Surfin’ San Juan del Sur

One of our goals for this trip was to try surfing. We decided that San Juan del Sur, a small beach-side town on the pacific coast, was the right place to try it out, also because we’d heard a lot of other great things about the town. The town beach is actually not so great, but there are regular shuttles and water-taxis to the numerous beaches south and north of the town.

SJDS

San Juan del Sur bay

We went surfing with Alfredo from the Casa Oro surf school at Playa Maderas and it was a fun experience. We can’t say we’re pros yet, but Alfredo did say that we were really good learners! We only surfed in the white part of the wave, on quite big boards, and when we asked him “what’s next?”, he told us to keep surfing the white waves for the next six months.. Check out this sweet video he made!

Maderas with Love from Alfredo Nuñez on Vimeo.

We also had a second try at surfing a couple of days later, but it wasn’t as great as the first time because the low tide was in the afternoon (giving us only an hour of low to high tide waves – which are much better for surfing), the water was freezing, and we kept stepping on the numerous big Stingrays that decided to chill out at the playa the same day. Mathias actually saw 4 right in front of him at some point, and Alfredo who was at the beach the same day was stung(!) – not the best day for surfing in other words. Still we had a good time in the freezing water trying to avoid stepping on the Stingrays.

Hopefully we’ll get some more shots at surfing in South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil..).

Tuva's style

Surfing at Maderas

Other than surfing, San Juan del Sur is a pretty laid back town with many good restaurants, surrounding beaches and parties for all the backpackers that are there.

This is our top 3 picks for things to do in San Juan del Sur:

  1. Surfing at Playa Maderas (and learn to surf from Alfredo at Casa Oro)
  2. Watch the sunset at the beach
  3. Chill by the pool at Pelican Eyes

Top things to do

And our top 3 picks for good eats:

  1. Smoothies at Simon Says (Tuva loves the classic banana strawberry and Mathias has a thing for any combination that includes passionfruit these days), also their lunch menu is great
  2. Bareback burger at Nacho Libre (cheddar, onion rings, bacon and bbq sauce – what’s not to love!?)
  3. Gelato at Superfrutto Gelateria

Good eats

This is it from Nicaragua from us. We’ve had some great experiences here and so far it’s been one of our favorite countries with many places we’d like to visit (again) some other time, not to mention that you get a lot for your money here.

Hasta la vista Nicaragua, we had fun!

Local bus

Buena Onda Backpackers

Christ

Sunset from our hostel

More pictures from San Juan del Sur and the rest of our travels in Nicaragua can be found here.

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Chillaxing on Isla de Ometepe

A one-hour wait, two-hour chickenbus, 10-minute taxi, one-hour ferry and one and a half hour shuttle brought us to Mérida and Hotel La Omaja on Isla de Ometepe. The road from Playa Santo Domingo to Mérida is interesting to say the least – I’m not even sure it could be called a road. Very bumpy for sure!

The cars can’t last very long on these roads, and that’s probably why the taxi prices on Isla de Ometepe are quite expensive (by Nicaraguan standards).

Isla de Ometepe

The Hotel La Omaja (run by an American from Omaha in Nebraska) is located a little way up the hill from the lake, providing a lovely view of Lago Nicaragua and the volcano Concepcion from the infinity pool. We spent a lot of time in that pool!

Jacuzzi with a view

Tuva loves infinity pool!

Isla de Ometepe offers a lot of outdoor activities, from kayaking to bicycling to seeing petroglyphs, including hiking the two volcanoes: Concepcion (8-10 hours) and Maderas (6-8 hours). We figured we’d had our share of volcano hiking and opted for more leisurely activities, many of which included the hotel pool.

In between pool sessions we did find time to visit Cascada San Ramon, a 50 m high waterfall, the hike to which took us on a jungle trail with howler monkeys, lizards and snakes. We visited a nature trail by the hotel/restaurant Finca Mystica where we saw lots of lazy spider monkeys lounging in the trees.

