Holiday Tip: Off of the beaten track

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018

When I tell people I went to Nicaragua, I often get a look of surprise. But Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America (and the second lowest crime rate in Latin America). You really feel safe, in the big cities or the countryside we never encountered any trouble at all. Managua, the capital city has crazy traffic and catching a taxi can be challenging but people are nice, and you can easily walk in the city centre.

After two days in Managua, I took the smallest plane I ever been in (42 seats) to go to Corn Island. Big Corn and Little Corn are two little islands in the Caribbean Sea. English is spoken there. We stayed on Big Corn Island which is around 8 square km. It’s probably the most peaceful place I’ve been in my life. Lovely quiet beaches, hot water, perfect place to rest. There is a set taxi fare, and not one single time did the locals try to get us to pay more. We spent two nights there and at first I thought it was enough, but in all honesty, I could have stayed longer. There are no hotel chains, only little, privately owned hotels, with good food and drink.

We visited Granada, which is an old colonial city. It is so colourful with bright pink or yellow walls. In the evening, the locals take a chair and sit outside on the pavement to have a chat with their neighbours. There are a lot of old buildings and churches to see. Leon is also a colonial city and is Nicaragua’s former capital. We walked on the roof of a church there and saw the beautiful landscape with the volcanoes in the background.

If you like rum, Nicaragua is a must. Flor de Caña is Nicaragua’s super premium rum and the country’s number one exported brand, with more than 125 years and five generations of family tradition. The factory is stunning, and you get to taste lots of different rums, which is always a plus. We did our visit at 10am and you might think it’s a bit early for a strong drink, but we realised that there was never a bad time for Flor de Caña.

Probably the most exciting thing I’ve done there was seeing baby turtles. They have several conservation programs around the country and, after going horseback riding on the beach, we took a little boat to explore the mangrove. There is a lot to see: monkeys, crabs, even crocodiles. And the best of the best, I took a baby turtle in my hand and released it on the beach. Watching her run to the water is one of my best memories of my holidays.

Another exciting thing was looking into an active volcano and seeing the bubbling lava. There are loads of volcanoes in Nicaragua, even one approximately one hour from Managua where you can drive to the top. No climbing required! Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua is formed by twin active volcanoes. Known as “Oasis of Peace”, the island is a fascinating place, with lots of history, and full of stunning sights and activities.

So if you are looking for new ideas for your next holidays, go off the beaten track and visit Nicaragua!

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