- About Nicaragua
- Climate and Weather
- Sightseeing & Places of Interest
- Food in Nicaragua
- How to get to us
Location and Geography
The Republic of Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American, bordering Honduras to the north, Costa Rica to the south, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east.
Exultation (Lake Managua) and Cocibolca (Lake Nicaragua) are the largest fresh water lakes in Central America.
Running nearly parallel to the pacific coast is a chain of 58 volcanoes, 6 of which are still active. The country boasts the longest rivers in Central America, vast coastal lagoons and hundreds of miles of sea coast.
This is why Nicaragua is known as the Land of Lakes and Volcanoes!
Nicaragua's Brief History
Much like its neighbour countries, Nicaragua was conquered by the Spanish empire in the 16th century.
Since its independence from Spain in 1821, Nicaragua has been through several periods of political unrest and dictatorship, which have led to the Nicaraguan Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.
Nowadays, Nicaragua is a representative democratic republic and has experienced economic growth and political stability.
Nicaragua is one of the most friendly and safe countries in Central America and its biological diversity, warm tropical climate and active volcanoes have made it an increasingly popular tourist destination.
Language and Culture
Nicaragua is filled with beauty, tradition and the richness of its culture.
Myths, dances, music, and rituals make up Nicaraguan folklore but visitor often say that the people are the reason that they would consider returning!
Nicaragua has a population of about 6 million people, including indigenous native tribes from the Mosquito Coast, Europeans, Africans, Asians, and people of Middle Eastern origin. This multi ethnic mixture of strong folklore, music, and religious traditions has generated a big diversity in the culture.
The main language in Nicaragua is Spanish, but there are also native tribes that speak their native languages.
Nicaragua’s currency is the Cordoba, named after Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, the Spanish founder of the colony of Nicaragua.
The U.S. dollar is also an official currency so you can easily exchange USD for Cordoba and vice versa, however, exchanging other currencies (including the Euro) is extremely difficult.
Major credit cards are increasingly accepted throughout the entire country but it is advisable that travellers to bring money in USD.
Nicaragua offers eco tourism, adventure, beach, colonial cities, nightlife and low cost of living so it’s no wonder that the country has experienced an increasing number of tourists from around the world.
The colonial cities of León and Granada are the preferred spots for tourists but the cities of Masaya, Rivas, San Juan del Sur, San Juan River, Ometepe, the mountainous coffee farm region of Matagalpa, Mombacho Volcano, the Pacific Coast, and the Corn Islands in the Caribbean coast are also main tourist attractions.
Over the last years, surfing, eco-tourism and agritourism have also attracted many tourists to Nicaragua.
Nicaragua has seen a very positive growth in the tourism sector over the last decade, and it became the largest industry in 2007 and over the last years it has grown about 70% nationwide with rates of 10% to 20% annually.
Nicaragua is visited by about 60,000 U.S. citizens every year - business people, tourists and those visiting relatives.
How is the weather in Nicaragua
The weather in Nicaragua is great all year round!
Nicaragua has a tropical climate and, as in all tropical countries, it has only two distinct seasons - dry and rainy. During the dry season - from December through late May - there is virtually no rain.
During rainy season– from June through November – also called the “green season”, everything starts to grow and the yellow plants and leafless trees turn green and start blossoming.
June/July usually witness heavy rainfall and August/September feature a tropical downpour once in a day for an average of one hour in the afternoon and these are often spectacular, tropical downpours.
The rain is a welcome break from the heat most days - expect sunny days with temperatures roughly between 22° C - 30° C (72° F at night and 86° F at daytime).
Air temperatures in Nicaragua vary more with the elevation and less with the seasons.
In the lowlands - where the surf camp is located - temperatures vary roughly between 72° F at night and 86° F at daytime (22° C - 30° C), although temperatures can reach 100° F in May (38° C).
The coolest and most pleasant months are November to January, while the hottest months are March, April and May at the end of the dry season.
