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Nicaragua-medium Nicaragua

The modest, beautiful, friendly type.

Here's something unusual in a country: people who are genuinely interested in sharing their land with you. Whether it’s sipping rum with an artist on the Solentiname Islands or waiting in the dark with a park ranger to see the arrival of sea turtles at La Flor beach, Nicaragua is a place of unexpected interactions. Often overlooked, Nicaragua has many beautiful places to see from the dense rainforests of the south to the artisan communities of Masaya to the volcanoes and vistas of the north.

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Nicaragua at a glance

Capital city

Managua

Famous highlights

Granada, Ometepe, Leon, San Juan del Sur

Hidden gems

Solentiname, Corn Island, Matagalpa

Language(s)

Spanish (official), Garífuna, Miskito (indigenous), Creole.

Food & drink

Gallo pinto, indio viejo, nacatamal, chicha

How far?

14 hours (shortest flight London to Managua, one stop)

Currency

Nicaraguan Córdoba (C$) (US$1 = 27 NIO)

Timezone

GMT -6

When to go to Nicaragua

January weather in Nicaragua

January is a very popular time to travel throughout Nicaragua. The landscapes are generally still green following the rainy season and the weather is sunny and dry. This is an especially good time to go to the Caribbean side, which receives a lot more rain than the Pacific side, and is relatively dry at this time of year.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 28 19 0 Good
Central 29 20 12 Good
Caribbean 27 23 177 Best
January events in Nicaragua

Jan 15-21: Rio San Juan Carnival

February weather in Nicaragua

Another good dry season month to travel to Nicaragua, though this is also the most popular time. Expect Granada, Ometepe and San Juan del Sur to be pretty busy. If you are planning to spend time on the Pacific or Caribbean beaches, this time of year is ideal: hot, sunny and dry. In the central region of Nicaragua, you can find more temperate weather in the highlands.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 31 21 0 Good
Central 30 20 9 Good
Caribbean 27 23 99 Best
February events in Nicaragua

Second week of February: International Poetry Festival, Managua

March weather in Nicaragua

March is a lovely time to visit Nicaragua - hot, dry and sunny, yet less popular than January and February, so there are fewer crowds. This time of year is ideal for kayaking and snorkeling in the waters off both coasts, as the waters are clearer. Inland, this is a great time to go hiking.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 32 22 0 Best
Central 32 22 0 Best
Caribbean 28 24 55 Best
March events in Nicaragua

Mar 24: Joy for Life Carnival, Managua

April weather in Nicaragua

April is the last month of the dry season in Nicaragua and the weather will still be hot and sunny throughout the country. The weather is particularly dry on the Caribbean side at the moment so this is a good time to head there as the level of rainfall will pick up significantly over the next few months.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 30 21 3 Best
Central 31 23 0 Best
Caribbean 28 25 61 Best
April events in Nicaragua

First week of April: Religious ash paintings, Leon

May weather in Nicaragua

May is the start of the rainy season in Nicaragua, though this doesn't prevent some scorching hot days, particularly around Leon. In the Pacific and central regions, expect generally dry days with short cooling showers in the afternoon or evening. A little more cloud cover offers a bit of respite from the sun, and the weather is still very warm. There is more humidity on the Caribbean coast now.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 30 23 66 Best
Central 31 23 42 Best
Caribbean 29 25 208 Good
May events in Nicaragua

Throughout May: Palo de Mayo festival

June weather in Nicaragua

In the Pacific and central regions the onset of the rainy season brings renewed green landscapes and slightly cooler temperatures. Days can be dry, though cloud is not unusual, especially over Ometepe. Bigger waves make this a good time of year for surfers. The Caribbean side receives much more rain at this time of year. If you don't mind the occasional downpour you should be fine traveling around the east of Nicaragua, but you should be prepared for the possibility of more consistent rain too.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 27 22 78 Good
Central 28 22 48 Good
Caribbean 28 25 442 Good
June events in Nicaragua

Jun 9-10: Ometepe Expo, Ometepe

July weather in Nicaragua

On the Pacific coast it will still be hot at this time of year, with short showers and more cloud cover than in the dry season. The central region remains a bit cooler, and afternoon or evening showers are likely. On the Caribbean side, rains are heaver but this is still not a bad time of year as the scenery is nice and green, and there are fewer crowds. Overall, a good time to see lush green jungles, but not ideal if you are heading to the beach.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 29 22 30 Good
Central 27 21 33 Good
Caribbean 27 25 538 Good
July events in Nicaragua

