By , March 17, 2012 9:00 pm

We met up with my mom in Nicarauga, and made a speedy path through the country.  We might have lingered longer, but our C-4 visa which covers Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua was just about expired after our lengthy stay in Utila, Honduras.  We had to get to Costa Rica to reset it, but even so, we left the Nicaragua on the last possible day, taking in as much as we could.

Nicaragua Summary:

Length of Stay: 16 days
Average Cost per Day for Two People: $31.80 CAD
Cities Visited: 7
Distance Traveled: 779 km in 12 automobiles and 2 boats
Days Sick: 0 for Ashley, 1 for Mike
Number of Items Lost: 0
Biggest Tourist Traps: The beach at San Juan del Sur was full of touts hawking everything from jewellry and sunglasses to wooden bowls
Exchange Rate: $1 CAD = 23 Cordobas

For more great stats, check out our statistics page!

Tree in Granada park

Our Route:

Managua – León – Las Peñitas – Granada – Isla de Ometepe (Moyogalpa, Merida) – San Juan del Sur

Nicaragua Map


  • Seeing my mom!!!
  • Full moon lava hike at León
  • Beautiful sunset walks at Las Peñitas
  • Fried yuca at the market in Granada
  • International Poetry Festival in Granada

Lion guarding the León Cathedral


  • The food at Hacienda Merida on Isla de Ometepe (it was exceptionally tasty, and expensive to match.  The alternatives were likewise cheap, and not so delicious)
  • The “typico” Nicaraguan meal from a mall food court in Managua… should have known better
  • We couldn’t stay in Granada long enough to experience more than a night of the International Poetry Festival
  • Nicaragua didn’t enamour us the same way as other Central American countries have – probably because we had to move too quick to let it

View from the rooftop of León Cathedral


  • Nicaragua is supposed to be the poorest country in Central America, but we didn’t really get that impression… there were a lot of cars everywhere we went.
  • We had heard Nicaragua would be cheap.  While the prices were definitely reasonable, it wasn’t as cheap as we were expecting.

Lessons Learned:

  • Travelling quickly through a country makes it difficult to fall in love with a place.  We easily could have spent more time at nearly every town we were in, but were limited by our visas.
  • Always reapply sunscreen after playing in the surf.  Ouch!

Sunset at Las Peñitas

Nicaragua Journal – Where Did We Spend Our Time?

Managua – 1 night
We didn’t really see much of this place… it was just a meeting point with Mom and Terry.

León – 2 nights
León was a beautiful city with lots to see and do.  We took a tour of the Cathedral, wandered around an art gallery, and explored a strange folklore museum housed in a former prison.  The highlight of our time here was the full moon lava viewing hike on Volcan Telica which we did with Quetzaltrekkers.

Las Peñitas – 2 nights
This quiet black sand resort beach was a great place to relax after our all night hike.  We napped, swam, and walked the beach at sunset.

Granada – 3 nights
Granada was probably our favourite city we visited.  We joined Mom and Terry for a horse and carriage tour of the beautiful city, explored the graveyard where the first president of Nicaragua can be found, wandered the parks, went to a chocolate museum and caught the start of the International Poetry Festival.  We watched the performance of Nobel Prize winning poet Carlos Martinez Rivas’ work and took in the free Katia Cardena concert.  Mom and Terry did a boat tour of Las Isletas, while we wondered the city getting Mike’s glasses fixed.

Moyogalpa, Isla de Ometepe – 1 night
This town was where the ferry dropped us off.  It was almost sunset when we arrived, so we decided to stay the night before moving on.

Merida, Isla de Ometepe – 3 nights
We stayed at a hacienda just outside this small town.  The location was beautiful, but food options were limited.  The hacienda had stellar food, but a small and expensive menu.  Some of the best food we had here came from the Valentine’s Day festival in town, which included some bull riding.  We went horseback riding to San Ramon waterfall, walked to some Petroglyphs, learned how to make tortillas and hung out in the hammocks at the hacienda.

San Juan del Sur – 4 nights
This was a touristy beach town.  We played in the waves until our blistery sunburns kept us out of the sun.  Spent some time relaxing, reading, visiting with Mom and Terry, and catching up on the blog.

Hanging out in the lobby of our hotel in Granada

Bird on Isla de Ometepe

Butterfly in our hotel in Granada

For more of our Nicaragua pictures, check out our gallery.

7 Responses to “Nicaragua Roundup”

  1. Nils & Ilona says:

    I already tought that we have seen you somewhere, Ashley’s face looked so familiar. It must have been in Granada because we were also there during the Poet festival. So funny I accidently found your blog. Our trip is almost finished but you’re still welcome to stay with us in Holland. 🙂

    • Ashley Lenzen says:

      It’s amazing how small the travel community can be, isn’t it? We just met up with a guy in Antigua, Guatemala that we originally met 6 months ago in Semuc Champey, Guatemala – we’ve been to Costa Rica and back since and he’s been all the way to Ecuador! If we are in the Holland area, we will definitely give you a shout! Enjoy the last leg of your trip!

  2. Nancy Cavallin says:

    Thinking of renting four months on or by the beach in Nicaragua. What, in your opinion, is your favourite spot/beach/town?
    Want the real flavour of the country as far as rental housing.
    Close to an enchanting town/city.
    Thanks in advance. Good travels.

    • Mike Lenzen says:

      We likely travel differently, but I really liked northern Nicaragua. It’s a bit remote, and less touristy but the people were very friendly.

  3. NancyCavallin says:

    I am a single women and will be 60 by the time I go, so living in a remote town/city is not ideal for me. I am sure you understand. Do you know, and have you been to the beaches along the Atlantic side? Can you give me any recommendations?

  4. Brian Grosseth says:

    I am also no spring chicken, clipping 65. I have traveled most of central America several times. I do not restrict myself. So much to see and so much to experience. Cities? Granada Nicaragua is a must. Touristy but it is condenced in the street scene behind the cathedral. so much to explore ….we are considering buying a place there. Diriamba higher in the mountains ….cooler and lots of bizarre religous festivals there. the mountain cities are much more tollerable, and still hot enough. The beaches are very hot ….so you have to stay in the ocean and the shade of the palapa bars to keep cool … Las Penitas, just outside of Leon. Leon is a wonderful place, as it is called the ‘heart of Nicaragua’ … had a gret time there, a few tourist, mostly Canadians and europeans. On my journeys we met massive amounts of Canadians, and only a few Yanks. Aparently most are not so adventurous, they do not feel safe …so it was a releif to meet more europeans, and locals…..seldom a yank. (I do not use the word American so loosly …as we all are Americans on the American Continents.) So I distiguish it by refering them as Yanks.

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