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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
Beaches & Culture in Nicaragua - 10 Days
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Kayak the Pirate Routes in Nicaragua – 11 Days
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Sustainable Nicaragua - 11 Days
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Trip Reviews for Nicaragua

The latest reviews by travelers who booked their trip on kimkim

Our 3 week self-drive trip through Nicaragua ... · Nicaragua - Jan 27 - Feb 16, 2020

Traveler: Graeme W. - Local specialist: Lucia Barrios

Our 3 week self-drive trip through Nicaragua organised by Lucia at the local tour company Vapues through kimkim was excellent and exceeded our expectations. The initial discussions with Lucia about our interests and pace of travel were quickly understood and an appropriate itenery with realistic travel expectations proposed, negotiated, agreed, and most importantly delivered.
Despite our late arrival in Managua, the Vapues staff were there to assist with the 4WD booking and get us off to a... read more

Our 3 week self-drive trip through Nicaragua organised by Lucia at the local tour company Vapues through kimkim was excellent and exceeded our expectations. The initial discussions with Lucia about our interests and pace of travel were quickly understood and an appropriate itenery with realistic travel expectations proposed, negotiated, agreed, and most importantly delivered.
Despite our late arrival in Managua, the Vapues staff were there to assist with the 4WD booking and get us off to a quick start. The tours around Leon to Isla Juan Venado, Cerro Negro, and Volcan Telica were brilliantly guided by Alex and of sufficient length to appreciate the places and give us enough free time in Leon to walk around, and climb the cathedral at sunset.
Self-drive to Somoto allowed us the freedom to experience what we wanted to see en route at our pace. If you like rum, Flor de Cana is well worth the trip as are the boiling mud pools. The Cayon de Somoto 6 hr hike was one of the highlights and Noel was a splendid accompanyment for the adventure guiding us through the safe way to jump 12m into the river. The full tour of the canyon is recommended to see the full range of ecosystems including the roosting micro-bats. The surprise 50th birthday celebrations laid on by Vapues and Canyon de Somoto tours were delightful.
Next stop the cloud forest highlands around Jinotega where the varied birdlife, coffee plantations, and different climate were a surprise. The accommodation (Aguas de Arenal and La Bastilla) was very good, relaxing, and attentive with the few number of tourists making it to this area. In self-driving make sure you get detailed instructions as both are remote and not well signposted! An excellent bird watching tour from La Bastilla taken by a top guide seeing some rare specimens including the three-wattled bellbird, toucans, and numerous hummingbirds was not to be missed. The long day trip to the rainbow waterfall in Penas Blancas was slightly disappointing, but the scenery exquisite. Local side trips around Jinotega to the zip-line, lake, and local black pottery are worth the effort.
Granada next is a gorgeous town with more tourists than anywhere else, although still small in number. Fine churches, museum, cafes and nightlife. We stayed at El Respiro slightly out of town, which is luxurious with fine views over Volcan Mombacho and awoken to the sound of howler monkeys. Trips to Volcans Mombacho and Masaya are strongly recommended, particularly the sunset viewing of Masaya with the lava lake a highlight of the trip. Both guides Tiger and Rene added significantly to the experience. If self-driving get clear instructions of meeting places: if stuck the locals are lovely, approachable, and very keen to assist in any way. Additional sunset kayaking trip with William from Inuit Kayaks was excellent and his ability to spot wildlife deserves respect.
Next stop Lago de Apoyo, lovely spot and worth the trip. Birdlife was spectacular at all times of day. Scuba-diving in a crater lake is not the most spectacular in the world, but seeing endemic fish, and fumeroles bubbling underwater is unforgetable.
Ometepe was very different scenery with the twin volcanoes shrouded by cloud and the associated cloud forest. The climb of Maderas was VERY tough 7km each way with an average gradient of 1:5 on rocky muddy paths makes for an 8 hour, physical if rewarding experience, glimpsing views through the atmospheric cloud. Morning birdwatching kayak trip from Playa de Mangoes guided by Alan was brilliant just leisurely drifting through flocks of water birds, Cayman, and turtles. The brief rain showers refreshed and offered a different perspective. The half day walk to Ramon waterfalls is less physical, better views through the forest and the chance to see white faced capuchins as well as howler monkeys. Also spotted paca along the way. Waterfall would be more spectacular in the west, as would the walk in, but the water was refreshing to plunge and feel the force of the tumbling waters.
Next trip from Ometepe to El Castillo was a highlight of organisation by Lucia at Vapues. 4WD dropped on the mainland, transferred smoothly by 4WD to Colon on the SW corner of Lake Nicaragua ( the last 15km very rutted) the location of the 'port' is not really known to the locals! The private boat whisked us 50km to San Carlos via an observation of nesting migratory birds on a small island in the middle of the lake: pink spoonbills, wood storks, osprey...a real unexpected highlight. Then up the Rio San Juan to El Castillo. This trip would be nigh impossible to organise and very grateful to Lucia. The jungle in the Indio Maiz is again very different to the rest of Nicaragua. The walking through the post-cyclonic regenerating area around Rio Bartola is well worth it to see the poison-dart frogs and serenity of the jungle. Our guide Sayla was excellent with plenty insights into Nicaraguan life as well as deep knowledge of the jungle. The experience was compounded with a full-day kayak excursion travelling 20km from El Castillo into jungle less affected by the hurricane 3 years ago. The open nature of the jungle and the spotting skills of Harlem and Orlando were exemplary with the highlights being the spider monkeys and 3m crocodile where we were recently kayaking😁. The night Caymen tour with Sayla was another highlight with red eyes staring back from all points along the banks. Other night creatures added to the enjoyable, educational, and relaxing experience.
During the trip Lucia was always available to give updates to necessary changes in itinerary (such as cancellation of the white-water rafting trip due to lack of water). Any changes were quickly resolved with optional tours offered. The only slight criticism would be the lack of specific detail in some of the activity instructions and expectations for tours. This has got something to do with our independent nature of travelling and my pedantic characteristics, but more detail would have reduced some anxiety along the way. If a simple tour it would have been significantly easier.
Lucia as the sole point of contact throughout the 8 month duration from initial request to completion was appreciated. I would strongly recommend Vapues tours, even mentioning the name 'Vapues' when on the road opened doors in surprisingly places. All the guides, drivers, and contacts we met along the way were professional. The tours perfectly suited our description of what we wanted so definitely 5/5 for an exceptionally memorable trip.

