Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America. Many say it’s the next Costa Rica as this country is gaining momentum and expanding in development.

Nicaragua has definitely exceeded our expectations. There are some hidden gems in this volcanic terrain. There’s something for everyone to explore when you’re in Nicaragua, from historical colonial cities to pacific coastlines.

What’s also nice about it is that it still is budget friendly and you can make the most out of your trip at an affordable price!

To start, let’s briefly talk about food: Beans, rice and meat are your most common meal. For “comedores/fritangas” (local street food eateries) you can expect to have the common options of gallo pinto (fried beans and rice) and choice of grilled chicken, beef or pork. For breakfast you can also expect the same, gallo pinto. The common breakfast also includes “queso frito”(fried cheese) and a choice of meat.

Nicaragua has definitely earned a special place in Gordi and my heart. We first visited Nicaragua in 2017. The first trip was before the major floods and civil war . The first trip in 2017 was a group trip. We lodged in San Juan del Sur at Pelican Eyes Resort. We loved the resort for it’s beautiful view of the ocean as well as it being so close to everything in San Juan. Pelican Eyes has 3 beautiful pools and the villas are roomy and homelike.

BUT we loved our quick visit to Rancho Santana in Rivas. Rancho Santana is exactly as it describes itself on their Instagram Bio ” Purity, authenticity and rustic elegance. Set serenely in the Southwest Pacific…”.

At that time, our wonderful friend worked for Rancho Santana and gave us a quick tour of the premisses. Who knew we would later return to fully explore and experience Rancho 3 years later. I’ll talk about towards the end of the post.

During our first trip to Nicaragua we also visited the following highly recommended locations:

-Granada – a small town nestled next to Lake Nicaragua. The architecture preserves the Spanish colonial styles. There is also a main plaza with the Cathedral de Granada.

-Masaya Volcano- on our drive down to San Juan del Sur we stopped at Masaya Volcano to check out the caldera and craters.

– Cristo de La Misericordia at San Juan del Sur- Because we were traveling as a group, we rented a large ATV and drove it up to the Cristo. The view from the Cristo is absolutely breathtaking and worth the short walk up there after parking the ATV lol.

-Playa Gigante – as a group, we did a full day excursion to Playa Gigante. We hopped on a sailboat and returned to shore right before sunset.

Our second trip to Nicaragua was completely unexpected. Gordi text me the week before and asked how I felt about going to Nicaragua next week. At first I thought he was joking, but then later that day found out it wasn’t a joke lol.

This time, we stayed with our dear friend at Rancho Santana. We were able to explore Rancho’s beautiful beaches and restaurants, and not to mention their stunning pools.

Isla de Omepete- we hopped on a ferry to the island and rented ATVs. We rode the ATVs to Ojo the Agua, a cool natural water pool.

We also visited Mukul in Guacalito, a posh hotel and resort. It pretty peaceful and relaxing. We then moved over to Hacienda Iguana, their neighbor. We fell in love with everything about Hacienda Iguana. It was a youthful, fun and upbeat place where everyone is filled with fun and positivity. We loved it so much that we contemplated buying property there and moving there-hahaha!

Anyway, the highlight of our last memorable trip of 2020 (right before shelter in place and the pandemic) was our experience at Rancho Santana. I highly recommend their Cafe main restaurant. Their Tona Fish Tacos are fire! Also make sure to check out their bosque spa for a relaxing and tranquil treatment.

Also, I’ll never forget the howling monkeys we spotted on the way to dinner at Rancho Santana!

So as you can see, there is so much to do. We can’t wait to return and hopefully during our next trip to Nicaragua, we’ll be able to explore the Caribbean side of the country and take a trip to Corn Island.

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