Nicaragua is a tropical paradise and I adore it year round, but summer months are more challenging for everyone when temperatures shoot up. It’s strange to think that here in Granada, as we now enjoy temperatures between 80 and 90 °F, we are about to enter our region’s hottest summer months in March and April when we are directly positioned closest to the sun.
If you are heading to Central America during those months you are going to want to remember that a tropical summer requires some practical strategies to make it more pleasant and fun, particularly for kids. Hot is hot no matter where you are, but travelling out of a harsh winter in North America or Europe to Granada can make the temperatures seem particularly extreme when they spike above 95 °F, 35 °C.
If you figure out your strategies before you get here and build them into your stay, you won’t be caught off guard if your kids remind you for the 100th time: I’m, hoooot.
So to help you plan your trip and navigate the summer months, here are my top 5 ways of staying cool in a Nicaraguan heatwave:
Number 1: Mineral waters, wooow, this is why you came to Nicaragua!
Submerging your family in water is always a good idea for a popular escape from the heat. You can make an event out of adventuring to the mineral waters at Aguas Agrias at the base of Mombacho Volcano by planning a family picnic. I also highly recommend indulging in a weekly escape to swim and kayak in the healing mineral waters of a volcanic crater at Laguna de Apoyo: your family is sure to love this destination.
Number 2: It’s summer! You have to go to the beach!
Heading to the beach is a sure way to make your family happy on holiday. Nicaragua is full of beautiful beaches along the Pacific Coast that have year-long perfect temperatures for swimming, surfing and boogie boarding. The Atlantic Coast is also famous for the exotic destination of Little Corn Island where beach lovers can snorkel in Caribbean waters that shine crystal clear down to the white sand below.
Do remember that Nicaraguans are off work and school during Easter Week here called Semana Santa, (in 2018 this will be the last week of March) and their traditional summer time activity is also heading to the beach or the nearest watering hole to bañar. This can make popular swimming destinations not only over-crowded with families and partiers, but also drives up hotel and home rental rates.
On the contrary that same Semana Santa week, less typical destinations up in the mountains will lower rates for a chance to compete for traveler’s attention. Check for special discounts for any accommodations up in higher altitudes that might also provide some cooling relief.
So you might consider checking out…
Number 3: The Nicaraguan mountains, what a breath of fresh, cool air!
First stop: You gotta go to Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve.
Trek around nearby Mombacho Volcano for the day. Mombacho is only 20 minutes away from sultry Granada but hosts a refreshing cloud forest that provides a shading canopy that lowers the surrounding temperatures a good 10 degrees. There is an easy 1 ½ hour hike around one of the four craters that is perfect for kids of all ages. You can even zip-line at a location halfway up the mountain where it is cool at Café Los Flores.
Seeking even higher altitudes:
Other mountainous areas in the north of Nicaragua that are refreshing in a heat wave include MiraFlor Nature Reserve in Estelí, Tisey Nature Reserve in Estelí, and Selva Negra Mountain Resort in Matagalpa. All three have accommodations for overnight stays:
Number 4: Swimming pools, the easy kid-pleaser day and night.
Outfitting your holiday with a hotel or home rental with a pool is a smart ticket to making sure that your family can find cool relief whatever hour of the day. Granada has no shortage of swimming pools that come along with beautiful, family-friendly homes that will help maintain your crew in the off hours. Make sure that you book well in advance to beat high season demand.
Number 5: Target air-conditioned experiences.
Destinations in Granada rarely include air-conditioning, but there are a few places around town and nearby that can give your kids a break. Sometime a few hours in a cinema can really do the trick and luckily the neighboring city of Masaya has a new air-conditioned, three-theater Cineplex that is gorgeous and cheap (about $4 a ticket). Plan to each lunch or dinner there at any of the air-conditioned restaurants located right outside the entrance of the cinema.
Why not hang out in a salon for a few hours? Now that you are cruising around town in sandals and flip flops it couldn’t hurt to…
Final air-conditioned options include some of the fast food eateries like Subway and Tip Top or an ice cream run to one of the two supermarkets La Union and La Colonia (any excuse will do) or a frozen frapaccino run to one of the two air-conditioned gas stations at the city entrance (Uno and Puma).
There is also a fun, air-conditioned, craft store on Calle Atravesada called Gonper that can be a pleasant outing for kids (and you have no idea how cheap crafts can be until you shop Gonper). You may wonder why I am mentioning these places now, but trust me there is a burning, bright, hot reason: you will want to know!
Summer safety notes:
Keep an eye on your family to make sure that they are staying hydrated and are well-protected by a good sunblock and not getting too irritable from just feeling uncomfortable. If you suspect that your child has become dehydrated, pick up some Pedialyte electrolyte drinks at the supermarket or pharmacy. Remember that those fresh coconuts that sell for 15-20 cordobas by the side of the road are full of clean coconut water, which is an excellent, natural electrolyte if your kids like the taste.
Please don’t forget during the popular bathing months that life jackets will be in short supply particularly for kids and will be non-existent for toddlers and infants. If you know that you will be around water (and I hope that you will be!) please pack your infant and youth life jackets before you go. If you are in the US, I highly recommend Overton’s youth life vests that last and last and have traveled around the world with us.