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

A week(ish) in Nicaragua – Nicaragua Forum – TripAdvisor

Michele M San Mateo

Level Contributor 7 posts 28 reviews

A week(ish) in Nicaragua

Jun 11, 2016, 12:29 AM

Hi, My husband and I are thinking of a short trip to Nicaragua for about a week or so in early December. We’ll fly into the capitol and are interested in Granada, Ometempe Island and Little Corn Island. Need help planning tranfers from place to place. We prefer convenience over price; willing pay more to fly vs long bus or ferries. Anyone have ideas how best to get around these places efficiently? Thanks


elportonverde Managua, Nicaragua

Level Contributor 808 posts 22 reviews 1.

Re: A week(ish) in Nicaragua

Jun 11, 2016, 4:21 PM Greetings Michelle: Okay, let’s see if there is anything help-wise I can offer you 🙂 Well, there might be some of the regulars here shortly to tell you to drop Corn Island but really if you want to go and do it, then why not? You can take flights from Managua to both Corn Island and Ometepe Island. So that’s the good news as this will save you time.

The not as good news is that the flights to Ometepe are not daily. You’d have to look on the website to be sure, but I think there is only one or maybe two flights per week to Ometepe. So, ideally you get your international flight into Managua as early as you can, then book your (probably afternoon) flight to Corn Island. Then, on one of the days when the flight to Ometepe is scheduled, you fly back from CI to Managua. Go enjoy Ometepe, then from there take the ferry to San Jorge and then bus/taxi to San Juan del Sur.

There is a new airport north of SJdS near Playa Gigante called Costa Esmeralda which has flights to Managua. You might consider staying in the P.G., or Popoyo areas instead of SJdS if convenience is at a premium since that would be much closer to the little (but brand new) airport.

So that said, your final step is take your flight from C.E. to MGA, then your international flight back home. Now the challenge would be to actually be able to get all those connections to work: it would a near-miracle if there are no delays, that La Costeña airlines doesn’t reschedule or have equipment problems, that your international flights all work out, that the day the Ometepe flights happen coincides with being able to spend two or three nights on CI, and that the Costa Esmeralda flights leave at a time where you can make your international flight home.

It may well be impossible to do all that, so figure out a backup plan (staying in Managua might be necessary, for example) or downsize the number of spots you’d like to visit. I hope that helps! Cheers, Mike @ El Portón Verde, Managua

Source: A week(ish) in Nicaragua – Nicaragua Forum – TripAdvisor

So is this do-able? A week or a bit more and able to see three of the main places to go in Nicaragua? I say yes, especially if you are willing to fly between locations and willing to pay for that privilege. But of course, saying it is possible doesn’t mean that it is likely that all the comings and goings described above could actually come to fruition. For the above-itinerary it’s better to spend 10 or 11 days IMO.

The Concepción volcano, one of the two that are found on the island of Ometepe in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, seen from the port of San Jorge in the western department or province of Rivas. Credit: Karin Paladino/IPS

The Concepción volcano, one of the two that are found on the island of Ometepe in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, seen from the port of San Jorge in the western department or province of Rivas. Credit: Karin Paladino/IPS

