12 Days – Mid Range / Luxury Nicaragua
This comprehensive Nicaragua itinerary takes in the main highlights of Nicaragua and mixes in some lesser well known ones which provide a deeper, more exploratory tour of this fascinating country. Highlights of this trip include the colonial cities of Granada and Leon, the unspoilt, remote beaches on Little Corn Island and the unique and tranquil lake island Eco-Lodge of Jicaro among the Isletas of Lake Ometepe.
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Nicaragua Itinerary “At A Glance”
Day 1: Meet & Greet. Private transfer to Leon – Hotel El Convento (2 Nights)
Day 2: Leon Private Walking Tour. Free afternoon in Leon.
Day 3: San Jacinto Boiling Mud Pots & Trf to Managua – Hotel Los Robles (1 Night)
Day 4: Transfer to Managua Airport. Flight to Big Corn Island. Taxi & Boat Transfer to Little Corn Island – Yemaya Island Resort (3 Nights)
Day 5: Miskito Private Sailboat & Snorkeling Tour.
Day 6: Free day in Little Corn Island
Day 7: Boat and Taxi Transfer to Big Corn Island. Flight to Managua. Tour of Masaya Volcano, Artisan Market & the White Towns with Trf to Granada – Hotel Plaza Colon (2 Nights)
Day 8: Granada Private Walking Tour. Free afternoon in Granada.
Day 9: Transfer to Asese Port. Boat transfer to Jicaro – Jicaro Island Ecolodge (2 Nights)
Day 10 & 11: Free days in Isletas to take part in the activities of the Eco-Lodge
Day 11: Lake boat transfer To Granada. Transfer to Managua Airport in time for international flight connection.
Ideas for “Add-Ons”
- Include a 2-3 Night stay on the Pacific Coast in the area of San Juan del Sur
- Add a few nights on the Volacano-filled island of Ometepe in the center of Lake Ometepe
- Consider a 2 country itinerary with Costa Rica or any other country in Central America
Enchanting and energetic, Leon is an unpretentious city with stunning colonial splendor. Its vibrant atmosphere replete with superb street art and murals, crumbling 300-year old houses, and its awe-inspiring cathedral create an appealing atmosphere. Leon is among the most culturally-rich cities of Nicaragua. It also boasts a cosmopolitan flair given its many fine eateries and exploding nightlife. Within this lively city it still roams the revolutionary spirit and buzz that once fueled a political uprising. Scattered about the streets you will come across a mosaic of murals and architectural masterpieces that house a unique heritage. Singular art collections can be appreciated at the many museums and art galleries. The colonial-style streetscapes add a special charm to the setting including its more than 16 churches with imposing façades. Besides visiting its downtown and main center, there are many other sites and places to visit around this province. Leon shares its coastline with Lake Managua where pristine sandy beaches line the shore. Along this region there are also eight volcanoes, including the Momotombo which contributed to the destruction of the former city in 1610 (now called Leon Viejo) and forced the building of a new town center (nowadays Leon). In addition to all the interesting natural reserves found in the area, there are many outdoor adventures for you to enjoy such as climbing a volcano, surfing on the beautiful beaches along the Pacific Ocean, admire volcanic lagoons, and exploring old-west cowboy towns.
A busy and often hastily city, Managua was founded right before the Spanish left the country in the early 19th century. It is a twisted capital city, without a center, and curiously, without conventional addresses. This is the cultural and educational spindle of a nation that went through years of political upheaval. There are museums, spirited monuments, cultural houses, talented street artists, and underground poets. Venturing down the city you can come across the old cathedral; its walls still standing and the ceiling basically gone due to the 20th century earthquakes. Just north of the Metrocentro mall is the bizarre Nueva Catedral which has become a national landmark. With its 63 domes (some may think breasts or eggs), this building is simply a captivating site. There is definitely a blossoming culture in this metropolis. Managua’s Peace Park, with its distinctive lighthouse, is a withstanding symbol of the true hopes and constant challenges faced by this emerging country. Managua has its own personality: a chaotic design gathering many modern residential areas, poor settlements, volcanic lagoons, shopping malls, a hectic nightlife, hotels, and restaurants. Aside from this, Managua also gives you easy access to nearby parks (some include exciting zip-line tours through the lush foliage), nature reserves, and fun beaches like Pochomil and Masachapa. A not-to-miss destination is the hot springs at El Trapiche. Facing the intense greenery along the mountainside of this region lies the Laguna de Apoyo – a swimmable freshwater volcanic crater lake.
