Catching the sun in Nicaragua

I like to escape the cold during the winter and one of the best places to do that is in Nicaragua. The country is so big with so much to see and experience. I only got to stay there for about 10 days but that of course wasn’t nearly enough. We went to 3 different places that were each unique in their own way.

1. León

We spent about 2 days in Leon and it had a small city feel with crumbling colonial buildings, colorful murals and delicious food.

Where we stayed

We stayed at a small little hotel called Hotel Flor de Sarta owned by a french couple. They really care about their guests and they make breakfast for you every morning. The hotel is walking distance from everything in Leon. There is air conditioning in your room and it is a quaint little room with a bathroom.

Things to do

Our Lady of Grace Cathedral
The first day we went for a walk from our hotel to Our Lady of Grace Cathedral. It is so beautiful there. You buy tickets to go in with cash and then walk up the steps all the way up to the roof to see the incredible views from the top. They will ask you to take off your shoes while you are up there on the roof to make sure you are wearing socks (or bring socks with you) in case it is a hot day!

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Kiss Me Ice Cream Leon 
Then walk over to grab a sweet treat at Kiss Me Ice cream Leon . It’s a super cute little boutique ice cream shop.

2. Ometepe

After hanging out in Leon for a couple days, we headed to the port with a taxi to catch a ferry that would take us to Isla de Ometepe which is an island made up of two volcanos. One is active and one isn’t and the views are magnificent once you get there!  The ferry takes about one hour across Lake Nicaragua (the country’s largest lake) to reach Isla de Ometepe. Our hotel Totoco Eco-Lodge arranged our ground transportation from the ferry port to the hotel for check-in. Just make sure to email them ahead of time to make the arrangements.

Where we stayed

The place we chose was all about the experience! It was called Totoco Eco-Lodge and there is so much that I loved at this accommodation. The staff is really helpful and nice. My husband and I were pretty nervous about staying here because realistically you are staying in a room that is kind of the middle of no-where on the island and is in the heart of a jungle that houses poisonous snakes and scorpions. Even the bathroom is open air outside your bedroom and has a compost toilet which we have never used before. But don’t worry, during your check-in, the hotel staff walks you through how to use it and give you recommendations on how to be comfortable during your stay. During our tour, the hotel staff shared rare occasions of guests getting bitten by scorpions hiding inside your shoes…so a couple tips…

Tip 1: don’t leave your luggage open and keep everything inside your bag, all zipped up. When in doubt…where flipflops!

Tip 2: If you don’t like frogs then you won’t like it here. At night they like to hang out in the bathroom sinks to chill out.

Tip 3: Bring Mosquito spray! There is a net over your bed but just in case, bring some spray.

 

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This is the view right outside out room!

 

The other unique thing about this place is the food! They have really great breakfast, lunch and dinners. When you go in for breakfast, ask the staff about the dinner menu so that they can prepare the protein you like. They always have a revolving menu with a meat or vegetarian option and it is a 3 course meal with a soup, main entree and dessert! It’s different every night.

The infinite pool is also incredible. It overlooks the best view of the volcano and the hotel staff will make you yummy drinks while you lounge out there!

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One thing you have to check out while you are at Ometepe is the Cascada de San Ramon. It’s a great hike that ends with the waterfall and it is so refreshing to rinse off in that water after hiking under the sun. Don’t get an ATV which a lot of people do, I would recommend hiring a driver with a car that has 4 wheel drive to take you! The roads are just so rocky and it can be dangerous to drive if you aren’t used to it. Essentials | The path to the falls from the entrance is 3 km – the first 2 km is along paved paths and relatively easy, whereas the last 1 km is much more of a hike. Entrance is $2 US per person.

 

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3. Tola

Where we stayed

Tola was where we wanted to really relax so we choose to stay at Aqua Wellness Resort. I have mixed feels about this place and here is why.

We stayed in a treehouse suite and it so beautiful here, it has a private beach for guests, activities and equipment to rent, excursions to sign up for and the restaurant is right next to the water with great food. One night they even set up a projector on the beach to watch a movie.

 

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Private Beach at Aqua Wellness Resort

You will be sharing the treetops with the monkeys but not just any monkeys….they are howler monkeys. And that is exactly what they do at night to keep you up! They are so cute but it was so hard to sleep at night because the rooms are not sound proof at all.

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There is also a gorgeous yoga studio here that is open to guests a couple times a day with classes to join. I’ve never seen a yoga studio like this one! The instructor was also really great. She shared the following quote when I went to her class and it really stuck with me.

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“Release the harsh and pointed inner voice. It’s just a throwback to the past and holds no truth about this moment. Let go of self-judgment, the old, learned ways of beating yourself up for each imagined inadequacy. Allow the dialogue within the mind to grow friendlier, and quiet. Shift out of inner criticism and life suddenly looks very different. I can say this only because I make the choice a hundred times a day to release the voice that refuses to acknowledge the real me. What’s needed here isn’t more prodding toward perfection, but intimacy – seeing clearly, and embracing what I see. Love, not judgment, sows the seeds of tranquillity and change.”

— – Danna Faulds