Thinking Nicaragua

I have no doubts that Nicaragua’s time has come. We somewhat “savvy” travelers always have an eye out for the new, intriguing and affordable places to go; and yes nowadays, we are finding good reasons to fall in love with Central America’s largest country. While contentious politics remain, Nicaragua has been at peace for two decades, and not only is it a very safe destination, but it presents a new world full of discovery: colonial charm, cultural creativity, natural beauty, and host of authentic adventures that come with being: yes, undiscovered.

Well, I was first here before National Geographic Traveler put Nicaragua on its 50 Trips of a Lifetime list in 2013. And 10 years ago, Nicaragua lacked the visitor comforts you’ll find today in an expanding core of lovely boutique hotels in the towns (lively Granada takes 1st prize in charming places to hang your sombrero), eco-lodges in the wilderness (I’m a Morgan’s Rock fan), and most recently luxury resorts by the sea (the Mukul Resort’s an important addition to the hospitality sector).

Here are a few of my favorite things: Leon, a university town with real feel and the Latin American art collection of the Ortiz-Gurdian Foundation; birding in Selva Negra; craft carousing (paintings and pottery) in the Masaya market and nearby “white towns;” volcano hikes in Mombacho and Masaya National Parks; petroglygh-hunting on accessible Ometepe Island; hanging out at the artists’ colony in less-accessible Solentiname Islands; snorkeling and lobster-dining in the Corn Islands.

And treats ahead for future visits: going north to spend a day or two around Somoto Canyon; checking out the Pearl Cays; exploring along the Rio San Juan, then returning to Solentiname where I bought my favorite naïve painting.

Nicaragua offers a nice mix of cultivated and uncharted, rustic and refined, traditional and informal, adventure and culture. And for bonus points, there are the open and welcoming Nicos themselves. Yes, there are many good reasons to be thinking Nicaragua, Now!

Carla Hunt
Freelance writer & Latin America editor,
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