Frequently Asked Questions
Where is Nicaragua?
It’s in Central America, bordered on the south with Costa Rica and with Honduras in the north.
How big is Nicaragua?
Nicaragua is 129,494 square kilometers. It is roughly the size of England and Portugal combined.
What is the population?
About 5 million, 1.5 in the capital Managua. The people are overwhelmingly friendly.
What are the most important cities?
Managua is the capital, Leon is the second for people and historic interest, and Granada is the most touristic center.
Which language is spoken?
Predominantly Spanish, but English is understood. Outside the tourist areas and main cities, the locals speak less English.
What is Nicaragua's climate?
Tropical, the rainy season, el invierno (the winter) starts in May and stops in October. The dry season, el vrano (the summer) start in November and runs until April. The average temperature is between 25 and 35 Celsius. In May and in October, the rain is harder. December and January are the fresher months. During the rainy season, depending on the region, it can mean anything from constant rain to brief but heavy downpours.
Which is Nicaragua's currency?
Cordoba, approximately 32 cordobas equal 1 US Dollar. US dollars are accepted everywhere.
Are credit cards accepted?
Credit cards are accepted at most grocery stores, popular restaurants, and some stores. We accept credit cards at our NSR rental office/surf shop. We recommend bringing plenty of cash because many businesses only accept cash. In addition, cash may get you better pricing in some instances.
For people staying in Hacienda Iguana, there is an ATM machine in the commercial zone. There’s also another ATM 10 minutes away from the development at the Riviera Market and another one at the Costa Esmeralda Airport. There is one more ATM about 30 minutes away in Tola.
What is the time zone?
-7 from GM. Nicaragua does not change times during the year, so it is the same as US Central Time in the winter and US Mountain Time in the summer.
Is Nicaragua a safe country?
Nicaragua is often labeled the “safest country in Central America.” I find if you treat people the way you would like to be treated, you will be fine. Use common sense and take standard precautions. Nicaragua sometimes gets bad press in the United States but is actually the safest of all the Central American countries, both for petty theft and dangerous crime.
Interestingly, Costa Rica is more dangerous in both respects. People that travel extensively through Latin America often think that Nicaraguans are trying to take advantage of them when they arrive here because they are not accustomed to the genuinely helpful and kind people of Nicaragua.
Yes, Nicaragua is safe to travel. Statistically, it is the safest country in Central America. Nicaragua is a peaceful and safe country; however, theft and other occasional criminal activity can occur. We always remind visitors to use good judgment to prevent unfortunate situations.
Simple things to avoid include riding with an unknown taxi driver (best to set up private transportation or rent your own vehicle), walking alone on isolated beaches, leaving valuables unattended in a vehicle (especially computers, smartphones, tablets, etc), leaving doors unlocked, leaving belongings outside at night, etc.
Is it safe to drive at night?
We always recommend driving during daylight. We do NOT recommend that guests rent a vehicle and drive at night. For those who arrive at night and prefer to stay in Managua overnight and make the drive the following morning, there are numerous hotel options.
What is the weather like in Nicaragua? When is the best time to come?
The weather in Nicaragua is fantastic most of the year. The “rainy season” coincides with the consistent wave season and is generally from May to October. A “rainy” day in that season may consist of 1-2 hours of rain in the afternoon, with sun and warm weather on either side. The rain is a welcomed break from the heat most days. You can expect sunny days in the 90’s, and water temps in the 80’s. Unlike southern Nicaragua, where water temps often drop into the 70’s when the offshores are howling, requiring wetsuits, northern Nicaragua’s coast has temps between 80 and 84 degrees year-round.
Is traveling with a surfboard or golf clubs to Nicaragua possible?
Yes, you can travel with your sporting equipment, but check with your airline directly to see about associated costs and/or blackout dates for oversized luggage. Magic Seaweed is a great resource for current rates for traveling with a surfboard. The schedule seems to be ever-changing, but it is worth a call beforehand to ensure that you can get your board on the plane when you arrive.
Beware of surfboard embargoes, especially during the June-August timeframe (United® has been known to turn away surfboards during our prime season). Check the board baggage fees as traveling with boards can sometimes be cost prohibitive. As always, make sure the board is safely packaged.
