If you’ve traveled to the likes of Costa Rica, Belize or Guatemala, we encourage you to add Nicaragua to your short list of places to visit. Jim and I just went there for Spring Break with another family and had a wonderful mix of culture, nature, activity and beach time.
The flight from the US mainland is easier than many would expect. To give perspective geographically, Nicaragua is directly north of Costa Rica with its main international airport being in Managua. From Minneapolis, we flew to Atlanta and then slightly over three hours to Managua.
The first three days of our vacation was spent on the interior of the country, just outside of Granada, at a boutique resort called Pacaya Resort & Spa. The staff and accommodations were excellent and we love to support this property because they have a training program for local high schoolers to learn the ins and outs of working in the tourism industry. The program supports Opportunity International, a non-profit organization near and dear to our hearts.
While at Pacaya, we experienced great hiking at Mombacho Volcano, the local Masaya Market, a day-trip into Granada to see some of the Spanish Colonial architecture and a nighttime journey to Masaya Volcano to see the active lava flow (one of only three places in the world to see live lava).
After our time in the interior of the country, we headed out to the Pacific coast to experience a couple different kinds of properties. The first was an ecolodge – Morgan’s Rock. The property itself was set literally within the cliffs overlooking the ocean and a beautiful private beach. Each room was made of local woods, had breathtaking views and some even included a private plunge pool.
Within our short two-day stay at Morgan’s Rock we experienced the serene spa facility, went horseback riding into the rainforest and on the beach, and enjoyed the local dishes on the menu. The kids loved getting to cross the suspension bridge over the ravine each time we needed to go to the restaurant or main lobby from our cabin (an optional shortcut that we took often!).
After our amazing stays at Pacaya and Morgan’s Rock, it was hard to imagine how we were going to top the experiences we were having. But leave it to Mukul – our third and final stop during our Nicaragua adventure.
Mukul (an Auberge Resort) is an intimate resort also set along the Pacific coast of the country. Its expansive half-moon beach was an ideal setting – perfect for long walks, surf lessons, body boarding and amazing sunsets. While the main resort itself is beyond gorgeous with multiple pools and restaurants, we found ourselves spending most of our time down at the Beach Bar. This area of the resort was very casual, family friendly, had a small soccer field and sand volleyball court as well as a huge pool to help us cool off. The staff at Mukul was notably great and it was tough to leave when the time came!
We can’t wait for our next trip to this amazing country. Things on our radar include ash boarding at Cerro Negro, spending more time in Granada to hit the local restaurants, getting out to explore more of Lake Nicaragua and going to the Caribbean coast to places such as Little Corn (and Great Corn) Island, Pearl Lagoon Town and the Pearl Keys. And, of course, we’re suckers for shopping at the local markets – such great handicrafts such as hand-carved bowls, hand-woven blankets and hammocks, interesting artwork and well-aged rum!
If you want more information about traveling through Nicaragua, email Linda at LindaB@Piquetravel.com.