If we had to write a guide to Nicaragua based on the last 3 weeks, it would go something like this…
Getting there & away: Fly in and get out! Luckily getting out is super easy thanks to the efficient – if not a tad hectic – local Nica bus system. As soon as you arrive you’ll be hustled onto the next bus heading your way and you’ll be off before you have time to check that your board is safely on the roof (thankfully it always was)!
Where to stay: Camino del Gigante. Take a left on this tiny towns only road and follow it all the way to the end – about 4.2 minutes. This place is owned by a friendly Californian named John and is the nicest place to stay at hostel prices. The only nicer place to stay would be John’s own recently finished open air palace a little further down the beach – who needs walls in paradise?!
Getting there & away: The Las Salinas bus from Rivas will take you through Tola most of the way to Gigante, but much easier and friendly in our experience is to hitch a ride. We did this to get there and away and never waited more than 10 minutes, despite having the big surfboard bag.
Hop on! Another good option is the school bus that leaves at 6am weekdays – your Cordobas will be going towards sustaining this mode of transport for the local kids.
SAN JUAN DEL SUR
Where to stay: We’d recommend Hostel Esperanza for cheap rooms and a cosy, rootsy vibe – breakfast included! 17 seconds from the water.
What to do: An ideal day in SJDS… we had many of them!
9am Spanish lessons (20hr = $100)
12.30pm Lunch – so many options – you’ll figure it out!
2pm Shuttle to Playa Maderas for a surf
6pm Yoga session ‘en espanol’ – good for the mind, body and Spanish!
7:30pm Dinner at Taco Stop
8:30pm Ukulele lesson with Dave (possibly Kelly Slaters brother) at his rasta uke and guitar shop – just up from Taco Stop
10pm Mojitos on the beach… that’s a lie we’re already in bed!
Tsunami alert! If you happen to be eating brekky one morning and start to feel the earth swaying beneath your feet, followed by the townsfolk closing shop and the police announcing a tsunami alert, we suggest bundling up your valuables and heading up the hill to Pelican Eyes – for $5 you can spend the day in stylish safety by the pool. And if the wave does come – you’ll have a great view of that too!
Getting around: No matter where you stay or what you do on this super cute and super basic island, you definitely need to hire a motorbike ($25-30 per day). Otherwise you’ll be essentially stranded on a couple of volcanos! It’s like you would imagine Nicaragua 30 years ago.
Where to stay: If you’ve been holding out for a place to treat yourself to a luxurious accommodation option – Magnific Rock is definitely it… especially when luxury means $20 per night instead of $10! This place is truly magnificent with 200° views of the ocean and a nice left on your doorstep. Popoyo inner and outer reef waves are a less than 10 min walk.
Take a break from the 24/7 surf dudes and surf talk and get some culture in Leon! A lot went down in this cool little university town during the revolution and it is still strong with history, culture and activism. There are also some very rad skater kids. It is also the base for volcano boarding down Cerro Negro – the fact that it is 5 years overdue for an eruption just adds to the adrenalin of flying down the 45° slope!
Where to stay: Hotel Playa Roca seems to be the most popular place with locals, and is a great mix between roots and (local) touristy. It’s right on the beach in front of a left and the menu is super cheap and extensive.
What to do: Surf, eat, write a guide and make a movie of your Nica experience – diacachimba!
…and this is how 3 weeks in Nicaragua can look like: