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

You say Cuba. I say Nicaragua. Let’s call the whole thing off | IOL

With the demand for Cuba extremely high at present, there are other alternatives to consider, writes Simon Calder.

 / 28 October 2016, 8:00pm
Jesus del gran poder

Penitents carry a statue of Jesus Christ during the ‘Jesus del gran poder’ procession in the colonial city of Granada, Nicaragua.

Question: We tried to book for Cuba for a week’s holiday post-Christmas, but the travel agent said it was full to bursting and suggested Nicaragua instead, flying in and out via Miami. Would you agree it’s a good alternative?

Name withheld


Answer: Demand for Cuba is extremely high at present, with such limited tourism infrastructure relative to demand, it’s not unreasonable to describe it as full – especially in the capital, Havana.

Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America, doesn’t do 1950s American cars and music in quite the same way as Cuba, but it is a superb destination in its own right. The scenery is dramatically volcanic; there are a couple of beautiful Spanish colonial cities in the shapes of Leon and Granada; and an indulgent Pacific beach resort, San Juan del Sur.

You might notice I have not mentioned the capital, Managua; that’s because it was flattened by an earthquake and resembles a scattering of scruffy suburbs rather than a proper city. There are, though, some colourful markets.

My one concern is the length of the journey. In the absence of direct flights from the UK to Nicaragua, the connections are gruelling – and involve the daunting prospect of US immigration.

With only a week, you might consider flying non-stop on to San Jose and driving up the Pan-American Highway from the Costa Rican capital.

Source: You say Cuba. I say Nicaragua. Let’s call the whole thing off | IOL

We get a lot of Canadian visitors to El Porton Verde, and when I mentioned something about how “Americans” from the USA can finally begin to travel to Cuba, I wondered out loud if that will affect the number of visitors from the USA. She said to me “Don’t worry, because more Americans in Cuba means more Canadians in Nicaragua!” 🙂

So yes, folks, if everything is booked in Cuba, take a look at coming to Nicaragua instead. You can always go to Cuba after the rush is over!

First Visit to the Corn Islands | Professional Sabbatical

…We spent most of our time at Southwest Beach, near the Arenas hotel. The other main beach is called Long Beach and has larger waves, but it said to be rockier and is also more desolate.  Southwest beach offers a few places to grab some food and drinks.

Southwest Beach on Corn Island

We went snorkeling on the reefs right outside Ike’s place. The reefs were a little shallow for my liking, so I headed in after seeing a few cool fish, but a few of the boys stayed out there and said they saw some awesome fish.

Great snorkeling!

via First Visit to the Corn Islands | Professional Sabbatical.

Nice travelogue about a pleasant visit to the Corn Islands. There is some great news for folks looking to have a guided tour to the Corn Islands. Our friend Tanya at NicaTour Group is now offering a short but fun tour five day stay in these beautiful islands!

Here are some further details about Tanya’s great tour:

5 Day Corn Islands Tour

Take 5 days and explore Big and Little Corn Islands on our 5 Day Corn Islands Tour package. Spend five days and four nights in Nicaragua’s Caribbean Paradise. Kick back and relax!  Trust us, you’ll never want to leave.

Tour Dates:

November 20 – November 24

Price for 5 day tour:  from $685 US per person, includes taxes and fees.  We also have an upgraded package available.  We also book group travel. Please call for details.


  • Return flights from Managua to Big Corn Island
  • Airport and harbor transfers
  • Hotels
  • Hotel transfer
  • Meals as indicated (breakfast at both hotels)
  • Big Corn Island tour
  • Return transport by boat between Big and Little Corn Island

Not included:

  • Some meals and beverages
  • Travel Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips and Gratuities to the driver and the people at the dock who help with the baggage.

See more of Nicaragua.  Add the 5 Day Corn Islands Tour as an extension to one of our mainland Nicaragua tours.

A great entry to Nicaragua life – Review of Farmstay El Porton Verde, Managua, Nicaragua – TripAdvisor

A great entry to Nicaragua life – Review of Farmstay El Porton Verde, Managua, Nicaragua – TripAdvisor.

“A great entry to Nicaragua life”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 2 days ago

Mike was on the ball, meeting us at the airport, helping us shop on the way to his ‘oasis’ at El Porton Verde. We stayed in the apartment just outside the swimming pool, with a grand view of the verdant hills and volcanic region. Restful, indeed, and Mike took us on a fine tour of Managua, and bid us good bye by driving us to our next adventure in Granada. Wifi and tasty breakfast included. But mostly, just breathe the Nica atmosphere.


  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 starsValue
    • 4 of 5 starsLocation
    • 5 of 5 starsSleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 starsRooms
    • 5 of 5 starsCleanliness
    • 5 of 5 starsService

Calidad, Seguridad, Confianza, Comfort y Compromiso

Calidad, Seguridad, Confianza, Comfort y Compromiso.
Always Rent a Car$$

Just for my own sake, I want to blog about this rental car and driver company. Instead of just renting a car, how about renting a car and driver? Hiring a driver in Nicaragua doesn’t cost too much more and you have way more security and less of a hassle getting around Nicaragua.

If someone wants to hire a car and driver when you come and visit us at the Farmstay, let me know when you want to rent a car and we’ll give these guys a chance!

Transportation is always an important consideration in planning any trip to Nicaragua. While the public bus system actually works pretty well and is certainly inexpensive, a private shuttle is usually fairly costly. And using a rent a car comes with the need to drive it yourself, which for some can be stressful.

Overall, driving in Nicaragua is not too difficult, but it is certainly handy, for example, to hire a car and driver to take you to the Flor de Caña distillery in Chichigalpa. If you have a driver, you can REALLY enjoy the fine rums served and sold at the distillery when you take the fabulous Tour that the Pellas’ little rum operation offers! Don’t miss the 18- or 21-year old rums. Smooth as buttah…:)

Managua as a Tourist Destination? – Nicaragua Community – Nicaragua Community

Managua as a Tourist Destination? – Nicaragua Community – Nicaragua Community.

Managua as a Tourist Destination?

By  on June 16, 2013

Perhaps some readers would say it is ridiculous to think of Managua as a tourist town. If the lake Xolotlán had not been polluted and the city was less messy and safer, we would have a much more attractive city in terms of attracting tourists. The authorities and the education of the Managuans can determine if they can exploit the potential of this city.

Saludos Rolando! Thanks for this article. I too am starting to see a few foreign tourists visiting downtown Managua now. It used to be that I would take guests of my bed and breakfast to Managua for a half-day tour and we would rarely see any gringos, but now I do see a few here and there.

One place that is good to visit in addition to the spots you have mentioned is Mirador Tiscapa. There is the foundation of Somoza’s mansion there and there is an exhibit about the life of Augusto C. Sandino there as well. But the best part is the view. One the lakeside, you see “old Managua” and on the southside, you see “new Managua.”

Mike @ Farmstay El Portón Verde

Leon-Managua – NicaShuttle

Leon-Managua – NicaShuttle.

                      MINIMUM 2 PERSONS

This is a new (to me at least) shuttle service with what looks like very fair prices. This would be a very good alternative to either a private taxi or a mini-bus/expresso bus from Managua to Leon.

I notice they leave from Galerias, which is very close to the farmstay. They provide travel to other areas of Nicaragua also, Granada, San Juan del Sur, etc.

Tours of Managua, Nicaragua | USA Today

Tours of Managua, Nicaragua | USA Today.

Travel through the city of Managua, Nicaragua, and your first impressions may be of urban streets packed with traffic and people. However, visitors find more to the capital of Nicaragua than the typical tourist attractions. Lonely Planet says “the city pulses, with great nightlife, excellent restaurants” and a selection of interesting sights. A tour of Managua is a safe and interesting way to get an overview of this busy city.

Or, you can book a tour with Farmstay El Portón Verde…