Nicaragua is definitely a destination for the more adventurous travelers. It is still some kind of a hidden spot on the world map. I definitely don’t know why but let’s be happy about it, this makes travelling there even cooler! It is a beautiful and exciting country with lonely beaches, off the beaten track paths, nice little cities, stunning nature and unbelievable sunsets. The most travelers you meet in Nicaragua are more experienced travelers as this is for sure not a country everyone has in mind. When I decided to travel to Nicaragua I got askes several times where it actual is (not kidding someone asked me if it is somewhere around Russia). So to get everyone on track here a few facts about Nicaragua:
- Nicaragua is in the middle of central America
- Nicaragua is not very developed or touristy
- Nicaraguan goverment does not want to sell the country out to tourism
- Nicaragua is safe, also for female solo traveller
- Nicagarua is one of the poorest countries in Middle America
- Nicaragua’s economy is developing pretty good and you can see that
- Nicaragua is cheap but not incredible cheap
- Nicaraguan rum is awesome
- You will eat very much gallo pinto (rice with beans)
- Nicaragua is the country of volcanos – pack your hiking shoes with you
- Nicaragua is a surfer hotspot
- At least a minimum of Spanish would be helpful
- Nicaragua has a pacific and a Caribbean cost
- Nicaragua is nothing for internet junkies
I travelled Nicaragua in August and September of 2017. This time I wasn’t travelling alone all the time. I met a female friend there and traveled a part of the time with her. Nicaragua was an amazing and adventurous trip, let me tell you about it.
Backpacker life in Nicaragua
Life in Nicaragua is very chilled and relaxed. To be honest Nicaragua is one of the chilled places I have been so far. I sometimes thought the Nicas (that how the locals of Nicaragua get called) don’t even have a word for stress. You basically life with the sun which means early wake up and no crazy long night. Nicaragua is not really the place for crazy nightlife, despite San Juan del Sur and the Sunday-Funday-Party. I will tell you more about it in my post about my Nicaragua Experience.
In Nicaragua you spend your time mostly in the stunning nature, on beautiful not touched beaches, in the middle of the jungle or on the top of sometimes still active volcanos. I loved Nicaragua for that.
The little towns in between are just adorable and a good way to fill up your supplies and to spend some time back in the civilization.
There is always something to explore in Nicaragua. I wandered along untouched beaches, enjoyed the sunset while sitting on the warm pacific, explored unbeaten paths through the jungle, tried to surf some waves and climbed up some volcanos to slide down on a board again.
To get around in Nicaragua and to figure out the places to go to, I really recommend you to check with locals and others travelers. When I travelled to Nicaragua I had some hot spots in my mind but just after arriving I got told so many other places which were so off the beaten tracks that I would not have read about them on the internet without knowing what to search for.
Nicaragua is a country that wants to get explored without a fixed plan. So as you can see the backpacker life in Nicaragua is a very active life and you will never get bored.
Safety – Women travelling Nicaragua solo
Nicaragua is a safe country in general with one exception Managua.
I never felt unsafe and I have not met any woman who told me different. What can be kind of annoying is the sometimes macho behavior of the men in Nicaragua. The guys giving you a wolf whistle from time to time or may even call after you. “Hola bonita/chica!” is kind of normal to hear while walking down the streets. Don`t be afraid because of this. In the Latin society this is somehow normal and here you can use the adage “wolfs barking are not biting!” Not all guys are like that, it just happened from time to time to me and then mostly in the beach areas.
The difference between Nicaragua and its neighbors Honduras and El Salvador is, that in Nicaragua there is no mafia or any gangs in power. That makes the place and especially the towns much safer.
Here Managua is an exception. I would not walk the streets of the capital alone in the night and also during the day in some area I felt a bit wired being alone. In all the other places and towns I never felt like that, also not in the night. The overall valid advice better don’t be outside in the night alone and listen to your gut is also enough for Nicaragua
If you check a little bit your money and cook sometimes for yourself you can easily travel Nicaragua with a daily budget of 30$ per day. Activities are rather expensive and accommodation are not crazy cheap as well in Nicaragua, so that’s what is grabbing the money out of you pockets. While you can save on activities it’s hard sometime to save on accommodation, but I will get into the details. For sure it can always get cheaper or more expensive depending on your travel style.
Hostels you will find everywhere in Nicaragua. They are really basic but decent most of the times. Most of them have a own kitchen, so you can cook for yourself. As cooking for yourself saves you a lot of money in Nicaragua and you can easily get food on the markets, cooking in the hostel is a big thing in Nicaragua. The hostels on the beaches most of the time are having a outside shower which I normally used as I love taking my shower while the sunset is in front of me.
