For info on San Juan Del Sur - click here
In the past 15 years, tourism has only really begun in Nicaragua. With a past of war and a large earthquake destroying the capital city, Nicaragua has had its setbacks. However now they are catching up and with tourism being fairly new and one of the main sources of income for the country, Nicaragua has set its sites and is fastly becoming one of Central America's most talked about places to visit. With endless beaches and surf breaks, volcanoes, jungles and nice weather all year round, tourists and expats are flocking to Nicaragua in large numbers to enjoy the beauty and freedom that this country offers.
Fun facts you should know about Nicaragua
• The official name of Nicaragua is the 'Republic of Nicaragua'.
• Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America.
• The currency of Nicaragua is the Cordoba.
• Nicaragua is famous for its dance form, known as 'Palo de Mayo'.
• Gallopinto is Nicaragua's national dish.
• Baseball is the most popular sport in Nicaragua.
• Lake Nicaragua is the second largest in entire Latin America.
• Lake Nicaragua is the largest freshwater lake in Central America.
• Lake Nicaragua houses the world's only freshwater sharks.
• Lake Nicaragua has a dual volcano island, which is the largest lake island in the world.
Geography & Climate
Nicaragua occupies a landmass of 129,494 km2 (49,998 sq mi), comparable to that of Greece or New York State. Nearly one fifth of the territory is designated as protected areas like national parks, nature reserves, and biological reserves. The country is bordered by Honduras to the north, the Caribbean Sea to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Since Central America is a major subduction zone, Nicaragua hosts most of the Central American Volcanic Arc, explaining the array of volcanoes. Nicaragua is a unitary republic. For administrative purposes it is divided into 15 departments (departamentos) and two self-governing regions (autonomous communities) based on the Spanish model.
2. Carazo (Jinotepe)
4. Chontales (Juigalpa)
9. Madriz (Somoto)
10. Managua (Capital)
13. Nueva Segovia (Ocotal)
15. Río San Juan (San Carlos)
16. RAAN (Bilwi)
17. RAAS (Bluefields)
The top 3 tourist destinations in Nicaragua belong to Granada, Leon and of course, San Juan Del Sur, which is located in the department of Rivas. Located just mere minutes from the Costa Rican border. Nicaragua has three distinct geographical regions: the Pacific Lowlands, the Amerrique Mountains (North-Central Highlands), and the Mosquito Coast (Atlantic Lowlands). Located in the west of the country, these lowlands consist of a broad, hot, fertile plain. Punctuating this plain are several large volcanoes of the Cordillera Los Maribios mountain range, including Mombacho just outside Granada, and Momotombo near León. Lake Nicaragua is the largest freshwater lake in Central America (20th largest in the world), and is home to some of the world's only freshwater sharks (Nicaraguan shark). The Pacific lowlands region is the most populous, with over half of the nation's population. The capital city of Managua is the most populous and it is the only city with over 1.5 million inhabitants.
Wildlife & Biodiversity
Rainforest in Nicaragua covers more than 20,000 km2 (7,722 sq mi), particularly on the Atlantic lowlands. As well as the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve (in the north) there is the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve (in the south), which protects 2,500 km2 (965 sq mi) of the Atlantic Rainforest. These two areas are very rich in biodiversity. There are 5 species of felines, including jaguar and cougar; 3 species of primates, spider monkey, howler monkey and capuchin monkey; 1 species of tapir, called Danto by the Nicaraguans; 3 species of anteaters and many more.
The eruptions of western Nicaragua's volcanoes, many of which are still active, have devastated the land but also have enriched it with layers of fertile ash. The geologic activity that produces vulcanism also breeds powerful earthquakes. Tremors occur regularly throughout the Pacific zone, and earthquakes have nearly destroyed the capital city, Managua, in 1931 and 1972.
Most of the Pacific zone is tierra caliente, the "hot land" of tropical Spanish America at elevations under 2,000 feet (610 m). Temperatures remain virtually constant throughout the year, with highs ranging between 85 and 90 (29.4 and 32.2 °C). After a dry season lasting from November to April, rains begin in May and continue to October, giving the Pacific Lowlands 40 to 60 inches (1,016 to 1,524 mm) of precipitation. The lake and the San Juan River were often proposed in the 19th century as the longest part of a canal route across the Central American isthmus. Canal proposals were periodically revived in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Nicaragua is one of the few countries in Central America that uses polymer bank notes. Polymer banknotes were issued in 2009 to reduce the need to reprint banknotes, combat counterfeiting and introduce a more hygienically friendly currency. Unlike previous banknote series, the current series does not have any illustration of politicians, rather it celebrates the country's landmarks, history and culture. The exchange rate of the Nicaragua Córdoba to the US dollar is approximately 36 cordobas to $1 US dollar as of Nov 2022.
Tourism in Nicaragua is currently the second largest industry in the nation, over the last 10 years tourism has grown about 90% nationwide with rates of 10%-16% annually. Nicaragua has seen positive growth in the tourism sector over the last decade and has become the largest industry in Nicaragua. The increase and growth led to the income from tourism to rise more than 300% over a period of 10 years. The growth in tourism has also positively affected the agricultural, commercial, and finance industries, as well as the construction industry.
Every year about 60,000 U.S. citizens visit Nicaragua, primarily business people, tourists, and those visiting relatives. Some 5,300 people from the U.S. reside in the country now. The majority of tourists that visit Nicaragua are from the U.S., Canada, Central or South America, and Europe. According to the Ministry of Tourism of Nicaragua (INTUR), the town of San Juan Del Sur is the preferred spot for tourists. Also, the cities of Tola, Popoyo, Granada, León, Masaya, and the likes of the San Juan River, Ometepe, Mombacho Volcano, the Corn Islands, and others are main tourist attractions. In addition, ecotourism and surfing attract many tourists to Nicaragua.
Another boost of tourism in Nicaragua was the filming of 4 episodes of the hit reality TV show – Survivor. They filmed the episodes just outside of San Juan Del Sur, close to the Surf Ranch Action Sports Resort. The first season of Survivor Nicaragua aired Sept 15th 2010. The second season aired in the spring of 2011. The last 2 seasons aired in 2014. Many others shows have since filmed in Nicaragua, including "Naked & Afraid".
Nicaragua has the lowest crime rate in Central America. Fighting along the borders between the famous "contra" forces and the government ended in 1990. The revolution which was fought in almost all parts of the country ended in 1979. Travel is safe day or night. Few attacks against tourists have been reported in the last 12 years in Nicaragua (compare this with 20 attacks per day on tourists visiting Mexico). Normal precautions against the slight of hand should be taken and some of the very poor Managuan neighborhoods are not recommended for a nighttime stroll with a Rolex. In general it may be considered in poor taste to travel with a great deal of jewelry here if you consider that half the population lives on less than 365 dollars a year, but the chance of encountering anything more than a pickpocket expert, are slim to none. Just use common sense :)