Lucia Barrios profile photo
Lucia Barrios, local specialist, responded to this review:

Dear Graeme,
We are extremely happy to know about your experience in Nicaragua for such a trip. Thanks for your kind and detailed feedback on this itinerary, and every specification in regards to each of the person assisting you during your travel. I am taking into consideration your suggestions of bringing to the traveler more description when it comes to the activities description. Once again thank you so much for having traveled with us, and if there is any future request for an Amazing... read more

Dear Graeme,
We are extremely happy to know about your experience in Nicaragua for such a trip. Thanks for your kind and detailed feedback on this itinerary, and every specification in regards to each of the person assisting you during your travel. I am taking into consideration your suggestions of bringing to the traveler more description when it comes to the activities description. Once again thank you so much for having traveled with us, and if there is any future request for an Amazing travel, please do not hesitate and contact Kim Kim as we will be always delighted to assist you with a great itinerary.

all the best,

Lucía

Nic · Nicaragua - May 18 - May 24, 2019

Traveler: john s. - Local specialist: Lucia Barrios

Nicaragua far out weighed our expectations mainly due to Kim Kim. The tour and itinerary were excellent. Thanks Lucia.
Oscar was there to meet us at Managua airport and transfer us to Granada. The tours in and around Granada were great and the highlight for me was the zip lining at Mt Mombacho. That was amazing.

Rene gave us a great tour to Mt Masaya and his knowledge was diverse and enlightening.
Juan the driver was also a happy guy and he transferred us to San Juan del sur.

Sadly San... read more

Nicaragua far out weighed our expectations mainly due to Kim Kim. The tour and itinerary were excellent. Thanks Lucia.
Oscar was there to meet us at Managua airport and transfer us to Granada. The tours in and around Granada were great and the highlight for me was the zip lining at Mt Mombacho. That was amazing.

Rene gave us a great tour to Mt Masaya and his knowledge was diverse and enlightening.
Juan the driver was also a happy guy and he transferred us to San Juan del sur.

Sadly San Juan del Sur is suffering since the drop in tourism, so it was a quiet time there.
Rafa then transferred us to the border of Costa Rica (Penas Blancas) and helped us through the Nicaraguan immigration and customs, which we were most grateful for. It is also worth mentioning that the drivers were very safe which we appreciated.

Thanks again to Kim Kim

Lucia Barrios profile photo
Lucia Barrios, local specialist, responded to this review:

Dear John,
We appreciate your kind comments and we are very glad you enjoyed your time in Nicaragua. Thank you for taking the time to review your experience in our country. It is our main objective to provide our guests unique experiences and safety during trips.

Please feel free to contact us at any time for a future trip to Nicaragua.

We wish you all the best.
Vapues Tours Team

Nicaragua · Nicaragua - Dec 19 - Dec 31, 2018

Traveler: KENNETH R. - Local specialist: Lucia Barrios

My trip to Nicaragua was outstanding and in large part due to Lucia. She was perfect from my initial research into Nicaragua until my last day of the trip. I told her how many days I wanted to travel, the things I like to do and the accommodations I prefer. She sent me a very detailed itinerary and it was everything I wanted to do. Her communication was clear and she always answered my emails right away. Once I got to Nicaragua - everything was always easy. Drivers were always on... read more

My trip to Nicaragua was outstanding and in large part due to Lucia. She was perfect from my initial research into Nicaragua until my last day of the trip. I told her how many days I wanted to travel, the things I like to do and the accommodations I prefer. She sent me a very detailed itinerary and it was everything I wanted to do. Her communication was clear and she always answered my emails right away. Once I got to Nicaragua - everything was always easy. Drivers were always on time, tour guides were knowledgeable and each guided tour was fascinating. I spent time in León, Granada, Ometepe Island and San Juan del Sur - always getting a safe ride from place to place. My guides for each on of the adventures all spoke English and were a wealth of information about the culture, history, flora and fauna of Nicaragua. I hiked up Madera Volcano and lost my guide on the way down (totally my fault - I went ahead and took a wrong turn) - I called Lucia from the trail, have her my google map pin of where I was (her idea) and eventually got back with my guide. She was on top of everything and it made my trip to Nicaragua one I will never forget.

Lucia Barrios profile photo
Lucia Barrios, local specialist, responded to this review:

Dear Kenneth,
Thanks for your lovely comment. We are beyond happy to confirm you had a wonderful time in Nicaragua and experienced our culture, history, flora and fauna, all in one personalized program. As well, we are more than welcome to know your feedback about our services - it helps us to keep improving.

Please feel free to contact us at any time for a future trip to Nicaragua.
All the best from Nicaragua,
Lucía