Do you enjoy adventure travel? Hardcore hiker? Or maybe you prefer lounging on beautiful beaches with a cocktail in hand after a long day of surfing perfect waves? Do you like to party? Pool hop? Dance along to live, world-class DJs? Want to pay less than $1 for a glass of award-winning rum? Do you care about the environment? Do you enjoy eating fresh, organic, farm-to-table meals? Do you want to help people?
You can do all of this in Nicaragua, and on a budget that is far less than your weekly budget at home.
That’s right! Nicaragua has it all, and people are starting to notice. It’s filled with natural beauty, adventure, vibrant culture, and it’s unbelievably affordable. That being said, travel responsibly. Tourism should benefit, not harm, the country receiving it. I recommend avoiding large tours and party hostels owned by and filled with foreigners or chain hotels and instead stay local and give your money to companies that hire locals and help the local economy. As I’ll talk about below, there are lots of socially and ecologically responsible options!
Seriously stunning beaches with unbelievable sunsets. And from San Juan del Sur to Las Penitas to volcanic Ometepe Island to the Caribbean Corn Islands, there’s something for everyone. All along the Pacific there’s fantastic surf and a lively surf culture to boot. San Juan del Sur has a grand total of 9 different beaches to choose from alone, and the local hostels and surf shops all arrange daily surf trips. With super cheap lessons and constant waves, it’s a great place for both beginners and the experienced. There are also more remote beach hostels where you can rent a private cabana on the beach for four people for under $60 per person.. These beach hostels offer surf board rentals and often lessons as well as beach volleyball, seaside yoga, and nightly bonfires.
But if surfing isn’t your thing, no problem. They still have ample hammocks for chilling, beach space for lounging, watching the sunset, and drinking a crazy cheap cocktail out of a coconut. The Corn Islands on the Caribbean coast are a little harder to get to, but are famed for their incredibly beaches and supreme relaxation. Some people go and never leave.
2. Outdoor Adventure in Nicaragua
From endless volcanoes to hike, both active and inactive, including camping in the ring of fire, moonlit overnight volcano hikes, the excruciating trekk up Concepcion, an active volcano on Ometepe Island, and actually watching lava splurge out of an errupting volcano, there is no shortage of adventure in Nicaragua. I mean, you can literally board down a volcano (pictured). Even trying to catch public bus, vibrantly painted old school buses that blast ranchero music and hip hop while they zoom by overflowing with people and sometimes actual chickens, is an adventure. On top of that, there’s Somoto Canyon, an adult playground where you can rock climb, float down rivers, and cliff dive, ample horseback riding in the Northern Highlands, paddle boarding in a volcanic crater lake, and kayaking through 365 mini islands on Lake Nicaragua.
3. Partying in Nicaragua
This place has all kinds of burgeoning party scenes. San Juan del Sur is infamous for its Sunday Funday pool party, but with nightly drink specials, touring DJs offering pop-up raves, and plenty of beach parties complete with cook-outs and fire dancers there are plenty of options. Granada features big bashes in volcanic crater lakes, on entire islands, and out in remote jungles, as well as frequent live music and poetry readings, and Leon is a college town with plenty of bars and festivals. Ometepe Island is filled with bohemian counter-culture parties in the middle of no where; El Zopilote’s (a sustainable eco-hostel and farm) weekly pizza night is particularly hopping and delicious. The Northern Highlands offer some more relaxed nightlife options, like classy rum bars and fine cigar lounges (Nicaragua’s cigars rival Cuba’s in quality).
4. Affordability – Nicaragua is Cheap!
A bottle of rum that’ll amply feed a table of four? $4.
A beer? .75 cents.
A bus ride to the next town? .25 cents. Across the country? $2.
A day tour up a volcano, horseback riding through the mountains, or hiking a canyons? $10-15.
A night in a hostel? $6-8. A night in a private room? $9-12.
A large, fresh, delicious meal? $3.
You can easily get by in Nicaragua spending significantly less than you would at home, doing more, and enjoying yourself more. So what are you waiting for?
5. Socially and Ecologically Responsible Tourism in Nicaragua
If you do a little research, you can find a wealth of fantastic organizations doing fantastic work in Nicaragua. You can book tours, homestays, and cultural activities through them that both deepen your experience and directly imapct the community where you’re traveling. Some even have volunteer programs. There are also lots of ecologically conscious and self-sustainable/carbon neutral places to stay and eat, many concentrated on Ometepe Island, that have farms that produce the restaurant’s food and rustic compost toilets.
Click here to read more about the great social and eco-friendly organizations in Nicaragua – beautiful places where you can stay, eat, and volunteer!
So if you’re thinking about booking a friendcation, or want to travel on a budget and get the most for your money, Nicaragua is the way to go!
What are your favorite budget-friendly vacations? Have you been to Nicaragua? What did you think?
Let us know in the comments!