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

14 stunning photos of exploration in the Masaya volcano • El Nuevo Diario

The images shared by Sam Cossman after the first week of work in the active volcano

Source: 14 stunning photos of exploration in the Masaya volcano • El Nuevo Diario

Photo: Alejandro Sánchez
The Team of Sam Cossman installs 80 sensors in the interior of the Masaya Volcano.

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!

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

“War” of the airlines is coming to Nicaragua · El Nuevo Diario

“War” of the airlines comes to Nicaragua


The general manager of the Managua Air Terminal announces that three airlines will fly more often from the United States to Nicaragua

By Alma Vidaurre Arias | Country (Translated by Mike @ Farmstay El Porton Verde)

"War" comes from airlines



At least three international airlines arriving in Nicaragua announced that they will increase their frequency to daily or weekly flights from US cities, a decision that could reduce the costs of flight tickets as tour operators and agents in the country agree. 

As of May 28, 2015, the US carrier Spirit Airlines will add three flights per week from Houston to Managua, according to a statement from the same company.

Moreover, in June, American Airlines will launch connections from Managua to Dallas-Fort Worth, with the idea of ​​strengthening its market. 


Delta Air Lines also recently announced it will begin operating a seasonal service on Saturdays, between Los Angeles and Managua, starting in June. 
The possibility of increasing the number of flights and travel frequency is a positive impact for users, and could lead to a price war in the air, consider Irela Olivas, Bosa travel advisor Tours & Travel. 

“It’s a positive impact, because it really generates more options for Nicaraguans abroad and the entry of visitors to the country. It will be easier for people to travel, have better flight itineraries, having more links will be easier for people to travel,” said Olivas. 
Last December Aeromexico connected directly the Federal District (Mexico City) to the Nicaraguan capital. 

“The costs of the tickets will go down, go down more frequently by the same competition among airlines with promotions. This is a benefit for the population, there will be more competition between airlines, while operating the same routes” said adviser Bosa Travel Tours & Travel. 

Orlando Castillo, general manager of the International Airports Administration Company, EAAI, told official media that Nicaragua is in talks with other airlines to improve the country’s connectivity with the rest of the world. 

“We’ve talked to other airlines, which have shown much interest in starting to make direct flights to Managua, which is a story of great importance for our country,” Castillo said. 


In 2007, according to Castillo, the airport had 25 daily flights in international operations, however, to date, the country has a total of 34 trips per day, representing an increase of 36% in this period. 

For this year, Nicaragua plans to receive 8.5% more tourists compared to 2014, which translates into 1.4 million visitors, authorities estimate the Nicaraguan Institute of Tourism, Intur. 

For the CEO of Intur, Mayra Salinas, achieve more air connections through Spirit, Delta and American Airlines, offers better conditions to Nicaragua. 

“The increased air connectivity of Nicaragua is going to contribute to this goal, we know we have 12 direct connections with other countries, five with the United States six with Central America, one with Mexico and a shared code with Venezuela.” he said.

Se viene “guerra” de líneas aéreas · El Nuevo Diario.

With this “war” of the airlines, we’ll get some more competition, so hopefully this will create an environment of overall lower fares between the USA and Nicaragua. I knew about the Spirit Air flights from Houston and the seasonal Delta flights out of Los Angeles, but did not know about the American Airlines flights coming non-stop out of Dallas, TX. Great news!

This adds lots of new flights and better options for people, especially from the western side of the USA and Canada. To not have to go to Miami or Atlanta will save lots of folks from that side of the continent hours of their precious time, which should be used to better advantage here in Nicaragua enjoying a wonderful vacation!

Tourism has grown every year since the Farmstay opened, and this year is to be a banner year for tourism growth at 8.5%. Sweet!


