Tourism in Nicaragua

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Maderas and Concepcion Volcanoes on Ometepe island are popular tourist destinations. Ometepe nic.jpg
Maderas and Concepcion Volcanoes on Ometepe island are popular tourist destinations.

Tourism in Nicaragua has grown considerably recently, and it is now the second largest industry in the nation. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has stated his intention to use tourism to combat poverty throughout the country. [1]


The growth in tourism has positively affected the agricultural, commercial, and finance industries, as well as the construction industry. The results for Nicaragua's tourism-driven economy have been significant, with the nation welcoming one million tourists in a calendar year for the first time in its history in 2010. [2]

In mid-2018, tourism in Nicaragua came to a virtual standstill due to the 2018-2019 Nicaraguan protests.[ citation needed ]


Life in Nicaragua
Human Rights

During the Nicaraguan Revolution in the 1980s, Nicaragua was not regarded as a place to travel, which caused a decrease in tourism. However, rapid expansion of the tourist industry over the last decade has made it the nation's second largest industry. [3] Over the last 7 years tourism has grown about 70% nationwide with rates of 10%-16% annually. [4]

Nicaragua is mostly famous for its landscapes, flora and fauna, wildlife, culture, beaches, lakes, and volcanoes. By 2010, the nation welcomed one million visitors—the most in its entire history for a calendar year. Nicaragua's tourism industry in 2010 raked in approximately 360 million dollars for the nation's economy. [5]

According to the Nicaraguan news program Canal 2 TV Noticias, the country's main tourist attractions are beaches, scenic routes, the architecture of cities such as León and Granada, and most recently ecotourism and agritourism, particularly in Northern Nicaragua. [4]


Leon Cathedral World Heritage Site Kathedrale Leon 2.JPG
León Cathedral World Heritage Site

In 2013, more than 1.2 million tourists visited Nicaragua, representing an increase of nearly a third from 2009. [6] Two-thirds of these tourists were from other Central American countries, 290,000 were from North America and 80,000 from Europe. [6] Of those that come for recreation, their principal activities include surfing, hiking volcanoes and getting to know the country's nature trails.

According to the Ministry of Tourism of Nicaragua (INTUR) the colonial city of Granada is the preferred spot for tourists. The city's central park, Parqué Colón, hosts many vendors of traditional foods and arts and crafts, and there are always several horse-drawn carriages ready to give thorough and affordable tours of the city. [7] Venturing outside of the city limits, one can explore the verdant islets of Granada by a relaxing guided boat ride or by kayak. [8] The islets also have hotels for those that wish to take in the sunrise from the Mombacho Volcano, a common day destination for those interested in climbing into a cloud forest.[ citation needed ] The Apoyo Lagoon is also a popular destination for those visiting Granada. Also, the cities of León, Masaya, Rivas and the likes of San Juan del Sur, San Juan River, Ometepe, Mombacho Volcano, and others are the main tourist attractions. [9] Ecotourism and surfing also attract many tourists.

Another popular destination are the Corn Islands located about 70 km east off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua near Bluefields. They have been regarded as a "tropical paradise" by the Los Angeles Times . [10] Cruise ships have been docking in San Juan del Sur since January 2000 and average 50,000 tourists alone every year, some who partake in tours to nearby Lake Cocibolca and the colonial city of Granada. [11]

A view of the Montelimar Beach and the Barcelo Hotel and Resort in Managua PLAYA MONTELIMAR NICARAGUA.jpg
A view of the Montelimar Beach and the Barcelo Hotel and Resort in Managua

Nicaragua was ranked with the lowest crime rate in Latin America by Interpol and many other sources, [1] [12] with only 12 crimes for every 100,000 citizens. [13] Nicaragua also holds the largest lake in Central America, about 700 species of birds, and unspoiled natural beauty. Despite all this, it is still the least visited country in the region. [14] [15] However, the lower number of tourists help Nicaragua keep low prices, and an "off-the-beaten-track" feel.

