Solo Travel Destination: Nicaragua

We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Megan, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Megan is from the United States and submitted the following report about Nicaragua. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!

Solo travel rating2 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)

Languages spoken: Spanish

photo, image, rio san juan, nicaragua

Homes near El Castillo along the Rio San Juan.

Reasons to go to Nicaragua

I chose to visit Nicaragua because I wanted to escape the United States for a couple of months, but travel on a budget. I purchased the Moon Handbook guide to Nicaragua,  read it from cover to cover, then decided to book my flight.

After arriving in Managua and leaving as quickly as possible, my first week was spent at a homestay arranged by a small Nica family-owned language school. I spent 20 hours that week in an intensive one-on-one Spanish language refresher course (I had familiarity with the language, but hadn’t spoken it in a few years). The rest of my time was spent mingling with other travelers and my host family and partaking in activities suggested in my guidebook or organized through my language school.

Following this, I hit the road using “chicken buses” as my transport (and a couple of in-country puddle jumper flights) to explore a great deal of Nicaragua over the next two months. I had originally planned to travel into a few neighboring countries during my time in Central America, but decided it would be more rewarding to get to know Nica culture more deeply. I also wanted to see more of the country than one typically does on the “gringo trail.” I am so glad I did. It truly allowed me to have a relaxing, yet educational and, at times, quite challenging adventure.

During those two months, I visited large cities, small communities on the Pacific Ocean, and surfer camps. I climbed five of the 40+ volcanoes in Nicaragua, went scuba diving off a remote island on the Caribbean coast, visited nature reserves, camped in the northern mountains, took countless boat rides of varying levels of comfort, and found places where I was the only “chela” for hours.

Highlights for me included the areas of Miraflor, Isla de Ometepe, Little Corn Island, the Rio San Juan, Los Guatuzos Nature Preserve and a little hidden gem surfer camp on the west coast that I was told to keep a secret.

My Spanish improved dramatically. I am so glad that I had a background in the language before setting out because it truly allowed me to be independent and to create my own adventure.

Nicaragua is a developing country where things do not go as planned. Ever. Infrastructure is poor with frequent power outages, lack of running water, etc. However, it is a great place to really step outside of the fast-paced US society and experience a different culture. I highly recommend visiting this country to anyone who has an interest in learning and speaking Spanish (you’ll need it) and who has a sense of adventure and is not afraid to get off the beaten path.

photo, image, boy, motorcycle, nicaragua

A little boy watching my broken down dirtbike for me on Isla de Ometepe.

photo, image, beach, hammock, nicaragua

View from my beachside cottage on Little Corn Island.

photo, image, el hoyo, nicaragua

On top of El Hoyo – with Momotombo and Lake Managua in the background.

Solo Travel Destination Rating System

Safety – 2 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)

Language – 3 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)

Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)

Culture – 3 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)

Average Rating – 2 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)


  • Guest

    Hi Celia – sorry for the delayed response! I took classes at Dariana Spanish School in Leon. There’s many Spanish schools where you can spend a few days or a month! I’d recommend at least a week of one-on-one. There’s a school in Matagalpa that I considered attending as well.
    Buena suerte!

  • Celia

    Hi Megan,
    Your trip to Nicaragua sounds great and just what I am looking for. I am particularly interested in the language school. Would you recommend the program to someone (like me) who has some knowledge of the language but needs work in comprehending native speakers and speaking?

  • Megan

    Hi Kris, I wrote the article regarding Nicaragua. Not sure if this is a question directly for me or for the greater Solo Travel Society, but my recommendation would be that grad school isn’t going anywhere. I think traveling when you are young and before you have amounted a large sum in debt is wise. I chose to go to Central America specifically because it was affordable and I could find volunteer opportunities there that I added to my resume, as well as enhancing my Spanish skills. I think it’s always wise to jump on the opportunity to travel while you can. Who knows what the future holds.
    All best,

  • Janice Waugh

    Hi Kristina, I think this is a question for the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. I’ll post it there in the morning and we’ll see what people think. I hope you’re on Facebook to see the replies.

  • Kristina Harkins

    Hi. My name is Kris. I enjoyed reading your article. I’m at the very beginning stages of planning my world travels. But I can’t decide whether to begin as a student (continuing on to grad school after a long break) or to begin as a solo traveler (and perhaps gain some experience and improve my admissions essay). Do you ( or any one else) have any suggestions or opinions?