Don’t want to travel with boards? We have you covered. The rental quiver at NSR, in the resort, has over 125 boards. They are constantly adding new brand name boards to their quiver and cycling out those that have seen better days. Rest assured, if you rent a board, it will be a quality board. NSR also offers a free rental board swap-out program for our guests. As the conditions change, so can your board. You can change boards as often as you like at no additional charge. All surfboard rentals come with fins, leash, and a day bag.
Cruise through their online quiver here: https://www.surfnsr.com/nicaragua-surfboard-rentals
You may reserve a surfboard upon booking a stay at our casita: firstname.lastname@example.org
What are the identification and entry requirements for Nicaragua?
To enter Nicaragua, a valid passport and a pre-paid airline (or bus) ticket exiting the country is mandatory. Additional specific entry requirements depend on your country of citizenship. Currently, you may enter Nicaragua without a visa if traveling with a United States of America, Canada or most European passports. Immigration will then stamp your passport with your approved length of stay (usually 90 days). For other countries, a visa may be required. It is always best to contact the Nicaragua Embassy nearest you for up-to-date entry and visa requirements.
Expiration rules on passports change constantly. Each traveler must verify they have at least one blank page for the entry stamp and check their passport expiration date. Nicaragua Vacations recommends you have at least six (6) months of validity from the date you return to your home country. It is also a good idea to have several copies of the picture page of your passport with you when you travel. Again, for the most up-to-date requirements, check with your Nicaragua Consulate.
If you are issued the 90-day visa, and you plan on staying longer than that time, you must leave the country for 72 hours and then re-enter for a new 90-day visa or receive special permission (i.e. a work visa) before you arrive.
What should I bring?
Bring some or all of the following – THESE ITEMS WILL NOT BE PROVIDED FOR YOU:
- Passport valid 6 months beyond intended stay in Nicaragua.
- $5 entry fee.
- Extra cash (US Dollars) for Add-Ons, beverages, tips, and incidentals. Only clean untorn $ bills are accepted in Nicaragua.
- Single Day Board Bag (this is a single board bag, not a sock; to ensure the safety of your surfboard).
- Extra Leash
- Board Wax
- Rash Guard
- Ding Repair Kit
- Beach Towel
- Bug Spray
- Music Player
- Shoes & Socks (volcano hikes)
- Light Long Pants (mosquito protection & volcano)
- Light Long Sleeve Shirt (same as above)
- Benadryl® and EpiPen® (if you are allergic to anything)
- New & Old Surf Magazines – Thanks!
- Basic First Aid Kit (Band-Aids®, gauze, Aspirin, Neosporin®, Imodium® A-D, etc.)
- Toothpaste & Toothbrush
- Shampoo, Conditioner & Soap
- Anything you might want to give away to locals, such as old clothing, toys, electronics, sports gear, fishing gear, etc. People are really poor here, and anything you might not want, they will find a use for.
What are the health concerns?
The Zika Virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses are present in the country, and mosquito prevention efforts are recommended. There is NO vaccination to prevent Zika and comprehensive mosquito protection methods are highly recommended.
Most people come here without any special vaccines or medicines. In the rainy season, we encourage packing bug spray. If you are concerned about this topic, we recommend you consult with the CDC website for a thorough overview:
- Vaccinations to consider, per our US physicians: Hepatitis A, Typhoid
- Additional Vaccinations – based on work and expected exposure: Hepatitis B, Malaria, Rabies
Is there medical care available?
There is a volunteer non profit med clinic in Hacienda Iguana 100 meters from Nicasita, Nicaheartbeat.
For anything outside of basic medical care, we recommend Hospital Metropolitano Vivian Pellas in Managua, which offers the best care in Nicaragua.
For serious medical complications, consult a doctor in your home country and consider returning home when possible.
You may also contact an NSR representative (our property manager) if you need help with a medical emergency.
Ambulance 128, Fire 115, Police 118
(+505) 2252-7100 main
(+505) 2252-7250 fax
Address: Kilometer 5.5 Carretera Sur, Managua
Can I drive in Nicaragua?
Visitors may use their driver’s license or permits from their country of residence for thirty-days from their entry into Nicaragua.
Can I drink the water?
We provide 2 five gallon jugs of purified water in the kitchen. It is generally considered unsafe to drink the tap water in Nicaragua. Bottled water is widely available for about $1 a liter.
Is there air conditioning in the casita?
There is air conditioning in the living room and both bedrooms, plus overhead fans throughout the casita.
Is there a fully-equipped kitchen in your vacation home?
Yes, our vacation home has a fully-equipped kitchen, including a refrigerator, freezer, oven, stove, microwave, coffee maker, toaster, cookware, tableware, and utensils.
Are linens and towels provided?
Yes, there are linens and towels provided in our home. All bedding is provided and towels are supplied at twice the maximum occupancy. Note: You may still want to bring your own oversized beach towel.
Is the vacation home cleaned daily during my stay?
The vacation home is thoroughly cleaned before and after your stay. A cleaning lady will come to the home every morning around 10 a.m. till noon to perform a light-duty cleaning during your stay.
Are the properties non-smoking?
Yes, all of our properties are non-smoking. Smoking is permitted outside of the property only.
What airport should I fly into?
Nicaragua has one international airport in Managua (Aeropuerto Internacional Augusto C. Sandino); you may fly into Liberia, Costa Rica. From the Liberia airport, you may either fly a puddle-jumper on Sansa to Costa Esmeralda Airport, just 5 minutes from Hacienda Iguana, or you may catch a taxi to the property from any of the three airports. Our Property Management Company, NSR, has a full concierge service to help you coordinate your arrival and we have utilized several taxi services that are all very friendly and reliable.
Where can I rent a vehicle?
There are several car rental agencies at the Managua airport, but we highly recommend reserving your vehicle in advance. While you may be able to get by without a 4-wheel drive vehicle, we recommend reserving one so that you will not be limited to where and when you can go. Below are links to some of the rental agencies at the airport.
- Budget® rental car: https://www.budget.com.ni/
- Avis® rental car: http://www.avis.com.ni/
- Dollar® rental car: http://dollar.com.ni/
- Alamo® rental car: https://alamonicaragua.com/
If you decide to rent a car, we always recommend driving during daylight. We do NOT recommend that guests rent a vehicle and drive at night. If wanting to do so, ask us about a guide who can lead you out to your rental property (with you following behind). For those who arrive at night, and prefer to stay in Managua overnight, and make the drive the following morning, there are numerous hotel options.
Are there things I cannot bring when traveling to Nicaragua?
Aside from the obvious items (drugs, weapons, etc.), you should leave your spearfishing guns at home. In 2014, new regulations were established to prohibit the entry of spearguns into Nicaragua. If you bring them, Customs will likely hold onto them until you leave the country.
When is Surf Season?
We generally see the first of the Southern Hemisphere swells in early April. Swells run consistently through November and we even get infrequent offseason swells from December – April. Although we are not located in a position to get hit by hurricanes, we are affected by the tropical depressions and hurricanes that tend to form off our coasts during hurricane season.
September/October tend to be the most active months around here so those two months can bring some unsettled weather (more often in October). For this reason, October rates are generally more affordable. Those who have rolled the dice, and booked in October, have occasionally scored all-around with cheaper accommodation rates and fewer crowds.
When is the best time for learning to surf?
Lessons can generally be given year-round, though we sometimes have to schedule around swells. The ideal months are November, December, and January. February and March also offer mellow surf, however, those also tend to be months we see cooler water temps and stronger waves.
What water temps can be expected?
Water temps in late-April through November are generally nice and warm and hover around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. January, February, and March are when we see the coolest water temps (and these dips in temperatures are generally only the case for the southern part of the Pacific Coast).
Believe it or not, water temps during this timeframe may be anywhere from lower 60’s to mid 70’s. This is due to strong offshore winds and the upwelling of the deep cool water. Visitors coming to Nicaragua during this timeframe should definitely come prepared for cooler temps. Most of the time a long-sleeved top will suffice (it’s still 85 deg air temp) and rarely you’ll want a wetsuit. Email your NSR rep leading up to your visit for a report on water temps. If you forget to pack gear, visit the NSR shop for gear.
What activities are available in Nicaragua?
Although Nicaragua offers world-class surfing, many other fun family activities are available. Where you stay will determine what activities are available and how easily they are accessed. Ask your NSR rep to set you up with the following:
- Boat trips
- Surf photography
- Surf lessons
- Motorcycle and scooter rentals
- In-house massage
- Horseback riding
- Zipline tours
- Rural tours in local villages
- Satori Spa (inside Hacienda Iguana)
- ATV tours
- Golf (two courses nearby)
- Shopping trips to Masaya
- Granada Colonial City tours
- Island of Ometepe tours
- San Juan Del Sur trips