Located just 50 miles off the Nicaraguan Caribbean coast, these two neighboring islands feature stunning white-sand beaches, turquoise clear water, awe-inspiring sunsets, and palm trees that extend to the horizon. The coral reefs and the immense tranquility of its atmosphere sets it apart and adds a certain charm to this tropical setting. The Corn Islands (Little Corn Island & Big Corn Island) are an unspoiled destination ideal for a truly unplugged getaway. What sets the two islands apart is the fact that while Big Corn has an airport, roads, cars, fine-dining options, and colorful wooden houses, just a 25-minute boat ride away, Little Corn Island has a more remote nature with no cars and no noise amidst a lush jungle—an idyllic place to relax. Both islands have restaurants, hotels, and great natural attractions. You can head out to the sea and dive with hammerhead sharks and along submerged caves. Explore the underwater haven and discover the more than 40 species of coral and the array of exotic fish that take shelter along the reefs surrounding the islands. Sally Peachie (on the big island), and Otto Beach (on the little island) offer some of the best snorkeling spots in the area. The Corn Islands are encircled by the beautiful Caribbean Sea offering splendid places for scuba diving with an underwater visibility of up to 80 feet. The islands are full of friendly locals and were once the perfect refuge for pirates and buccaneers back in the 17th century. They are also the perfect place to undertake adventurous sports like kayaking or sea fishing, aside from enjoying their glistening beaches and treasure the unspoiled serenity embraced all along the setting.
Granada & Isletas
The refined and well-lined streetscapes of Granada can be easily defined as a colonial architecture galore. This graceful town sits atop Lake Granada and it is encompassed by a series of 365 islets (formed by a volcanic eruption that occurred thousands of years ago) that are scattered about the lake. “Las Isletas”, as called by the locals, vary in size and in purpose: some are privately owned while others are more geared towards tourism hosting a myriad of restaurants, cafes, hotels, shops, and other natural attractions. For centuries Granada has been cherished as Nicaragua’s best preserved colonial town. With its delicately restored cathedral, well-arranged plaza, and utterly maintained mansions alongside beautiful courtyards you will discover the elegance and mystique of this quaint town. Visitors can venture down the cobblestone roads that lead to awe-inspiring churches, then, amble from an art gallery or a museum to a subtle café. Each corner hosts a particular venue where you can admire the historic colonial buildings many of them displaying their newly remodeled aspect. The city boasts a lively restaurant scene ranging from fusion fare to the more traditional local cuisine. Just out of town and into the countryside you can experience everything this region has to offer. Cruise the narrow waterways of Las Isletas, bike out to the pristine beaches along Peninsula de Asese, hike the spiring Volcan Mombacho, giddy-up on an adrenaline-packed canopy tour, or visiting a traditional Nicaraguan village.
Tours, Sites & Activities
San Jacinto Boiling Mud Pots & Transfer to Managua
On the outskirts of Leon the impressive Marribios volcanic chain rises, a quick drive will take you to the small and very traditional village of San Jacinto located right at the base of the Volcanoes, get up close and feel the power of the earth by standing right next to extremely hot Volcanic Mud Pots headed by the underground geothermal activity, take a walk around guided by your English speaking driver and meet also some of the local habitants and why not have the opportunity of making some exquisite corn tortillas.
Miskito Private Sailing & Snorkeling Tour
The new handmade 40 foot sailing boat is Yemaya’s must do activity, get pampered and taken around the Caribbean sea by real miskito sailors, the wind will carry the boat to wonderful locations with pristine turquoise Caribbean waters where you will get to practice some snorkeling and observe rich marine life such as reef sharks and manta rays. The boat has no engine so the whole journey will be a peaceful demonstration of skills and the good things in life.
