There are those who like big cities; some prefer farm country; while others are happy in the mountains. I, on the other hand, am a beach person for sure. I don’t have to go swimming in the ocean every day or even every week, but just knowing that the water is all around me is something that I crave.
Luckily, in Nicaragua, I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to beach destinations. Whether they’re on the Pacific or Caribbean coast, fringing volcano crater lakes, or surrounding Cocibolca (also known as Lake Nicaragua), there’s plenty to choose from.
I haven’t been able to check out all the beaches yet, but so far I have several favorites, each one for a different reason. Here’s a list of some that I recommend you visit.
1. Playa Norome
Playa Norome is definitely my favorite beach, hands down. This is one of the beaches on Laguna Apoyo, the exquisite volcano crater lake. There are many spas lining the waterfront, where you can relax alongside other expats.
All the local restaurants include international fare, or you can go to the Nicaraguan public beach and listen to Latin music, watch the families playing together, and buy interesting local treats like nancites (a tiny yellow fruit), green mangos in spicy vinegar, or a delicious ceviche made with black shellfish. Or feast on guapote, a fish caught from this lake, with fried cheese and plantains, covered with pico de gallo sauce—all for just $10. And while you dine, enjoy the music from the passing Marimba bands—they also take requests.
Finally…float, swim, or simply wade in the medicinal—and always warm—waters of this incredibly beautiful lake. You’ll feel so good afterwards.
2. Playa Coco
Just 40 minutes south of San Juan del Sur, this long, wide, golden-sand beach is perfect for long walks and great place to find sand dollar sea urchins. Beautiful waters lead out to a backdrop scene of Costa Rican mountains, which appear to float on the sea. The huge white waves that crash against the shore are perfect for surfing, or you can just spend your time lying in a hammock.
Stop for a bite to eat in Puesta del Sol. They serve many Nicaraguan dishes—like whole, fried red snapper or grilled seabass salad with greens, beets, carrots, onions, cucumbers, green olives, and capers—as well as some of the Austrian owner’s favorite dishes from back home—wienerschnitzel with pork, chicken, or beef, and apple strudel for dessert.
3. La Boquita
La Boquita is a great place to go horseback riding or boogie-boarding. And, if you’re up early enough, you can tag along with the local fishermen as they bring in the morning’s catch. Many restaurants line the sand, and are home to the best seafood soup in Nicaragua; with crab, shrimp, fish, langostinos, clams, and numerous other fishy treats.
4. Las Peñitas
About a 25-minute drive from León, this traditional fishing village gives you an insight into Nicaraguan life by the beach. Watch the fishermen as they mend their nets, or cast them out on their pangas (small fishing boats) to catch shrimp and other fish. They’ll even take you out with them if you ask.
Small restaurants and hostels dot the beach with local fare and international choices, and the fish and seafood is always fresh.
You can also take a tour in the mangroves of Juan Venado Nature Reserve and see all kinds of birds, iguanas, turtles, and more for just $20.
5. Escameca Grande
Escameca Grande is a glorious virgin beach. About 25 minutes south of San Juan del Sur, you won’t find any amenities or disturbances here. Just a long, unadulterated, unspoiled, stretch of beach with a clear water estuary behind. This is a place to go with your friends. Bring your own supplies and string up hammocks in the forest that borders the beach for a perfect day of relaxation. There aren’t any signs to point the way so bring a map, or ask a local for directions.
There are still many more beaches in Nicaragua that I have yet to explore. But with the choices on offer, if you’re looking to move to a beach town, or just looking for a daytrip by the sea, there’s certainly something in Nicaragua that’s perfect for you.
Image: ©iStock.com/Christa Brunt
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