Tropical shower

Just hanging

On Valentines day we joined the locals at the Fiesta de Valentin in “downtown” Mérida; loud music, numerous food stalls, big bottles of beer and bullriding – the equivalent to a Norwegian “bygdefest”! The walk to and from the fiesta was also an adventure – walking unknown roads in the moonlight.

The pristine surroundings, nice hotel (pool) and outdoor activities made our three day stay at Isla de Ometepe both very relaxing and interesting. We’d love to come back some day!

Concepcion

Valentine's Fiesta

Spider monkey

Isla de Ometepe sunset

More photos of Isla de Ometepe and our travels in Nicaragua can be found here.

Colors of Granada

Granada is a small colonial town on the shore of Lake Nicaragua, just 40 minutes from Managua. It’s in many ways similar to Antigua in Guatemala and Trinidad in Cuba, with its charming streets, colorful houses and old buildings/churches.

We only spent one and a half day in the town, and spent the time walking around in the streets, eating and drinking at the many good restaurants, and generally getting a feel for the town. We would love to come back some day and spend some more time here!

Colors of Granada

Red wall

Iglesia La Merced

Main street

Street food

Barberia

More photos from Granada and our travels in Nicaragua can be found here.

Paradise

If you’re looking for a Caribbean island to relax and do nothing, then look no further than Little Corn Island (LCI). It has the perfect mix of long beaches, delicious seafood, laid-back locals and perfect weather (there are small showers every day, but they go over so fast you’ll forget about them after 5 mins). At the same time it requires just enough effort to get there to keep the mass tourism away and the prices fairly low (you take a small plane or ferry from the mainland to Corn Island, and then a boat (Panga ride) to LCI).

Paradise

Strolling on the beach

Our cabana

We were looking for the perfect spot in Central America to do nothing, and we believe we have found it here. That’s why we decided to change our return tickets to Managua and stay nearly twice as long (12 days).

To elaborate on “doing nothing”, Mathias has spent the time diving and earning his Advanced Open Water (AOW) certification with Dolphin Dive Little Corn (good dive shop!), while Tuva has been doing Yoga and having massages. There have also been a lot of sun-bathing, reading, swimming and running on the beach, not to mention eating a lot of delicious seafood (lobster season!). There are also possibilities for snorkeling, fishing and kiting, for those who want to.

Deep dive

Mr. Advanced Open Water

Mathias had some great dives, where the night dive was the best, with 3 nurse sharks, octopus, turtle, lobsters and a plethora of various fish. It was so good that he decided to do another night dive after the AOW, that time with a lot of bioluminescence – like swimming among the stars. All in all some great diving experiences!

Here are some of our tips and top picks for Little Corn Island:

– Book an open return ticket (you’ll probably want to stay longer)
– Stay on the east side for a nice ocean breeze to cool you off and keep most of the bugs away

Accomodation:
– Backpacker: Three Brothers – private room for $200 a month (that’s less than $7 a night!) or a tent space for $3, plus they have a kitchen to cook your pasta bolognese ($)
– Flashpacker: Grace’s Cool Spot – we got a private cabana w/bathroom for $30 a night (haggled down because we committed for 4 days) ($$)
– Cashpacker (I just made that up): Little Corn Beach and Bungalow (LCBB) – really nice bungalows and a good step up in quality and price ($$$)

Breakfast:
– Rosa’s – a very filling breakfast for $3 including fruit and coffee/tea (try their french toast on coconut bread! mmm..) ($)
– Turned Turtle at LCBB ($$)

Lunch:
– Tranquilo – excellent fish tacos! ($$)
– Desideri – good Italian food, Vietnamese iced coffe and best wifi-spot on the island ($$)

Dinner:
– Turned Turtle at LCBB – serves some of the best food on the island and includes a starter, salad/soup and dessert in their prices ($$$)
– Habana Libre – good Cuban flavors and big lobster portions! ($$)

Flamingo tongue snail

Lionfish

Giants

Hungry kitty

The swimmerLCI sunset 1

Obligatory cheesy photo

Untitled

More photos from Little Corn Island and the rest of our travels in Nicaragua here.