Be first to discover Central America’s most exciting emerging destination
You can’t keep a good country down. For too long beset by war, poverty, dictators and natural disaster, Nicaragua is now shaking off its misfortune and pulling itself up by the bootstraps.
Until recently, only the hardiest of travellers – the kind who carry their own bags and aren’t deterred by civil war – ventured into Nicaragua. It was hard work. The loos were horrible.
Finally, that’s changing. The government has been taking lessons from its more tourist-friendly neighbour of Costa Rica (itself a hot destination at the moment, with its cool surf towns and an amazing new Andaz hotel opening in 2014), investing in services and infrastructure, and unveiling their beautiful country to the world.
‘Nicaragua is one those countries that has it all,’ says Rafe Stone, Nicaragua expert at Journey Latin America. ‘A dramatic volcanic range, charming colonial cities like Granada and León, and rainforests full of unusual wildlife, flanked by a rugged Pacific coast on one side and white-sand Caribbean beaches and islands on the other.
‘No longer is it just for the backpacker – now there are some smart boutique hotels peppering the country, the latest of which is Yemaya Island Hideaway on car-free Little Corn Island [pictured], where Creole-style lobster is part of the staple diet.’
Right now it’s teetering on the brink of being just-discovered, and just-comfortable-enough to make it appealing. Recently it has seen a few wonderful new eco-lodges that really are both eco and friendly – rustic places which have excellently deep beds and swimming pools on the edge of untouched wildernesses, whether on an empty beach or in the midst of virgin rainforest, surrounded by monkeys and spectacular rare birds.
One of those is Morgan’s Rock, an ecolodge with a wildlife focus on the Pacific Coast; and, in February, Mukul Resort & Spa opened nearby on Playa Manzanillo, with stylish beach casitas that are positively Gold-List standard. It even has a spa and a golf course – the proof, if more were needed, that now is the time to come, and quick.