The Apoyo crater lake from the viewpoint at Catarina A guest bungalow's hammock sways in the ocean breeze at Punta Teonoste Nature Lodge & Beach Spa on Nicaragua's Pacific coast. Sunset over the Pacific on the beach at Morgan's Rock eco-lodge near San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.

(NOTE: visit this article online - there is an extensive gallery of photos from all over Nicaragua attached to this article)

It’s easy to see why Paul Rivers and Tyler Carpenter left the snow, cold, hustle and bustle behind back home in Canada.

Kicking back, cold drink in hand, at the four-room Somar Lodge in Salinas Grande, a rustic community along a long strip of beach on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast, Rivers describes a scenario many of his fellow countrymen daydream of leaving behind any given bitter winter.

“I’ve worked hard all my life,” said the 64-year-old while tapping on his laptop computer under the thatched-roof of Somar’s main lodge. “I got tired of shovelling snow.”

The retired farmer from Erin, Ont., northwest of Toronto, decided to leave it all behind for a year, at least, and lease a place at Salinas Grande for a year, while Carpenter, 26, a refrigeration mechanic apprentice from Vancouver, planned to hang ten, sleep, drink $1 beers while catching the odd Canucks game via satellite on the lodge’s TV while working at establishing a residence on his one-acre property on the beach.

“I’m here for the surf,” said the affable Carpenter, who was up at 4:30 a.m. that day to seek out the best waves along the black volcanic sand beach known for its challenging conditions.

And the reason why Rivers and Carpenter chose to travel to Nicaragua will ring true for any traveller who comes here.

The weather is beautiful and warm, of course, like any other tropical country on the Pacific or the Caribbean, yet it’s laid back and away from the tourist bustle that typically jams up many a resort area elsewhere.

Your dollar will go a long way, too, with food costing a fraction of what you’d pay back home and lodging coming quite cheap in comparison. Of course, it depends on what level of luxury you want — a bed in a hostel starts in the single digits, if that’s what you’re looking for — but a decent room for two with air-conditioning can typically be had for about $50 a night depending on season.

Nicaragua still has an innocence, a genuine feel about it, easily seen in the people that live here, whether it’s in the city, the countryside or along the Central American nation’s stupendous beaches.

And you’ll find that whether you seek an out-of-the-way part of the country such as Salinas Grande, or in the popular Granada or San Juan del Sur, where you’ll find well-appointed hotels you’d find most any place.

It’s in these two cities — Granada on Lake Nicaragua and San Juan del Sur on the Pacific — where you’ll find your typical tourist draws, such as easily accessible beaches, restaurants, nightlife and sight-seeing.

It’s San Juan del Sur that’s seeing a lot of attention these days, with sun-seekers and real estate investors lured by the area’s jaw-dropping sandy beaches and oceanic opportunities such as surfing and fishing. Granada has long been a favourite of tourists, while the liberal-minded city of Leon and the capital Managua have plenty to offer visitors.

But in every corner of Nicaragua, there’s something to be charmed by, whether it’s the fabulous hilltop resort condo-hotel Pelican Eyes at San Juan del Sur, remote countryside villages and eco-lodges, colonial cities and towns, archeological relics or mystical, smoking volcanoes.

Also consider the fascinating Lake Nicaragua, the largest freshwater lake in Central America, which boasts sharks and a large island, Ometepe, sporting two perfectly symmetrical volcanoes.


From Canada, you’ll have to fly through one of three U.S. cities that offer flights to Nicaragua: Houston (Continental), Atlanta (Delta) or Miami (American).

Fares run anywhere from $400 to $650 round-trip between the U.S. and Nicaragua. Calgary to Houston return is about $500 before taxes. Toronto to Atlanta return about $600, Toronto to Miami return about $400.

Here’s an alternative for the more adventurous out west: Get there via Costa Rica.

A cheap flight from Los Angeles to San Jose, Costa Rica, then jump on a Tica Bus, a bus line that runs from San Jose with service to the Nicaraguan cities of Rivas, Granada and Managua.

A one-way trip will cost $21-$32 and take about eight hours. There’s a US$5 fee for a tourist card to enter Nicaragua you pay to customs at the border.