Masaya Volcano, Artisan Market & the White Towns Private Tour & Transfer to Granada
Enjoy a day full of authentic Nicaraguan Artists and stand up right next to the active smoking crater of Masaya Volcano. A short walk will give you first hand views of the lava formations while listening at your very informative guide. Head back into the lowlands and visit the Masaya famous Artisans market, find from handmade high quality shoes to valuable ceramic pieces. Continue your exploration by stepping into the homes of local families that kindly welcome you and show the art and the necessary skills of making products such as “maracas” to colorful hammocks. Finish the journey through the Nicaraguan White Villages by entering the Catarina hills and enjoy the incredible panoramic view of the Apoyo Lake, Granada city guarded by the Mombacho Volcano, and the ocean like Nicaragua’s and Central America largest fresh water lagoon known locally as Cocibolca Lake.
Granada Private Walking Tour
No doubt the best way of finding out Granada city secrets is by taking a walk lead by a “Granadino” local guide. After a few instructions and introduction to the morning plan, climb into La Merced church for great views of the central plaza and La Calzada street that stretches all the way to lake Nicaragua, head then to the called commercial area, and see behind the scenes of the daily busy market, visit the handmade shoes factory, the piñatas place, get the chance of learning the hammock making techniques at a small Granada workshop, options are endless and depending on your interests you may visit different attractions. Activity Includes: La Merced church, the San Francisco Museum, Piñatas place, handmade shoes factory.
Leon: El Convento
Hotel El Convento is a first-class boutique hotel located in the heart of Leon, one of the oldest cities in the Americas. The elegantly designed spaces on the premises define the essence of this hotel: a classic 17th century convent with modern comfort and class. Hotel El Convento is utterly focused on providing high-quality service and luxurious accommodations. With its vivid flowering central courtyard and tasteful antiques that gracefully adorn the hallways, this exclusive hotel takes pride in its stylish colonial character. Intricate art paintings with beautiful wooden frames and other elements accentuate the walls. Each of its 31 executive rooms (single or double), including a deluxe suite (with king-size bed and ample lounge area) come finely decorated with wooden artwork created by talented local artists. The rooms feature terracotta tile flooring, refined brick walls, and iron-molded bed frames. At the restaurant “El Victoriano” you will find all the flavors of the typical Nicaraguan and international cuisine. The restaurant also offers convenient room service 24-hours a day. The pool becomes the perfect spot for spending some relaxing time as the sun sets; or if you prefer you can reduce your stress level while exercising at the fitness center.
- Facilities: Restaurant, bar, fitness center, pool, conference rooms, Wi-Fi, air conditioning.
- Location: 1.5 hour ride North West from downtown Managua.
Managua: Hotel Los Robles
From its aesthetically landscaped courtyard centered upon a beautiful marble fountain, to its exclusive Spanish-colonial architecture, Hotel Los Robles is a distinctive retreat fitly located just a few minutes away from Managua`s financial centre (and within the most centric and secure residential zone of the capital city). This luxurious boutique hotel is full of history and antiquities dating back to colonial times; these fine details are exquisitely fused with modern amenities to create an inviting atmosphere. The hotel offers 16 comfortable rooms (some single, others double) around a verdant tropical garden a typical layout for houses back in the 16th century. All rooms have delicate furniture and Colonial pieces made from precious tropical woods, private bathrooms, and small patios. With its subtle lighting, cotton bedspreads (crocheted by hand), forged iron bed frames, and intricate tile flooring each room provides comfort and style. Hotel Los Robles features an attractively decorated restaurant that specializes in French cuisine. At the bar lounge you can have some freshly made cocktails, fine rums, or an ice-cold beer. From the hotel`s terrace you can enjoy panoramic views of the flourishing garden. There is a resplendent outdoor pool area with comfy loungers, and a búcaro-style fountain (embedded in a wall) that drizzles water into the pool, for a refreshing touch.
- Amenities: Restaurant, bar/lounge, gardens, outdoor pool, terrace, parking, Wi-Fi
- Location: 15-minute drive from the Augusto C. Sandino Airport at Managua.