Jul 19: Sandinista Revolution Day

August weather in Nicaragua

Rains increase on the Pacific coast but still follow a pattern of falling mainly in the afternoons and evenings. In the central region, you'll mostly find the weather to be a little cooler, drier and less humid. Rains in the Caribbean can be quite heavy and consistent at this time of year so it is not the best time to go.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 30 22 60 Good
Central 29 22 48 Good
Caribbean 27 24 422 Okay
August events in Nicaragua

Aug 15: The Assumption, Granada

September weather in Nicaragua

Though not technically 'bad', the last few months of the rainy season are probably the 'least good' time of year in Nicaragua (especially if you are also travelling to Costa Rica, which sees its worst weather during these months as well). The weather is relatively wet throughout the country and, though not the wettest time overall in the east, there is a chance of bad weather caused directly or indirectly by tropical storms in the Caribbean.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 28 21 99 Okay
Central 28 21 57 Okay
Caribbean 28 24 270 Okay
September events in Nicaragua

Sep 15: Independence Day

October weather in Nicaragua

Another generally wet month throughout Nicaragua, though if you don't mind the rain and humidity you will find the jungles particularly beautiful at this time of year. Rain might fall quite consistently throughout the day, or as short and heavy downpours.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 28 21 90 Okay
Central 29 22 24 Okay
Caribbean 28 23 274 Okay
October events in Nicaragua

Oct 12-18: San Diego de Alcalá, Ometepe

November weather in Nicaragua

The last month of the wet season, when the rains drop off a bit in the Pacific and central regions, but continue in the east. Again, this is not a 'bad' time - it's actually one of the cooler months of the year, which is nice if you don't do well in the heat. The country will be enjoying a lot of traditional religious festivities from late November into December.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 28 20 36 Okay
Central 29 21 33 Okay
Caribbean 27 23 244 Okay
November events in Nicaragua

End of Nov (and all of Dec): Purísimas in Managua, Granada & León

December weather in Nicaragua

December marks the start of the dry season throughout the country, so the land will be nice and green, with fewer showers in most parts. The Caribbean, being the wettest part of the country, is still likely to see some heavy showers but the humidity should be dropping around now. In towns and cities throughout Nicaragua, people will be celebrating a major holiday on December 7 and there will be lots of families out on the streets, fireworks, trick-or-treating, and general partying.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
Pacific 31 21 3 Good
Central 30 21 18 Good
Caribbean 27 23 216 Good
December events in Nicaragua

Dec 7: La Gritería, nationwide

Top 7 things to do in Nicaragua

Climb up a volcano on Ometepe Island

You only need look at it on the map, or from any photo taken from ground level, to realize Ometepe is not your average island. Formed of two volcanoes, Concepcion and Maderas, it’s a figure of eight on the map, and two perfect cones apparently floating above the horizon from the ground. The arrival by the traditional ferry lets you enjoy the cones at leisure as they gradually loom taller, as does a paddle around the isthmus. For the greatest appreciation of the place though, you have to summit one of the two volcanoes. Both are long, hard slogs, especially Concepcion,but the views are very special indeed.

Your ascent and descent will take you through a range of ecosystems, which varied wildlife to boot – monkeys and parrots being the obvious highlights. Steep, rocky sections and the lack of signage make a guide indispensable, and the frequently drifting cloud will sometimes obscure the view. But with a bit of luck and patience, and a good deal of graft, you’ll be rewarded with an unforgettable view across the largest lake in Central America. And after your knee-trembling descent, you can always soak weary limbs in the welcoming thermal waters of Ojo de Agua….

Watch turtles lay their eggs on Playa La Flor

It could well be argued that the most exceptional wildlife experiences require high exertion, even physical risk, on the part of the viewer: whether it’s being tossed across your cabin by the wild Drake Passage en route to Antarctica, or hacking through steamy jungle to reach a macaw lick. To watch the Pacific turtles laying their eggs on La Flor beach however, the biggest danger probably comes from tripping over in the darkness.

The turtles are not fans of the light, so it's the dim red glow of a head torch rather than halogen bulbs. However, the turtles' terrestrial manouevres in the dark will likely match your own clumsiness, as you hunker down on the sands to watch this ageless birthing ritual. It’s easy to see that they aren't in their element as they lumber up the beach, before using their powerful hind legs to thrash out a hole in which to deposit their eggs. Grab a snorkel and swim with them in the ocean though, and it’s hard to believe you’re looking at the same creatures. Either way, being in their presence is one of the great privileges in this part of the world for any wildlife lover.