The climate in Nicaragua is very humid, especially during the month of June when the humidity is around 84%.
Puerto Sandino sea water temperatures peak in the range 28 to 30°C (82 to 86°F) around mid June and are at their lowest in the beginning of February in the range 25 to 29°C (77 to 84°F).
Year round warm sea water temperatures at Puerto Sandino mean that a rash vest and board shorts should be fine for surfing at any time of year.
Nicaragua offers one of the most diverse and exciting landscapes in Central America so visitors have access to a wide variety of beautiful wilderness areas and incredible sceneries to visit and explore.
From jungle rainforests in the low-lands, northern peaks and cloud forests, expansive savannas, beaches and mangrove habitats on both coasts, to the numerous active volcanoes!
Here are some of the many places worth visiting in Nicaragua:
Reserva Natural Volcán Mombacho
The Mombacho volcano is probably the main feature of Granada and it is still active although it was last erupted many centuries ago in 1345.
There is plenty to see at Reserva Natural Volcán Mombacho - fumaroles and other volcanic activities, organic coffee farm, canopy tours, butterfly garden and an orchid garden.
The natural park includes 3 species of monkeys, 168 species of birds and over 100 types of orchids.
Monumento Nacional Cañon de Somoto
Somoto Canyon National Monument is a canyon located in the Madriz department of Nicaragua and its protected area covers an area of approximately 170 hectares (420 acres), of which 125 hectares (310 acres) are in the actual zone of the canyon.
The canyon is believed to have formed 5 to 13 million years ago during the Miocene period and it was discovered in 2004 and declared a national monument on November 2005.
The Somoto Canyon is an unmissable experience!
Refugio de Vida Silvestre La Flor
Every year the Refugio de Vida Silvestre La Flor is visited by some 20.000 female Olive Ridley turtles and a few hundred very endangered leatherback turtles to nest. The reserve is located south of San Juan del Sur and its goal is protecting these endangered species. Playa La Flor offers the perfect set for a mass turtle hatchings which usually occur from July to December. The best time to see the nesting is August and September. Make sure you go with a reputable guide and act responsibly while witnessing this unforgettable sight.
Reserva de Biosfera Bosawás
Nicaragua has a very rich biodiversity which make it a great destination for eco-tourism. The Bosawás Biosphere Reserve is the crown of the jewel in the northern part of Nicaragua that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1997.
With a stunning size of approximately 2 million hectares, the reserve is home to more than 200.000 people and comprises about 15% of the nation's total land area making it the second largest rainforest in the Western Hemisphere, after the Amazon in Brazil.
El Gueguense or Macho Ratón is a comedy play created in the 17th century to mock the rejection of the Spanish domination in a creative way.
This theatrical piece later transformed into a national symbol for its protesting character that identified the Nicaraguan people. For its high cultural value, UNESCO declared this work Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
El Güegüense is performed during the feast of San Sebastián in the city of Diriamba from January 17 to the 27th.
Basílica de la Asunción - World Heritage Site status by UNESCO
Basílica de la Asunción is the largest in Central America. It was designed by the architect Diego José de Porres Esquivel and it is now a sort of pantheon of Nicaraguan culture. Inside are the tombs of poets like Alfonso Cortés and the well know Rubén Darío, a Nicaraguan poet who initiated the Spanish-American literary movement known as modernismo. For a small fee, you can climb up to the roof for a close up of the giant sculptures holding the cathedral bells and see the spectacular views of the city and volcanoes.
Centro de Arte Fundación Ortiz Gurdián
Located in Leon, just 3 blocks west of the cathedral on the avenue, Fundación Ortiz Gurdián holds a collection of European masters and a collection of Latin American art and works of art by famous painters like Rubens, Molinari, Miró, Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, Fernando Botero and many others.
This privately supported centre is perhaps the finest art museum in Nicaragua and proceeds go the Breast Cancer Programme for Low Income Women.
