Nicaragua, The Best Kept Secret
our full itinerary & why you need to visit this magical place called, nica.
Nicaragua travel spots:
SAN JUAN DEL SUR
LITTLE CORN ISLAND
NICA, NICA, NICA!
Okkkkkkk. Where to start? Seriously, I am already giggling thinking about this trip haha. Hands down one of my favorite trips, and I went into it with zero expectations and it was also part that I had the best travel crew with me. Your travel experiences are 100% dictated by the people you travel with (so choose wisely). But, I really don't think I ever stopped laughing and I owe these girls below all the credit to making our trip to Nicaragua one of the best memories I will never forget.
sooo.. why nicaragua?
Everyone keeps asking me what made you choose Nicaragua of all places? Truth is, we actually just all blind folded each other spun around and pointed somewhere on the map, and it landed on Nicaragua. HA. But in all seriousness, I love searching for hidden gems and Nicaragua has always been on my list. We also had several friends that have all gone and have said nothing but great things- so when it came time to pick a destination for NYE, Nicaragua won out. And it definitely did not disappoint. Nicaragua is the perfect balance of culture, adventure, relaxing, partying, and endless amounts of activities to partake in. I genuinely loved Nicaragua, and definitely will be coming back.
first stop: managua
Honestly, don't plan on spending any time here. Fly in and GTFO- lol. We actually stayed a night here because we got in really late and we didn't want to drive to Granada too late.. and our night here was, um, interesting to say the least lol. Before our trip we had booked a rental car to get us around, but turns out there are zero automatic cars, like anywhere in Nica. (So, keep this in mind when wanting to rent a car- make sure you know how to drive a manual.) Anyway, we took this as a sign from the universe that we had no business driving in a foreign country and to taxi everywhere.
Next stop: granada
Okay, I loved Granada. Colorful buildings and so much charm and character! We stayed one night in Granada, and I kinda wish we stayed 2 nights because I don't like to feel rushed when traveling, and Granada had a lot to offer that we weren't able to truly enjoy it for all its worth in just one day. However, we partook in chocolate massages- which I highly recommend- shopped at the little markets in front of the cathedral, and we also discovered the cutest restaurant and shop that I recommend making a reservation at: The Garden Cafe! The cutest little place!
So if you have the time, plan for 2 nights in Granada, or at least one full day and pack everything in, but take advantage of the night life, hike to the top of Masaya Volcano, and spend the day at the Mansion de Chocolate, and just relax!
up next, san juan del sur
Dear lord, this place. I am not sure if San Juan is always a shitshow or just because we were here during New Years Eve, but we arrived around 7am on December 31, 2017. And everything else is really just a blur-lol. But in all reality these were probably my favorite 48hours of our trip. First of all, SJDS is just insane. Imagine hundreds of people.. on a beach.. partying with people from all over the world.. with champagne showers everywhere.. fireworks at every turn.. and the best music while the countdown to the New Year.. Literally the best time of my freakin life. There is lots to do in San Juan, but you honestly don't want more than 2 days here, because the place will absolutely give you alcohol poisoning.
what we did in san juan del sur:
Our first day we rented a private boat for the day, got a bottle of Flor De Cana, and went to all the little beaches and cruised across the Pacific ocean. Book through Nica Sail & Surf, we rented the boat for $200 altogether for 5 hours. Absolutely worth it.
If planning a trip on the weekend you must add the "Sunday Funday" beach party organized by the Pachamama hostel to your list. Since, it was New Years Eve they were having a a big countdown beach party at night instead, and it was fucking insane. I've always heard San Juan Del Sur is like an Ibiza vibe, and truthfully I thought everyone was full of shit.. but this is absolutely true. So, anyway, if you are looking for a party look no further than Sunday Funday with Pachamama.
The Beach House was an instant favorite, and a frequent stop for us in our short 2 days. Great food, great cocktails, and a great bungalow hangout. Check their insta below @beach_house_nica (heart eyes)
the beach house nica
pelican eyes reosrt & spa:
So, after an insane New Years Eve we decided to get some R&R and just lay low at Pelican Eyes Resort & Spa and hangout at their pool and relax. And relaxing I mean how many Flor De Cana's can we consume while laying poolside. However, beside all of us getting a little too tipsy this place is a true gem and I rate it 5/5. Even if you're not a guest of the hotel you can come and hangout!
adventure through nica on quads:
OK, so if anyone knows me, knows that I need some type of adventure or activity. Don't get me wrong, I can lay on the beach and do nothing and just chill.. but the next day I better be zip-lining through the jungle or jamming on some quads :) So, thats exactly what we did and this was my second favorite highlight of our trip. So. Much. Fun.