Little Corn Island: Yemaya Island Resort
With an eco-chic and laid-back ambiance, the Yemaya Island Hideaway offers tropical gardens and stylish bungalows
with breathtaking ocean views. Set on North End Beach in tiny Little Corn Island off Nicaragua´s Caribbean coast, this
beachfront luxury retreat lets you experience its unique and exceptional setting. Yemaya, named for the African goddess
of the sea, features 16 cabin-style accommodations, all individually decorated and with open wooden decks overlooking
the sea with a seating area, plus hammocks. Each oceanfront bungalow features elegant contemporary décor with
brightly embroidery places on top the crisp white beds. All rooms have a private bathroom with handmade toiletries and
have direct access to the beach. At the restaurant, fabulous meals are served. The chef specializes in world-class cuisine
(with strong Asian influence) while also taking pride in using only fresh and organic ingredients. The covered Yoga
platform a beautiful wooden deck where daily classes are held becomes the ideal spot for meditation and relaxation
amidst the beautiful views and the soothing sounds of nature. At the hotel´s spa you can indulge your mind and body
with renewing massages and complete body treatments. If you prefer you can relax by the outdoor pool or hit the
private sand beach where you can enjoy snorkeling.
- Facilities: Restaurant, bar/lounge, outdoor pool, gardens, spa services, Yoga deck, terrace WiFi.
- Location: 1 hour 45-minute flight from Managua International Airport to Little Corn Island.
Granada: Hotel Plaza Colon
Classic, colonial, and with an unbeatable location right in the historic center of beautiful Granada, Hotel Plaza Colon takes pride in its architecture and the history it has gathered for generations. Its façade, dating back to the early 20th century, adds essence to its design. All 27 ample and modern rooms have been ideally design to provide comfort. With its pleasing well lit ambiance, wooden floors, fine furnishings, and subtle décor each room becomes the perfect place to rest and unwind. Most of them have direct access to the front terrace on the second floor with inspiring vistas of the central park and nearby cathedral. You can stop to contemplate the landscape while sitting in the vivid exotic garden. Start your day with a palatable breakfast made only with fresh local ingredients. At the hotel`s cafe you can have a cup of the best Nicaraguan coffee, proudly grown in the northern mountains. Cocktails, national drinks, a diverse selection of wines, and enticing tapas are served at El Bar. Hotel Plaza Colon is modern, yet it maintains a unique colonial opulence. With a central courtyard and patio lined with characteristic wooden columns and tall-shingle ceilings, you can find a homely sitting spot to admire the garden. At the open swimming pool area you can take some time to unwind after a long busy day out in the city.
- Facilities: Restaurant, bar, open swimming pool, business center, parking, air conditioning, WiFi.
- Location: In Front of Parque Central, Granada
Granada Isletas: Jicaro Island Ecolodge
Set on a private island in the Granada Isletas of Lake Nicaragua, this small secluded lodge is an intimate hideaway offering comfort amidst its natural charm. Accessed by a short boat ride from the resplendent town of Granada, Jicaro Island Eco Lodge is a unique destination to relax and come in close contact with nature`s beauty. The hotel takes special pride in their sustainability and development programs. For instance, it was built to harmonize with nature and never to interfere with it. Water supply, waste water treatments, and electricity usage are some of the practices that look after the environment and benefit the community. Nine ample, private two-story casitas rise from the lush surrounding jungle. All have been perfectly planned, decorated, and elegantly finished serving as the perfect setting for some time off your daily routine. Each “casita” features refined hardwood, with enormous windows for incredible views of the rainforest, and an inviting deck overlooking the tranquil lake. The open kitchen serves Nicaraguan fusion cuisine using local and organic ingredients in a breezy open setting overlooking Mombacho volcano. At the wellness center you can indulge in a range of spa treatments from two open-air rooms overlooking the majestic Lake Nicaragua. There is also a purpose-built Yoga deck that becomes an inspiring site that evokes serenity and peace. Jicaro Island Eco Lodge also has a blue-tiled swimming pool, an ideal spot for unwinding amidst the surrounding tropical vegetation.
- Facilities: Restaurant, bar, swimming pool, wellness center, Yoga deck, gardens, walking trails.
- Location: From Granada 10-minute ride to the Asese port, then a short 15-minute boat ride to Jicaro Island.
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