Rural and community-based tourism

CECOCAFEN is an organization of coffee cooperatives in Northern Nicaragua that manage a rural and community-based tourism project, which has been developed with support from Lutheran World Relief. Tourism allows farmers to receive new opportunities in alternative markets, harvest coffee and diversify their income. [16] CECOCAFEN offers visitors the opportunity to visit a coffee farm, learn about coffee craftsmanship, and even to stay overnight on a coffee farm and explore with a community guide.

Ecological tourism

Eco-tourism aims to be ecologically and socially conscious; it focuses on local culture, wilderness, and adventure. Nicaragua's eco-tourism grows every year, [17] as the country boasts a number of eco-tourist tours and perfect places for adventurers. Nicaragua has three eco-regions, the Pacific, Central and Atlantic, which contain volcanoes, tropical rainforest and agricultural land. [18] The majority of ecolodges and other environmentally-focused touristic destinations are found on Ometepe Island, found in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, an hour's boat ride from Granada. While some are foreign-owned, such as the tropical permaculture lodge at Finca El Zopilote, [19] others are owned by local families, like the small but acclaimed Finca Samaria. [20]

Nicaragua is home to 78 protected areas covering over 20% of its landmass, and is home to 7% of the world's biodiversity. This is more than Costa Rica, which is thought to hold more natural areas than Nicaragua. [21]

Nicaragua is also home to Bosawas, located in Northern Nicaragua, which is the largest rainforest north of the Amazon in Brazil. It also holds the largest lake in Central America, Lake Cocibolca, also known as Lake Nicaragua. Lake Cocibolca attracts a fair number of tourists yearly, most of whom visit Ometepe, a large volcanic island formed by two volcanoes in the lake. Tourists may explore the flora and fauna found in the Charco Verde Nature Reserve.

Nicaragua's rich biodiversity also attracts many tourists to protected areas such as the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve, which holds a higher number in species of trees, birds, and insects than all of Europe. [22]

International tourist arrivals

After its renovation, Nicaragua's Augusto C. Sandino International Airport stands as the most modern airport in Central America. Sandino International Airport.jpg
After its renovation, Nicaragua's Augusto C. Sandino International Airport stands as the most modern airport in Central America.

International airport

Nicaragua only has one international airport, the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport, located in Managua. A large expansion and renovation programme was undertaken between 2003-2006 to modernise the facilities.

Visa regulations

Tourists from Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Ghana, Haiti, India, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, the Palestinian National Authority, Romania, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Vietnam and Yemen require a visa to enter Nicaragua. [24] [25]

Other tourists can obtain a Tourist Card for US$10 valid for 1 month upon arrival, provided with a valid passport with at least six months to run. There is also a US$32 departure tax (the tax is usually already included in a round-trip ticket). [26]

Tourist attractions


Sand skiing down the Cerro Negro volcano CerroNegroSS.jpg
Sand skiing down the Cerro Negro volcano

Nicaragua is referred to as "the land of lakes and volcanoes" due to the number of its lagoons and lakes, and the chain of volcanoes that runs from the north to the south along the country's Pacific side. Today, only 7 of the 50 volcanoes in Nicaragua are considered active. Many of these volcanoes offer some great possibilities for tourists with activities such as hiking, climbing, camping, and swimming in crater lakes.

Sand skiing has become a popular attraction at the Cerro Negro volcano in León. Both dormant and active volcanoes can be climbed. Some of the most visited volcanoes include the Masaya Volcano, Momotombo, Mombacho, Cosigüina and Ometepe's Maderas and Concepción.

The Masaya Volcano is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Nicaragua. [27] It is one of 18 distinct volcanic centres that make up the Nicaraguan portion of the Central American Volcanic Belt (CAVF).