Oveedia Is First Mover In Push to Grow Nicaraguan Tourism – MarketWatch

Oveedia_WelcomeOveedia Is First Mover In Push to Grow Nicaraguan Tourism Published: Nov 2, 2015 9:39 a.m. ET 0 4 Costa Esmeralda Airport Offers Travelers Better Access to Nicaragua and an Opportunity for Lesser Known Hotels to Increase Bookings LAS VEGAS, Nov. 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Pure Hospitality Solutions, Inc., PNOW, +26.90% parent company of the Central American-Caribbean online travel Agency, Oveedia (, announced today, that those Nicaraguan hotel properties not listed on major OTAs’, will now see an influx of business opportunities, with this month’s opening of the Costa Esmeralda Airport. This positively benefits the Company through the increase of exclusive Nicaraguan property listings on Oveedia, as Oveedia has a ‘first mover advantage’ in the region. “We already estimated that the number of Nicaraguan hotels we’d sign onto Oveedia during the Expotur 2016, would be considerable in number,” stated Melvin Pereira, President & CEO of Pure Hospitality Solutions. “However, with the aggressive push from Nicaragua to increase global visitors to the country, fortunate for us, our timelines has been accelerated. Being one of the first OTAs to primarily focus on this region, Oveedia has a ‘first mover advantage’ as it is readily positioned to offer Nicaraguan hoteliers a place to list and market their properties to a global audience, searching for a place to stay.” Built by Corporacion del Sur, S.A. [in association with the Nicaragua Tourism Board], and designed by T.H. Chastain Engineering PLLC of New York, the Costa Esmerald Airport which opens this November, is expected to be a game-changer. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE Read: Accommodating ATR-42, ATR-72, Gulfstream V jets and most turboprop planes, Costa Esmerald will reduce transfer time from Managua and Costa Rica. Costa Rica will further benefit, as its International Airport will now act as a hub for those commercial airliners not able to land at Costa Esmerald. The number of travelers to Costa Rica is also anticipated to see an increase.  Management believes there will be a rise in Costa Rican hotel stays along with a surge in Costa Rican/Nicaraguan hotel packages. In either case, Oveedia has a ‘first mover advantage’ to leverage this new traffic. Mr. Pereira concluded, “With the ongoing ease in Cuba, this new Nicaraguan ‘air-bridge’, and other unexpected events positively affecting this region of the Americas, there is a sudden growing interest in travel to Central America – on and off-line. Oveedia is at the right place, right time!”

Source: Oveedia Is First Mover In Push to Grow Nicaraguan Tourism – MarketWatch

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!

Woman Solo Traveler going to Nicaragua for 12 days in July – TripAdvisor


Washington DC…
posts: 15
reviews: 1
Woman Solo Traveler going to Nicaragua for 12 days in July

Hi everyone,

I’m 30 yo woman solo traveler going to Nicaragua for 12 days in July. I need tips on what to do and safety. I have traveled by myself in Europe for seven months, I like hiking and doing things outdoors. I wanted to visit Granada, Leon, Isla de Omepete, & San Juan del Sur. Anything else? The safety aspect is what has me worried, please provide suggestions on taking taxis and buses as I will not be renting a car. As well as, places to stay overnight. Thanks very much beforehand to anyone that contributes.


Managua, Nicaragua
posts: 595
reviews: 14
3. Re: Woman Solo Traveler going to Nicaragua for 12 days in July

Greetings Lori:

We host visitors traveling solo quite often and there’s more women than men doing it that way…so just follow the standard advice that you’ve received here and you should be okay.

Once you start on your journey it’s quite possible you’ll meet up with some other travelers and end up going around with them to the next spot on your itinerary anyway, so keep that in mind.

Your proposed itinerary is just fine, folks here bash SJdS but it is a lovely bay and you can avoid the party scene if that’s not your thing. Also, it is easy to get from there to Ometepe or vis-versa so you might as well. Nothing bad about Leon, you should be able to squeeze it in, but understand it is on the other side of Managua, where you’ll presumably be flying into, so getting from say Ometepe to Leon is a pretty long day of travel. Best to plan to go directly to Leon if that’s on your gotta do list, then work your way south from there.

As far as your security, what I would add is to keep a copy of your passport or email yourself a photo of it in case it is lost or stolen. Also, try to not take the last bus from point A to point B because you’re better off not arriving when its dark. Do your travel in the mornings or mid-day. Understand that an iPhone or Galaxy 6 smartphone is worth the equivalent of three or four months of hard work on a job, so you can see why it might be tempting for a thief to steal it from you. If you can live without such things for the 12 days, all the better. You can bring a cheap used unblocked cellphone and buy a local GSM chip from either Movistar or Claro phone companies for less than $2 if being in touch with folks back home or to call around locally is something that would make you feel more secure.

Okay, hope that helps. If you need a soft landing at MGA, let me know.

Cheers, Mike @ Farmstay El Porton Verde, Managua

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