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The Best Snorkel Spots in Nicaragua

We’re almost finished with our tour of the best snorkel sites in Central America, but we still have a couple of countries left to explore. In today’s post we’re looking at one of the most diverse countries in terms of snorkelling sites, Nicaragua. With its access to two completely different seas, its fresh water lakes, and its stellar reputation for water sports, you know that the best snorkel sites in Nicaragua are going to be something special.

Corn Islands

Aerial view of Corn Island, Nicaragua. Photo credit: shutterstock

Probably the most popular snorkel site in Nicaragua is the tropical Corn Islands. The larger island boasts an amazing coral reef with some outstanding marine life, but the true magic comes when you snorkel off the smaller island, Little Corn. The Atlantic side of this cute little island has over 12 kilometres of reef just meters from its shore. In this vibrant collection of coral you can find spectacularly diverse wildlife. Rays, groupers, sharks, eels, damselfish and African pompano are sighted on a regular basis. There are certified dive ad snorkel shops on both islands, where you can rent any equipment you may need for your snorkel adventure.

La Flor

Hatching sea turtles. Photo credit: seaturtles.org

This picture perfect beach can be found on the Pacific side of the ever popular San Juan del Sur. La Flor doesn’t just have virgin beaches, turquoise waters and palm tree-lined shores, it’s also home to some amazing sea life! Being primarily a surfing beach, the waves make snorkelling close to the shore rather difficult. The surfers and waves also churn up a lot of sand, making visibility very low. However, if you persevere through the initial waves, or if you take out a boat to the deeper waters, you will be rewarded with a colourful underwater dream world. As the reefs in this area are purely volcanic rock and not coral, you can see some extremely unusual wildlife. Wrasses, snappers, giant surgeonfish, starfish, scorpion fish and even a few octopi call this unique black reef home.

La Flor is also a turtle nesting zone, and some turtle species are present in the waters all year round. If you’re visiting Nicaragua between October and December, then you can see the amazing turtle migration, where thousands of turtles all enter La Flor beach.

Lake Xiloá

Crater Lake Apoyo in Nicaragua. Photo credit: shutterstock

If you fancy a little break from your salty snorkel adventures, then you can head on over to one of the freshwater crater lakes created by the impressive Apoyeque volcano. Nicaragua has two main volcanic crater lakes, Apoyo and Xiloá. Although Apoyo has some amazing endemic cichlid fish species, it’s no where near as interesting or easily accessible as the vibrant lake Xiloá. During the months of November and December, you can see thousands of incredibly bright and colourful fish species in Lake Xiolá, 10 of which are still undescribed species. What makes this lake even more appealing, is that it’s only a short drive away from Managua, making it the perfect place for a unique snorkelling day out.

Pearl Cays

Coral Reef Nicaragua. Photo credit: shutterstock

The stunning Pearl Cays are an archipelago containing 22 colourful coral cays. This protected area is the stuff of tropical dreams, with the white sand beaches, glistening warm water and shady palm trees, you will be snorkelling in absolute paradise. Getting to the Pearl Cays requires a leisurely boat trip from Pearl Lagoon, but the views make the journey worth it. You can see playful dolphins diving along side the boat, the coral rubble rushing by below and the picturesque islands growing in the distance.

Due to the extremely calm and clear water, this area is perfect for both the avid snorkeler and the absolute beginner. Expect to see giant green sea turtles, starfish, nurse sharks, parrot fish and manta rays swimming along as you explore this amazing underwater world. The coral rubble also provides the ideal habitat for some interesting invertebrates. Giant conch, anemones, sea cucumbers and sea fans are very abundant in the Pearl Cays.

Are you interested in snorkelling in Nicaragua? Chimu Adventures offers tours to Nicaragua as well as tailor-made packages to Central America. Click here to contact us. 

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Heading to the Beach: San Juan del Sur

Old Leon

After another wonderful Nicaraguan breakfast of eggs, gallo pinto, fried cheese, and plantains, we headed back to our cabin to pack up and prepare to catch the ferry. On the way we ran into our second snake. Steve spotted it first and he swears it was BIG. As the folks at Totoco continued to remind us, ‘Welcome to the Jungle.’

We were sorry to leave the peaceful confines of Totoco but excited to reach our final destination: San Juan del Sur. Before catching our taxi to the ferry on the other side of the island we once again relaxed in the hammocks and enjoyed the roars of the howler monkeys. It would be easy to get used to this, snakes and all.

Once we made the journey across Lake Nicaragua to the mainland, our driver Sergio greeted us with a big smile. It’s been nice to have a friendly face at each transfer and we are beginning to make friends that keep turning up at each of our stops. It seems we are on the tourist path: Leon, Granada, Ometepe, San Juan del Sur. When we planned the trip it all sounded so exotic. Now it is just ‘what everyone does’ when they visit Nicaragua.

San Juan del Sur will be our home for the next four nights. It is the main beach destination on the Pacific coast and is a mecca for surfers. Cruise ships occasionally stop in SJDS and today there was one in the bay. In fact, we were on a holiday cruise two years ago that stopped at this port, but we were only here for a few hours. We are excited to explore this little beach town more than we were able to before.

As soon as we checked into our base hotel for the next four nights, Hotel Victoriano, we found the closest pizza place. Wood fired four cheese pizza with a cold beer at a beachside restaurant never tasted so good! The chef, Maurizio, is world famous and reportedly has cooked for Pavoratti.

