Nicaragua offers more than just ‘the land of lakes’ and world-famous volcanoes to students contemplating an adventurous study abroad experience. Here is a list that will introduce you to just a few of the delightful playa (Spanish for beach) surprises. These beaches offer a great excuse to take refuge from your coursework while studying abroad in Nicaragua.
San Juan del Sur
A 90-minute drive from Granada and in close proximity to the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border, San Juan del Sur is the most popular beach in the country. The beach is uniquely located in a splendid crescent-shaped bay. Over the years it has become highly visited by both tourists and locals, making a bustling commercial scene gradually arise. A host of restaurants line the bay, where visitors can always find a delectable dish to satisfy their seafood craving. San Juan del Sur has some of the best luxury villas and resorts ideal for those interested in a carefree, less challenging vacation. But diving, surfing and big game fishing are still prevalent in the area, as well as easily accessible boat rides to nearby pristine beaches.
Just 20 minutes from the coastal town of San Juan del Sur, Madera is a charming beach with a rocky expanse that offers a beautiful contrast of natural features. The tide pools that form on the rocks offer an engaging novelty for individuals of all ages, enticing anyone studying in Nicaragua to go for those ever desired “long walks on the beach”. Breezy Madera beach offers a great venue for laidback sunbathing, afternoon snorkeling ventures, as well as gorgeous sunset views.
Nicaragua’s string of beaches continues down on the Western coast to Majagual Beach, which offers a more humble experience for visitors from around the world. With only one hotel in the nearby area, most visitors opt for camping giving them the opportunity to experience the beach naturally. Majagual Beach is known for its stunning views, remarkable sunsets, and tranquility amidst a more private setting. Like most beaches in Nicaragua, Majagual does not leave visitors with nothing to do. Fishing, swimming and surfing are all common activities in the area.
La Flor Wildlife Reserve
Wildlife enthusiasts have some unique experiences awaiting them at La Flor Wildlife Reserve. Between July and February each year thousands of Olive Ridley sea turtles lay their eggs on the sand of La Flor Beach, giving tourists the opportunity to witness hatchings almost daily. Many other unusual animal species populate the more than 3,000 hectares of reserve, including Pelicans, Chocoyos (parakeets), and Urracas (a type of long-tailed crow). Just a glance away from the turtle nesting ground lies a mountainous area where Congo and Capuchin (also known as white-faced monkeys) can be found. There are no hotels or restaurants near La Flor, but for under 30 USD visitors can set up camp directly on the beach as long as they bring their own food and drinks.
Surfers abound along this Pacific coast haven, offering some of the best surfing areas in the country. Anyone studying abroad in Nicaragua who has a knack for surfing must try out the waves of Tola. Individuals keen on exploring sensational coastlines can also spend many hours exploring the ever-changing Tola coast.
Casares beach is a small but strikingly beautiful area, with an intimate and private feel to it. The place is hardly ever crowded, mainly because of the tall reef between the Cesares and nearby La Boquita. The only way to the beach is through one of the many private homes found on the reef. Renters can enjoy swimming and fishing with relative privacy. This area is perfect for families and large groups.
Pochomil Beach offers a highly developed tourist complex with numerous restaurants, tourist activities, beach sports, horseback riding, and other resort accommodations all along the flat coastline. Private hotels are also available. The Pochomil Tourist area gives people easy relaxation and accessibility to all the necessary amenities. The beach is one hour from Managua City, the capital of Nicaragua, where buses and taxis are available for transport to and from Pochomil itself. The close proximity to the capital city and conveniences available at Pochomil makes it one of the most popular destinations for vacation in Nicaragua.
At the heart of this fishermen’s village are seafood restaurants, a handful of vacation houses, and hotels that nearly anyone can afford (perfect if you are on a budget while studying in Nicaragua). The low key ambience of the beach is an ideal backdrop for horseback riding and kayak trips. Las Penitas is in close proximity to Juan Venado Island, another national wildlife reserve in Nicaragua. Fisherman often provide boat rides to the island for visitors looking to explore the ecologically diverse species that inhabit the Juan Venado Island.
Estero Padre Ramos Nature Reserve
Those who love the outdoors must visit this enormous nature reserve. With over 20,000 acres of protected land, Estero Padre Ramos Nature Reserve provides visitors with a myriad of opportunities to hike, swim, kayak, or to just go exploring. There are over 50 nature reserves in Nicaragua. Estero Padre Ramos is most notably untouched and fairly uncrowded. The area is extensively populated with mangroves and wildlife, providing tourists with a unique terrain for exploration and relaxed observation.