The Apoyo Lagoon was created by the eruption of the Apoyo Volcano about 23,000 years ago, which left a huge 7 km-wide crater that gradually filled with water. It is surrounded by the old crater wall. [28] The rim of the lagoon is lined with restaurants, many of which have kayaks available. Besides exploring the forest around it, many water sports are practiced in the lagoon, most notably kayaking. [29]

Another popular attraction is the archipelago of 365 islands known as the Islets of Granada (Isletas de Granada). The islets were formed when the Mombacho volcano blew most of its cone into the lake, thereby creating the archipelago. The islets are popular with both locals and tourists. The islets differ in size and have a community of about 1200 people, most of whom make their living as fishermen. Many visitors take boat rides along the islets, which are abundant with many different species of birds and fish [30] such as cormorants, herons, kingfisher, oropendola, hawks and many more. [31]

Granada's Town Square Town Square - Granada, Nicaragua.JPG
Granada's Town Square
Corn Island CornIsland.JPG
Corn Island
Bahia Majagual Rivas BahiaMAJAGUALclose.jpg
Bahia Majagual Rivas

Department of Chinandega

Department of Estelí

Department of Granada:

Department of Jinotega

Department of León

Department of Managua:

Department of Masaya:

Department of Matagalpa

North Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region:

Department of Río San Juan:

Department of Rivas

South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region:

See also

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Lake Nicaragua largest lake in Central America

Lake Nicaragua or Cocibolca or Granada is a freshwater lake in Nicaragua. Of tectonic origin and with an area of 8,264 km2 (3,191 sq mi), it is the largest lake in Central America, the 19th largest lake in the world and the tenth largest in the Americas, slightly smaller than Lake Titicaca. With an elevation of 32.7 metres (107 ft) above sea level, the lake reaches a depth of 26 metres (85 ft). It is intermittently joined by the Tipitapa River to Lake Managua.

Nicaragua Country in Central America

Nicaragua, officially the Republic of Nicaragua, is the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Managua is the country's capital and largest city and is also the third-largest city in Central America, behind Tegucigalpa and Guatemala City. The multi-ethnic population of six million includes people of indigenous, European, African, and Asian heritage. The main language is Spanish. Indigenous tribes on the Mosquito Coast speak their own languages and English.

Managua Capital of Nicaragua

Managua is the capital and largest city of Nicaragua, and the center of an eponymous department. Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Managua and inside the Managua Department, it has an estimated population 1,042,641 in 2016 within the city's administrative limits and a population of 1,401,687 in the metropolitan area, which additionally includes the municipalities of Ciudad Sandino, El Crucero, Nindirí, Ticuantepe and Tipitapa.

Granada, Nicaragua Municipality in Granada Department, Nicaragua

Granada is a city in western Nicaragua and the capital of the Granada Department. With an estimated population of 123,697 (2012), it is Nicaragua's sixth most populous city. Granada is historically one of Nicaragua's most important cities, economically and politically. It has a rich colonial heritage, seen in its architecture and structure.

Municipalities of Nicaragua

The 15 departments and 2 autonomous regions of Nicaragua are divided into 153 municipalities. The formation and dissolution of municipalities is governed by the Law of Municipalities, drafted and approved by the National Assembly on July 2. 1988.

Ometepe island

Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanoes rising out of Lake Nicaragua in the Republic of Nicaragua. Its name derives from the Nahuatl words ome (two) and tepetl (mountain), meaning "two mountains". It is the largest island in Lake Nicaragua.

Maderas Volcano in Nicaragua

With a height of 1,394 metres (4,573 ft), Maderas is the smaller of the two volcanoes which make up the island of Ometepe, situated in Lake Nicaragua in Nicaragua, Central America. Unlike Concepción, the other volcano on the island, Maderas has not been active in historical times. Its crater contains a crater lake.

