Sunday 21 July 2019

Five fab things to do in Nicaragua now that travel advice has changed

A change in FCO travel advice means this delightful country could once again be on the radar of travellers...

San Juan Del Sur. PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
San Juan Del Sur. PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
Grenada City. PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
Concepcion volcano and Ometepe island. PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.
A girl boarding her way down a black rock volcano. PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

Sarah Marshall

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has downgraded its travel advice to Nicaragua, no longer warning against all but essential travel to the country.

Essentially off limits to tourists since April 2018, the Central American country is now open for business - and there are plenty of good reasons to go - soaring volcanoes, lush highlands and sparkling beaches are just a few of the attractions.

1. Sled down a volcano

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A girl boarding her way down a black rock volcano. PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

There are 19 volcanoes in Nicaragua, and although there's still life in several of the fiery devils, many have hiking routes. Cerro Negro is Central America's youngest and is famous for its lava dunes. From the summit, views stretch to the Nicaraguan highlands and Pacific Ocean. Ash boarding on the slopes is a speedy option to get down.

2. Surf and party

Surfers from all over the world head to San Juan del Sur to ride Pacific waves. But even if you aren't a pro, there are plenty of surf schools lining the beach. Unsurprisingly, the town also has a raucous party scene.

3. Admire colonial architecture

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Grenada City. PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

A cluster of cobbled streets and colourful buildings, Granada is Central America's oldest continually inhabited city, making it a key tourist attraction. On the shores of Lake Nicaragua, at the foot of the Mombacho volcano, it's less than a one-hour drive from capital city Managua.

4. Snorkel with nurse sharks

The Corn Islands are a magnet for wildlife enthusiasts, who come to snorkel or dive on reefs teeming with parrotfish, nurse sharks, rays and sea anemones. There are even anchors and other items of ship debris left by pirates who passed through these Caribbean waters in the 17th century.

5. Taste divine chocolate

Nicaragua produces some excellent coffee and cocoa, mainly grown in the hills around Jinotega. Head to Matagalpa to find out about the art of chocolate making; El Castillo del Cacao (The Cocoa Castle) uses cocoa grown by local farmers and offers tours to tourists, explaining the production process.

Get there

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Concepcion volcano and Ometepe island. PA Photo/thinkstockphotos.

Delta (delta.com) offers a limited service between Atlanta and Managua. See also copaair.com. Journey Latin America (journeylatinamerica.co.uk) offers a 10-day Signature Nicaragua: Fire, Water and Revolution, visiting colonial cities, Granada and Leon, Ometepe Island with its twin volcanoes, Rio San Juan and the fortress of El Castillo. The price is from £2,141/€2,463pp, including flights, transfers, B&B hotels and excursions.

NB: As of publication, Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs still advises against non-essential travel to Nicaragua. The UK's FCO advises visitors to exercise a high degree of caution. Check latest advice before travel.

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