hidden gems in Nicaragua

Secret places and hidden gems in Nicaragua!

If you are planning to visit Nicaragua you probably already know about the most popular places in the country like Ometepe island.

In this blog post I will share some hidden gems and secret places that are off the usual tourist path or at least much less visited than some of the more touristy places.

cover hidden gems in Nicaragua

1. Playa Peru, Ometepe island

One of my favorite hidden gems in Nicargua and one of the best views I enjoyed during my entire roadtrip from the US to Panama!

Playa Peru is located on beautiful Ometepe island with direct views of volcano Concepcion.

At Playa Peru there´s a restaurant, kayak rental, swings in the water and you can also camp here for only 3 USD per night.

One of the best campspots I ever stayed at for sure!

Playa Peru is located a few hundred meters from the more popular Playa Mango, which has basically the same views of the volcano, a restaurant as well and also a kayak rental and swings in the water.

The only difference is that Playa Peru is much less visited, which is the reason why I prefer it over Playa Mango.

Don´t miss out on this gem when visiting Ometepe island (which you should, see a complete guide for Ometepe island HERE.)

water swing with volcano views at Playa Peru
my campsite at Playa Peru

2. Little Corn Island

Ok, not exactly a secret place anymore but still not super crowded by tourists either, so I do consider it as a hidden gem. 

If you are visiting Nicargua you HAVE TO visit the Corn Islands, especially Little Corn Island.

The Corn Islands are located about 70 miles off the Nicaraguan coast, in the Caribbean Sea. They consist of two islands, Little Corn Island and, you guessed it right, Big Corn Island. 

The beaches here are typical Caribbean beaches with powdery sand, palm trees and crystal clear water.

Even though the beaches along the Pacific coast are really pretty as well, I definitely prefer the beaches on the Corn Islands, specifically Little Corn Island.

The underwater world around the Corn Islands is incredible as well and you should definitely go scuba diving or snorkling while you´re here.

When visiting the Corn Islands you will have an authentic Caribbean experience and live the slow island life. 

For the ultimate guide to Little Corn Island, click HERE.

the crystal clear Caribbean Sea
just another palm swing at Otto Beach

3. Laguna Apoyo

One of the best hidden gems in Nicaragua that´s gaining popularity fast.

Laguna Apoyo is a picturesque crater lake located about 30 minutes from Granada. It´s a great place for swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding.

Most people I met said that their best swim in Nicaragua was in Laguna Apoyo indeed. When staying in Granada, make sure to also add a daytrip to Laguna Apoyo to your to do list or even consider staying here overnight.

The best place to visit to go swimming and kayaking at Laguna Apoyo is the Paradiso Hostel.

They have a great little beach, restaurant and facilities. Organized day trips will come here or you can buy a daypass individually.

The day pass costs almost the same as staying in a dorm or camping in their parking lot for a night, so you might have a better deal actually staying here.

There are some other publicly accessible areas for swimming as well, but mostly without facilities.

Hostel Paradiso, Laguna Apoyo

4. Bit Coin Island Bar

Easily one of my favorite hidden gems in Nicaragua is this incredible floating bar! 

If you visit the Corn, you need to make a stop here!

This is probably the coolest bar in Nicaragua, located at one of the best beaches on Big Corn Island.

Bit Coin Island Bar is a floating bar just off Arenas beach.

We visited this place during our stay and absolutely loved it. When at the beach, just wave over the boat or text their Instagram account @bitcoinislandbar in advance and arrange a pick-up at the beach.

For 10 USD you get 6 bit coins (no, unfortunately not real bitcoins) and can use those to have drinks at this amazing floating bar. 1 beer is costs one bitcoin, so you get 6 beers for 10 USD in such a unique bar, a great deal!

The best is, you can jump off the bar anytime and have a refreshing swim in the crystal clear water.

BUT WATCH OUT: some months ago another floating bar just opened next to the original and is trying to copy the concept and steal customers, so be sure you end up at the correct floating bar!

Bit Coin Island floating bar
floating at the floating bar

5. Pena Rota

This bay is located just South of busy San Juan del Sur.
Actually it´s the first beach to the South of town, but it´s quite hard to reach and hardly visited.

I did camp here for two nights and apart from a handful of locals and some fishermen, I did not see anyone while here.

The beach here is not exactly great for swimming due to rocks, however the bay is beautiful and I really enjoyed having it all to myself.

So, if you are in San Juan del Sur and want to escape the crowds for a little bit, check out this beach.

To get here though, you need to either have your own car or hire a taxi to drop you there and pick you up again.

Peña Rota beach
having the beach all to myself

6. Somoto Canyon

This is a great hidden gem in the North of the country.

Unfortunately, I skipped this place due to heavy rains when I was in this area. I heard only good things about this place and after doing a lot of research online, I am sure that I would have loved exploring this canyon.

Somoto Canyon is located very close to the Honduran border and can be explored with a tour guide.

The landscapes are amazing and making your way through then narrow canyon very unique. You can swim, kayak, tube and jump off rocks here.

So definitely a great adventure for all the adrenaline junkies out there.

Even though I have been reading that you can theoretically visit the canyon by yourself, tours are affordable and the guides knowledgeable, so I would probably opt for a tour in this case. One of the tour operators is Somoto Canyon Tours

If you visit the North of Nicaragua, make sure to add this place to your bucketlist!

Somoto Canyon - Photo by roberto zuniga on Unsplash
Somoto Canyon - Photo by roberto zuniga on Unsplash

I hope you added some of my “hidden gems in Nicaragua” to your to-do list!

Check out more Nicargua blog posts below to help you plan your trip: