Best Beaches in Nicaragua

Planning a Nicaragua beach trip? How do you choose where to go? Here I have put together my favorite¬†beaches in Nicaragua. It was fairly tough to narrow the list down, but it will do for now. I’ve been traveling regularly to Nicaragua since 2009. I remember my first trip so clearly… how fascinating everything was, how friendly everyone was, and how beautiful the countryside and beaches were.

While I was putting together this article my external harddrive died(?) and while I can see the images on my harddrive I am not able to upload to WordPress…. sad day. It might be time to get a new external. In lieu of posting my own pics I scoured the web looking for images that capture each of the beaches most authentically. I know that there are many other beautiful beaches in Nicaragua, so don’t shoot me for only including these five. ūüėČ

Top 5 Beaches in Nicaragua

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1. Corn Islands for that deserted island feel.

The Corn Islands boast some of Nicaragua’s most idyllic beaches: white sand, turquiose water and palm trees galore. The hardest part about visiting these pristine Nicaraguan beaches is the transportation. You must fly into Managua and then book a separate flight to Big Corn Island on La Coste√Īa. If you have more time than money you could go overland and by boat to Bluefields and then jump on a local boat out to the islands (I will emphasize more time than money)… this option will take a bit of pre-planning. To get to the best beaches you will then take a panga over to little corn… be prepared to get wet! The channel between Big Corn Island and Little Corn Island can get pretty rough.

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Pristine beach on Little Corn Island.

Where to Stay on Little Corn Island: Lux: Yemaya Mid-Range: Little Corn B&B Budget: Any of the beach shacks on the east side

Where to Eat on Little Corn Island: Breakfast: Turned Turtle at Little Corn B&B Lunch/Dinner/Drinks: Tranquilo Cafe

Where to Practice Yoga on Little Corn Island: Lux: Yemaya Intimate: Firefly Studio SUP: Funk SUP and Yoga with Jacq

2. Playa Remanso for that chilled out surfer vibe.

Playa Remanso is located about 15 minutes south of San Juan del Sur Nicaragua. The beach is surrounded by two rocky headlands and boasts a peaky beach break. The lineup at Remanso isn’t nearly as stacked as it is at the more popular beaches. It’s a great place to learn how to surf. Surfers in the know head here for its chilled out vibe and shady beach bars that serve up ice cold To√Īas, passion fruit mojitos, grilled fish and yummy tacos.

Where to Stay at Playa Remanso: Lux: Pelican Eyes Resort in SJDS Mid-Range: AirBnb at Casa Andalucia in SJDS Budget: local hostels in SJDS

Where to eat at Playa Remanso: You have two options on the beach: Beach Shack #1 (on the left looking out to sea. It has decent grilled fih and snacks and ice cold beer) or Beach Shack #2 ( on the right looking out to sea. It has good tacos & passion fruit mojitos)

Where to practice yoga at Playa Remanso:¬†In SJDS: Zen Yoga Nicaragua Nearby: Join one of Ambuja Yoga’s Nicaragua yoga retreats

3. Playa Maderas for loads of people watching.

Playa Maderas is about 25 minutes north of San Juan del Sur Nicaragua. It is probably the most crowded beach in Nicaragua (don’t worry there is still plenty of space) and for good reason. The surfing is spot on, there are locals that can provide lessons, a funky little beach bar/resto right on the sand and loads of dare I say sexy travelers. Sexy young surfers and yogis seem to flock to Maderas to strut their stuff… and I suppose why not? Tan bodies, sun bleached hair, chiseled abs and yoga bums. Needless to say the people watching is pretty epic, the surf can be really great, and the atmosphere is fun and lively.

Where to Stay at Playa Maderas: Lux: Maderas Village Mid-Range: Buena Vista Surf Club Gets 5 stars on Trip Advisor! Budget: Casa Maderas

Where to eat at Playa Maderas: Beach Shack: Tacos Locos on the sand of Playa Maderas Family Style Dinner: Hulakai or Buena Vista Surf Club

Where to yoga at Playa Maderas: Best View: Buena Vista Surf Club Cool Shala: Maderas Village

4. Redonda Bay for a family friendly private beach.

Aqua Wellness is the sole resort on Redonda Bay. Aqua Wellness and Redonda Bay are situated on a private cove just south of Playa Gigante. This eco-lux resort is stunning, no lie… infinity pools, spacious decks, and a white sand beach. Cool down and refresh with a¬†delicious fresh juice at their beach bar, enjoy lunch at their¬†beautiful full service restaurant or¬†a yoga class¬†overlooking the bay. This is the place to go if you want to get away from it all. There may also be snorkeling here in the bay. I didn’t go snorkeling while we were there, but we did see a handful of snorkelers swimming around.

