Playa Maderas Sunset

Itinerary: One Week in Nicaragua’s Pacific Region

When most people hear “Nicaragua,” it either conjures up images of a war-torn, impoverished Central American country or people just stare at you blankly, looking confused. Nicaragua is in the middle of Central America, bordering El Salvador and Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country has endured two decades of peace and is statistically the safest country in Central America. Nicaragua is referred to as the “land of lakes and volcanoes.” It has a Pacific coast with awesome surf, a Caribbean coast with great scuba diving, old colonial cities, cloud forests, nature reserves, and as its nickname implies, eighteen volcanoes and the region’s largest lake, Lake Nicaragua. Tourism is rising, but is nowhere near the level experienced by neighboring Costa Rica, meaning you still feel like you have landed in an untouched paradise.

Cathedral of Granada

Cathedral of Granada in the city’s main square (photo by Lara Dalinsky)

Days 1-2: Granada
  • Stay in a beautiful converted colonial house
  • Explore the buzzing colonial city by foot or horse drawn carriage
  • Visit Soy Nica for handmade leather bags and accessories
  • Hike the craters and cloud forest of Mombacho Volcano
  • Swim in the crystal clear waters of Laguna de Apoyo
  • Drink rich Nicaraguan coffee and eat locally sourced foods at Café Espressionista

Read more about Days 1-2 in full detail»

Isla Ometepe

Isla Ometepe is located in Lake Nicaragua and formed by two volcanoes: Concepción and Maderas (photo by Lara Dalinsky)

Days 3-4: Isla Ometepe
  • Take a ferry across Lake Nicaragua to Isla Ometepe, an island formed by two volcanos
  • Cool off in natural spring waters and sip fresh coconut water at Ojo de Agua or kayak the island’s river, Rio Istian
  • Spend an afternoon relaxing on the balcony of La Via Verde with a view of the steaming Volcano Concepcion
  • Climb to the top of Maderas Volcano and take in the views over Lake Nicaragua and its little islands

Read more about Days 3-4 in full detail»

Surfing the Pacific Coast

The Pacific coast offers great surfing for beginners to experts (photo by Kathleen Fleming)

Days 5-7: San Juan del Sur
  • Surf the beach breaks of Playa Maderas and Playa Hermosa
  • Relax on the beach with a dragon fruit smoothie
  • Ease sore muscles with a massage from Dunia, a short walk off the road from Playa Maderas
  • Enjoy an evening of Nicaraguan food, music and dance at El Timon
  • Stretch out your body at Zen Yoga

Read more about Days 5-7 in full detail»

Getting There

There are direct flights to Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, from Atlanta, Houston and Miami, as well as flights from San Salvador (El Salvador) and Panama City (Panama). An alternative is to fly to Liberia in Costa Rica and take the Tica Bus from Liberia across the border to Nicaragua.

Ever visited Nicaragua? Help a traveler out and share your top recommendations in the comments area below!

Kathleen Fleming

Kathleen FlemingKathleen is a contributing editor to En Route Traveler. From a young age, Her parents took her and her sister on many adventures all over the world. Kathleen has lived in South Africa, London, and Paris. After five years of being a stressed corporate lawyer, she gave it all up to move to Nicaragua where she trained as a yoga teacher, learned to surf, and worked at the eco-lodge, Buena Vista Surf Club. Kathleen loves fitness, vegetarian cooking, contributing to the wellness blog, Hip and Healthy.





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  1. Jamie Meikle
    Jamie MeikleOctober 8,13

    Ometepe looks incredible, I didn’t even know Nicaragua was famous for volcanoes!

    • Lara Dalinsky
      Lara DalinskyOctober 8,13

      Nicaragua’s nickname is the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes!” Some of the En Routers will spending a few days in Ometepe around the holidays. We’ll be adding more about Ometepe in a couple of days and again after the trip. The country is definitely overlooked compared to Costa Rica—meaning more affordable options and less crowds. Thanks for the feedback, Jamie!