We rented the quads in San Juan and went south to Coco Beach. We found a cute little beach hut with hammocks on the beach, and we all KO'd for a good couple hours.
where to stay in san juan del sur:
This is where we stayed, and highly recommend: Hotal Alcazar, all the rooms are ocean view, clean, and the hotel is a like a private little oasis. Very centrally located to everything and in the heart of San Juan!
next stop, playa maderas:
Playa Maderas is only 20 min north of San Juan, and we couldn't be more excited to get out of SJDS after our 48hour extravaganza, ha. But listen up, if you go to Playa Maderas you MUST stay at Hulakai Hotel. They have family dinners every night with everyone staying at the resort, they organize events every night like taco tuesday, pizza night, sushi night, etc,. We also woke up and took their yoga class every morning. This place is a dream and a real treat. Follow them on insta here: @hulakaihotel
surfing in playa maderas, or kind of
LOL. Okay, so me and Jules told each other that we were going to learn how to surf this trip. And well, it went as well as the 2016 Presidential Election; it crashed and burned. Jules got attacked by jellyfish, and my poor instructor was no doubt getting frustrated with me- haha. HOWEVER, I was determined to get up on that damn board and ride a wave and I got about 3-4 good waves in and was satisfied enough that I crossed this off the bucket list. (girl dancing emoji).
now ... little corn islands.
so I am going to warn people, that I am not trying to discourage people from visiting this part of nicaragua, because it was beautiful.. but let me tell you the story of our near death experience.
So, the Corn Islands are on the opposite side (Caribbean side) of where we flew into (Pacific side).. so we headed back to Managua to catch a flight to Big Corn Island. We landed, grabbed our bags and hopped in a taxi to take us to the ferry boat to head to Little Corn Islands. The weather was less than perfect just a little overcast and some slight wind.. nothing too bad. First let me set the stage that when we got to the boat it was a big fisherman's boat and quite comical of how we loaded up. The natives were in an assemble line tossing our bags down the line and over the boat rail. We all just looked at each other like, "well, this is interesting". All the bags are on the boat and it's time for us to hop on.. there was about a good foot between the ledge and the boat, so we had to basically spiderman our way to the boat holding onto the 2 guys arms hoping we wouldn't slip through the wedge between the cement wall and the boat. Anyway, we all get on the boat, everyone is criss-cross-appplesauce on the floor all wearing life jackets that you could get at the dollar store.. needless to say we were all laughing at this point of like wtf did we get ourselves into? It legit looked like we joined a refugee camp. Well, little did we know this would be the least of our worries.
First, everyone told us this boat ride would only take about 25min to get to Little Corn. Once we started moving the boat was a little rocky, as expected, and also let me preface that I am not one to get sea sick either. However.... about 20-30min into the ride we get caught in a fuckin wind storm.
We had ZERO business being out on that water in these conditions. The boat crew knew immediately that they shouldn't have put us on that boat, and they should have cancelled all ferries heading to Little Corn. So, for the next two hours we battled 30-40ft swells, and the sea was fucking relentless. The whole boat is soaking wet because the waves were crashing down on us, half the boat was throwing up, the other half crying and in misery. The sun is setting and at this point its pitch black, the wind is freezing, and our stomachs tossing and turning as the boat is fighting against these waves. It felt like we were on a roller coaster. I remember just taking deep breaths as you felt the boat riding up one of the waves, humming as it descends crashing down on top of the water to distract myself, and trying to just keep my eyes on the horizon so I wouldn't get sick. We're all holding onto each other, I am crying, legitimately thinking we are not going to make it off this boat. The captain had to turn off the engine several times so we wouldn't tip. It was just all bad. All very very bad. I have never been more terrified in my entire life.
imagine something like this...
So, after 2.5 hours later we finally get to Little Corn, and unfortunately this island was already tainted before we could even step foot on the beach. We were there for 3 days, and the weather during our whole stay was going to be gloomy and raining off/on. However, during the whole time we just couldn't shake what we had went through our whole stay. The last day, the sun finally came out and the pictures below are all from the last day, and we honestly couldn't wait to get home. Thank the Lord that when we were leaving it was calm seas and not a cloud in sight, and it was a smooth sail back to Big Corn Island. Otherwise, I had plans on actually staying on the island until the weather cleared up, because there was no chance in hell I was going to do that again.
so, if you're planning on going to little corn island
please, please, please check the weather before getting on a boat. If it's not clear skies, and smooth seas, DO NOT travel. I really wanted to fall in love with Little Corn Island, but unfortunately, that boat ride was just not worth it what so ever.