1. Jiquilillo

Qué bonito no hacer nada y después no hacer nada para descansar – the theme for Jiquillilo. (How nice it is to rest and after resting, to do nothing). Think seaside hammocks suspended from palm trees, coconuts in hand (coconut loco or coconut brojo – your choice….hehehe), perfect 80 degree temperatures, the latest novel you have been engrossed in and Sojo playing in the background. This was what our few days at Rancho Tranquilo was like and at a cost you won’t believe – $22 for two people or for a dorm bed $7/person. For Americans especially, you can take a 3.5 hour flight from Houston for $354 each way and then you can splurge a little on the $14 massage or $30 to surf all day.

Jiquilillo is an amazing surfing destination. You are not inundated with tourists so you can have the sea almost all to yourself and when Mother Nature settles down for a brief moment, the peace you gain sitting idly perched on your board while the sun sets in front of you is something to write home about. Story book kind of stuff and priced right. All in all we spent a total of $84 per person for two days and two nights for everything from food to fun including massages and surf lessons and saving turtles.

Be wary of the tumultuous Nica seas though as I came home with a surfer tattoo or two.

2.   Laguna de Apoyo and Masaya

We also took a journey via our Suzuki 4×4 to the Monkey Hut at Laguna de Apoyo. Car rental from Dollar Rental Cars for $50 USD a day. At the Monkey Hut you can pay $66 a night or more for your own hut or $12 a night for the shared dorm. After a good night’s rest, let the adventures begin, including burning lava, kayaking, volcano boarding, beach going, mountain climbing, inner tubing and much more!

Where do I begin? There’s a lot to see and do in this area. How about starting easy with a cup of coffee and the view from our charming bungalow terrace at the foot of the ocean – a view of rolling soft tides onto a pebble beach filled with kayaks for kayaking with friends, small sailboats, palm trees and fuchsia colored bougainvillea – all the while a light wispy breeze accompanying us.

Let’s pick up the pace a little. How about off-roading in a 4×4 on roads that might have been worse than Albanian roads yet a real treat seeing the Nicaraguan people in their every day activities. Or, we could just take a lackadaisical inner tube drift in the warm coastal waters, say a prayer at the old Catholic church or saunter through the busy and colorful square of Masaya where the array of colors, I’m told, are indicative of the political party who won the last election. Or how about the trip to see the active Volcan Masaya. Oh yeah that’s the one!

The narrow road lined on both sides with trees lit only by the headlamps from the car took me back to Pierce Brosnan’s eery drive up the mountain to get the Mayor’s mother- in-law and grandkids in the movie Volcano, except without the ash rain. As we got closer to our final destination the black sky turns burnt orange and all of a sudden you realize that is not the moon lighting up the sky. Upon arrival the movie changes to a scene straight from Lord of the Rings.

The true power of nature grumbling below in a strangely noncommittal-like way as if you just woke a burly man from a deep sleep who hadn’t yet realized that you are responsible for pulling him from his dreams. A place that will make you think twice before sinning again lest you end up down there someday. Two hours of waiting in the car line, $10 for non-residents, an admonishment or two is all it will cost you to take a peek deep into the devil’s lair. Hell fire orange and searing yellow lava move rapidly below you. The slightest tinge of the devil’s cologne – sulfur – tickling your nostrils.

Perhaps if you were in Masaya on January 5, 2017 you may have caught a gas and steam explosion. Had you been where we were today on April 23, 2001 you might have been one of the visitors who met their maker as Masaya roared, spitting fire bombs at her passersby. On that fateful day, it was a sudden explosion lasting all of two minutes but started brush fires in the area and seriously injured two tourists. Note that volcanologists were out there a mere hour earlier and all was quiet. Now we know why we are required to back our cars in lest Masaya throws another one of her temper tantrums.

3.  Leon

Someone says second most dangerous thing you should do before you die and I say where do I sign up! Today we hiked to the top of Cerro Negro, an active volcano, 750 meters high with Big Foot Hostel just to throw all sanity to the wind and volcano board down. Record is 95kmph. The fastest time today was 67kmph but he wiped out. And I did it in 54 kmph – the second fastest time – eating lava the whole way down. Not sure I will ever get it out of certain crevices of my body. Was it the craziest, scariest thing I’ve done to date? Yes! Absolutely!  Well, except perhaps singing karaoke.

I volunteered to go first as I didn’t want the anxiety to build up too much. It’s a good thing too as if I would have seen the others wipe out, it might have skewed my resolve. There was a moment, however, going down where I had to just let go and let what happens happen. If I had any advice it would be just let the board do what it’s going to do. If it gets too fast, then it gets too fast. If you try to slow down or stop, that is a life threatening mistake and exactly how you will get injured.

So what is the first most dangerous thing in the world to do you ask? Pilot a fighter plane for one day in Russian airspace.  The cost of volcano boarding is $40. The cost of flying is $72,000 USD. You decide.

4.  Little Corn Island

If you make it to Nicaragua, you have to visit Little Corn Island, which is, without a doubt, the perfect balance of all things you want in an island getaway. Idyllic is the best word to describe it. The hardened sand trails through the jungle filled with palm trees, flowers I haven’t seen before and other foliage lead to the oceanic splendor of Caribbean green and blues. Learn more about Little Corn Island on its special post on which it got because it is THAT special.

Below is a short video about Nicaragua just to get you inspired to come visit. This is  Travelirvana Bringing the World to You.

If you have any questions or concerns or just want to add something special about Nicaragua, please feel free to reach out to me in the form provided below for that purpose.



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