NIcaragua highlights

Nicaragua Highlights: 10 Photos to Inspire Nica Travel

By: | December 7th, 2017 | 0 Comment


Nicaragua is a jaw-droppingly beautiful country that doesn’t get as much hype as it deserves. Years of political unrest kept tourists away, but Nicaragua tourism (let’s call it Nica travel) is on the rise as people discover its hidden gems. Nicaragua highlights include colonial cities, rainforests, cloud forests, emerald coasts, active volcanoes, epic sunsets, gorgeous beaches perfect for surfing and more. We were there for a little under 5 days, which was like a tease because there was so much we wanted to do and not nearly enough time. Nicaragua stole our hearts and is beckoning us to return.

Our too-short visit was a last-minute side trip from Costa Rica, which draws way more visitors than its neighbor. Nicaragua boasts similar landscape and has been called “the next Costa Rica.” In fact, we learned that the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica was formerly part of Nicaragua. It is the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, which makes it shockingly affordable for visitors. Enjoying a luxury Nicaragua vacation costs way less than its neighbor, which is another reason we adore it. We love getting luxury for less, and you will find that in Nicaragua. Remember, you don’t have to be a millionaire to travel like one.

Will Nica travel become the next travel craze, like Iceland or Cuba? It certainly earned our respect. There are so many fun things to do in Nicaragua. Part of us selfishly hopes it doesn’t get too popular because prices will inflate and crowds will flock. However, we understand that increased tourism is good for the economy and the warm-hearted Nicaraguan people. So we are writing this post to share our love for Nicaragua with you. Nicaragua is too beautiful to be kept a secret. 😉 Here are the highlights of our Nicaragua vacation. We hope to inspire you to visit Nicaragua. You can thank us later.

Nicaragua Landmarks

Cathedral of Nicaragua

Our first stop in Nicaragua was in the colonial city of Granada. We asked a lot of people about the best things to do in Nicaragua, and everyone suggested visiting Granada. There are so many things to do in Granada Nicaragua. We only stayed for one night but wish we could’ve stayed longer. Here’s some of our favorite photos from Nicaragua’s most popular city.

The bright yellow Cathedral of Granada is the most famous of the Nicaragua landmarks. We captured this photo as a storm was brewing over Lake Granada and love how the sun’s rays are shining down on the cathedral. This photo was taken from the tower of La Merced Cathedral, which offered incredible views of the city, Lake Granada, and surrounding landscape. We highly recommend climbing up its steps for the best view of Granada and its famous cathedral.

Nicaragua highlights

Cathedral of Nicaragua and Lake Nicaragua are must-sees in Granada

Mombacho Volcano

Mombacho Volcano is one of Nicaragua’s most famous volcanoes because it is located so close to Granada (only 10km away) and due to its dreamy cloud forest. This photo was also taken from the tower at La Merced, but looks in the opposite direction. Mombacho volcano, covered in a thick cloud forest, looms in the background. This volcano is not extinct but has not erupted since 1570. The Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve is one of Nicaragua’s protected areas.  It is a great place for hiking in Nicaragua and thrilling adventures like a canopy tour (for less than $30 per person!) Check out ViaNica for more details about activities in the area and throughout Nicaragua.

View of Mombacho Volcano from La Merced Cathedral’s bell tower in Granada Nicaragua

La Merced Cathedral, or Iglesia La Merced

Iglesia La Merced is in our opinion the most beautiful cathedral in Granada. It was built in 1534, but has been destroyed and parts rebuilt many times since then. Climb its bell tower, pictured below, for the best views of Granada (the ones in the first two photos).

This photo of La Merced Cathedral was taken from the balcony of our room at Hotel La Merced. If you’re looking for Nicaragua boutique hotels, check it out. It is just across the street from La Merced Cathedral. We stayed there one night and gazed out at the cathedral from our balcony as the sun set gloriously behind it.

We also highly recommend the restaurant and bar that is part of the hotel. Go to their happy hour! We enjoyed the best mojito we’ve had since our trip to Cuba. It was even cheaper than Cuba at only $1.50. Cheers to dirt cheap and delicious cocktails in Nicaragua!

Iglesia La Merced, or La Merced Cathedral at sunset in Granada Nicaragua

Where to stay in Nicaragua: A luxury tree house

After soaking up culture and history in Granada, we headed to the Emerald Coast for some rest and relaxation. We were there celebrating our 10th anniversary, so we wanted to stay somewhere luxurious, secluded and romantic. The best Nicaragua 5 star resorts are located on the pristine stretch of coast that has been named the Emerald Coast. We found exactly what we were looking for at Aqua Wellness Resort Nicaragua.

We stayed in a luxury tree house in the tropical forests overlooking the breathtaking Redonda Bay. We’ve never stayed in a tree house before, so we were beyond excited. It’s the stuff dreams are made of…and very steamy nights. 😉 We upgraded to a luxury tree house suite our second night, which included its own private plunge pool and separate tree house with a full kitchen. It was phenomenal! We couldn’t get enough of that amazing view.

