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: Continue reading “Top 5 ways to stay cool this March and April around Granada. Learn how to travel with kids during a Nicaraguan summer!”
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 rave about 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 beach at 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.
Turtles by the thousands vs turtles by the dozens
Continue reading “Touring Nicaragua is easy and fun: check out wild turtles laying their eggs and hatching to life on a kids beach trip to Playa El Coco and Playa La Flor!”
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.
Continue reading “Best overnight beach trips with kids from Granada, Nicaragua: Playa Marsella vs Playa Masachapa”
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.
To achieve that dream of a closer family life abroad will take some careful mental planning that starts before you get on the plane to Managua. Continue reading “Will I be a better parent in Nicaragua?”
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. Continue reading “Taking the kids to a country swimming hole under the shadow of Volcán Mombacho at Aguas Agrias, Nicaragua.”
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.
Continue reading “Disconnecting from busy life in Granada and reconnecting with Aiden at Selva Negra in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.”
Recommended Hotel to stay overnight: Laguna Beach Club
If you have read my 7 Key Ways to Help Your Kids Enjoy Granada, you already know that I advise visiting families to avoid introducing Granada to their kids during the hot summer months of March and April.
These months are hard on both parents and kids. You’ll find that the heat limits outdoor physical activities and can raise stress levels. However, if you are planning on coming this April or are already here, you are going to need some savvy local ways to stay cool during the Nicaraguan summer.
One highly recommended excursion is hanging out at Laguna de Apoyo. The laguna is a short 20 minutes drive from Granada where you can submerge yourself in some healing mineral waters that fill the crater of a 23,000 year old volcano! Continue reading “Keeping the kids cool in a Nicaragua heatwave @ Laguna de Apoyo”
This post is for those of you who are pondering a longer stay in Nicaragua past the standard three months tourist visa granted to you upon arrival.
First visa upon arrival
So when you arrive by air or over the border to Nicaragua you will find that obtaining a tourist visa is a remarkably easy and inexpensive task to accomplish for you and your family. You will fill out one brief immigration form for yourself and any family travelling with you. Additionally, you will then pay $10 by air and $12 by land for each visitor in your group to the immigration official who checks your paperwork.
Will they grill me on my assets and intentions?
Most Nicaraguan immigration officials at border entries and airports are extremely relaxed and amiable and respond very kindly to smiles and pleasantries. Tourism is a well-oiled machine that consistently provides Nicaragua with abundant access to dollars and Euros. Entering Nicaragua as a tourist should constitute only a brief encounter with an immigration official. Having said that… Continue reading “Managing multiple visas for your family’s extended stay in Nicaragua.”