Ruins of Leon Viejo - World Heritage Site status by UNESCO
León Viejo is one of the oldest Spanish colonial settlements in the Americas and it was the original location of León. The ruins are located near Puerto Momotombo, at the western end of Lake Managua. Founded in 1524 by Francisco de Cordoba, it was partially destroyed in 1578 by the Momotombo volcano and in 1610 by an earthquake. Because of its gradual burial by ash and volcanic stone and lake sediments, the city's vestiges have been unaltered so the ruins are a now a testimony of the Spanish Empire in the 16th century.
Great Local Food
While staying at La Barra Surf Camp you will have access to the best local and regional cuisine, with specialities in seafood, chicken, meat, salads, tacos, burros and more... everything is prepared with the freshest and finest ingredients.
We have on site cooks that can cater for your needs so, if you have any food requirements (vegetarian diet, allergies, ...), just let us know at the time of booking so we can be prepared and take it into account when planning your menu.
The Cuisine of Nicaragua is a mixture of criollo food and dishes of pre-Columbian origin and varies from the Pacific to the Caribbean coast - local fruit and corn are the staples in the Pacific coast's while the Caribbean coast cuisine makes use of seafood and coconut.
Corn is used in many of the widely consumed dishes, such as the nacatamal, and indio viejo. It is also an ingredient for drinks such as pinolillo and chicha as well as sweets and desserts. In addition to corn, rice and beans are eaten very often.
Jocote, mango, papaya, tamarind, pipian, banana, avocado, yucca, and herbs such as cilantro, oregano and achiote are some of the main indigenous fruits and vegetables used in many of Nicaragua's dishes.
Destination Airport - Managua (MGA)
When looking for flights to Nicaragua, look for flights to Augusto C. Sandino Airport in Managua - airport code MGA. - which is located around 2 hours drive from the surf camp in La Barra.
When you arrive at the airport one of the staff members will meet you and give you a ride to the surf camp.
International Airlines Flying to Nicaragua
From Atlanta, Miami, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Madrid and South America you can find direct flights.
From most other places in USA and Europe you can usually find a combination of flights with just one stopover.
Check with your local travel agency for possible flight combinations. We recommend that you get flights with early arrival and evening departures so you enjoy more time surfing.
Some of the international airlines that fly to Nicaragua (MGA):
- Air Canada
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Delta Airlines
- United Airlines
All of the above airlines accept surf board check in (most charge a fee and have number limitations), but airlines can change their regulations at any time so we recommend double checking before buying your ticket.
Passport and Visa requirements for travelling to Nicaragua
You need to have a return or onward ticket and a passport valid for at least 6 months beyond intended stay in order to enter Nicaragua.
Visa is not required for stays up to 90 days for nationals of the following countries: Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Falkland Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Holy See, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macao, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, St. Helena, Swaziland, Sweden, Slovenia, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, United States, Vanuatu, the Vatican City (Holy See) and Venezuela.
Other tourists can obtain a Tourist Card upon arrival for US$10, which is valid from 1 to 3 months (depending on citizenship - Canada and USA are allowed 90 days), provided with a valid passport with at least 6 months to run.
The tourist card is valid in the other CA-4 countries, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras (although it sometimes requires a discussion with immigration officials that this accord is in effect...).
There is also a US$32 departure tax which is usually included in airfares with major airlines (American, Continental, COPA and TACA definitely).
As you see, entering and exiting Nicaragua is fairly easy, but please keep in mind the following requirements:
- Valid passport for 6 months beyond your intended stay in Nicaragua.
- Plane ticket for return or onward travel.
- Tourist card (US$10.00) when arriving to Nicaragua (must be paid in U.S. dollars), valid for 90 days in Nicaragua. A valid entry stamp is required to exit Nicaragua.
- Airport departure tax fee - usually included in the price of your ticket (US$32).
Note: Monetary unit is cordoba and US dollar (best exchange your money to $20 USD bills).