Let’s be honest, if someone asked me what is Nicaragua known for before my trip, you’d hear the Jeopardy theme song and see my blank expression as time ran out. I was clueless about Nicaragua.
So why did I go to Nicaragua, which is the least visited country in Central America? Truthfully, I needed to get out of the country for my own travel sanity. I can’t explain it but, if I don’t get out the country at least three times a year, I start feeling like Tyrone Biggums from the Dave Chappelle Show; and that’s not a good look.
The other reasons why I opted to go to Nicaragua is because, at the time, I’d never been to Central America and it was cheap. Factoring in all of these travel wins made Nicaragua a more attractive country to visit. The added bonus was an opportunity to go on a trip organized by the Nomadness Travel Tribe, an urban travel community for diverse millennials.
I knew when I snagged one of the eleven slots for the Nomadness trip to Nicaragua I was about to embark on something memorable. At the time I wasn’t sure if I had gotten myself into a drama-filled trip with strangers or an eclectic group of Black globetrotters wanting to travel with like-minded individuals. Luckily for me, this trip was more like the latter.
Nicaragua is still an undeveloped country, which adds to its charm and low-cost travel. There are no major tourist attractions, but the pure rawness of the country itself is part of the attraction to travel to Nicaragua.
I had high expectations for Managua as I had read that it was an up and coming foodie location. Looking back, I should have known my hopes were about to be destroyed when I saw what looked like a statue of Jesus on top of a disco ball on my way to the hotel. I brushed it off as another odd moment as I was too focused on experiencing some good local food.
To say the food was underwhelming in Managua is an understatement. It was like eating at a bad tourist trap without the perks of anything touristy to see, but a rundown city. All I can say about Managua is if it is supposed to be one of the next foodie capitals of the world, it is hella deep undercover!
Also as a woman, I don’t recommend walking alone at night in this city. I’m typically comfortable walking solo, but this was one time I was thankful to have travel companions.
After a quick morning meditation session in the hotel’s cute zen garden, my roomies and I were off for a bumpy two-hour ride to meet up with the rest of our group at our villa in the remote town of Tola. I loved the scenic ride through Nicaragua’s countryside. Seeing locals selling items on the side of the road, wild horses and pigs everywhere, and the breathtaking views of the volcanoes made the time pass by faster. Yet, nothing could compare to that first glimpse of what would be our home for the next couple of days.
To say our villa located next door to the Aqua Wellness Resort was nice does not do it justice. I felt like we were on the all black version of the Real World. I went running from room to room in disbelief that this villa with an infinity pool overlooking the ocean and plenty of hammocks was about to be my new home.
A short ferry ride away is Ometepe, an hourglass-shaped island that sits in the middle of Lake Nicaragua and is known for its twin volcanoes. There is so much to do on the beautiful island of Ometepe, but due to time constraints, we decided to explore the island’s jungles by horseback. I was a little nervous, as my previous horseback experience was not the best. However, this time was completely different.
My horse, Nino, and I rode through the Nicaraguan jungles like best friends passing up others as we attempted to dodge getting hit by branches. I was sure this was about to be the highlight of my trip. Little did I know the day would only get better.
After our trek through the jungle, we headed to Ojo de Aqua, a natural spring filled with water from an underground river that comes from one of the volcanoes. Ojo de Aqua really isn’t ideal for swimming, but it is perfect if you’re looking for a peaceful location to wade in a pool with a drink in hand. Make sure to grab one of the fresh coconut drinks from one of the vendors.
Granada Open Market
I’m not one who likes shopping for small gifts when I travel. Sure, I like the art of bartering for cheaper prices in foreign countries, but I often have no desire to bring any of that stuff back home.
Exploring the open market in Granada did not change my opinion on shopping. I did enjoy watching the little kids perform and walking around what look like an old fort, but that’s about it. However, my friends seemed to love it.
If shopping is your thing, there were plenty of interesting items to purchase. The one thing I did notice is that none of the items had price tags. This makes negotiating slightly challenging because you don’t know the starting price, but it’s still doable.
Surfing at Playa Gigante
I’ve always wanted to surf. Many of my friends surf in San Francisco, but they won’t take me surfing because I can’t swim. In my mind, it’s a small detail, but I guess when you really look at it, I could die.
Not sure why I choose this trip, but I refused to allow not being able to swim stop me from surfing. Thus, I enacted the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy with the surf instructors. They never asked if I could swim, so I never told them.
Glad I did because I was natural on the surfboard, getting up the first time. I kept riding the waves as long as I knew there was an instructor near me in case I fell and needed help. It also didn’t hurt that they were cute in case I needed some mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Overall, my trip to Nicaragua was an unforgettable experience. I like the fact that Nicaragua still has plenty of places not overdeveloped with tourist sites or tourist. Nicaragua truly is a great location to consider if you’re looking to unplug and go off the grid in a naturally beautiful country at a reasonable price.