Step back in time in colonial Granada

Perhaps more than any other part of the world, it’s the legacy of those long gone which most captivates visitors to Latin America. The phrase ‘colonial centre’ is bandied around a lot in descriptions of the continent's cities, and while there are some wonderful examples in places like Quito, it’s hard to feel close to the past when there’s a skyscraper peeking over the horizon.

Granada is another matter entirely. Due to the seismic activity here, any building over 2-3 stories isn’t likely to last long, but one built in the right way will stand the test of time. Given the history, it’s unsurprising that most of the more impressive buildings are the churches and cathedrals. Some have been lavishly spruced up in recent times, while others are left to fall into disrepair. The result is that within a couple of blocks you can step from evocative mansions slowly crumbling with the passage of time, to shiny churches that transport you directly back to the 17th Century. It’s a wonderful treat for history buffs.

Sandboard down Cerro Negro Volcano

In recent years, awareness – or perhaps just media coverage – of volcanic activity has been on the rise. For some travellers, volcanoes are something to be wary of, for other they’re a key attraction in the destination. For those who live their lives in the shadow of the volcanoes, the latter travellers pose an opportunity for creativity. While hiking up a volcano may seem like a (relatively) sensible idea, strapping a board to your feet to descend, as if you were on an Alpine piste, probably only appeals to a certain type.

Yet on Cerro Negro, just outside Leon, this is exactly what you can do. Standing up is admittedly tricky, especially if you want to turn, so many apply backside to board if truth be told. It’s also worth knowing that you’ll be kitted out in a rather lurid boiler suit and plastic goggles – safety first! Though if fashion is your thing, you’re perhaps less likely to find yourself up a volcano in Nicaragua. In any case, if you like an activity which is perhaps a little bonkers, but great fun, do give it some thought – it’s certainly quicker than walking back down!

Watch for wildlife on the Rio San Juan

Delving into the jungles which surround the Rio San Juan in southern Nicaragua makes one feel like an explorer, that you’re stepping back in time to a period when it wasn’t possible to whizz into the rainforest by plane and settle into a lodge with chocolates on the pillow. Although you will have an outboard motor, much of the river traffic around you is formed by traditional dugout canoes, and propelled by paddle. This lends it an air of timelessness which makes the 17th Century fort of El Castillo feel like a modern anachronism dropped into the forest to loom over the river.

Of course it’s not just the people who give the impression they’ve been around for centuries, the rest of the local inhabitants exhibit the same unity with this far-flung forest. Whether you look over the bow to see a caiman’s head silently emerge from the water, or hear the alarmingly throaty roar of a howler monkey a few metres above your head, there’s little doubt in your mind that you’re the visitor.
It’s not going to be the most comfortable part of your trip to Nicaragua, but for those seeking adventure and happy to step outside their comfort zone, a trip to the raw jungles of southern Nicaragua won’t disappoint.

Slow down to the island pace in the Corn Islands

On the face of it, the Corn Islands would have little to do with the vast majority of the holidays we create. They’re certainly a long way to go just to lie on the sand. However this tiny outpost of Nicaragua, 70km out into the Caribbean from the mainland, might just be the perfect blend of a lazy beachside idyll and a cultural adventurer’s hidden gem.

Palm trees swaying over white sandy beaches? Naturally. Fresh fish on your plate a few hours after being pulled from the sea? Of course. Crystal clear waters for anyone who can’t lie still to swim, snorkel and kayak? Absolutely. You can take a relaxed island vibe and friendly welcome as read. As ever in Nicaragua though, it’s the people that ‘make’ the place.

The fusion of Latin and Afro-Caribbean is highly unique, and it permeates everything, from language to music, craftworks to cuisine, to create somewhere very special indeed. All together it means it’s an incredible place to slow down at the end of your trip and reflect on your time in this enchanting country.

Meet the artists of the Solentiname archipelago

Nine times out of ten when on holiday, if your guide were to say, “Now we’re going to go and see some local artists,” it would be a bad sign. Solentiname is the 10th time.

This tiny archipelago is a wonderfully remote outpost in a country which itself receives few visitors. To get there you’ll need at least three modes of transport from the capital. Yet this little group of islands, with less than 1,000 inhabitants, enjoys a terrific reputation within Nicaragua as a cradle of artistic talent. Solentiname has its own school of art, the ‘primitivist,’ and is most exemplified by the richly colourful paintings and carvings which depict the vibrancy of the islands. The flash of colour from an oropendola or a toucan flying past, or the local fishermen sailing out into the lake as day breaks.