You can find Wifi in almost every hostel but as the power infrastructure is not that much developed, you will experience several power breakdowns. Some of them will be short other can lasts for hours or even 1 or 2 days. So unplug yourself from the phone or the laptop, open your eyes and just explore this amazing country offline.
Accommodation is not crazy cheap in Nicaragua. A bed in a dorm will charge you between 8$ – 15$, double bedrooms will start with 25$/per night. While you can get the cheaper rooms in the towns, the places at the remote beaches and in the jungle are more expensive. I guess that’s the normal market dynamic – less offer vs. higher demand and vice a versa. In general I paid an average of 10$/night.
Also you can find a lot of Eco-Hostels, which are build up sustainable and economically efficient. These are also more expensive, dorms are between 10$ and 15$, but hey I guess we all know that it is worth to spend the money to support this concept if possible.
Food and Drinks
Food is not very multifaceted in Nicaragua. Most of the times you will eat gallo pinto (rice with beans) with vegetables and/or meat. The Nicaraguan cuisine is very meat based as everywhere in Central and South America.
As most of the places we visited were remote places without much restaurants , we brought with us some food and cooked for ourselves in the accommodation.
Getting the food was quiet easy. There aren’t much supermarkets outside of the towns. You can find markets with fresh vegetable, fruits, rice, beans and potatoes etc. Everytime when we changed places we thought about how long we are going to stay there and bought as much rice, beans, fruits and vegetables as we thought we are going to need. Normally there are also food trucks running around every few days in the remote areas to bring food to the people living there. From them you can get everything what you can get from the markets as well. So I recommend to buy enough stuff for 3 days, than you are good to go. Even if you don’t have any food with you, you will always find some locals selling meals in their gardens.
Prices for food at the markets are crazy cheap. We never paid more than 10$ for two person for 3 days. Eating in a local basic restaurant is also very cheap. You will get meals or around 3$-5$. Just the imported goods in the supermarkets are pretty expensive same as the westernize restaurants.
When you visit remote surfer places like Popoyo or Playa Maderas where there is nothing but one hotel/hostel with a own restaurant, where you are forced to eat due to no guest kitchen, expect things to become expensive. In Popoyo for example, we didn’t stayed in the Magnific Rock hostel, but used the campground on the beach. There you can rent tents for 5$/night and they have a outside kitchen so you can cook for yourself.
Rum and beer is a big thing in Nicaragua. The Rum exists in several ages and is always very good. Just try yourself through the offer with some locals. Beers you get for around 1$ to 2$, Rum-Drinks and Cocktails are around 5$.
Vegetarian in Nicaragua
As the typical food is existing out of rice and beans with vegetables anyway, even for a vegetarian it is not crazy hard to find something to eat.
For locals being a vegetarian is something very crazy and very western. You will get some crazy looks and they will not really understand how someone can live without eating meat. You will get asked several times if you want add some fish instead to your meal. In the end your cuisine will be boring but you will get vegetarian meals all the time. Despite that just eat fruits. In Nicaragua you get all the exotic fruits fresh presented from fresh mother earth. Just eat yourself through the whole offer.
Transportation in Nicaragua is based on the chicken busses running through the country and hitchhiking. Better to ask in you accommodation in advance when the bus is leaving. In some remote place like El Transito there might be just one bus in the morning leaving to the next town where you can catch the bus to your next destination. So better plan your transportation a bit in advance and asked locals how to reach you next spot. Busses are super cheap, depending on the length it will never be more than a few dollars.
In the towns there are central bus station where all busses are arriving and leaving. On the road you can just jump on the passing busses. To be sure you are getting on the right bus, it is better to ask the locals. Once you are in the bus tell the driving where you want to get off again, so he can tell you when is the right stop.
The chicken busses are not comfortable and slow, but it’s fun to travel with them. You will meet a lot of locals and see a lot from the country using them.
Also hitchhiking is a good way to travel through Nicaragua. We hitchhiked a lot and it was always a blast. The people we met were always friendly and sometimes stepped out of their way to help us.
If you want a bit more comfort you can get taxis to go your way. In comparison to Europa or USA taxis are cheap but still, going a long way with them does its part in your budget.
I can just encourage everyone to visit Nicaragua especially when you are into surfing and hiking and in general into exploring the nature. If you want to know more about the places I visited in details, just check out my post about my Nicaragua-Experience.
If you need any more information or details on the given information just contact me. I am happy to help everyone to travel.