Best Places to Travel in 2015 – Articles | Travel + Leisure


Eco-adventurers have their sights set on Costa Rica’s northern neighbor as much for its geographic diversity—beaches, lakes, islets, volcanoes, rainforests, and reefs—as for its colonial-meets-bohemian vibe and comparative affordability. The Tribal Hotel is a laid-back luxury retreat in the heart of Granada—a colorful 500-year-old city on the shores of Lake Nicaragua—whose expat owners have globe-trotting friends bound to up the ante of flush visitors. In March 2015, the Inn at Rancho Santana will debut 17 rooms on a breezy isthmus with five private beaches dotting the Pacific Coast two hours southwest of Granada. Neighboring Mukul Resort opened to great fanfare in 2013 as Nicaragua’s first five-star hideaway and has since launched Flor de Caña Centenario 25, a slow-aged premium Nicaraguan rum. Environmentalists are keeping close watch on a controversial Chinese-backed canal development with the potential to boost Nicaragua’s economy but also to threaten ecosystems and indigenous communities—added incentive to explore now. —Nora Walsh

Tribal hotel, Granada

Tribal hotel, Granada

via Best Places to Travel in 2015 – Articles | Travel + Leisure.

Farmstay El Porton Verde Reviews – Airbnb, Anthony


We arrived at the airport in Managua on a late flight and Mike was there to collect us, which was great having coming off a long haul flight. He drove us to his beautiful finca. We found in the morning that the views over the neighbouring hills were stunning, and Mike’s wife and sister in law cooked us traditional Nica food – which happened to be the best traditional food we ended up having on our travels in Nicaragua – including “Nacatamales” on Sunday, which were amazing! As well as being introduced to the family and pet dogs we also had a tour of the farm. Mike also took us for a tour of the Masaya volcano and helped us get a local bus to our next destination. He would have been happy to drive us but we fancied having a go on the local buses – which we were cheap and safe. All in all, very pleased with our experience. Thanks Mike.

Ensuite Queen Tranquil Farmstay B&B

November 2014

via Mike’s Profile – Airbnb.

Booker Travels – Nicaragua: JFK to MGA

This video, Booker Travels – Nicaragua: JFK to MGA, isn’t what I thought it would be, to tell you my impression. It was actually good! It’s a story of a kid whose name is Booker and it follows his trip step-by-step. He goes from his house somewhere in New York, takes the metro to the airport, flies to the Managua airport (MGA), stays overnight at what looks to be one of the hotels near the airport, then goes to Popoyo beach the next day to go surfing.

While I did enjoy the look at buffet of the airport-area hotel he stayed at and appreciate that with a free stay you get some nice footage for your hotel in the video, the video as a whole would have been much better if he had started with our soft landing service instead of a major chain hotel. But the food at the breakfast buffet does look pretty good!

The segment at the hotel could have been much more of a “wow” moment; picture waking up on a tropical farm with views of two volcanoes, one of which is active and smoking. In front of you is a crystal-clear swimming pool with a picturesque, fruit-tree filled valley with a big hill in front of you that goes to “the Clouds” (las nubes). It is quiet and cool and a great place to recharge your energies in preparation for the rest of your Nicaraguan vacation. Great way to end your visit too!

Nice footage of Popoyo there Booker! Nice job on the video and congratulations on being a master of social media. Seriously, I am impressed by this young man.

I think it was Booker's first time to see a cow up close?

I think it was Booker’s first time to see a cow up close?

Labor Day Getaway

Getaway to Nicaragua for Labor Day!

It's not too late for your Labor Day Getaway to Nicaragua!

It’s not too late for your Labor Day Getaway to Nicaragua!

Labor Day weekend means extra days for you to head out for some relaxation and fun before summer’s done. Why not take a quick hop to Nicaragua, where you can get all of the best parts of summer in one place? From beaches to colonial cities, incredible cuisine to fresh, cool drinks, volcanoes to lakes, Nicaragua is the perfect place to celebrate summer.

It’s not too late for an incredible summer getaway!

via Labor Day Getaway.

Haha, yes come to Nicaragua where it is always Summer! We sort of forget about the weather changes that happen up North now that we live here in Nicaragua, but it is important to keep in mind as we are now moving from summer in the northern hemisphere to fall.

Sort of a tangential topic, but even here it is supposed to be what is called “Winter” here but the rain has not been coming at all. A severe dry spell has hit due to El Niño/climate change/Al Gore’s hot breath, you name it, but the first part of the rainy season has done squat for agriculture here on the Farmstay. We planted corn and beans and they are toast! Supposedly the second part of the planting and harvest cycle, late August through end of October will be better. We certainly hope so!