Photo by Tim Foster / The Unsplash License

Especially for those who live in the Americas, a Caribbean holiday is one of the most sought-after vacation destinations. Still, tourists come from all over the world to experience what the Caribbean has to offer.

Caribbean countries are known for their clear, turquoise water, beautiful weather, and their incredible white and pink sand beaches. There’s also a place to suit every traveler, whether they’re looking for relaxation, night life, education, cultural experiences, or adventure. And even in the Caribbean, the landscape and climate varies dramatically country to country.

When starting to plan a Caribbean vacation, many travelers first consider the Bahamas (with its picture-perfect tropical setting) or Costa Rica (if they’re looking for some more adventure). But for the best of both worlds, head to Nicaragua. Nicaragua has incredible beaches and weather, and is full of many opportunities for adventure (like surfing and hiking along volcanoes). It’s also a more affordable Caribbean vacation spot, without sacrificing any of the activities you want to do when visiting the Caribbean. Here are several things you must do when vacationing in Nicaragua:

Spend Time in Managua and Granada

Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, is likely where you’ll fly into. But if you have the time, check out all of the major sights and attractions in the city before heading to your next destination. Visit the Plaza De La Revolución, which is especially gorgeous when at nighttime. There are also a number of museums in the area, so do some research before you go. At the least, check out the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura (a cultural museum) and the Traces Archaeological Museum Acahualinca (a history museum).

Granada, which is less than an hour from Managua, is usually where tourists stay when visiting the country because of its location. It’s near the capital (and the major airport) and Lake Nicaragua, and near plenty of scenic volcanoes. It’s also a very picturesque city with cobblestone streets, pastel buildings, and private courtyards.

Photo by Paul Biondi / The Unsplash License

Visit Lake Nicaragua

Located on the western side of the country near Managua, Lake Nicaragua is the largest freshwater lake in Central America. It offers plenty of gorgeous views, and is a great place to take a boat ride casually or to visit the two volcanoes near the center of the lake, Concepción and Maderas. If you visit the volcanoes (particularly Maderas), set aside some time to go on a hike.

Another beautiful area to visit alongside the lake is Mombacho Volcano National Preserve, which offers incredible wildlife and hiking trails. This is a very popular destination for tourists, particularly for its views, location, educational opportunities, and cloud forests.

Travel to the Corn Islands

If you really want a more remote island experience, head to the tiny Corn Islands in the Caribbean Sea, roughly 40 miles off the coast of Nicaragua. The islands are equally popular among backpackers and luxury travelers. Here you’ll find a small airport, friendly locals, some shops, and plenty of water activities.

Stay on the Emerald Coast

The Emerald Coast is quickly becoming the new luxury destination for travelers. Located on the Pacific Coast, the Emerald Coast spans 30 miles and features largely untouched tropical forests. It’s a great spot for surfing, swimming, lounging on the beach, indulging in luxurious takes on local cuisine, exploring nature, horseback riding, and even enjoying some world class resort time.

Two of the best resorts in the area are Mukul and Rancho Santana. Rancho Santana, for example, is made up of five beaches, and is focused on providing a rustic yet luxurious vacation. What does this mean exactly? Nature is untamed and roads are unpaved, but you’ll stay in a hotel with lavish amenities and incredible service. Mukul, on the other hand, offers a more modern experience with elaborate tree house-like lodgings, golf cart transportation, golf and tennis courts, a spa, and much more. If you’re looking for the ultimate luxury resort, you really can’t go wrong with either.

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