When I booked my trip to Costa Rica and agreed to travel to Nicaragua as well, I didn't think I would love Nicaragua THAT much. I just knew it was cheaper. But after coming home, I'm realizing that I would be more than happy to break one of my travel rules for this country: Never travel to a place twice.
Nicaragua is perhaps not what your preconceived ideas of it are. It's a poor country. Much more poor than Costa Rica. But yet, I still felt safe here and as I started to meet the locals - the ones hanging with us at the beach bar, the ones making us smoothies and serving us drinks, the ones making sure our stay at our hotels are perfect - they made me realize amazing this country is.
A country can be beautiful, but if you encounter a bad experience you hate it. This is the same with cities too. For example, when I was backpacking in Europe, I thought nothing could make me hate anything about Italy. But when I had an awful experience in Milan, I sentenced it to one of my most hated placed to travel to. But I'm sure many others have had beautiful memories there...but not me lol.
I was only in Nicaragua for four days, which was just enough time for me to decide that one day, I'd love to buy property here. Bryon wasn't able to come on this trip with me, but after telling him all about my experience he wants to see it. The best way to experience the culture here is to completely submerse yourself in it. The chicken bus (the local public bus, which is actually a school bus from North America) is your ticket to fully experiencing the culture there. It costs only $3, and you for sure want to dress down. Don't dress to stand out, ladies lol. You're basically crammed on this bus with locals and backpackers and people are jumping into the bus from the back while it's moving, tossing backpacks and other random crap on the roof and at almost every stop someone hops on to sell locally made snack (I recommend buying what looks safe - it's part of the experience. The pretzels, nuts, marshmallows and churros are a good pick). When you travel, you have to step out of your comfort zone to really understand what the country you are visiting is really like. It's part of the experience of traveling there.
If you visit the beaches in Nicaragua (on the west side) you'll be greeted with a super cool surfer's community and the most spectacular sunsets EVER. But the vibe in these little surfer towns are just awesome. It's easy to get the feeling of not ever wanting to come home. I loved the relaxed feeling I got. On the beach you can surf, play in the waves or sit at the beach bar. There are other beaches where there's less waves, like San Juan Del Sur, which is pretty much where most of the surfer's stay so they are easily connected to transportation (shuttles) that can get them to the beaches quickly. San Juan Del Sur is a little dirty. I didn't see anyone swimming. But if you want to watch a mean sunset....this is where it's at.
Moving around from city to city or beach to beach is easy. There are lots of options from local buses, taxis and shuttles. So basically, whatever fits into your comfort zone. I personally prefer the chicken bus! Some of the cities are very cool in architectural. A lot are Colonial and have a lot of history. I'll write a separate post about Granada and Playa Maderas soon!
I for one HATE dressing up when I'm on vacation. I do it for blog posts only, otherwise I can be found wearing a bikini with either a romper or shorts and tank top on top if the occasion calls for more clothing. I don't want to waste time with hair and make-up, so I'll tie my hair up in a top knot and apply only make-up that is necessary to make me look civilized. In Nicaragua, everyone has a maintenance level that is even lower than that lol. So you can completely relax here.
In a heart beat I would choose Nicaragua over Costa Rica. There's no comparison. If you're looking for an experience, this is the country to visit.
SHOP THE LOOK: