March 26, 2023

Nicaragua Journey

Nicaragua was a spontaneous journey. We had had a household journey to Costa Rica deliberate for months – one final one-week trip to finish the summer season. We didn’t have loads deliberate apart from rest at 4 Seasons Costa Rica and some excursions. However on the final minute my spouse and each daughters dropped out – just too many issues to get finished earlier than faculty began.

So it was all the way down to my son and me. We simply may have stored our Costa Rica flights and lodge reserving, however the two of us have had plenty of enjoyable adventures up to now, and we determined to go someplace new (we’ve been to Costa Rica twice earlier than). His standards: 1) a brand new nation; and a couple of) not plenty of journey to get there. The South Pacific was an choice, in addition to Central and South America. We virtually booked Roatan, Honduras, as United had superb flights through Denver that might have been excellent. However after I went to e-book I discovered that the well-timed flights had been solely as soon as every week, and if we wished to remain lower than every week the flight schedule again was horrible. So it was again to the map.

We rapidly targeted on Nicaragua. It was pretty straightforward to succeed in from LA, it was a brand new nation for us, and I had heard good issues. Plus I knew that there wasn’t plenty of tourism, which is at all times a plus. I don’t wish to go the place everybody else goes.

Nicaragua Family Travel - The view from our bungalow at Morgan's Rock in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
The view from our bungalow at Morgan’s Rock in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Reserving Nicaragua Journey

We really had Nicaragua journey booked for spring break 2020, however clearly needed to cancel. We nonetheless have a credit score at Jicaro Island Lodge, however after I gave my son the selection of locations all through Nicaragua, he selected Morgan’s Rock in San Juan del Sur as a substitute. And I had wished to see the colonial city of Granada, so I added in a pair days there.

Nicaragua Family Travel - At La Merced Church in Granada
At La Merced Church in Granada

We booked flights on Avianca from LA to San Salvador after which to Managua. The one downside is that we had been set to reach at 10:25pm (there aren’t many flight choices) and Morgan’s Rock was 2.5 hours or so from the airport. I didn’t assume spending that a lot time in a automotive instantly following two flights sounded enjoyable, so we booked our first evening at Hotel Globales Camino Real close to the airport after which organized for Morgan’s Rock to choose us up at 7:00 the subsequent morning. From there we might spend three nights at Morgan’s Rock, two in Granada (I booked Lodge Los Patios based mostly on TripAdvisor evaluations) after which fly again to LA.

Nicaragua Entry Kinds

I struggled to seek out out what we would have liked to do prematurely of our journey. On one web site I discovered a hyperlink to this Nicaragua entry form and a notice that it was required previous to arrival. It’s solely in Spanish, however I accomplished it to the most effective of my means for my son and me (on the identical type) after which couldn’t submit it on the finish, because the captcha wasn’t working (on Safari). So I opened up my Chrome browser and accomplished the whole lot once more and it submitted accurately. I printed out the bar code to show that I accomplished it and…was by no means requested for it. Unsure if it made our arrival in Nicaragua sooner as a result of I had accomplished it, or whether or not we might have been turned away with out it? Avianca additionally despatched me many emails telling me I needed to full their on-line varieties previous to Nicaragua journey as effectively, which I did.

Touring to Nicaragua

A person on considered one of my flights referred to as Avianca the world’s worst airline. I don’t agree. There have been some annoyances, like their connection to TSA Precheck not working, and fixed emails making an attempt to upsell us on baggage (included you probably have Star Alliance Gold standing) and get us to improve to enterprise class. Avianca’s enterprise class isn’t spectacular, so I used to be by no means tempted to improve. And I’m nonetheless combating with them to get the frequent flier miles from considered one of our flights credited. In any other case all of our flights arrived early, and the connection in El Salvador was straightforward. Onboard service was minimal however nice.

We had been requested for our Covid vaccinations playing cards 3 times – at check-in in LA, boarding the Managua flight in San Salvador, after which once more upon arrival in Managua. We weren’t required to have Covid assessments (as of August 2022).

Immigration/customs had been very quick. We needed to pay US$10 every to enter the nation.

There was speculated to be a shuttle driver from Hotel Globales Camino Real ready for us with the lodge’s identify on an indication. He wasn’t there. I had even emailed the lodge to inform them our arrival flight. However a couple of minutes later the shuttle got here by means of dropping off one other visitor and we hopped on.

Lodge Globales Camino Actual

After we lastly arrived on the lodge, that they had no report of our reservation. It turned out that they gave our room to another person with an analogous identify earlier within the day. In order that was a enjoyable strategy to begin the journey. They finally cleared up the confusion and gave us a distinct room.

Nicaragua Family Travel - Hotel Globales Camino Real near the Managua airport
Lodge Globales Camino Actual close to the Managua airport

There was a celebration on the lodge with loud music till in all probability midnight, after which there was plenty of noise within the hallway all through the evening. Nonetheless in all probability preferable to driving to Morgan’s Rock late at evening, however we didn’t sleep effectively. We had breakfast on the lodge at 6:30am (included, and fairly good) after which met our Morgan’s Rock driver.

Morgan’s Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge

The two.5-hour drive to San Juan del Sur and Morgan’s Rock was satisfying. Nicaragua is a beautiful nation!

Nicaragua Family Travel - The drive to Morgan's Rock looked like this most of the way
The drive to Morgan’s Rock seemed like this many of the manner

We arrived on the lodge at 9:30am and had been in a position to test in instantly…since we had been the one friends. It’s loopy. I acquired so many messages from individuals on Instagram saying that they had cherished the lodge, however that was years in the past. Tourism has been principally lifeless for 4 years now, first due to protests and authorities crackdowns after which due to Covid.

Morgan’s Rock is superb. We had a bungalow throughout a protracted suspension bridge, proper above the seaside. There was a big mattress for me, a daybed they made up for my son, after which a dangling swing on the deck the place we spent plenty of time.

Nicaragua Family Travel - The suspension bridge between the main lodge area and the rooms. So fun!
The suspension bridge between the principle lodge space and the rooms. So enjoyable!
Nicaragua Family Travel - Our room at Morgan's Rock
Our room at Morgan’s Rock. The factor over the mattress may be very exact air con!
Nicaragua Family Travel - A room with a view at Morgan's Rock
A room with a view
Nicaragua Family Travel - On our deck. Loved the swinging bed!
On our deck. Beloved the swinging mattress!

One spotlight was a farm tour with Harvy. He took us everywhere in the very giant property, finally ending up at an overlook. We noticed sloths, monkeys, turtles, 1000’s of crabs, and plenty of totally different birds.

Nicaragua Family Travel - Riding around Morgan's Rock with Harvy
Driving round Morgan’s Rock with Harvy
Nicaragua Family Travel - Overlooking Morgan's Rock
Overlooking Morgan’s Rock. Costa Rica is within the distance.

In any other case our days had been relaxed! We had three meals a day on the restaurant. We felt responsible that they had been staffed only for us! We went kayaking two days – at excessive tide by means of the estuary. We additionally spent plenty of time on the seaside within the late afternoon and did some brief hikes up from the seaside. Our favourite time of day there.

Nicaragua Family Travel - Kayaking at Morgan's Rock
Kayaking at Morgan’s Rock
Nicaragua Family Travel - A walk along the coast
A stroll alongside the coast
Nicaragua Family Travel - Reading in the hammocks at the beach
Studying within the hammocks on the seaside
Nicaragua Family Travel - Low tide in the late afternoon was magical!
Low tide within the late afternoon was magical!

I bought a therapeutic massage in the future, primarily as a result of I knew there was a therapeutic massage therapist in any other case with out shoppers. We may have gone bike using, however my son opted out. We regretted not bringing a Frisbee.

Total, in case you’re on the lookout for a seaside vacation spot, Morgan’s Rock is a enjoyable selection. It’s positively not as touristy as most of close by Costa Rica. The one factor I knocked them for a bit on the end-of-stay survey was for meals. The meals was glorious, however fundamental programs averaged $30, and in Granada we had been ordering the identical issues for $8-10.

Nicaragua Family Travel - The Nica Breakfast at Morgan's Rock was perfect
The Nica Breakfast at Morgan’s Rock (included) was excellent

Granada, Nicaragua

We booked two nights in Granada and actually it was an excessive amount of. It’s a cute city, and we ate at plenty of good eating places, however there’s not a lot to do.

What we did: we walked round and we climbed the bell tower. We additionally spent plenty of time at Hotel Los Patios enjoying big chess.

Nicaragua Family Travel - Granada after a quick rain storm
Granada after a fast rain storm
Nicaragua Family Travel - In Granada
In Granada
Nicaragua Family Travel - Looking out from the bell tower of La Merced Church ($1 to climb up).
Looking from the bell tower of La Merced Church ($1 to climb up).
Nicaragua Family Travel - Playing chess at Hotel Los Patios
Taking part in chess at Lodge Los Patios

What we may have finished: there are boat journeys to close by islands, and there are a number of mountaineering choices on close by Mombacho Volcano, however the climate forecast confirmed regular thunderstorms, and we had been hesitant to be on a ship or excessive up on a volcano with lightning. In actuality we bought one or two good storms whereas there, however it was dry excess of was predicted. If we return with out rain within the forecast, I positively wish to do a volcano hike.

Nicaragua Family Travel - Mombacho Volcano was visible from our room in Granada
Mombacho Volcano was seen from our room in Granada

Like I mentioned, we booked two nights in Granada. However after dinner our second evening we made the choice to go to Managua that evening as a substitute of at 3am the subsequent day. It will allow us to get an additional hour or so of sleep, and eradicated the prospect of lacking our flight for any cause. So I booked the Best Western actually throughout the road from the Managua airport and checked out of Los Patios early (we nonetheless paid for that second evening to be truthful to them).

Lodge Los Patios

We cherished Hotel Los Patios and I extremely suggest a keep there. Our room was giant and comfy, breakfast was glorious, the lodge was superb from a design perspective, and Xiomara was an ideal host. We had been the one friends and I don’t know how lengthy it had been since that they had final had a reserving. It was actually unhappy seeing this vacationer city with nearly no vacationers.

Nicaragua Family Travel - Our room at Los Patios in Granada
Our room at Los Patios in Granada
Nicaragua Family Travel - Hotel Los Patios
Lodge Los Patios

Nicaragua Journey: The place to Dine in Granada

We had two lunches and two dinners in Granada, and breakfast at Los Patios. Our first lunch was at Nectar, which we stumbled upon. Our second lunch was at Ristorante El Garaje, quantity two on TripAdvisor and really near our lodge. Each had glorious sandwiches. Don’t miss El Garaje.

Nicaragua Family Travel - Lunch at El Garaje
Lunch at El Garaje

Our first dinner was at The Garden Cafe and our second was at a mixed restaurant/artwork gallery referred to as Cafe de Arte. We appreciated our meals at The Backyard Cafe a bit higher, however each are good selections.

Nicaragua Family Travel - The Garden Cafe in Granada
The Backyard Cafe in Granada

Managua to Los Angeles

The Best Western Las Mercedes Airport was nice. Our room was smaller than at Hotel Globales Camino Real up the road, however the lodge was quieter, they didn’t screw up our reservation, and no shuttle was obligatory. We walked over to the airport at 4am for our 5:35am flight. It took perhaps half an hour to test in and get by means of passport management.

Our connection in San Salvador was straightforward, with loads of time to get pastries and occasional. We arrived into LA roughly half an hour early, sailed by means of immigration (with International Entry) and had been on our parking shuttle roughly quarter-hour after strolling off the aircraft. So good solely touring with carry-ons!

Nicaragua Family Travel - Departing San Salvador
Departing San Salvador
Nicaragua Family Travel - A shout out to The Parking Spot - the only place we've parked for 20+ years at LAX.
A shout out to The Parking Spot – the one place we’ve parked for 20+ years at LAX.

Nicaragua Journey: Foreign money and Finance

Nicaragua has its personal forex, the córdoba, however US {Dollars} are accepted all over the place. I bought roughly $100 in native forex from an ATM in Granada and I shouldn’t have bothered. Each considered one of our restaurant payments within the metropolis had the totals in each currencies.

Hotel Globales Camino Real was $151. Morgan’s Rock was $365/evening. Meals there added one other $60 per individual per day. Hotel Los Patios was $150/evening. The Best Western was $128. I booked the whole lot attainable by means of since I get one free evening with each 10 nights, so it successfully reduces these costs by 10% (it’s why I normally hyperlink to Lunches and dinners in Granada averaged $20-25 for 2. Our transfers had been $200 to Morgan’s Rock, $150 from Morgan’s Rock to Granada, and $40 from Granada to the airport.

Nicaragua Family Travel - Sunset at Morgan's Rock
Sundown at Morgan’s Rock

I paid for 3 lodges on-line prematurely. Lodge Los Patios doesn’t have bank card processing proper now due to the lull in tourism, so I used money.

Insurance coverage

After we cancelled our Nicaragua journey in 2020, Avianca subsequently cancelled our flights however wouldn’t give us a refund, so I filed a declare with our bank card. We lastly bought our a reimbursement. However we nonetheless have a big deposit at Jicaro Island Lodge since they wouldn’t give us a refund. We’re now smarter and have an annual travel policy through G1G. I appreciated realizing that if something occurred with this journey, we’d be lined.

Is Nicaragua Protected?

In case you learn on-line journey advisories, you’re warned about crime. A number of crime. It’s sufficient to make you second guess a visit. However in actuality we felt protected. Morgan’s Rock after all is remoted, however the roads appeared protected (our three longish drives had been early within the morning, late within the morning and at evening), and we felt comfy strolling round Granada, even at evening. Nothing appeared even a bit sketchy at any level. However once more, simply another excuse it’s good to have journey insurance coverage.

Nicaragua Family Travel - Granada felt safe, even after dark
Strolling to dinner in Granada

Nicaragua Packing Listing

It was heat your complete time we had been there. I took one pair of denims for the aircraft. My son didn’t carry any lengthy pants in any respect. We lived in shorts and short-sleeve shirts. We each bought by with backpacks (carry-ons), two pairs of shorts, three t-shirts (merino wool t-shirts from Unbound Merino labored effectively), underwear and flip flops. We had higher strolling footwear and barely wore them. Insect repellent was obligatory (a number of mosquitos), as had been swimsuits and sunscreen. I didn’t take a digicam.

Nicaragua Household Journey – Abstract

We had a very good journey. It’s very a lot a hen and egg factor with Nicaragua journey and tourism. Proper now there aren’t plenty of vacationers, and consequently there’s not loads for vacationers to do exterior of exploring its seashores, volcanos and islands, and the cities of Granada and Leon. So any journey goes to be extra laid-back than to close by Costa Rica or Panama. In case you haven’t been to Costa Rica, or in case you’re on the lookout for zip-lining and enormous resorts, perhaps go there first. However if you wish to get away from a highly-developed tourism infrastructure and get again to nature, and if you need the actually good feeling of serving to individuals instantly together with your tourism {dollars}, Nicaragua is a good vacation spot.