
Map of Beaches & Culture in Nicaragua - 10 Days
Beaches & Culture in Nicaragua - 10 Days

On this relaxing 10-day tour of Nicaragua's best beaches, you'll explore the surf and sand from coast to coast, with a dose of local culture along the way. Unwind on stunning white-sand beaches, kayak around Caribbean cays, and tour the massive Lago de Nicaragua and its hundreds of islets. You'll also gain insight into culinary traditions in the colonial city of Granada, spot marine wildlife like sea turtles, and visit a tropical cloud forest reserve.

Rainbow-billed Toucan
Map of Kayak the Pirate Routes in Nicaragua – 11 Days
Kayak the Pirate Routes in Nicaragua – 11 Days

Retrace the old pirate routes on this kayaking adventure in Nicaragua. Your journey will start in the 500-year-old Spanish colonial city of Granada. You will then fly to San Carlos and paddle the San Juan River from Sabalos to San Juan de Nicaragua. See exotic fauna such as the rainbow-billed toucan, visit the fort at El Castillo built to fend off pirates, and camp on the banks of the San Jan River. Finish your trip with a free day in Nicaragua's exciting capital, Managua.

Walking at Mombacho Volcano
Map of Sustainable Nicaragua - 11 Days
Sustainable Nicaragua - 11 Days

Although only a small country, Nicaragua packs in a lot of variety. On this eleven day tour, learn about the country's sustainability efforts while enjoying cultural experiences and fun outdoor excursions. Hike a volcano in the middle of a lake, visit an organic farm, and try your hand at pottery, weaving, and traditional cooking in a series of local-led workshops.

Nicaragua Travel Maps

Get the lay of land, and understand distances between the places you want to visit
Map Beaches & Culture in Nicaragua - 10 Days
Beaches & Culture in Nicaragua - 10 Days
View article
Map Kayak the Pirate Routes in Nicaragua – 11 Days
Kayak the Pirate Routes in Nicaragua – 11 Days
View article
Map Sustainable Nicaragua - 11 Days
Sustainable Nicaragua - 11 Days
View article

Meet our Local Travel Specialists

Experienced travel agents with a passion for Nicaragua
Travel specialist Reyna Ulloa
active 19 hours ago

Reyna Ulloa

My name is Reyna, a young professional from Masaya, Nicaragua. I am a university graduate of Tourism Management and Development, and I declare myself completely in love with Central America. I...

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Travel specialist Lucía Barrios

Lucía Barrios

I am keen on the outdoors activities especially those involved in direct contact with nature like hiking, snorkeling. I love to swim, bird watching and writing. I am a peace of mind person. In...

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Travel specialist Emily Solís
active 19 hours ago

Emily Solís

Hello, I am Emily. I have a bachelor's degree in sustainable tourism. I am interested in knowing all about the culture, gastronmy, lige style of living, the beauties and the own particularities...

read more...

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Why travelers love kimkim

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Trip Reviews for Nicaragua

The latest reviews by travelers who booked their trip on kimkim

Fantastic trip to Nicaragua with great guidance
Nicaragua | Jan 13 - Jan 22, 2024

R
Riley B.
Bethesda, MD | Reviewed on Jan 23, 2024

Emily was an absolute pro at making me feel well looked after on this trip. She was wonderful about listening attentively to my needs and shifted her approach to the planning when some unexpected developments emerged shortly before and during the trip. The local guides and drivers were so hospitable and made me feel like a family member at every step of the way. I couldn’t have enjoyed this trip more!

Local specialist: Emily Solís

One of my best trips ever
Nicaragua | Jul 20 - Jul 28, 2023

Clare
Clare T.
Menlo Park, CA | Reviewed on Aug 09, 2023
My trip to Nicaragua was truly one of the best trips I've ever taken. Two things made it particularly amazing. First, I want to thank Emily, my trip organizer, who managed to put together a spectacular itinerary for me based on my interests and feedback. We went through several iterations with where to go/what to see/where to stay, etc, and she always responded quickly and kindly. I really felt like her goal was to make me happy, and she did not seem to mind all my questions and changes as we... Read more

