Away from the Beach: 6 Best Hikes in Nicaragua
Away from the Beach: 6 Best Hikes in Nicaragua
Mostly known for surf resorts and beach towns, Nicaragua might not be known as a place with gorgeous hiking options. I can say though without a doubt, that there are some fantastic hikes in Nicaragua. These hikes in Nicaragua are spread out all over the country, and the northern region of the country offers up views that most tourists will never see.
With the exception of the volcano hikes on Ometepe that a guide is mandatory, all hikes are free with the option to hire a guide if wanted. The wild thing about hikes in Nicaragua…they are all seriously so different!
We went from jungle waterfalls, to coastal cliffs, to climbing active volcanoes (and riding down them on sleds), to grassy highlands. Each of the hikes in Nicaragua was memorable in a different way from the last.
We had heard about this super cool trail that takes you to a picture perfect lighthouse, so we set out to find it one day. Behind the Fish Market by the pier in San Juan del Sur is a small dirt trail. From here, you can follow the trail to the lighthouse at the end, or veer off trail to find an old 1850’s fort lurking in the jungle.
Check out the full post here about this awesome hike within walking distance from town.
People are starting to realize that Isle de Ometepe is worth taking a break from surfing. The island made up of two volcanoes is reminiscent of Jurassic Park, and has all sorts of activities for any type of person.
For the adventurous, rent a scooter and head out to the southern tip of the island to find the San Ramos Cascade. It’s easily signed and can be taken on without a guide.
If it has just rained, the trail will be a little muddy but is still able to be followed. There is an observation deck and you can also take the path up the river to the bottom of the waterfall. We somehow were led to the pool at the bottom of the cascade by soldiers heading to camp up the river (yes this really happened, lol), but I think you would be able to find the path on your own as well.
During our last couple of weeks in the country, we headed north to the Reserva de Miraflor in the highlands. Still curious about more hikes in Nicaragua, we went exploring one day while staying at our farm stay (which I highly recommend you do).
Imagine dreamy seas of green, palm trees jutting out of the long grass, and epic sunsets with mountain views in the distance. This was our heaven. After six months on the beach, this was exactly what we needed.
If you would like, you are able to hire a guide or horses to explore the reserve. We just walked around though, and it was gorgeous.
This is probably one of the most insane things we’ve ever done. You hike up an active volcano, and then sled down the lava rocks on a piece of wood in a hazmat suit. It’s hilarious. It’s amazing. And if you’re in Nicaragua, and you don’t do this you are a fool.
You’ll need to go with a tour for this, but shop around. Most tours we saw there were 10-15 people and ours was a total of 3 people. The small group was obviously way better and we compared prices with the other groups and as an added bonus, ours was so much cheaper than everyone else’s as well.
From the north to the south, the hikes in Nicaragau change drastically. The south is full of tropical rainforests and lush neon greenery. The north is much more temperate, the greens darken a few shades, and there’s little to no tropical weather. Most of our time in the cities of Matagalpa and Jinotega were spent dwelling in a perpetual misty cloud.
While in Matagalpa, we decided to walk up the tallest street in the city and then hike to the tallest viewpoint overlooking the entire city. Along the way, we pased through beautiful forest and as waterfall! Spanish moss hung from the trees, and the dark green leaves and cool temperatures were a nice change.
The hike is easy to do by yourself, just ask where the entrance to Cerro Apante Natura is. It’s also easily found on the map! There is a small entrance fee, but I can vouch that it is worth it.
This is the mother of all great hikes in Nicaragua. It is the shorter of the two volcano options on Isle de Ometepe, but I would say that the views are arguably better. You can do the half-day or full day hike. We opted to do the half day because we were crunched on time on the island and wanted to fit everything in.
Our guide was a young guy that was extremely friendly and knowledgeable. We arranged him through our guest house with ease. For three people, it was $7 a person. I usually don’t pay for guides if I don’t think they’re necessary, but for this hike a guide was extremely necessary.
You’ll be walking through farmer’s fields, gated pastures, and muddy forests. Without the guide we would have never have seen half of the petroglyphs he pointed out to us along the way.
After we struggled uphill for 2 or so hours, we turned around to face what our backs had been to the entire time. We were speechless. Truly, to this day one of the most amazing views I have ever seen. If you’re looking for more information on Isle de Ometepe, check out our guide. here.
As you can see, it’s worth it to drop the surf board at the beach for a few days and explore! There are some really great hikes in Nicaragua, for any preference or skill level. Bring your hiking boots, and escape into the jungle.
Check out all our posts on Nicaragua Here.