Perhaps the greatest thing about the artists of Solentiname is the utter lack of pretension, though they are rightly – if quietly - proud of their reputation. And also of their peaceful home, in which you’ll find a wonderful welcome. If you appreciate genuinely warm cultural interaction, and the chance to meet craftsmen and women in an unforced and unstructured way, it’s hard to think of a better spot.

Our top 5 memories of Nicaragua

King of the castle

We heard him before we saw him, when there was a thud on the plastic canopy of our little boat, followed by an indignant shriek. We all tried to remain nonchalant as the howler monkey made his way along the side of the boat, glaring at us, before swinging back into the tree hanging over the water. It seemed to be a clear case of demanding food with menaces, and we all breathed a sigh of relief as he settled back into the branches to look out over his domain once more.

Beach Life Ometepe

I’ve never been much of a fan of time at the beach, but there was something special about this one. Perhaps it was because I knew, contrary to appearances, that it was fresh water rather than ocean lapping at the shore. More likely it was the volcano looming over us to our right, partly shrouded in mist – even the local kayaker seemed to be as awestruck as me…

Who's behind the wheel?

I was relishing the breeze on my face as the outboard motor propelled us out into the vast lake. To my surprise, the boat captain sat down next to me – who was driving? Apparently ‘el niño’ had it under control: to be fair, there was little other water traffic to concern his baby-faced apprentice.

The skipper was clearly more interested in what had brought me to Solentiname than piloting the boat, and we fell into talking. One of those lovely exchanges of mutual, unaffected curiosity, which meant I barely noticed when we pulled up to the jetty of our first island.

Slowing down on the Rio Frio

I’ve been glared at by plenty of border guards around Latin America, though none quite so regal as the eagle perched above our little boat. We were sailing down the Rio Frio, entering southern Nicaragua from northern Costa Rica, and the captain had just exchanged one flag for another.

As I watched a heron swoop overhead, a lady paddled past us in her dugout canoe, on the other side a river turtle oversaw proceedings from a submerged log. Feeling like time had slowed down, I reflected that all border crossings should be like this.

Catch of the day

It seemed appropriate that just as my guide was finishing his tale of Chico Largo, the diabolical figure associated with the Charco Verde Lagoon we were walking around, that something should emerge from the murky green water. This too was a chico – though not a very big one – and happily was rather less diabolical. Showing no desire to capture my soul and turn me into a cow, he was however keen to show off the souls he had secured – a great little haul of fish.

Our holidays to Nicaragua

Nicaragua-man-walking-up-volcano-views
Colonial cities, volcanoes & lakes
Walk on an active volcano, find ancient petroglyphs on a freshwater island, wander amidst crumbli...
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Nicaragua-rio-san-juan-indio-maiz-natural-reserve-dugout-canoes
Remote islands & wildlife
Island life, al Nicaraguense. These are our favourite bits of Nicaragua which most people never s...
Read more »

Why us?

Because we, like you, appreciate the value of travelling to places which aren’t on everybody’s bucket list. Places where your favourite memories and photos will come as much from the people you meet as the vistas you see. And because we believe that you travel to such places not to ‘tick off’ a country from an arbitrary list, but to uncover the hidden gems which most will never reach.

We believe that travel is about much more than that shot in front of the world famous landmark, it’s about real insight into the destination. When it comes to Nicaragua, it’s the very absence of such iconic landmarks which has allowed it to remain true to itself, and to offer those who do visit a genuine experience without façade. Thanks to our firsthand knowledge and expert guides in every corner of the country, we put you directly in touch with the people who will make your trip to Nicaragua unforgettable.

Book Send me exclusive content » The crater lake of Apoyo on the way south to Granada Nicaragua When to Go Map - June Nicaragua When to Go Map - August Nicaragua When to Go Map - September Nicaragua When to Go Map - January Nicaragua When to Go Map - December Nicaragua When to Go Map - March Nicaragua When to Go Map - April Nicaragua When to Go Map - February Nicaragua When to Go Map - May Nicaragua When to Go Map - July Nicaragua When to Go Map - October Nicaragua When to Go Map - November Empty beaches on Little Corn Island Primitivist art is a feature of the Solentiname Islands of Lake Nicaragua Looking out over Concepcion during the climb up Maderas on Ometepe Island Sandboarding down the slopes of Cerro Negro volcano Inquisitive howler monkey  near Rio San Juan Children crossing the street in front of the main cathedral in Granada Olive Ridley turtle emerging from the sands to head for the Pacific Monkey in the Isletas near Granada Paddling on Lake Nicaragua Friendly boat captain in Solentiname Paddling home along the Rio Frio Catch of the day on Ometepe