Nicaragua has long been a great escape for adventure-seeking clients looking for a rustic vacation for great value. But when luxury entered the Nicaragua market in 2013 in the form of the high-end Mukul hotel, the country began to emerge as an experiential destination with some top-notch accommodations, which in turn opened the floodgates to Millennials.
And in 2016, Nicaragua further emerged as a luxury haunt for the seasoned, thrill-seeking traveler when it opened a solid complement to Mukul in the form of Nekupe Sporting Resort and Retreat, an eight-room property on a 1,300-acre nature reserve.
A 30-minute ride from the historic colonial town of Granada, Nekupe promotes adventure and wellbeing. Experiences at Nekupe are rooted in an active, outdoor lifestyle suitable for multigenerational families, groups of friends or adventurous travelers, with activities that include exploration, hiking, tennis, horseback riding, sporting clay and target shooting.
Nicaragua specialist Caroline Fridley Bracewell of Easy Escapes Travel also recommends Hotel Tribal and Hotel Dario in Granada; Xalli, Ometepe Beach Hotel on Ometepe island, and Yemaya (high end) and Little Corn Beach & Bungalow on Little Corn island.
Bracewell also notes that first-timers to Nicaragua should visit Masaya Volcano, where they can look over the rim of the crater into the roiling lava lake — one of only a handful on Earth that is currently active. She suggests going there at night for the most dramatic scenery and photos. The famous craft market in the town of Masaya is also well worth browsing for local handicrafts, textiles and other souvenirs.
And then there’s Nicaragua’s famously delicious rum, Flor de Cana. Bracewell notes that the older and darker vintages (seven years and older) are worth the small extra cost. The national drink is the Macua (rum, guava and lemon juices, sugar). She also says that a visit to the Corn Islands is a must.
“The Corn Islands [especially Little Corn, where there are no cars] off the Caribbean coast is great for a super laid-back tropical visit, with excellent diving and snorkeling, and some of the most inexpensive dives and certification anywhere,” she says.
Travel Agent thinks that Nicaragua is a good fit for either backpacking Millennials looking to explore the countryside on the cheap or seasoned luxury travelers seeking high-end options while taking in the destination’s cultural and experiential offerings. This may not be best for the first-time traveler to Latin America, but rather for the client who has perhaps already been to Chile, Argentina, Guatemala, Colombia, Costa Rica, Belize or Ecuador.
Says Bracewell, “Nicaragua is great for everyone from backpackers looking for inexpensive hostels and cheap drinks to history, architecture, and politic buffs [Leon and Granada have especially rich histories and beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture] to luxury travelers looking for an off-the-beaten-path escape.”