Where to Stay at Redonda Bay: Aqua Wellness Resort

Where to Eat at Redonda Bay: Aqua Wellness Resort

Where to Practice Yoga at Redonda Bay: Aqua Wellness Resort

5. Playa El Coco for a local, low key vibe.

Playa El Coco is another of Nicaragua’s pristine beaches. Coco is one of the southern most beaches on Nicaragua’s southwest coast and is about 45 minutes to an hour from San Juan del Sur down a bumpy dirt road, but it’s totally worth it. This place is chill. I mean super chill. There is a nearby turtle sanctuary and Paso Pasifico¬†¬†has an office here that can help arrange outings to the turtle hatchery or¬†to the mangroves. Coco has just a handful of restaurants and sweet little places to stay. This is rural Nicaragua, so expect the power to go out occasionally, slow internet, and also happily a slower pace of life. I’m sure this little gem will grow up quickly.

Where to Stay at Playa El Coco: La Veranera is the best deal in Playa El Coco and it’s right on the beach. If you will be heading down to Coco with a group of friends you might like to rent a villa via Airbnb although I think most of the villas are a bit overpriced for what you get.

Where to Eat at Playa El Coco: Food options are limited, but there is one quiant option right on the beach serving up fresh fish, typico, and western dishes.

Where to Practice Yoga at Playa El Coco: You will likely solo practice here, so throw your mat down on the deck and enjoy the view as you flow. The teachers from Zen Yoga are also available to come down for a private class. Inquire at Zen Yoga in San Juan del Sur for current rates.

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Who doesn’t love baby sea turtles? Photo by Paso Pasifico

Well yogis that’s my round up for the best beaches in Nicaragua. Do you have a favorite beach in Nicaragua that should be added to the list? Shoot me a message! I’m happy to add it. Happy travels.

Love and Light,

Autumn

What You Need to Know About Your Nicaragua Adventure

Nicaragua may be one of my favorite places on earth. When I tell people how much I love Nicaragua I’m often met with questioning stares. It seems that the majority of people I come across still think Nicaragua is torn by civil war and unrest, which is simply not the case (and it hasn’t been for years). Each time I visit Nicaragua it is an adventure. Where will your Nicaragua adventure take you?

Nicaragua has been touted as the next Costa Rica for the past decade (maybe even longer). Thankfully, it hasn’t seen the runaway development that Costa Rica has seen. Nicaragua offers all that Costa Rica offers, but at a fraction of the price! My advice: get to Nicaragua¬†ASAP.

Nicaragua is THE place for Adventure Lovers 

And also misadventure lovers!

I’m not sure where to start with this one… It seems that there is always an adventure to be had, whether it is surfing Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast, climbing a volcano, exploring primary forest, kayaking one of it’s lakes, or¬†scuba diving off of one of Nicaragua’s remote islands. Nicaragua appeals to nature lovers, yogis, and adventure junkies.

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Time for a swim at Finca Esperanza Verde.

Your Nicaragua adventure can be easily planned by exploring one area at a time. Nicaragua can be divided into three distinct regions: the Caribbean lowlands, the central highlands, and the Pacific lowlands. With¬†565 miles of coastline split between the Pacific coast, the Caribbean coast, and a handful of Caribbean islands Nicaragua’s coastline provides miles of beaches to be explored and waves to be surfed.

Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, designated as the North and South Autonomous zones, is a rugged and rural area of mangrove forests, savannas and primary forest. This area is difficult to travel to and requires an expert guide. I have only dipped my toe into this area, so I can’t write about it much. If you would like to read about my misadventure and the yoga of travel check back soon.

Lakes and Beaches of Nicaragua

On the Pacific side of Nicaragua you have loads of beaches, some incredible popular with locals, tourists and expats and some beaches where the only other person on the beach may be a local fisherman. Nicaragua’s continuous offshore breeze means that there is surf everyday of the year… of course somedays will be small and other days will be monstrous and others will be just right.

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San Juan del Sur on the southern end of Nicaragua’s Pacific Coast is a great hub for your Nicaragua adventure if you plan on surfing and exploring the southern beaches. You’ll find plenty of accommodation options, meal choices, yoga classes, and easy transportation to neighboring beaches if you don’t have your own wheels. Also, if you need to get work done there is reliable WiFi at most of the beach restaurants.