My trip to Nicaragua was truly one of the best trips I've ever taken. Two things made it particularly amazing. First, I want to thank Emily, my trip organizer, who managed to put together a spectacular itinerary for me based on my interests and feedback. We went through several iterations with where to go/what to see/where to stay, etc, and she always responded quickly and kindly. I really felt like her goal was to make me happy, and she did not seem to mind all my questions and changes as we went through the process. I actually looked at a few other personal organization services like kimkim, but Emily went above and beyond to deliver the best itinerary for me, which included lots of walking, nature, culture, museums, seeing the big sights (Leon, Esteli, Granada, Ometepe, San Juan Del Sur, etc). I have a friend who was born in Nicaragua, and he looked at my final itinerary and said "this is nearly perfect...with this you will see as much as you can in 9 days).

The second aspect of my trip which made it great was my personal guide, Oscar Lopez. Somehow I seem to always have had luck with guides, but Oscar was absolutely wonderful, and probably the best guide I've ever had. Thank you to Emily for pairing us up! Oscar was so affable and easy going, and of course his English was perfect. He would give me a brief overview of the day's events in the morning (using a map to show me where we were going) and then in the evening give me an update of what was to come in the morning. If we said we would meet up at X time, he was *always* there and I think probably 10-15 minutes early! Another thing I really liked was he always offered to take a picture of me, or a video..so it felt more like my friend was there than a tour guide. He even took pictures when I did not ask, and then would faithfully send them to me at the end of the day. He was very chatty and extroverted, and willing to answer all of my many questions about all sorts of things. We had some great conversations during our drive around the country. He came to realize how much I liked hiking and walking, so if there was a chance to do extra hiking he always offered it (ie. "Let's do the difficult hike back up the volcano, Clare!" or "Here's road I've never been on...let's hike up there and check it out!"). If I wanted to add something or make changes, that was always fine and he'd say "You are the boss; it is your trip". He is an incredibly kind, thoughtful, generous, intelligent, wonderful person who became my friend. The next people who get him as a tour guide will be very fortunate indeed!

I thought overall the hotels I stayed in were fantastic, except for maybe one, and I think that has to do with there not being enough hotels in that city (Esteli). I felt very well prepared for my trip and only wish it could have been longer. I cried at the end, I was so sad to leave. I had a fantastic time and it will remain one of the best trips of my life.

Hotel Reviews
Hotel El Convento
León

I absolutely loved this hotel! So clean, wonderful staff, great breakfasts, and nice icy cold AC! One of the best hotels I stayed in during my trip. Great location as well right in the middle of the city. Would stay there again in a heartbeat.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Hotel Los Arcos
Estelí

Not my favorite hotel, but my guide told me it is one of the best in Esteli, so there you go! On the plus side, it was very quiet, had working AC, there is a restaurant downstairs, and the staff are all very nice. It is in walking distance from the city center. On the not so great side...the rooms look out into a hallway, the lights are fluorescent (feels sort of like a hospital), the hot water in the shower does not work, and I ended up being attacked by bed bugs (at least 30 bites). The room felt clean, but I had bites all over my stomach and legs and torso for days after. I would try to find someplace else if I go to Esteli again.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Hotel Plaza Colon
Granada

Loved this hotel! The hotel gets 5 stars, and Victor at the front desk gets 10! :) The hotel itself is just gorgeous and you feel like you are walking around at one of the finest resorts in the world. The rooms are huge, with patios and huge bathrooms. My room was spotless, and the AC was so nice to feel after walking around in the hot / humid city! This was one of the few hotels I stayed in as well which actually had working hot water in the shower. I could have stayed here a week. The breakfasts were very yummy, and they had a pool. It's right smack in downtown and within walking distance of everything. Victor at the front desk is a total star...helped me out and answered questions...always smiling and happy to help. I was ready to move in and only wish I could have stayed here longer! I saw other people mention the noise, but my room was in the back away from the street, so it was very quiet at night. Totally loved this hotel!