Next Steve and Sam continued a ritual they started years ago in Costa Rica of getting a haircut while traveling. For $3 they each got a haircut and Sam got a shave thrown in for a few more dollars.

While sitting the barberia, we met the barber’s family. They own and live in the building in which the barber shop is located. Dad used to cut hair and now the son has taken over. Mom came out of the home and welcomed us to Nicaragua. She was playing loud latin music inside the home and when we asked her if they had started the New Year’s party early she said, ‘No. Solo alergria.’ ‘No, just happy.’ Nicaraguans really are a happy bunch.

After returning to the Victoriano we hit the pool, which overlooks the beach. The beach road runs between the hotel and the beach but we look right onto the action. We were even able to swing an upgrade to our room for the first two nights so that we overlook the pool and beach. It’s only for two nights, but it’s nice!

Nicaragua is fiercely proud of its local liquor: Flor de Cana rum. We just had to try it and the pina coladas were spectacular. Note the photo of Steve and Sam in the hot tub with their umbrella drinks.

Our plan is to spend the next four nights in this little slice of paradise. It appears to be the center of everything New Years in Nicaragua. The hotels are packed, the crowds are growing, and they are setting up big mobile discoteques on the beach. We are looking forward to just hanging out and watching it all unfold over the next few days. In between we plan to do a little local hiking, hit the beach, and continue to learn what to do with Flor de Cana rum. We’re also hoping to meet up with several friends we’ve met along the way so that we can all celebrate together.

We’ll post reports and photos along the way but you can probably predict that they will include the beach and umbrella drinks. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Bahia Del Sol 4* (San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua)

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    Bahia Del Sol 4*

    Nicaragua

    San Juan del Sur

    The complex of villas Bahia Del Sol (Bahia Del Sol) 4* is a 5-minute walk from the beach. The complex has two outdoor swimming pools. The city center can be reached in 10 minutes. Each villa offers stunning ocean views and is designed in a traditional style.
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    The hotel staff will be happy to help you organize your holiday and provide you with all the information you need about nearby beaches, attractions, activities, restaurants and possible excursions.

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    • For children: Care
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    • mixed

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    • beach

    • calm
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    Bahia Del Sol 4*

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    • snorkeling (diving with a mask)

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    • a fitness center

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    nine0030 Bahia del Sol Villas & Condominiums

    El Pacifico Hotel

    Rancho Cecilia 2*

    ChicaBrava 3*

    nine0030 La Posada Azul 2*

    Colonial Hotel San Juan del Sur 2*

    El Jardin Garden 3*

    Hotel La Dolce Vita 3*

    nine0030 Casa Zodhiates

    Inn on the Pacific 3*

    ArribaNicaragua Diving Tourt

    open water

    Good day to all. Recently returned from a two-month trip to Central America.
    Thoughts were diving in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Run away from winter into summer or almost summer
    Initially 25 days in Cuba and a little over a month in Costa Rica. Tickets were purchased for $1,500.
    After Cuba, you absorb civilization like a sponge. Internet everywhere is free and fast, people speak fluent English.
    city ​​in the mountains geographically in the center of the country, people from all over the world — many Americans, Canadians, Europeans, Australians. San Jose is a transit point, here people are either at the beginning or at the end of the journey, a bus runs from the airport to the city center costs 1 bucks
    I stayed at the hostel Pangea — a very pleasant place. night 13 bucks
    Check out at 11.
    3 days fly by in one breath, moving on, the body misses the dive. Next stop in pretentious Tamarindo
    2 dives on a boat 100 bucks (75 with your own equipment) 45 minutes walk to the Santa Catalina group of islands, on the way to Santa Catalina, meter and one and a half meter turtles sunbathe on the surface, fly out into the air, flopping back noisily, needles raise, there are a lot of them. On the way back, small black dolphins also showed their backs, the divers themselves were not particularly impressed, since the visibility was rather weak.
    I dry my gear and move on. The next day.
    San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua
    In the latter, while communicating with the people, almost without exception I heard rave reviews about Nicaragua and once again caught the wave.
    Apart from Samosa and Sandina, I could not remember anything about this country
    A tourist card is bought at the entrance (visit tax) 12 bucks
    Taxi mere pennies
    San Juan Bay looks peaceful. foreigners permanently residing in Costa Rica come for 3 days to extend their visa.
    Tourists move in two streams from Mexico to Panama and vice versa.
    Prices for almost everything in half from Costa Rica
    Communication through the roof if you speak English, parties, surfing, freshly squeezed tropical juices, warm dry and the Pacific Ocean.
    There is a lot of water in Nicaragua: rivers, lakes, the largest Nicaragua Lake.
    In the middle are an island with 2 volcanoes and just a couple of islands.
    The wind blows constantly, whoever is hooked by a kite or windsurfing, it makes sense to look. The water is dirty, really.
    Granada didn’t really impress me.

    Arriba Tur Big Corn Island
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    Managua .Airport 165 bucks round trip I fly to Big Corn Island. an hour with a penny on the way and you are in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. The bulk of tourists immediately taxis to Little Corn.
    I stayed overnight at Big Corn. .Jamaica Negro neighborhoods all speak English, the locals are friendly, there are few tourists.
    The next morning I catch up with the main stream 5 bucks boat to the Small Corn Island, yes, the place is super!
    3 km there are no cars or roads, only paths, a week before my arrival, some part of the main generator of the island broke down, so that the light in places is only where there are generators.

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