Granada was a fun place to chill for a few days. It has a laid back atmosphere, albeit is a bit on the touristy side. A bonus of this is great food and plenty of nice accommodations.
I highly recommend kayaking along the Isletas (little islands), which is a 10 minute drive from the city. You can also get a boat tour, but these boats are rather jam-packed. While kayaking you can take your time and enjoy the surroundings. There are 365 mini-islands, one for each day of the year! Check out the many birds, monkeys, and maybe even bull sharks! I’m told that Lake Nicaragua is the only fresh water lake to have sharks.
In the evening I headed out to Masaya National Park, where you can see flowing lava. It’s quite the sight at nighttime, as the lava is glowing bright red/orange with multiple flows converging! Very cool… or perhaps not! Even though you only get 5-10 minutes at the top due to volcanic fumes, it’s so worth it!
Granada is a very nice place to wander around, as it has beautiful colonial architecture, churches, and plazas. Just kick back, buy an ice cream, and chill under a palm tree!
From Granada I head south along Lake Nicaragua, to a double volcanic island in the middle of the lake – Isla Ometepe!
I didn’t originally plan to visit the Corn Islands, but I’m so glad I did! Little Corn Island is a tropical paradise, has stellar scuba diving, and it’s possible to walk around the island in a couple of hours. Aside from horseback and biking, walking is your only choice as there are no roads/vehicles on the island!
To get here you can fly into Big Corn Island from Managua, and then catch a panga boat (see photos below) to Little Corn Island. There are stretches of undeveloped beach where you can relax, soak up the rays, and go snorkeling. While I was here I did 3 dives a day with Dolphin Dive, and enjoyed the great diversity of marine life, caves, tunnels, and gorgeous coral.
My lifestyle here was possibly the most chill of the entire trip. I would head out to the diveshop around 8:30am for my first dive, relax for 40 minutes, and do my second dive finishing around 12:30pm. I’d have lunch, snooze on the lounge chair, and go diving again at 2:30pm. Then I’d go to my hotel, get cleaned up, and meet up with some folks for dinner/drinks. Next day hit repeat, and somehow a week and a half disappeared!
I also spent 3 days on Big Corn for some diving and catching my flight back to Managua. Back to the mainland, and to the city of Granada!
Leon is my first stop in Nicaragua, after a 15 hour shuttle from La Ceiba, Honduras. The trip went well, and I got a good night’s rest after arriving to Leon at 2:00am.
Leon is a fascinating place. The architecture here is very interesting, especially the overpowering Cathedral. The main plaza is a great place to chill and relax. The city is very important for its role in the Nicaraguan Revolution that ousted the former dictator Somoza. The Museum of the Revolution on Leon’s main plaza has some interesting information regarding the revolution and Leon’s role in it.
In case you’re wondering about the lion statues in the photos, Leon means lion in Spanish – it’s somewhat of a city symbol.
There are some really fun activities around Leon, including – VOLCANO BOARDING! You hike to the top for about 1 hour while carrying a toboggan like board up the volcano. You get some great views at the top, and get to overcome your fears while looking over the edge of the volcano. You hop on the board, give yourself a little nudge, and cruise down the mountain! You’re provided with a jump suit and goggles to keep out some of the ash and rocks – but you’ll be filthy at the bottom no matter what! It’s so much fun, and I definitely recommend it to anyone travelling in Leon.
Another interesting side trip is Leon Viejo, or Old Leon. These are the ruins of the original city of Leon that was destroyed by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the early 1600’s. Historically it’s very important as this is one of the few very well-preserved ruins from the colonial era. You can visit the old cathedral, government buildings, and monasteries.
There’s also a newly built monument that shows a proud native resident with dogs biting at his feet. I inquired to the significance of this, and my guide informed me that it commemorates a native rebellion, after which the Spanish defeated. The Spaniards then set their dogs loose on the natives to kill them. Quite a brutal history, but I’m glad that it can be openly presented and taught. Perhaps Canada can learn a lesson from this about its own brutal history with its native people.
From Leon I head out to the Corn Islands on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. Back to the water!