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Victor was amazing!
Cleanliness & Comfort
Finca San Juan de la Isla
Altagracia

Who would have thought there would be a 5 star experience like this on the island of Ometepe? Truly this is one of the most unique and most amazing places I have ever stayed. I had my own little bungalow right on the beach, and only heard the waves and monkeys at night. It was so peaceful and serene. One of the few places I stayed in all of Nicaragua with a hot shower as well! It was super clean. The staff were so friendly and helpful, and the restaurant provides great service and food at very reasonable prices. I only wish I could have stayed here longer (like a month!) It is a magical place and I can't wait to come back.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Hotel La Estación San Juan del Sur
San Juan del Sur

I really enjoyed this quaint little hotel, and don't judge the hotel by its facade! It looks a bit odd on the outside and rundown, but the interior rooms are very clean, bright, spacious, and well decorated. I had my own little balcony and it is mere steps from the beach. I picked this one over the Hotel Victoria and I am overall glad I did. My only not so great comment would be that the breakfast included is served across the street at a restaurant, and while the view from there is amazing (you are right on the beach!), the breakfast itself was probably the worst I had in Nicaragua. It was edible, but I would not pay to eat there again, which is odd, as I had a dinner there the night before and it was really tasty. Anyways, the hotel was great and I would stay there again...had a mini fridge which I found really nice to have while traveling.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Activity Reviews
Leon - City Walking Tour
Leon - City Walking Tour
León

Oscar did a wonderful job showing me the city.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Cerro Negro sandboarding tour
Cerro Negro sandboarding tour
León

Really enjoyed the hike to the top and then sliding down. Oscar made me feel very safe and it was super fun. Wish we could have done it again, but would have been quite a hike again to the top!

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
León - Juan Venado Island Motorboat Tour
León - Juan Venado Island Motorboat Tour
León

This was so fun! The guide was so good at spotting things to see!

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Miraflores Reserve
Miraflores Reserve
Estelí

Probably one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. Our guide, Carlos, was amazing. Started out as a 20 minute walk and turned into 3 hours...and a great jeep ride back to the city!

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Esteli - Tisey Nature Reserve & El Jalacate (-L-)
Esteli - Tisey Nature Reserve & El Jalacate (-L-)
Estelí

Really enjoyed this day. Oscar went out of his way to make sure I saw the whole reserve, the waterfalls, and an extra hike to the top of a mountain so that we could make the most of our Sunday. I was supposed to have the afternoon off, but it was Sunday, and everything was closed. Oscar found an extra hike we could do and filled the day with more fun things for me. Above and beyond treatment. I was so grateful.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Masaya Highlights : Artisan Market, The White Villages (Pueblos Blancos)&Masaya Volcano
Masaya Highlights : Artisan Market, The White Villages (Pueblos Blancos)&Masaya Volcano
Nicaragua

This was very fun! I loved the hike to the active volcano, and Oscar made sure I got the best views. I enjoyed the little artisan market and seeing how pottery was made. We made a few stops and got to do some extra walking.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Granada - Las Isletas Boat Tour
Granada - Las Isletas Boat Tour
Granada

This was much more than I expected! I loved seeing all the little islands, getting to take a walk on one, and being able to feed a mango to a monkey!

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Mombacho Volcano - Crater Trail
Mombacho Volcano - Crater Trail
Granada

Loved our hike to the top! Oscar made sure I got to see everything, was able to take my time.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Ometepe Highlights
Ometepe Highlights
ometepe

Oh, I loved this island! I only wish that I could have had Oscar as my guide instead of Donald. Donald was very good, but I got very spoiled by Oscar and all the extra things he did for me. Nonetheless, Donald was quite good and made sure I got to see as much as possible. The driver of the car, Elma (Alma?) was also really nice and I enjoyed having a woman along for a bit!

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Canopy tour San Juan del Sur
Canopy tour San Juan del Sur
San Juan del Sur

Super fun! It was much more than I expected, and the ride to the top was scary but the driver made me feel safe. Great value, and I was so happy Oscar could do it with me.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
San Juan del Sur Hiking
San Juan del Sur Hiking
San Juan del Sur

We hiked so much! Oscar showed me all around the city and was willing to keep going much longer than I was! I loved getting to see so much of the town.

