Beaches, Colonial Towns, Volcanoes, Cigars: Nicaragua Is Smokin’ – ForbesLife

Beaches, Colonial Towns, Volcanoes, Cigars: Nicaragua Is Smokin’

By Lea Lane Contributor

I travel the world: smart, luxe, connected — and often.

Nicaraguan vendors like to smile (Photo: Lea Lane)

Nicaraguan vendors like to smile (Photo: Lea Lane)

Nicaragua, Costa Rica’s edgy northern neighbor straddling the Caribbean and the Pacific, may not be the first place you’d consider for a fun-and-sun vacation. But if you’re ahead of the crowd and crave a bargain, this largest country in Central America, a short flight away from where you may be sitting in the icy cold, is a new travel hot spot.Nicaragua remains economically weak, a residual of the last century’s civil strife, but there’s plenty to see and do, and an emphasis on a fast-growing tourism industry focused on unspoiled scenery, fresh foods, good music, friendly locals and excellent shopping for handicrafts.Managua, Nicaragua’s busy capital city, is where you’ll probably land. It offers sprawling markets, street art and monuments, but remains rough around more than its edges. It’s a destination offering great deals, but I’d spend more time instead at nearby colonial cities, and pretty areas such as Pochomil beach, El Trapiche hot springs, and Montebelli and Chocoyero-El Brujo nature reserves.friendly people…

Source: Beaches, Colonial Towns, Volcanoes, Cigars: Nicaragua Is Smokin’ – ForbesLife

I must have missed this article when it first came out. Very good article by the author Ms. Lane. Nice photos too! Kudos for NOT saying that Nicaragua is the next Costa Rica! The places listed here are of course just the highlights and there is much more that this country has to offer, Rio San Juan, the Corn Islands, Ometepe Island, etc. If you’re thinking of coming down, El Porton Verde offers a great “soft landing service” that works great for first-time visitors. Cheers, Mike @ Farmstay El Porton Verde, Managua


Beach Front Eco-Casita, Ideal for Surfers

Front of the cute little house

Front of the cute little house


Beach right out in front of the casita. Good surf!

