Nicaragua is full of unique destinations off the beaten path that you can scope out if you want to avoid the main tourist attractions. When you are ready to head down a dirt road with little to no signage, you will find a very pure side of Nicaragua that is best known only to the Nicaraguans, themselves.
We visited Aguas Agrias located at the base of the south side of Volcán Mombacho to give the kids a chance to cool off in a fresh, mineral spring. I had heard that the spring was very clean and clear which ended up being a very accurate description of the water quality. The water bubbles up from an underground source and calmly pools enough mineral water to create a luxurious swimming hole before slowly running off into an adjoining river.
The water is so crystal clear that you can actually see right down to the fine white sand at the the bottom. Kids who are nervous about natural waters love the ability to get a clear view to their toes (nothing lurking about there that they can’t see).
One of the best parts about the location is that you are surrounded by tropical foliage in a very junglesque setting complete with howler monkeys overhead. Being removed from city sounds and sites into a tropical hideaway is very surreal and magical. The boys loved running around outside as much as they did swimming. You‘ll treasure seeing your kids in a refreshingly rustic setting breathing pure country air and splashing around in an old-fashioned watering hole full of healthy, minerals.
Expect Aguas Agrias to be full of local picnicking families on weekends and holidays (particularly during Semana Santa). If you prefer to experience the spring when it is quiet with less visitors, you should aim for a weekday during school hours.
Know before you go: Bring food, water and drinks for your own picnic as you won’t yet find any alternatives for buying provisions near the spring. Also, bring bug repellent for a potential quantity of mosquitoes depending on the season.
You will pay a small fee right at the entrance which is 50 córdobas for foreigners and 20 córdobas for locals that includes an area to park your car.
Getting there: Travel time is about 55 minutes total (due to the dirt road, it is actually not far at all in distance). You will clock about 15 minutes from Granada heading down the paved highway to Nandaime to the turnoff towards the spring (just past the main entrance of the Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve when you see a tall Claro antenna). There are a few tourist signs with small print at the turnoff but not obviously marked for Aguas Agrias springs.
Then after the turnoff to Aguas Agrias, you will travel for about 40 minutes down a dirt road that is in good condition and actually circles around the base of the Mombacho Volcano from a distance. It is quite a pretty drive and affords you a different view than you normally get when you tour the main sites of Nicaragua or live in one of its cities.