Masaya Volcano Volcán Masaya

Masaya is a caldera located in Masaya, Nicaragua, 20 km south of the capital Managua. It is Nicaragua's first and largest national park, and one of 78 protected areas of Nicaragua. The complex volcano is composed of a nested set of calderas and craters, the largest of which is Las Sierras shield volcano and caldera. Within this caldera lies a sub-vent, which is Masaya Volcano sensu stricto. The vent is a shield type composing of basaltic lavas and tephras and includes a summit crater. This hosts Masaya caldera, formed 2,500 years ago by an 8-km³ basaltic ignimbrite eruption. Inside this caldera a new basaltic complex has grown from eruptions mainly on a semi-circular set of vents that include the Masaya and Nindiri cones. The latter host the pit craters of Masaya, Santiago, Nindiri and San Pedro. Observations in the walls of the pit craters indicate that there have been several episodes of cone and pit crater formation.

Mombacho mountain

Mombacho is a stratovolcano in Nicaragua, near the city of Granada. It is 1,344 metres (4,409 ft) high. The Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve is one of 78 protected areas of Nicaragua. Mombacho is not an extinct volcano, but the last eruption occurred in 1570. There is no historical knowledge of earlier eruptions.

Diriomo Municipality in Granada, Nicaragua

Diriomo is a municipality in the Granada department of Nicaragua.

Altagracia Municipality in Rivas Department, Nicaragua

Altagracia is a municipality in the Rivas Department of Nicaragua.

Masaya Municipality in Masaya Department, Nicaragua

Masaya is the capital city of Masaya Department in Nicaragua. It is situated approximately 14 km west of Granada and 31 km southeast of Managua. It is just east of Masaya Volcano, an active volcano from which the city takes its name. With an estimated population of 140,000 (2005), it is Nicaragua's third most populous city, and it is culturally known as the City of Flowers.

The Macuá is a cocktail made with white rum and fruit juices, usually lemon and guava juice. The Macuá is noted as the national drink of Nicaragua. The drink is named after pajaro macuá, a tropical bird native to the country.

Protected areas of Nicaragua

The protected areas of Nicaragua are areas that have natural beauty or significance and are protected by Nicaragua. Nicaragua has 78 protected areas that cover 22,422 km², about 17.3% of the nations landmass. The National System of Protected Areas (SINAP) is administered by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA).

Index of Nicaragua-related articles Wikipedia index

The following is an alphabetical list of topics related to the Republic of Nicaragua.

The islets of Granada are located in Lake Nicaragua, just southeast of the city of Granada in Nicaragua. The islets are a group of 365 small islands scattered about the Asese peninsula. The islets are of volcanic origin, they were formed when the Mombacho volcano blew much of its cone into the lake thousands of years ago, thereby creating the archipelago. Most of the islets are covered with vegetation and rich with bird life.

Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve Nature reserve located between the departments of Masaya and Granada in Nicaragua

Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve is a nature reserve located between the departments of Masaya and Granada in Nicaragua. Lake Apoyo was declared a nature reserve in 1991 and is managed by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) and comprises one of 78 protected areas of Nicaragua. Geological data suggests that Lake Apoyo originated about 23,000 years ago.

Zapatera (archaeological site) archaeological site

Zapatera is an archaeological site located on Isla Zapatera, a volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua, Granada Department, Nicaragua. The large quantity of statues, petroglyphs and pottery found at the site, and on other islands in the Zapatera archipelago, suggests the area was an important ceremonial centre of pre-Columbian Chorotega people between 800 and 1350 CE.

El Ceibo Museums

El Ceibo is a museum in the Ometepe island in what once were the tobacco farm “Tel Aviv” kilns, known by its former name “El Refugio”, in the community of Sacramento, 10 kilometers from Moyogalpa in Lake Cocibolca or Lake Nicaragua administratively Ometepe Island belongs to the Rivas Department. The name of the island derives from the Nahuatl: ōme 'two' and tepētl 'mountain (s),' since it is almost entirely composed of two volcanic cones: Concepción (volcano) and Maderas volcano.


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