Eco-Casita Truda is a place to escape civilization and feel one with nature. It is 40 minutes to an hour from Leon depending on how you travel but it feels like a world away. You constantly hear the mesmerizing sound of the surf. In the evening, you add to that, the sounds of the crickets and the spectacular view of the stars and all cares are wiped away.
This lovely large beach front property with trees that are natural to the area is in a secluded section of Salinas Grandes beach which has a handful of private residents, mostly owned by expats. Both lots on either side of the property are currently vacant which gives Eco-Casita Truda an even more secluded feel while still being close to caring neighbors. The closes neighbor is an American couple who live on the beach full time.
The sand is volcanic so is a slightly darker color. The beach and entrance to the ocean is smooth sand. The warm waters in this area stay shallow for a good distance in the ocean and there are no known riptides. Residents swim and surf there without incident. Pelicans and other nautical birds accompany the high tide as they dive in to capture their dinner. Fishermen frequent these waters and it is possible to go out with them or purchase fish from them down the beach. The local surf camp came to visit Eco-Casita Truda and shared that this is an excellent area of the beach for surfing. The neighbors are friendly and helpful and keep an eye on the property when the tenants are not around.
Fully solar and fully screened for mosquitos
Naturally air-conditioned with open air flowing through in the upper areas of the ceiling, large windows and double doors that open to the front porch and view of the ocean
Very large living/dining/kitchen space is open air with barred windows and shades that roll down but no glass windows to separate from the outdoors, Living area has sofa that can convert into a trundle bed supplying two very comfortable twin beds. There is one more comfortable floor mattress that sleeps one.
Large light-filled bedroom with an enormous window with an amazing view of the ocean. The bedroom windows are screened and have wooden shutters. This room can be completely locked and shuttered separate from the house so that tenants can keep their valuables even more secure in this room. The room is furnished with a queen size bed, wardrobe, desk, office chair and a solar fan with radio.
Light-filled bathroom features high open air windows with bars and screens that allow for air flow and a sense of being outside. The shower is enormous. There is a utility sink for washing clothes with scrub board build into it. There is also space for storing surfboards in the bathroom. Additionally, there is an outdoor shower on the property.
A TV is available for tenants use. A signal booster is available for use so that cell phones will receive reception in the house. It also assists in strengthening the internet signal.
Internet hotspot comes with the house for which tenants may purchase time. (Instructions are given on the use of the equipment.)
Kitchen is equipped with a 24 hour solar combination fridge and freezer as well as a gas oven/stove and all needed kitchen supplies. There are no other kitchen appliances available for use that require electricity such as a microwave or blender.
Potable Water is supplied by a water tank that has to be refilled monthly. The cost is minimal and the responsibility of the tenant.
A local city bus runs from the village of Salinas Grandes 4 or 5 times a day and is about a 1.5 mile walk down the beach to catch it. The most recent tenant chose to purchase a motorcycle for his transportation purposes. About a mile from the house is a local drinking/eating spot that sells limited supplies including fresh fish, pork, ice, sodas and a few other items. For a nominal fee, they will do your grocery shopping in town on Mondays. If you choose to hire someone to wash clothes, clean, cook, clean the yards, run errands, there are local folks who charge reasonable fees that would benefit from the work and can be recommended.
Eco-Casita Truda will be available at the latest September 1st, possibly sooner. I am looking to rent it for four months, September to end of December or early or mid January but will consider a period as short as one month. For a one month rental, the cost is $700, two month rental, $675 monthly and $650 for a three month rental. The holiday month of December is priced at $750. There is a deposit of $250 that is required at the signing of the lease. The first month’s rent is due prior to receiving the keys to the property. The deposit will be returned within one month of departure minus any funds needed to cover damages incurred. details. The approximate measurements of the eco-casita are the following: Interior: 765.8 sq ft, 71.1 m2; Exterior: 855.0 sq ft, 79.4 m2; Interior Measurement Detail: Great Room: 24.0 ft x 18.5 = 444.0 sq ft; Bedroom: 16.5 ft x 11.5 = 189.8 sq ft ; Bathroom/Laundry: 16.5 ft x 8.0 = 132.0 sq ft; Total Interior: 765.8 sq ft; Patio: 24.0 x 9.5 = 228.0 sq ft; Total Interior with Patio: 993 sq ft. I am open to renting to a group of surfers and providing additional bedding and tent.

Source: Beach Front Eco-Casita, Ideal for Surfers

This is a really cute little beach front casita located on a good surfing beach not all that far from Leon. The current and soon-to-be former tenant, Paul, was looking for a place to live by the beach while he was staying at the Farmstay and he saw an ad on Craigslist Nicaragua for this place.

Long story short, he got a hold of the owner, whose name is Truda, and as they were discussing what was on offer over the phone, they discovered that Truda was going to be our guest in just a few days time. When she came for her stay, they met, became friends and did the deal to rent the place! So I feel like we sort of midwifed this initial deal and it certainly worked out good for both parties. Another cool Farmstay story ehh?

Well, you can be the next happy tenant! I suppose staying with us at the Farmstay is not mandatory, but it couldn’t hurt. 🙂

The Caribbean Road to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua

June 16, 2015 4:06 PM MST

Wonder where the rainforest went? Fires destroying the rainforest in Bosawas Rainforest Heritage Site, Nicaragua

Wonder where the rainforest went? Fires destroying the rainforest in Bosawas Rainforest Heritage Site, Nicaragua

Why would a traveler want to take a rough, dirt/pavement/dirt/more dirt/pavement road to Puerto Cabezas, which has an 80% unemployment rate?

It was 4 years ago that I traveled in Central America for 17 months.

In all the countries – Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama – I went from the western side of the countries to the eastern side of the countries. Except Nicaragua.