Quality of Experience
Guides, Drivers and Staff
Transport
Local specialist: Emily Solís

Gorgeous, still relatively untouched, and inexpensive
Nicaragua | Feb 28 - Mar 16, 2023

F
fern k.
Canada | Reviewed on Mar 23, 2023
Nicaragua is still relatively unspoiled and has great natural beauty. We were impressed by the accommodations, food and knowledge of our guides. We felt safe everywhere we went and didn’t get sick at all.
Reyna did a great job capturing who we were and the kind of experiences we were looking for - we felt like we had great exposure to authentic Nicaraguan customs and life. We learned a lot about the importance of coffee, chocolate, cigars and farming in general to the economy.
We plan to...
Read more

Nicaragua is still relatively unspoiled and has great natural beauty. We were impressed by the accommodations, food and knowledge of our guides. We felt safe everywhere we went and didn’t get sick at all.
Reyna did a great job capturing who we were and the kind of experiences we were looking for - we felt like we had great exposure to authentic Nicaraguan customs and life. We learned a lot about the importance of coffee, chocolate, cigars and farming in general to the economy.
We plan to return in 2 or 3 years!!!

Hotel Reviews
Finca San Juan de la Isla
Altagracia

We were in a cabana overlooking the lake and “bird island”. Beautiful spot. Food and service was great. Lots of wildlife. It’s super windy but the restaurant did a good job of putting up screens to block the wind but still allow a view. We loved the private remote feeling of this place - if you need to be where the action is , look elsewhere.

Authenticity & Character
Rustic cabanas Beautiful gardens
Location
Private remote
Staff
Very friendly
Cleanliness & Comfort
Pacaya Lodge y Spa
Masaya

We were in a private cabana overlooking the lake and gorgeous grounds. Loved the sound of the howlers and birds every day. Loved our deck with comfy hammock. Very luxurious accommodations. Staff were super friendly and accommodating. Food was good.

Authenticity & Character
Loved that the owners also are involved in education and farming locally
Location
Big deck overlooking the lagoon
Staff
Staff were super friendly and helpful. I even received a birthday card and small gift on my birthday 🥳
Cleanliness & Comfort
Very luxurious.
Hotel Selva Negra (Bungalow)
Matagalpa

Loved this rustic cabin in the middle of a forest. Lots of wildlife!! Great hiking trails. Very interesting coffee tour of a large coffee producer.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Loved the forest location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Hotel Lever
Somoto

What a surprise to find such a high end feeling newer hotel in northern Nicaragua!!! Food was great. Comfy bed. Loved the town of Somoto. Just small enough to easily explore and quickly feel at home in.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Aaki Hotel
Las Peñitas

Wonderful location on the beach with comfy bed and great view from our balcony. The included breakfast was ok but we added a fruit platter for an extra charge that was fabulous. The lunch and dinner items need work. I had what I thought was going to be a fresh fruit bowl with chia and granola but the fruit was puréed into a smoothie - such a shame when the fresh fruit in season is outstanding. The flavours all just blended together- disappointing.

Authenticity & Character
Location
Great location on a gorgeous stretch of beach
Staff
Awesome friendly staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Hotel Victoriano
San Juan del Sur

Older hotel that needs some work. The architecture is amazing and some areas were well maintained. But the main stairs to the hotel were uneven / being repaired. Funky smell - mildew? In the lobby. The room itself was nice with good amenities and comfy bed.

Authenticity & Character
Location
On the Main Street across from a very busy boat filled beach/ harbour
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Had to be careful on the uneven main entrance stairs. Find what is causing the smell in the lobby - maybe it was just temporary???
Hotel Los Altos
Estelí

We visited the stone man and did an artisanal coffee and farm visit from Esteli , all of which were awesome. The city itself is BUSY and we were warned to not be walking around our hotel after 10 pm. The hotel was near Central Park and church and the area was totally fine during the day and early evening. The room was fine, the staff ok. Might look into a home stay if we were to visit Esteli region again. We are not busy city people but if you like being in the centre of action you might not mind this hotel

Authenticity & Character
Location
Staff
Cleanliness & Comfort
Local specialist: Reyna Ulloa
Reyna
Reyna Ulloa
Local specialist in Managua | Replied on Jul 20, 2023

Hi dear Fern,

Nice to greet you again! Thank you very much for your feedback . We are delighted to hear that you enjoyed the experiences we prepared for you. It was a pleasure to help you create your itinerary according to your needs and preferences as reflected in our communications.
Nicaragua awaits you and the kimkim team to plan your next adventure