4-27-17  |  Shared Stories

Travel Nicaragua Like a Local

BY: David Dulin

Thinking back, it was probably not wise to spend the last few hundred dollars I had on a one-way plane ticket to Nicaragua. Fortunately, through perseverance, patience, and a little bit of luck, things worked out. The decision ultimately enabled me to secure the job of my dreams, pick up a new language, learn salsa dancing, and explore this beautiful country on a deeper level.

With respect to my exploration, I have had the privilege over the last four years of being introduced to some really cool spots by my Nica friends. Here are a few that that you might enjoy on your next trip:

Managua

Relax/Eat Here

  1. Pool Ocho and Doña Tanias – Offering immaculate tables that you pay a dollar an hour to use (no dropping quarters in a slot here), Pool Ocho attracts some of the best billiards players around. When you finish a game, no need to scoop out the balls and re-rack, all you have to do is yell ¨tiempo¨ and an attendant will do that for you.

After you work up an appetite with a few racks and a couple beers, head up the block to Doña Tania’s Grill, which offers a choice of grilled meats served with gallo pinto (local bean and rice dish), fried cheese, avocado, and cabbage salad.  Simple yes, but incredibly delicious.

Dance Here

Fandango & Tu Estudio – Known as La Casita de Salsa (Little House of Salsa), Fandango is Managua’s premier salsa club. The club’s cozy, open-air setup is perfect for sipping a glass of Flor de Caña rum on a warm, breezy night. The main attraction though is the elevated dance floor, where you are likely to see/or dance with some of the best salsa and bachata dancers in the country.

If after your Fandango experience you are interested in taking a few dance lessons, search for Tu Estudio on Facebook to see the daily classes they have going on that month. The director Ariel and head teachers Carolina, Yoko, and Hector are crazy-good dancers and really cool people.

Party Here

Caramanchel – Cheap beer, great music, and an open-air setup make Caramanchel extremely popular with locals, Peace Corps Volunteers, and anybody else looking to forget the stresses of everyday life. If you are looking to party and dance the night away, this is the place to go.

 San Juan Del Sur Bay Area

Eat/Chill Here

Gato Negro – A cool name for a cool place. This hipster style café is the perfect spot to finally open up that copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and sip on some of Nicaragua’s famous Joe.

Get a Tan Here

Playa Gigante – Off the beaten path, but the slight detour is going to be worth your time. I spent my first weekend in Nicaragua here at a little hostel that offered fresh seafood, head-nodding music, and free coffee. Oh yea, the white sand beach and translucent blue waters were not too shabby either.

Granada Area

People Watch Here

Main Street (La Calzada) – Choose one of the dozen restaurants on this street, find an outside table, order your drink of choice, and soak in this wonderful, colonial city.

Hike Here

Mombacho Volcano – An enormous, dormant volcano encircled by a Shire-like nature reserve. After reaching the summit by transport or foot (only for the serious hiker or crazy person), you have the choice of two hiking trails. The Crater Trail can be easily walked in an hour and half and offers some amazing views of the surrounding countryside. However, I suggest not being a wimp, and doing the Puma Trail, which takes around four hours to walk. No, you probably won’t see a puma, but you will get a one-of-kind nature experience while getting a workout in the process.

Kick It Here


Laguna de Apoyo
– I saved the best for last…a volcanic crater lake lined by a mystical nature reserve. My recommendation for enjoying the Laguna is to reserve a simple, but clean accommodation at the Hostel Paradiso, which is my go-to chill spot on weekends. The hostel offers beach access, great food, fresh music, and incredible views.

So I hope these recommendations give you some starting points for your journey, but I will add that Nicaragua has so much more to offer. Thus I encourage you to stay flexible, meet new people, and see where road takes you. Safe travels!

David Dulin is Fabretto’s Managing Director of Development. Based in Nicaragua, he has been a member of our talented team for the past 4 years.

Interested in visiting Nicaragua? Sign up for one of upcoming Friends of Fabretto Trips.

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