Read the rest here –> The Caribbean Road to Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua

I can’t say that this is a very well written article unfortunately, a bit too many exclamation points (!) as well as a misspelling but hey the point is a good one; there is this crazy dirt road going to Puerto Cabezas, it’s pretty much the wild wild west out there, and there’s some interesting history regarding what happened during the Contra war out that way.

The photos are nice though, so click through to see all 14 of them.

What I’d like to learn more about is exactly why, in this day and age, that the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua has never been linked by a paved road to the Caribbean Coast? And what is the cost economically of this lack of infrastructure. Also, how does this affect the attitudes of the Miskitos and other indigenous groups that live out that way? Do they feel horribly neglected?

Its always seemed to me that unifying the country would help in both aspects, help the dire economic situation and encourage the Costeño peoples to feel like they are true Nicaraguans and that they are not forgotten.


On the hunt for cruise ships | La Prensa Noticias

A cruise hunting

  • Nicaragua tries to enter the fight to attract more tourists by cruise ship.

The Pacific and the Caribbean coasts of Central America each year attracts an average of 1.35 million cruise passengers. In Nicaragua, although the figures show a recovery, the authorities have challenges to overcome to achieve the high levels of visitors that nearby countries receive, such as in Honduras, where in 2013 -Last update available- the number reached 707.597 persons arriving via cruiseships, according to the Honduran Institute of Tourism (IHT) .

At the end of 2013 statistics from the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism (Intur) show that 38 cruise ships came to the country, of which 36 carried passengers for a total of 32.254 visitors, down from 41 ships that arrived in 2014, of which forty carried 51.084 foreigners.

Given that reality, the president of the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur), Sylvia Ramirez Levy said that together with representatives of Intur since 2013 been offering additional packages for cruise travelers so that they are not only landing in ports, but traveling on to other cities.

“Since 2014 we have also promoted to Managua as historical and gastronomic destination for tourists to have one more reason to reach more distant reference points of embarkation,” he said.

The Preferred Ones

When comparing statistics for all countries in the region, data shows that Honduras is where most foreigners traveling on cruise ships go. Honduras received 248 ships in 2013 with 707.597 people, more than 655.234 foreigners arrived in 2012, 270 ships.

According to the IHT in 2011 the country of Honduras received 316 cruise ships that carried 786.997 foreigners.

After Honduras follows Panama, a country where tourism during 2014 was the number one economic activity, generating 5476.4 million with the visit of 2.30 million people as a general discharge. Cruise passengers represented 15.9 percent of total tourists, equivalent to 365.664 visitors who arrived on 236 boats, according to the Panamanian Tourism Authority (ATP).

In Panama the arrival of foreign cruisers showed a reduction in 2014, and that during 2013 the country received 373.505 visitors in 239 boats, equivalent to a change of 2.1 percent.

“It is expected that with the arrival of new cruise lines in 2015 passenger arrivals to Panama increases. Also with the new cruise departure from Panama, as is the Express Cruiser, which makes travel to Cartagena and Bocas del Toro, the passenger has new options to meet new attractions, such as the Isla Colon (Bocas del Toro), with its beautiful beaches and natural parks, ” cites the 2014 statistical yearbook published by the ATP.

Neighboring Costa Rica is the third largest recipient of cruise visitors. The accounting of the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) observes the arrival of ships and tourist season, so that during 2013-2014 received 181 cruises with 212.172 visitors.

ICT statistics show that the arrival of foreigners in this way showed a drop, as during the 2009-2010 season received 269 cruises 418.988 foreigners.

Less crowded

Guatemala and El Salvador are the countries that receive fewer visitors via cruise ships. Until 2014 the Guatemalan Tourism Institute (INGUAT) reported the arrival of 15.923 foreigners mostly from the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands and Taiwan.

Instead El Salvador only managed a cruise that was carrying only one thousand, six hundred of which visited the capital San Salvador, the archaeological site Tazumal and Cerro Verde Park, according to information from the Salvadoran Tourism Corporation (Corsatur), which Glenda shared Caceres, Information Officer of the Unit of Access to Public Information of the Ministry of Tourism of El Salvador.


