Suggestions for weeklong vacation with three teenagers

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Hello! I’m exploring options for me to take my three nieces/nephew on vacation for about a week. Nicaragua is at the top of my list, having previously been to Costa Rica and Guatemala. Central America is so much fun. For the teenagers it will be their first trip out of the country (outside of the midwest USA, really). I’m looking for a fun, standard itinerary that perhaps will stoke a love of travel in them. All three kids are 14/15 years old, and I’m looking to travel in the dry season – maybe as early as this April. What are your thoughts on an itinerary? Some notes:

  • No party destinations
  • I’d like for them to see and learn about cultural differences and humanitarian issues
  • We’re from a flat area, so we definitely need to hike mountains. I’d categorize the three of them as all having a “medium” fitness level. Cerro Negro, Telica? Quetzeltrekkers?
  • Can we see lava anywhere in Nicaragua?
  • Waterfalls would be great
  • We’ll need some beach time. Preferably somewhere quiet where I’d rent a house and we can explore nearby on foot.
  • We should visit one of the colonial cities. Leon or Granada?
  • Ometepe looks really cool. The volcanoes there sound too difficult to hike for their skill level.

Thanks for your help. The Thorn Tree is a great community.


Response from elportonverde

mike_elportonverde ONLINE 23 days ago Greetings Doug: Yes you can see hot lava in Nicaragua at the Masaya Volcano during the night tour. What I would suggest is similar to likeeveryoneelse’s recommendations. I’d suggest the loop from Managua-Leon-Esteli (Somoto Canyon)-Matagalpa-Granada as a rough itinerary. In Leon you can get your beach day in at Las Peñitas, do the volcano boarding, see the town itself (go up to the top of the cathedral for photos), then get to Esteli (there’s a nice waterfall just before you get to the town), overnight in Esteli or Somoto, then the next morning do Somoto Canyon (your teens will love it!), there are other hikes in the area too. Next day go to Matagalpa (more nice hikes, coffee country), then get back to Granada for the last couple of days. Cheers, Mike @ El Portón Verde, Managua

Source: Suggestions for weeklong vacation with three teenagers

The Somoto Canyon in Northern Nicaragua Hobbitschuster

Nicaragua Family Travel – TripAdvisor

The AlaskaKings family enjoying a nice day in Masaya, Nicaragua

The AlaskaKings family enjoying a nice day in Masaya, Nicaragua

Family travel is wonderful in Nicaragua for several reasons.

First of all, it works as a great location for most people traveling from North America. Even from Europe, most families will take only two flights to get to Managua. The timezone change is minimal for North American’s, so you don’t get jetlag and can start right away enjoying your vacation. Flight times from the U.S.  is reasonable, with non-stops taking 3:50 minutes from Atlanta, 3:20 minutes from Houston, and 2:40 minutes from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale.

Second factor that makes Nicaragua a great place for a family vacation is cost. Families will spend less here than in other similar locations like Mexico, Costa Rica, or Panama. Also, airfares are low. Recent additional flights from the U.S. have increased competition. Where else can you feed your family of four lunch including a fresh natural juice for a little over ten U.S. dollars?

The third item on the list is the unique destinations that your family can discover together. Smoking volcanoes, boarding down the side of a volcano, learning to surf, and amazing unique islands like Ometepe and the Corn Islands are not found elsewhere, certainly not all int he same country!

Fourth consideration is safety and security. Nicaragua is well-known in the region for a policing and security policy that focuses on prevention of violent crimes and they are doing well, especially compared to its neighbors.  Since Nicaragua is so much safer, your family can more readily get out and about making all those memories happen in relative security.

The last thing to consider about choosing Nicaragua for your next family vacation is that it is a very “real” vacation.  Since it is safer, you aren’t limited to the all-inclusive resorts, so you’ll have more chance to interact with locals. Your children will see how other people live, and that the kids are perfectly happy playing simple games like football (soccer) or even a game of marbles. Xbox and Nintendo not required!

Read my kickass article directly on the website

There are lots of great things about Nicaragua Family Travel and at least a few of them I listed on this article posted on TripAdvisor. We’ve had so many families come and it is a real treat to see the families enjoying their adventures, bonding together, have new experiences, and in general just having the times of their lives!

Some folks come here for the adventure travel, others for ecotourism and culture, some learn how to surf, or simply take a few hikes and tours. We like to show family what things to do in Managua, but of course the most important is that you begin and end your vacation with a big Welcome to El Portón Verde!

San Juan to/from Airport, Granada, Leon and a volcano – Leon Forum – TripAdvisor

Lots of families like yours have wonderful vacations in Nicaragua that are really quite inexpensive if you plan them correctly

via San Juan to/from Airport, Granada, Leon and a volcano – Leon Forum – TripAdvisor.

and as you have identified, keep some of the in-country transport costs down. Some folks want to plan every second in advance while another extreme has no plans other than to land and try to get to their first destination, which they may decide based on talking to someone on the plane, for example. 🙂

My usual suggestion is to take care of that first and last night in Nicaragua and then have some idea of what to do and where to go, but to keep an open mind and at a minimum, an attitude of “es todo una aventura” (it’s all an adventure) so that some spontaneous events might happen. I’ve seen families adopt this attitude and end up having lots of fun with it!

One option (especially if your flight arrives at night) is to stay somewhere near where the buses from Managua to SJdS pass by, so you can easily take advantage of the surprisingly not too bad public transport system here that will cost just a few bucks a person. Any shuttle service will charge at least $80 if not more for a, whereas a bus trip is around $3 p.p.

This approach to your first night in Nicaragua also works the same for other destinations to the south of Managua such as MasayaGranada, Mombacho, Laguna de Apoyo, San Jorge (ferry to Ometepe), Rivas, Tola, Peñas Blancas, Cardenas, etc.

Regarding a volcano tour from SJdS, that would be do able as a day trip, but not ideal due to distance from said volcanoes. The closest would be on Ometepe Island; taking the ferry from San Jorge over to Moyagalpa, then probably taxi or tour to hike one of the two volcanoes. Best doing a volcano from Masaya, Granada, or Leon.

Finally, the cheap way to get to Granada from SJdS is to take a bus to Nandaime, then a different bus, Nandaime to Granada. Routes and timetables (take with a big grain of sal, especially on departure and arrival times)

I hope that helps.

Cheers, Mike @ Farmstay El Porton Verde