Where to stay in Nicaragua: a luxury treehouse at Aqua Wellness Resort

Stay in a luxury treehouse on the Emerald Coast of Nicaragua at Aqua Wellness Resort

This can be your tree house view of the Emerald Coast for $169/night at Aqua Wellness Resort Nicaragua

NIcaragua highlights

Private plunge pool, balcony and kitchen in luxury tree house suite at Aqua Wellness Resort Nicaragua

Hiking in Nicaragua to Gigante, the Giant’s Foot

Once we had enough R&R on the Emerald Coast, we were ready for some adventure. Hiking in Nicaragua cannot be missed. We took the guided hike that Aqua Wellness Resort offers (for a fee) to Gigante, which means the giant’s foot. If you look at the photo above, look past the plunge pool at the stretch of land jutting into the ocean. They call it Giant’s Foot because it looks like a giant foot and calf, as if the giant were laying on his stomach and his leg is facing down. See it?

We hiked out to the very top of that giant’s foot, which would be his heel. The views were mind-blowing from up there. Get ready for some incredible selfies and fabulous Instagram shots! We saw so many animals and beautiful plants along the way. Our guide was an expert at spotting animals in the forest and even caught a small iguana for us to see up close and hold. We spotted a sea turtle swimming below, several kinds of birds, monkeys, and even some giant spiders (which I wasn’t so excited about haha).

Our hike was an exhilaring adventure and great exercise. It entailed rock climbing and total abandonment of fear of heights. I must admit my knees were wobbly at some points as I thought about what would happen if I slipped and fell. However, we all made it safely and it was an experience we’ll never forget.

View from hiking in Nicaragua

Hiking in Nicaragua along the Emerald Coast on the cliffs of Gigante, or Giant’s Foot

Nicaragua Hightlights: Photos to inspire Nica Travel

See howler monkeys in the wild in Nicaragua

Luxurious Emerald Coast boasts best beaches in Nicaragua

From the top of the Giant’s Foot we had sublime views of the beach below. Nicaragua beaches don’t disappoint. The Emerald Coast offers some of the best beaches in Nicaragua. It’s easy to understand why the finest Nicaragua luxury hotels are located on this stunning coast. Mukul Beach Golf & Spa and Aqua Wellness Resort are two of the best hotels in Nicaragua and share this gorgeous coast. Although 5 star hotels in Nicaragua are few and far between, 2 of them are located right here on the same stretch of coast. For the most beautiful and secluded beaches in Nicaragua, stay in this area. You will be blown away!

Aqua Wellness Resort is luxury with a wellness focus. They offer free yoga twice daily and healthy food options like fresh fruit smoothies (see fresh dragon fruit juice below). We paid only $169/night for the tree house in August and booked it online during our drive to the hotel from Granada. We heard from some guests we befriended that they paid even less, so keep an eye out for deals and specials online.

Mukul offers the ultimate luxury Nicaragua vacation and will set you back more. The hotel was sold out when we tried to book online. Expect to spend at least $500/night for a room there.  They won the Condé Nast Readers Choice Award for best resorts in Central America in 2017, so they have certainly earned their reputation. We have our hearts set on returning to Nicaragua and staying at Mukul with our children.

Nicaragua luxury hotels include Aqua Wellness Resort, one of the best hotels in Nicaragua

Nicaragua beaches on the Emerald Coast are breathtaking

Epic sunsets in Nicaragua

We fell in love with the sunsets in Nicaragua. You already saw the gorgeous sunset behind Iglesia La Merced in one of the first photos above. The sunsets on the Emerald Coast were even more spectacular. We delighted in watching the sky turn all shades of pink and orange as if it had been set on fire. Combine that with the blue sky, fluffy white clouds and giant’s foot and you’re in for a real treat.

We had so much fun frolicking on the beach at sunset. We set up our tripod and danced across the sand as the sun sank into the ocean behind us. We captured some pretty fabulous photos, if I may say. Sunsets are magical in Nicaragua. On our last night (our actual anniversary) we enjoyed watching the sunset from the privacy of our plunge pool, which was sheer perfection. Savor every moment. Life is short.

5 star hotels in Nicaragua offer stunning sunset views on the Emerald Coast

Epic sunsets on the Emerald Coast in Nicaragua

Last words on Nicaragua highlights and Nica travel

Nicaragua is a must-visit country in Central America as you can see from the photos. If you’re visiting Costa Rica, especially the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica, make sure to venture over to its budget-friendly and equally beautiful neighbor. To really stretch your dollar further, just head straight to Nicaragua. We enjoyed an affordable luxury vacation full of romance, relaxation, and culture in Nicaragua.

You can fly to Nicaragua directly, or can fly to Costa Rica and then cross the border. We recommend flying to Nicaragua directly if possible, because crossing the border from Costa Rica is a hassle. Well, if you tried sneaking in a drone, that is. Take our word for it, don’t try it! It’s such a shame, though, because Nicaragua would be amazing from a drone’s perspective. There are so many beautiful places in Nicaragua that we wished we had our drone to capture from above. However, I think we still managed to capture much of its beauty from the ground (or from church bell towers and giant cliffs). What have you seen or learned here that inspired you to add Nicaragua to your bucket list? If you’ve been there before, please let us know what else we need to check out next time in the comments of this post!

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Nicaragua Highlights: 10 photos to inspire Nica travel

Nicaragua Highlights: 10 photos to inspire Nica travel

About Bertaut & Alexis

Nicaragua Highlights: 10 Photos to Inspire Nica Travel
Travel addicts and proud parents of two young kids who make exploring the world a priority while working full time. Bertaut & Alexis enjoy traveling like millionaires without spending a fortune and share their tips on how to get luxury for less.

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