Nicaragua’s landscape is surprisingly diverse. History buffs and art enthusiasts should head to the colonial city of Granada where art shops and historically preserved buildings line the cobblestone streets. Coffee lovers will adore the rolling green hills, rich soil and cooler temperatures of Matagalpa in the north. And if a hammock tied to palm trees is your idea of a perfect vacation, then the beaches and vacation homes around San Juan del Sur will not disappoint. Whether it’s culture, nature or sunshine, Nicaragua offers much to discover. But for those of you water-lovers who are only truly happy in a river, lake or ocean, you’ll find Nicaragua to be paradise.
Here’s our favorite 6 ways to explore Nicaragua by water.
1. Set Sail on a Catamaran
Sail along the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua from San Juan del Sur to the sandy white inlet of Playa Blanca. A half-day sail with Nica Sail & Surf includes unlimited rum drinks and local beer with fresh appetizers. The captains set sail nearly every day at 1pm depending on weather conditions. You can find a discount coupon for a 1/2 day sail in our free coupon book here.
2. Drop a Line from a “Panga”
Nicaragua’s fishing boats are called pangas. You’ll see the crescent bay of San Juan del Sur dotted with them. Off the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua, you can fish to your hearts content for Roosterfish, Dorado, Mackerel, Tuna, Wahoo, Sailfish, Jackfish, Kingfish, Grouper and Barracuda. The in-shore fishing around San Juan del Sur is world-class. We recommend booking a panga at San Juan del Sur Surf & Sport. When you book a fishing boat they’ll provide top of the range reels, tackle and rods.
3. Cruise through the Islands of Lake Nicaragua
The eruption of Volcan Mombacho formed 365 islands in Lake Nicaragua over 20,000 years ago. The local myth explains there’s an island for every day of the year. When you embark on a jungle cruise through Granada’s isletas (islands), you’ll discover much of Nicaragua’s rich history can be linked back to its waterways.
4. Kayak (or just float) in Laguna de Apoyo
Just 20 minutes outside of Granada’s city center is one of Nicaragua’s most treasured aqua gems. Laguna de Apoyo is a water filled volcanic crater estimated to be 220 yards deep. Its steep green canopy covered rim is now a protected nature reserve. We think the best jumping in spot is the Monkey Hut Hostel. For a small entrance fee they offer visitors day time use of their beach, bathrooms, hammocks, inner-tubes and kayaks. Drinks and food are available for purchase at their on-site bar as well.
5. Take a Jungle Safari down the San Juan River
The Caribbean Sea and Lake Nicaragua are connected by a 119 mile river called the Rio San Juan (San Juan River). This is not an expedition for the feint of heart or those in a hurry. You can leave your phone and laptop at home because wifi access is rare. From the minute you step foot on the boat, you’ll feel like you’re traveling back in time to when Spanish pirates and goal rush settlers navigated their way through Nicaragua’s muddy water ways in search of a shorter transcontinental trade route.
6. Surf, Surf, and more Surf.
Whether you’re a life long surf addict or you’ve just always wanted to learn how to walk on water, Nicaragua should be on your bucket list. Most of the best surf beaches are sandy bottom – without pestering coral or seaweed. Many of the well known beaches such as Playa Maderas have surf shops with board rentals and instructors available without an advanced appointment. The waves off the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua are seasonable warm making it possible to surf without a wetsuit almost year-round. And best of all, Nicaragua’s southern Pacific Coast receives approximately 300 days off-shore breezes each year shaping perfect waves for surfers.