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.
It’s no secret that I love living in Granada, Nicaragua. We are surrounded by beautiful, tropical nature and there are so many fun and easy excursions to do with kids with Granada as your home base. Aiden and I just had an amazing weekend adventure a few hours south at La Flor Beach Wildlife Refuge where kids can get up close and personal with wild turtles in their natural habitat and at nearby Playa El Coco which is a beautiful beach perfect for families. This trip was a breeze and I wholeheartedly recommend that you add these two popular family destinations to your Nicaragua trip planner because your kids are going to raveabout the experience.
Laying out the trip
The La Flor Wildlife Refuge (Refugio de Vida Silvestre La Flor), where you can interact with wild turtles in their natural habitat, is located at Playa La Flor. You could camp at the refuge overnight, but more formal accommodations can be found right on the beachat nearby Playa el Coco which is 2 km away (or Playa Hermosa, Playa Escameca, Playa El Yanke, etc). If you are wondering if you could also stay at mega-popular, party beach town San Juan del Sur, yes, you could, but just know that it is 30 km each way on a partially dirt road (while probably driving in the dark for best turtle hours). If you are travelling with kids like we were, you might prefer the nearness and the totally laid back, family-friendly atmosphere of the local beaches next to the refuge.
One of the great perks of living in Granada, Nicaragua is being able to effortlessly head out to a beautiful, family beach for the day (or more luxuriously for the entire weekend) without going out of your way to do so. When volcanoes and their swimming holes just won’t do and you need fresh seafood, beachcombing and surfable waves, in a few hours drive Granadinos can be entertaining the family all day long in the warm, healing waves of the Pacific Ocean.
Most travelers will want to head to San Juan del Sur at least once to see why it is always at the top of the tourist billboard. San Juan is known for its brilliant, blue bay with fantastic eclectic restaurants, all manner of hotels and spectacular beach home rentals. I also have loved San Juan de Sur for those very same reasons through the years, but there is a lot more out there to see along the Pacific coast that can provide a more intimate, Nicaraguan immersion experience for families in the water.
When you imagine your new life with your family in Nicaragua, what does it look like? More family harmony, more peace and adventure- more happiness? I remember envisioning all of these things before we left the States.
A parent’s dream to move to Nicaragua is often fueled by desires to create a different life for busy, maybe disconnected families who ponder what it would be like to slow down, grow closer together and possibly dedicate some freed-up hours to a meaningful volunteer experience.
Nicaragua is definitively the land of lakes and volcanoes, but it also hosts fantastic mineral watering holes, impressive rivers you can navigate by boat and infinite miles of coastal beaches along the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Unless we are visiting the higher altitudes of a volcano or mountain range, Nicaragua provides constant tropical weather that enables us to submerge in water year round on any given day.
Personally, we primarily recreate during the week in pools and in the healing waters of Laguna de Apoyo, an ancient crater lake 20 minutes out of Granada. But we also swim in the cleaner areas of Lake Cocibolca or in the Pacific Ocean at any number of beaches as far down as Guanacaste, Costa Rica. For all these activities, I have always had to proactively consider Aiden’s water safety because I can never be sure what safety gear will be available on site when we arrive.
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.
Picture you and your child one-on-one, blocking out the crazy world around you for some quality family time that you get credit for because you are playing the Pokémon Trading Card Game and that means in kid world that YOU CARE.*
If you totally focus and read through this tutorial you can learn how to play Pokémon in less than 15 minutes.
I love playing Pokémon with my son, Aiden. The Pokémon trading card game may have been created with kids like Aiden in mind, but it’s roped me into his world too and that’s a good thing. Because my second confession is that even though I am a stay-at-home mom and homeschooled Aiden for his first 4 grades, this also made me a reluctant multitasker. And if I am honest with myself about being a multitasker, it can mean that I am not giving my full attention to any one person or activity exclusively, including being with my son.Continue reading “Parents, you need to learn how to play Pokémon. It is way more than a trading card game for kids.”→
One of the problems that I faced in my first year of living in Nicaragua was that I acutely felt the loss of not living near a world-class library system. We had brought our own physical library of books but as you know with kids, they consume books like paper towels when they love to read and we found that ordering books from organizations like Better World Books didn’t work for Nicaragua, they were simply stolen from out of the mail.
Have you ever had that feeling like you are missing your child even though they are right there under the same roof? That time was slipping through your fingers and with it a thousand chances to reconnect with your family? Sometimes we can bridge the divide in a moment, a shared joke, game or activity and sometimes you want to do something drastic and just grab a chance to get away from it all.
Even here in Nicaragua where life moves more slowly for many and there should be more time to spend with our kids, it’s easy to slip into old distances. Projects, work, school, social networks; you can fill up a schedule anywhere if you are inclined to doing it. And let’s face it, I know that for us, we’re kind of trained to design our lives that way.
Even here in Granada, you might sense after awhile the busyness creeping back into your lifestyle, that habit of pushing out to the edges of your daily itinerary. The rush and the stress that you wanted to leave behind can get recreated in the land of lakes and volcanoes, too.