Interested in riding a crazy¬†flyboard, go horseback riding, or¬†swing down a zip line? They have those in San Juan del Sur too. A great way to meet people in San Juan del Sur is to join a class or two at the community minded Zen Yoga Studio or if that’s not your jam hop on the popular sailing¬†trip. San Juan del Sur does tend to attract a bit of a party backpacker crowd, so if you stay in town expect a bit of noise.

 

yoga-retreat-nicaragua-san-juan-del-surPlaya Maderas, just north of San Juan del Sur, is one of Nicaragua’s most popular beaches and surf breaks. Playa Maderas’s laid back vibe invites you to slow down and stay awhile. Here you can either jump in on the action and join the line up or watch surfers of all levels rip it up or just wipe out while enjoying a passion fruit juice or cold beer. Book one of the places on the hill or join a Nicaragua Yoga and Surf Retreat for epic views, fantastic yoga and the opportunity to catch the first wave of the day. Yoga and Surf Retreats are a great option if you don’t want to be in charge of¬†planning, board rentals, transportation, meals, etc.

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Yoga retreat with a sweet ocean view!

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Infinity deck overlooking Playa Maderas.

In the San Juan del Sur area there are many beaches and many surf breaks. If you don’t already use Magic Seaweed check out their site. One of my other favorite beaches in the San Juan del Sur area is Playa Remanso. When the waves are BIG or unrideable everywhere else Playa Remanso will often have something to play with. There are also a couple of beach bars that serve up seafood, typical Nicaraguan plates and cold drinks. The whole Nicaraguan coast¬†from the Costa Rica border up to Popoyo¬†is worth exploring.

Within the Nicaragua Depression lie the two largest lakes in Central America. Lago de Nicaragua, the largest freshwater lake in Central and South America is notably¬†the most famous. In Lago de Nicaragua you’ll find numerous isletas near Granada and the massive Isla de Ometepe. Ometepe is recognized by it’s two massive volcanoes: Volcan Maderas and Volcan Concepcion, both worth the sweaty climb up. Like sharks? Lago de Nicaragua is also home to fresh water sharks. I promise I’m not making it up!

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Standing on the shores of Lago de Nicaragua and taking in the view of our destination: Isla de Ometepe and it’s two massive volcanoes.

My favorite inland swimming hole is Laguna de Apoyo, which is set within a massive jungle clad volcanic crater. The water is crystal clear, warm, and incredibly deep. I always save a day or two at the end of my trip to spend floating on a tube in the lake simply relaxing. There are many options for places to stay the night or enjoy for just the day. Beach clubs often have a¬†day use option for $6-7 USD. Laguna de Apoyo is about 45 minutes from Managua, so it can be a nice way to spend your last day in Nicaragua, especially if your booked on one of the late flights. Laguna de Apoyo or Nicaragua for the day? It’s a pretty easy decision for me! If you need to get your yoga fix check out one of the local yoga centres.nicaragua-adventure-yoga-retreat

There are no islands on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua, but there are a handful on the Caribbean Coast, most notable the Corn Islands and the Pearl Cays. These islands are worth the hassle of getting to and worth spending a week (or more) exploring and chilling. There are direct flights from Managua to Big Corn Island for the Corn Islands and direct flights to Bluefields to explore the Pearl Cays.

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Pristine beach on Little Corn Island.

From Little Corn Island you can take your Nicaragua adventure¬†underwater with one of the local dive shops. We dive with Dolphin Divers when we’re there. Also, if you want to practice yoga on Little Corn Island there are plenty of options including Dragonfly Yoga¬†at Little Corn B & B, Yemaya, and Funk Yoga and SUP. My favorite places are those that I can combine my love for all things water with yoga. Paddleboard yoga. Yes please!

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Where blue meets green.

I haven’t explored the Moskito Cays yet, but they are supposedly home to several endangered species including the Hawksbill turtle, the Caribbean manatee, the Tucuxi freshwater dolphin, and the caiman crocodile. The Moskito Cays are definitely being added to my ever-growing bucket list!

Forests and Highlands of Nicaragua

Take your Nicaragua adventure up to the highlands. I love the ocean, but if I’m not in the water the heat of the lowlands can start to get to me. Luckily, Nicaragua has some amazing highlands near Matagalpa, Jinotega and Esteli. The highlands are characterized by lush hillsides, mountains, coffee and chocolate production and a lack of tourists. The daily temperature in Nicaragua’s highlands is also marvelously cool and temperate. I can now fully understand the desire to have a mountain retreat. Guided hikes exploring the countryside are easy to arrange. Steve and I hiked a trail just out of Matagalpa on our last trip and it was lovely!

