Nica has plenty to explore, from colonial towns to huge markets and endless beaches, with plenty of surf. The highways are great but the exit roads to beach towns are usually long and bumpy, having a car will definitely give you the freedom to reach the least crowded spots. Here's five places we enjoyed plenty in wonderful Nicaragua in no particular order.
1. JIQUILILLO is a small fishing town, pretty close to the border. It's conveniently located only 45 minutes away from Chinandega, where you can find anything and everything since it has the 2nd biggest market in Nicaragua.
This is a laid back village, kilometers of sandy beaches to walk, hammock time to read or nap, beautiful sunsets and also some tasty waves for beginner and advanced surfers.
We decided to stay at Rancho Esperanza where Nate, the owner, has built a very conscious business. It offers shared rooms, and privates, built with recycled materials. It has a little restaurant with vegan friendly meals. Rancho Esperanza also offers volunteering programs to work with the community, which is really important in areas like this. If you are looking to disconnect this is the perfect getaway off the beaten path.
2. EL TRANSITO is a gem that not a lot of people get to find. Its the getaway for people in Managua so there's more a local feeling that a resort town, still there's plenty of places to stay for cheap.
We found an abandoned house that was ours for a few days, we made friends with the neighbors who let us use their bathroom for a small fee, and also kept an eye on our van while we went exploring.
Our favorite discovery in this beach was the tide pools reachable at low tide. If you make it here don't miss this, there's plenty of them, they are deep, refreshing and some of them even have tropical fish swimming in. We went more than once and each time found something new.
3. POPOYO is the perfect place to use as a base to explore plenty of waves in the area. It has accommodations from dirty cheap to extremely expensive so you can tent it or rent a place that feels more like Miami than Nicaragua. There's small eateries, restaurants and 1 real bar where everyone goes on the weekends.
The nice thing about Popoyo is that it's still a small town and pretty damn rural compared to San Juan del Sur, so if you are looking for surf time with no distractions, this is your spot.
The surf is incredible in this area, the locals are over all super friendly, and exploring possibilities are endless. Either by land or by boat, if you have the spirit of adventure you will find what you are looking for.
4. VOLCAN MASAYA is located in Managua, and it's very easy to find. The most interesting thing about this site is that you can visit it in the evening(the last car can go in at 7:30PM), you can drive all the way to the top and walk to the rim of the active volcano where lava flows in front of your naked eyes. I don't think we would be able to do this anywhere else in the world...
5. MADERAS is a chill beach with a couple hotels, bars, restaurants, epic waves and unforgettable sunsets. You can either stay here or come for the day with the shuttle from San Juan del Sur. If you want to beat the crowds surf super early before the 1st shuttle arrives or at sunset when most of the people leaves.
This is a very consistent wave and that's why is pretty crowded, but if you time it right you can have it all to yourself... By the way, it works best at mid incoming...