To offer visitors a regional cruise route is an initiative by entrepreneurs in the sector who have shown to be attracted, but lack the strength to materialize the desired growth.

According to Lourdes Fuentes, sales manager Careli Tours, there is much interest from the Central American private sector to the route as being something more consistant.

Source: A la caza de cruceros | La Prensa Noticias

This is an interesting article for anyone in Nicaragua doing some tourism-related business aimed at cruise line passengers. I was sort of surprised to see that the number one stop for cruise ships in Central America is Honduras, but it makes sense what with Roatan being so popular.

Two quick points: One, that overall cruise numbers have gone down in recent years. Two, that Nicaragua has plenty of room to grab more of this shrinking market.



Nicaragua coffee output to rebound to record high

Nicaragua’s coffee production will challenge record highs next season, supported by an improved flowering period, and by the continued recovery in plantations from the Central American outbreak of roya fungus.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Managua bureau, in its first estimate for Nicaraguan coffee production in 2015-16, on an October-to-September basis, pegged it at 2.14m bags.
That would represent a second successive season of recovering output, since the outbreak of coffee rust, caused by roya, which can causes severe yield losses, and can kill trees.
Indeed, the harvest would top the existing record harvest of 2.10m bags, achieved in 2012-13.

Read the rest of the story here—> Nicaragua coffee output to rebound to record high

For those that have followed the whole Roya story, this is very good news. A couple of years ago there was a lot of concern that this coffee rust, a sort of fungus that grows on the coffee bushes, was going to drastically reduce production of this wonderful drink that I for one, enjoy very much!

Good news bad news:

Bad news, we had a bad drought last year during the first part of the rainy season, so production was really down due to their being no rain during the flowering time of the coffee plants, and of course the drought affected many other crops as well.

Good news, the drought literally halted growth of this fungus and set up the excellent harvest that is coming in this season.


Nicaragua, more attractive to airlines | La Prensa Noticias


Nicaragua, more attractive to airlines

  • Central America in general has become a good choice for airlines, whereas Nicaragua stands out for both passenger and freight

Los Angeles is the second most-visited destination to which Nicaraguan traveling to America go -after Miami, but until ten days ago Nicaragua had no direct connection with the city.

Since last June 5th, Managua is one of 18 international non-stop flights of Delta Airlines departing from Los Angeles International Airport, where the company has invested about $229 million as part of its expansion plan, where Central America occupies an important position.

Jose Antonio Torres, general manager for Delta Central America, explained that during the last three years, growth in demand has prompted an “explosion” in seat capacity to the region, especially in the last year, when capacity has grown by thirty percent.

“Nicaragua has begun to make a very important for the tourism sector in Central America position.” Jose Antonio Torres, general manager for Central Delta.

“Right now Delta is the largest airline in Central America that is flying to the United States (…). And we have done very well, we are very happy with the results, “says Torres.

Delta executives inaugurated an investment in Terminal 5 at the Los Angeles International Airport. La Prensa / COURTESY OF DELTA AIRLINES

The expansion between Central America and Los Angeles “began with the flight from Guatemala, we continued this expansion with the flight from San José, then from there we went to Liberia, Costa Rica, then to San Salvador and a few days ago the flight from Managua to Los Angeles,” explains the regional manager, who claims that Delta “is the US airline with the most flights to Los Angeles from Central America,” for which we have increased sales teams, have hired more staff in the various countries, and invested in marketing campaigns, among other measures.

“Central America is the only area of ​​the portfolio in Latin America where Delta has no partner, an alliance with another airline, Delta decided then yes we will do by ourselves, but we will do it very well,” added the official.

In this process, the airline has adapted so that the flight crews and terminals have staff who speak Spanish and its terminals at US airports have also added signage translated in Spanish.

Why the interest in the region? Torres, general manager for Central Delta Airlines, and Abimael Ortiz, regional director of sales and Delta Cargo operations for Latin America and the Caribbean, argue that the isthmus is an attractive market for growth in demand.

It is estimated that thirty percent of flights between Central America and the United States are billed from the region.