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The view from Finca Esperanza Verde

If you have wheels head out to Finca Esperanza Verde. Finca Esperanza Verde is an organic coffee and vegetable farm AND an eco-lodge that uses fully sustainable methods and supports the development and growth of the local community. The finca also maintains miles of trails to explore the surrounding jungle and hosts researchers and birders year round. I look forward to returning to Finca Esperanza Verde in February 2017 for a weeklong Yoga and Hiking Retreat in the Nicaraguan highlands.

Also, make sure to indulge in some Nicaraguan coffee and chocolate… it’s marvelous. The chocolate is like nothing you will find in the states. I recommend El Castillo del Cacao… they even have a bar with coffee in it. Yum!

Nicaragua also has numerous rainforests. Reserva Biológic Indo-Maiz are nearly pristine and the best in the country and Reserva Natural Miraflor contains a tiny lake and a waterfall. Biológic Indo-Maiz covers 3,626 square kilometers (1,400 square miles). In only a few square kilometers within the preserve, a habitat exists for a greater number of species of birds, trees, and insects than are found on the entire continent of Europe. Indo-Maiz protects the largest contiguous extent of primary rainforest in Central America, a 7,300-square-kilometer (2,820-square-mile) area that is called the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve.

Visit Volcanoes During Your Nicaragua Adventure

No Nicaragua adventure would be complete without visiting one of the many volcanoes, so if ¬†hiking, surfing, diving and yoga aren’t your thing than head up to Leon and go volcano boarding. I still haven’t been to Cerro Negro for volcano boarding… mainly because I don’t feel like destroying my body on volcanic stones, but it does look fun. Technically, you do have to hike up to “surf” down.

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The caldera of Volcan Masaya

Volcan Masaya near the town of Masaya is a popular tourist stop and interesting in a sulfuric, hot sort of way. Volcan Masaya is most definitely active. It’s easy to combine with a trip to the handicraft market in Masaya.

Volcan Mombacho, which is relatively close to Granada is pretty touristy, but offers a couple of different trails and helpful guides.

During my first trip to Nicaragua in 2009 I had the opportunity to climb Volcan Maderas and I loved this sweaty jungle hike on Ometepe Island. The hike begins in coffee country and you eventually climb up into the cloud forest. We saw howler monkeys and beautiful birds. Once we made it to the top, we then descended into the crater where there is an incredible muddy lake, but if you’re overheating it’s worth the eww factor. While we were at the crater there was a group of young guys playing baseball. It was super fun to watch. It was a slippery muddy, shoe-sucking slog back down… so muddy I actually through my shoes away.

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Local game of baseball within the crater of Volcan Maderas

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Just the beginning of Nicaragua adventure — muddy shoes and lots of smiles!

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Our hiking guide for our trek up Volcan Maderas.

Where will your Nicaragua adventure take you? We host yoga retreats within Nicaragua twice a year. Shoot us a message if you’re interested in joining one of our yoga and adventure retreats or one of our Nicaragua yoga and surf retreats. Enjoy your trip wherever it takes you!

Love and Light,

Autumn

 

Where to Practice Yoga in Nicaragua

Sunset meditation

If you’re a traveling yogi like myself you understand how hard it can be to tap into the local yoga community, so I’ve decided to give you the cheat sheet for where to practice yoga in Nicaragua, whether you’re in the Corn Islands, coffee country, Granada, or San Juan del Sur.

Zen Yoga, San Juan del Sur

Zen Yoga’s open air studio is the perfect escape from San Juan del Sur’s hustle and bustle. Vanessa, the owner, is also fantastic… she has helped me on multiple occasions: She’s a wealth of information about the local area and has the warmest heart. Peter Sterios (former co-owner of Manduka Yoga Mats) teaches an annual teacher training in San Juan del Sur at Zen Yoga. Vanessa maintains a steady staff of talented instructors.

Buena Vista Surf Club, Playa Maderas

Buena Vista Surf Club is run by Marc and Marielle, a wonderful couple that now calls Nicaragua home. Yoga classes are offered each morning for resort guests on their stunning yoga deck overlooking the ocean. It’s pretty amazing. Meals at the resort are served family style, which creates a fun, relaxed social vibe.

