What is the perfect Nicaragua itinerary for families?
The “ perfect Nicaragua itinerary ” largely depends on who you are, what your interests are, and how much time you have available.
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Who is this Nicaragua itinerary for?
Our experience traveling in Nicaragua is with toddlers and smaller kids, and we feel that these itinerary suggestions would be appropriate up to approximately 10-years-old.
After kids are approximately 10-years-old there are number of adrenaline filled activities that might be suitable for the daredevil tween or teen, but are unlikely to be suitable for a younger child. Check out our recommendations in our post “Adrenaline Filled Activities in Nicaragua For Active Families.”
Nicaragua is the land of lakes and volcanoes and you should definitely see some while you are there. It also has some of the most incomparable colonial cities in the world, in Leon and Granada. By combining lakes, volcanoes, and colonial cities you end up with a top itinerary that can be tailored for families.
Nicaragua also has some great surf beaches and fantastic coastline. While it’s always enjoyable to spend a few days by the beach, this is the thing that we have removed from the itinerary first. Perhaps it is that we have spent a lot of time at beaches in Asia and the Pacific and have pretty high expectations, but it is also because the volcanoes and colonial cities are not seen in many other places and we feel that you should see unique things first! There are is so much do to and a Nicaragua itinerary for families is jam-packed with adventure.
Our unspoken assumption for travel with kids in any place or country include:
- Make sure you allow time in your itinerary for arriving and departing in the country. We always plan nothing for the first day after we fly in.
- Kids need downtime in order to not become anxious or stressed (which translates as tantrums, bad tempers, or unwillingness to do things)! This not only helps them adjust to their new surroundings but also helps ease the effects of jet lag. See our post Jet Lag With Toddlers: How To Deal With It.
- We generally follow a one day activities/one day rest pattern; or alternatively do half day activities each day. Particularly in tropical countries consider getting an early start and being inside in air conditioning in the heat of the day.
10 Day Nicaragua Itinerary For Families
Day 1: Arrival Day – transfer directly from Managua airport to Granada. It is only a 45 minute drive and most Granada hotels will arrange someone to pick you up at the airport and transfer you.
Day 2: Rest & Orientation – We would plan to do very little this day as even a shorter flight (5-6 hours) comes with 3 hours at the airport and the associated last minute packing up and getting out the door. This is a long and stressful day for most kids. Walk down to the Parque Central and La Calzada street for your evening meal. We’d recommend getting a hotel with a pool and hanging out with the kids. Don’t venture out in the middle of the day, especially in the hotter months.
We would plan full days or larger outings to 2-3 of the following places:
Also, have a look at our post 11 Great Things In Granada With Kids. There are a lot of other activities included here, but these are shorter, approximately 1-2 hour in duration that could be included around the other bigger activities.
There are two locations that we recommend for these days.
You need to decide what you would prefer to see and experience:
Lakes and Volcanoes
Visiting Ometepe Island with its twin volcanoes.
This option includes 1 day travel to Ometepe Island, then 2 full days on the island. With an exciting Ferry ride included in this trip, there is an adventurous feeling here.
We wouldn’t swim in the lake but loved the Natural Water Pools at Ojo Del Agua. With kids we would also spend a day on a Finca learning about coffee, riding horses, nature trails, or doing some kayaking. Some of the hotels also include playground equipment.
We have admired Hostel Finca Magdalena for some time and plan to visit during our next Ometepe Trip.
We loved our stay at Totoco Eco Lodge, and LOVE their philosophy. They offer a great range of activities, the only downside would be their distance from the lake (which we wouldn’t swim in anyways).
We stayed in Charco Verde which had some play equipment on the lake’s edge.
In comparison to beaches around the world, Nicaragua’s Pacific beaches are an excellent surf destination but, for family travel, they might not be as easy or as idyllic as other parts of the world.
We have stayed at the Barcelo Montelimar resort (Nicaragua’s aging but still popular beach resort) and we didn’t enter the water with our toddler but still had fun on the sand and pools.
San Jan Del Sur is the most famous beach destination, awesome for parties, sunsets and some good surf beaches to the north. It still has a Nicaragua vibe (which is a little different than some of the expat enclaves to the south in Costa Rica), but is not necessarily a kids destination. There are a couple of resorts out of town, that are suitable for kids with families, but these are in a higher price bracket and a more “resort” experience – not connected with the local people.
Pelican Eyes might have kids club, we are not sure.
Mango Rosa is always popular. They have 2 and 3 bedroom chalets which would be great for families. Again, they are not connected with the local people.
Morgan’s Rock, exceptional crafted experiences that provides everything you need – including a kids program – for a luxury price tag. This is by far the best option for a family looking for a typical “resort” experience while on holidays.
We have heard good things about the village of Las Salinas and the beach at Popoyo, about an hour north of San Juan del Sur, and plan to visit during our next visit to Nicaragua.
Day 10: Departure Day
What if you have more time in Nicaragua?
If you have more time we would add any of these to your Nicaragua itinerary:
- Add the Colonial city of Leon for 2 days. We would add this to the beginning of the itinerary, so that you would fly in and travel directly there (it is about 2 hours driving vs 45 minutes to Granada)
- Add extra time in Granada – maybe one more day.
- If you have 4 more days we would add a trip to the Corn Islands to the end of your itinerary. A little Caribbean paradise is the perfect way to round out your holiday!
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