In the case of transport of goods, Ortiz mentioned that the region has sustained four to five percent annual growth, because the planes they use are “perfect” for the type of products that is flown to Central America, where Nicaragua is among the most dynamic countries  recently.

Through Delta Cargo, as mentioned by Ortiz, Nicaragua sent to the United States primarily cigars, sea cucumbers and clothing. Even during the inaugural flight Managua-Los Angeles the plane was carrying 1,300 kilos of merchandise, above the regional average of 1,200 kilos per flight.

That first flight was also a success for the transfer of passengers, as it had an occupancy rate of 85 percent.

“Nicaragua is a very important country for Delta, has grown in profitability in its offer and is one of the routes where we have increased the supply, we brought in a larger plane from Atlanta. Seeing the very positive trend we have seen in Nicaragua over the past two years we have decided to bet with the opening of flights to Los Angeles, “said Torres.

Although it started with a weekly flight between Managua and Los Angeles, it is projected to increase the frequency to two, then three times a week, and ultimately, into a daily flight. “It started conservatively because it is a market that traditionally has not been profitable for other airlines,” he said.

Delta Airlines has invested more than $ 229 million in a terminal of Los Angeles International Airport. La Prensa / Courtesy of Delta Air Lines

Delta Airlines has invested more than $ 229 million in a terminal of Los Angeles International Airport. La Prensa / Courtesy of Delta Air Lines


According to the Index of Travel and Tourism Competitiveness 2015, compiled by the World Economic Forum, the aviation infrastructure of Nicaragua was evaluated with 1.91 points out of 7, one of the most lagging indicators. However, regional manager for Delta, “the Managua airport infrastructure meets the needs” of the airline and “is on par with other airports in Central America.”

Torres, however, suggests that alongside the recently announced expansion of the runway of the International Airport of Managua, that investments be made in the areas of customs, immigration (to leave the country) and Security, as well as airline counters .

Recently the Administrative Company of International Airports (EAAI) for the Managua Airport announced it will invest between six and ten million dollars to expand the runway of the international airport, which would lengthen from 2.440 meters to 3.240 meters. The terminal is also expected to expand.

80% of passengers flying from Managua to Los Angeles have Los Angeles as their final destination, 15 percent use this destination as a connection to other US cities and five percent as connection to Asia.


The president of the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur) and president of the Association of Airlines, Sylvia Ramirez Levy believes that Nicaragua is experiencing a boom in air connectivity, demonstrating the confidence of airlines.

“The dynamics experienced by the country in terms of air connectivity is certainly an effort of years which seeks to facilitate the conditions for tourists and businessmen and even family to come to the country and found no obstacles,” said Ramirez Levy.

He also explained that the opening of direct flights to Nicaragua helps position in the minds of foreigners, who for many years had not taken into account this destination. Yohany LOPEZ

Source (in Spanish): Nicaragua, más atractiva | La Prensa Noticias

This is from the business section of the La Prensa newspaper here in Nicaragua and is obviously a very positive indicator of a good economy and a real bump in current and future tourism numbers. The part where Delta says they will eventually up the number of flights to one per day is really fantastic news.

Before this direct flight was inaugurated, you had to choose where your layover and change in planes had to occur. Having non-stop flights from Los Angeles is a great time-saver for tourists and business people so you don’t waste too much time waiting for your connection.

Overall, very positive news and it is good to see that a large U.S.-based airline like Delta is developing a real presence in the region without any alliances with other airlines. This means they are in the Central American market for the long haul.

Five Reasons You Should Go to Nicaragua Right Now

Five Reasons You Should Go to Nicaragua Right Now

The once-troubled country is now safer and more accessible than ever. And that’s perfect timing
by Maura Walters
June 9, 2015 — 12:35 PM PDT
Updated on June 10, 2015 — 5:30 AM PDT

Photographer: Plainpicture/Markus Renner

Photographer: Plainpicture/Markus Renner

After decades of political turbulence, Nicaragua is finally safe and open for business. Filled with undisturbed beaches, sleepy surf towns, and eco-conscious hotels, the country has invested in travel-friendly infrastructure while keeping its local charm intact. Getting there is easier than ever—Delta and American Airlines just added direct routes from Miami, and the first private airport will open at the end of the year.

