In the 70s and 80s, the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua hit the international headlines and briefly the eyes of the world were on this small Central American country. Over the last 30 years, it’s been busy transforming itself into a popular tourist destination, with multi activity holidays in Nicaragua being some of the best in the world.
Nicaragua is a country of not one but two incredible coastlines. With the colossal Pacific on one side and the stunning Caribbean on the other, there’s plenty of unspoilt coast to explore.
The country’s interior is an equally impressive mix of vast lakes, bubbling volcanoes and lush jungle. With 20% of its total landmass protected, plus unique and diverse ecosystems , this little country has pretty much got the lot.
We decided to take a closer look at some of options for the excellent multi activity holidays in Nicaragua. And given its position between two majestic coastlines it only seemed right to start in the water.
Nicaragua is perhaps most famous for its top surf spots. The western Pacific coast is dotted with some of Central America’s biggest waves, and with an infrastructure to match, some of the world’s best surfers can be found here when conditions are big.
However, it’s not only pros and experienced surfers who come to check out the breaks. It’s also a great spot for beginners to learn the ropes. Book yourself into a surf camp, like those offered by Surf Tours Nicaragua in Miramar on the Pacific coast. Here even complete beginners can learn to surf.
Either check out the waves in front of the surf house at Puerto Sandino, alternatively, jump in the 4×4 or house boat and hit more suitable conditions up and down the coast. Experienced instructors will know where’s best for your level and will be on hand to walk you through the basics before sending you out into the surf.
I was fortunate to stay with Surf Tours Nicaragua. Have a read of my review Miramar surfing holiday in Nicaragua to find out all about it.
So, it’s probably best to avoid the capital Managua and some of the busier stretches of motorway but Nicaragua is a top spot for both cycle touring and mountain biking. With plenty of volcanic hills, and some active volcanoes too, you can take on the tough stuff on two wheels.
Pedal your way through tropical scenery or catch the boat over to the volcanic island of Ometepe to explore the island’s one figure of eight road. Stop off along the way, camp on the black volcanic sand beaches and watch out for the cheeky howler monkeys that live in the canopy overhead.
Two wheels are fine but to really get up close and personal with the hot stuff, take a volcano hiking tour up one of the country’s five active beasts. Momotombo, near the colonial city of Leon, is the most ferocious and when not closed due to volcanic activity, you can make the hot hike up and down, with a refreshing lagoon at the end.
Close to Granada, another colonial gem, you’ll find Apoyo Lagoon. Straight from the set of a Bond movie, this huge lake fills an extinct volcanic caldera and offers some of the best views in Nicaragua.
Hiking up might be fun but without doubt the best way to get back down again is on your backside. That might sound weird but when you’re sitting on a volcano board, it’s the most fun you can have on a cinder slope.
Boiler suit up first, cause if you take a spill the black volcanic ash is going to sting, and hold on tight. Surf Tours Nicaragua offer volcano boarding hikes and rides down the active cinder cone of Cerro Negro. So if you want to try the world’s weirdest extreme activity, give it a go.
With so much water all around, it’s a great place to paddle out in a kayak. Explore the waters of Lake Nicaragua and Lake Managua, setting out from Granada to explore pristine islands and hidden beaches. If you’re looking for something a little more energetic, you can also have a go at sea kayaking along the coast.
With a choice of inshore, offshore and estuary fishing, you can have your chance to land the catch of the day. Don’t expect to catch anything you recognise, unless you’re used to landing Mahi Mahi, Rooster Fish or Yellow Fin back home. Lucky anglers even reel in the odd Marlin.
The turquoise waters of Belize with is cayes and reefs might be more famous for diving. But Nicaragua’s Corn Islands are becoming an equally popular dive destination with a very attractive price tag.
It’s a little cheaper than further north but conditions are just as impressive, and you won’t have to deal with the tourist hordes cluttering up the beaches either. With a choice of PADI dive centres, there’s everything you need here whatever your level.
With Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, two large lakes, and plenty of wind, Nicaragua is a top kitesurfing destination in the making. As yet it is relatively untouched by kitesurfers, but there are kite schools and guides available for those who want to get involved.
On the shores of Lake Nicaragua, the small fishing village of Cardenas is one of the best unspoiled latin America kitesurfing spots. The lake is huge – 180km by 70km – and you can enjoy stunning views of the volcanoes on the island of Ometepe.
The Corn Islands in the Caribbean are another top spot. With no cars or roads, warm water and reliable trade winds it is a kitesurfers paradise. In theory, the Pacific coast should be great for wave riding, however, the winds here are normally offshore and are less predictable so check out the local conditions.
It may not be an extreme activity but yoga retreats in Nicaragua are very popular. They are often combined with surf holidays, for example by Surf Tours Nicaragua, where the yoga not only helps you reduce aches and pains from surfing but improves flexibility to make you a better surfer.
Eco yoga retreats are also very common. Stay in retreats that range from budget to luxury, to enjoy a holiday of yoga, revitalization and relaxation all in an environmentally friendly accommodation.
An article about multi activity holidays in Nicaragua would not be complete without including overlanding. Travel within the country is cheap, safe and easy. It’s probably best to stay clear of Managua, the capital, but even then it’s not so bad as a transport hub.
There’s an incredible network of buses on almost every major road, and it usually costs around a dollar or two to go as far as they’ll take you. Best of all locals are only too happy to help you find the right bus.
Accommodation in Nicaragua is readily available and cheap. You can get a dorm room for about ten dollars a night with private doubles setting you back around $20.
The west coast is more populated and easy to navigate, with the denser jungles and cloud forests of the Caribbean perhaps more magical but trickier to traverse.
All in all, multi activity holidays in Nicaragua are exceptional value for money, safe, colourful and a little out of the ordinary. It might not have the tourist friendly PR of neighbouring Costa Rica, but then it doesn’t have the price tag either.
It’s only a matter of time before word gets round that multi activity activity holidays in Nicaragua are some of the best value on the planet. So, if you fancy a fun filled active holiday that does not cost a fortune, it’s best to head to Nicaragua before the rest of the world finds out.
If this article about multi activity activity holidays in Nicaragua has you planning a visit then check out our inspirational Nicaragua articles and money saving discounts.