Costa Dulce Beach Bungalows, Playa Escameca

Costa Dulce Beach Bungalows, located about 30 minutes south of San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua hosts yoga retreats and teacher trainings throughout the year. Occasionally they also have an in house yoga instructor staying with them. If you’re staying at the resort and you’re not part of a retreat you may be able to drop-in for classes at the teacher’s discretion.¬†Costa Dulce has a super relaxed vibe and it’s easy to understand why, it sits on a nearly private beach and gets a constant offshore breeze. The main yoga shala sits up on the hill overlooking the jungle and beach. There is also a meditation (or small yoga platform) out on the point.

Casa Lucia, Granada

Casa Lucia, located in the colonial gem of Granada is a small yoga and wellness retreat in the heart of the city. Tucked within Casa Lucia’s courtyard you’ll find a beautiful swimming pool and covered practice space with beautiful hardwood floors. Yoga classes run everyday of the week and are open to the public.

Apoyo Lodge, Laguna de Apoyo

Apoyo Lodge is located on the shores of Laguna de Apoyo, a stunning lake set in a jungle-clad volcanic crater. The lake also boasts the clearest and warmest lake water I’ve ever encountered. Apoyo Lodge is the place to stay for those interested in a cleansing yoga retreat. Their raw menu looks to-die-for. Apoyo Lodge unfortunately doesn’t allow drop-ins or day guests, so you’ll have to stay the night if you’d like to indulge in their lakeside classes.

Little Corn Beach Bungalows, Little Corn Island

Little Corn Beach Bungalows has a sweet little studio tucked between the trees. If you’re fortunate you will have the opportunity to drop-in for a class with Jacq. She rocks. Her classes are the perfect balance of sweetness and kick your butt challenging. She also teaches SUP yoga on Little Corn. Perfection. Drop-ins are welcome. They also offer discounts for multiple classes.

Yemaya Island Hideaway and Spa, Little Corn Island

Oh Yemaya. You expensive, little exclusive resort on a remote island. We love you too. Yemaya has two stunning yoga spaces, one tucked into the jungle toward the back of the property and the other overlooking the beach. Yemaya hosts yoga retreat year round and regular classes. Drop-ins are welcome.

Finca Esperanza Verde, Matagalpa area

Located in the mountains outside of Matagalpa Finca Esperanza has the most ridiculous views of jungle clad mountains. When I think of¬†Central America, this is what I think of. Finca Esperanza Verde has a covered yoga space with a VIEW! I’m not sure if they offer regular classes, but if you’re lucky enough you might be able to book a yoga retreat there. Getting there is also part of the fun!

Aqua Wellness Resort, Playa Redonda

Aqua Wellness Resort hosts daily classes for guests in addition to yoga retreats. The yoga palapa at Aqua Wellness looks out over Playa Redonda’s expansive beach. Aqua tends to attract more upscale clientele that some of the other retreat centers and their staff does a fantastic job meeting their client’s needs.

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Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
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The Short List of the World’s Top Yoga Destinations

The world of yoga is growing and there are so many opportunities to grow your practice, to delve in deep and immerse yourself in yoga asana, philosophy, meditation and more. How do you even decide? I put together this short list of places worth checking out with three words that describe the facilities/atmosphere/etc… some are retreat centers, some are studios, some are retreat centers that offer drop-in classes. Many of the yoga centers below also offer detox and wellness practices. Now is the time to be the best version of you. Take a look.

This list is by no means exhaustive…. although I did lean more toward exotic than conventional in my destinations. Enjoy!

1. India

yoga retreat in India

Ashiyana, Goa

  • SwaSwara (sanctuary, wellness, calm)
  • Ashiyana¬†(exotic, close to nature, detox)

2. Thailand

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Vikasa Yoga

3. Nicaragua

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Costa Dulce Beach Bungalows and Retreat Center

4. Costa Rica

Blue Osa Costa Rica Yoga Retreat

Blue Osa, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

5. Greece

Yoga-retreat-ithaca

Itha108

6. Bali, Indonesia

Floating Leaf

Floating Leaf’s Yoga Sanctuary

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Autumn Adams

Owner, Founder, & Retreat Leader at Ambuja Yoga
Autumn founded Ambuja Yoga in 2014 to share her love of adventure, yoga, and travel with her fellow yogis. Ambuja Yoga has morphed into more than she could have ever dreamed and she is thrilled to have a "job" she loves. She is forever grateful for the opportunity to facilitate personal growth and self love through yoga while taking yogis to off-the-beaten-path destinations worldwide. Follow Autumn on Instagram @autumnadamsyoga.
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