Having just returned from a wonderful journey to Central America, I am delighted and excited to share my experiences with you and why Nicaragua holidays tailor made to your requirements is something everyone should seriously consider.
One of the most rewarding experiences about travelling generally is chatting to local people just going about their daily lives. I have always felt that there is nowhere in the world more welcoming than Central Americans and Nicaraguans may in fact be the champions.
The infrastructure may be a little less polished than its more experienced neighbours, Costa Rica and Guatemala but it feels like Nicaragua’s time may well have arrived! As always, it is often those early years before more mass tourism descends that makes for the most memorable travel experience and Nicaragua is no exception. And yet you can still travel in style – here, there is no need to compromise on this.
My own journey started with an exploration of Nicaragua’s colonial history by visiting both its colonial jewels: Leon and Granada. Both cities offer stunning classical baroque architecture and it is an absolute delight to explore meandering cobbled streets and bustling main squares offering shoe-shining to ice-cream. Pick up some nacatamal (the heartiest breakfast favourite of many a Nicaraguan – a mix of steamed corn, pork and spices wrapped up in banana leaf) or perhaps take a moto-taxi or horse and cart ride.
Could I choose between the two? Not really. Granada is by far the prettier, more polished version with a stunning outlook next to Lake Nicaragua and the most gorgeous selection of chic boutique hotels in old colonial mansions, not to mention a fabulous café society.
And yet Leon was perhaps marginally my favourite. Climbing its dramatic white-washed cathedral was quite a feat in the tropical heat but the views of the domes and the surrounding city most certainly reward those who step up to the challenge. A browse around its vibrant local market revealed vast pyramids of unknown tropical fruits and vegetables and gorgeous handicrafts.
Close to Granada was another little jewel for a chance to disconnect and completely unwind on a private island lodge on Lake Nicaragua. Spend a few days soaking up the atmosphere in Granada and then arrive here to relax among nature and tranquillity with a massage overlooking the lake or kayak through its archipelago looking out for birds. Exquisite private bungalows and dedicated personal service makes this a fabulous natural haven.
Then return to Managua to take a private helicopter flight out to the Caribbean Coast close to the Corn Islands for the most divine beachcomber experience I think I have ever uncovered in Latin America.
It is the castaway experience with your very own team of brilliant local staff all with their own vibrant fun-loving Caribbean style personalities. There are four suites so it is perfect for a private party or family gathering and you can stroll around its golden shores flanked by turquoise ocean in about 15 minutes.
A Michelin-trained chef is creating some exquisite food on this island paradise and you will feel pampered at every turn – the days will fly by as you try hand-line fishing for red snapper, watch turtles nesting at night near your suite (in season) or kayak to a small islet nearby for a desert island picnic. Do try a watermelon cocktail, this is one of Eden the barman’s great creations! It won’t take you long to get to know all the staff by name – they will become like family.
And if a desert island retreat doesn’t inspire you, head across to the Pacific Ocean instead to a delightful rainforest lodge near San Juan de Sur. This is no simple and rustic Eco lodge but a delightful luxury retreat with views to die for from its bungalows and a whole private reserve to explore – expect to see sloths and monkeys up in the trees. I loved the hanging bridge between the lodge and the rooms – perfect for birdwatching early morning – and the sound of crashing ocean waves lulling you to sleep. What could be better than untouched nature and coast to complete your journey?
If you would like me to contact you to hear more about my travels and opinions, please do let me know. Or if I can suggest a wonderful Nicaragua journey for you, or even a combination with Costa Rica, for example, I’d be delighted to schedule a call to chat about my travels in Central America in more detail.