Source: Five Reasons You Should Go to Nicaragua Right Now

Here’s yet another “go to Nicaragua” story in the press, this time from BloombergBusiness. First comment, what the heck is with the misspelling? eco-conscious?

Short version of the five reasons is listed below (with links to previous stories posted here on covering the same subjects and topics):

  1. Volcanoes
  2. Nicaragua is Costa Rica 20 years ago
  3. The Inn at Rancho Santana
  4. Premium Cigars
  5. Five-star Mukul Resort

While none of these reasons are exactly wrong, this article is pure fluff/PR blabbing IMO in the sense of not one mention is made of the cultural and people-to-people aspects of a visit to Nicaragua. But, this BloombergBusiness not Smithsonian or National Geographic so let’s keep this short article in perspective, right?

As someone who regularly scans articles of this type, I just wish one of these writers would come up with a little bit of a different angle to the whole question of “why visit Nicaragua?” and stretch the reader’s mind a little bit to see how Nicaragua is a unique place with a different history, a mix of diverse cultures and peoples, and also has a geography which is quite distinct from other Central American countries.

As we go forward and the travel industry in Nicaragua grows and matures, if we just focus on how we are just like Costa Rica was in the past, as Nicaragua “catches up” exactly where do we end up? Who needs two Costa Rica’s? What is and will be the differentiators in the travel market between the two countries in ten years? Twenty years?

Assuming transportation for tourists gets better, that levels of service increase, that specialized tours and the quality of those tours and guides improves, that more luxury properties are built that provide world-class service levels, what else can be done to maintain a competitive edge with other countries like Costa Rica?

My humble suggestion to INTUR and other “powers that be” is to focus heavily on what those differences are and hopefully will be in the future and aim towards maintaining and growing those travel experiences.

Nicaragua Canal Environmental Assessment Criticized As Scientifically Weak, Technically Inadequate – Circle of Blue WaterNews

The Nicaraguan government has not made the ERM study public, nor has it indicated when it will do so. Panel members said it is imperative that the 14-volume study be available for public review.

Lake Nicaragua canal Ometepe Island ferry

Photo courtesy Guillermo A. Durán via Flickr Creative Commons
The ferry “El Che Guevara” in Muelle de Moyogalpa, a port town on Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua. The island receives about 40,000 visitors each year. Click image to enlarge.


“That is the most urgent short-term concern with the process,” said Ryan Stoa, a lawyer and senior scholar at Florida International University who helped to organize the independent review panel. “The government is holding it back. It’s hard for anyone to judge the merits of the study without seeing the research in its entirety. It’s troubling for us that the government has not publicly released the report, or even indicated when they will do so. While the science we reviewed was problematic, I expect the final ESIA will raise serious concerns about the impacts of the canal. It’s imperative that the public have access to that research sooner rather than later.”

Expert panel finds “scientifically indefensible” conclusions in 14-volume study.

Source: Nicaragua Canal Environmental Assessment Criticized As Scientifically Weak, Technically Inadequate – Circle of Blue WaterNews

Well, in case anyone wanted to know if the proposed Interoceanic Canal of Nicaragua was a complete sham or not, this article by “Circle of Blue” (which is an environmental group concerned with all things water-related) appears to seal the deal. If the environmental assessment is criticized on not only the environmental impacts but more broadly, on the overall feasibility (or lack thereof) of the project, then the investors will not put a centavo into this scheme and it will die an ugly death, hopefully with little actual screwing around with the environment.

So back to theory “A” of the canal deal; that it is a huge land grab by Chinese nationals on a wide and long swath of southern Nicaragua. Let’s just hope the powers that be are so ashamed of themselves and face the wrath of every environmentalist in the world so that they stop while they’re behind as far as actually trying to see this through, or even to see the sham through.