Central America has always been the go-to spot for backpackers and young travelers looking to experience a culture different than their own and surround themselves with nature, yet this year, it's surging in popularity not only with the adventurous type but also with Americans in general.
A growing number of U.S. passport holders are choosing the fascinating isthmus that connects both the Northern and Southern halves of the New World as their travel destination, and much of it has to do with the fact that most countries in the region are untouristy and pretty affordable.
One of them is the lesser-known Nicaragua, the largest sovereign state in Central America and one of the trendiest places to visit in 2024:
Nicaragua Is Getting Trendier To Visit
Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America, bordering the much smaller Honduras to the North and the tourist hotspot that is Costa Rica to the South while having open access to both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea along its Northeastern and Southwestern fronts.
Central America as a whole is famous for its wild nature, but there is something to be said about Nicaragua in particular: it may not be as developed as its Southern neighbor and certainly not as popular a destination, but it arguably has the most breathtaking scenery.
It is one of a handful of countries where you can literally navigate watercourses from the Pacific to the Caribbean, find as much as 7% of the world's biodiversity while exploring the jungle, experience more than 70 ecosystems, and relax on perfectly unruffled, tourist-free beaches.
Unlike Costa Rica, Central America's indisputable leader, Nicaragua is still largely underdeveloped, and though this can pose issues at times, especially in terms of commuting and the accessibility of some regions, it is precisely the low volume of tourism that gives it its unique charm.
Called the ‘Land of Lakes and Volcanos', it boasts an enviable assortment of untouched landscapes and natural wonders:
What To See In The Land Of Lakes And Volcanos
With at least 19 volcanos, often part of wider natural parks dotted with peaks and jungle trails, Nicaragua's plethora of hiking spots will surely make your thrill-seeking heart beat faster.
One of these volcanos is the landmark San Cristóbal, rising a monumental 1,745 meters above sea level and offering sweeping views of the verdant world below.
Hikers should beware, though: many volcanos in Nicaragua are currently active, and San Cristóbal itself has had its fair share of eruptions. Luckily, volcano experts can easily predict these, and activity providers will cease organizing guided hikes during eruption periods.
Looking for a more relaxing, less-action, more laid-back beach vacay instead?
You're in luck, as there are plenty of gorgoeus beachfront resorts to pick from, and they see so very few foreign tourists; even in the high season, you are unlikely to have to fight for a spot at the beach with hordes of fellow Americans.
Gorgeous Beach Spots
The quaint Little Corn Island, off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, is one of such great options, as it is covered by lush vegetation and surrounded by a turquoise-colored reef.
Enjoy pristine swimming spots, sip on some coconut water by the shade of a palm tree, or gorge on a soulful breakfast in your boutique hotel: Little Corn is somewhere you go for slowing down, recharging, and basking in the sun.
For a weekend-long stay, one of the top recommendations on Booking.com is Little Corn Island Beach and Bungalow Hotel, with prices for a standard ‘Crusoe' room starting from $366 for a minimum of two nights.
The easiest way to reach Little Corn is flying first from Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, to the neighboring, equally charming Big Corn Island, then taking a passenger boat over (the journey takes roughly 20 minutes).
The Pacific Side
On the mainland, more specifically on the Pacific side, Playa Maderas is yet another gorgeous sandy stretch you shouldn't miss out on, unfolding along an azure ocean and distinctive for the shark fin-shaped geological formations distributed along the shoreline.
This is a surfing hotspot, and numerous surf schools based in neighboring San Juan del Sur operate locally.
Opting for a luxurious hotel instead? The Aqua Wellness Resort, tucked away in a quiet corner of the trendy Redonda Bay, is the ideal tropical getaway, with on-site restaurants, spa facilities, and privileged beach access.
This is also a popular retreat destination for travelers wishing to unplug and forget about their mundane worries for a week, with a wide range of accommodation options ranging from rustic yet well-equipped treehouses to more traditional hotel rooms.
A ‘Forest View' treehouse will set you back by a reasonable $135 per night this winter.
Nicaragua Is Hugely Affordable
Accommodation costs aside, a one-week trip to Nicaragua will cost the average mid-range solo traveler $380, as per data compiled by BudgetYourTrip, while those traveling with a partner should expect expenses to total $759, or the equivalent in the local currency.
Nicaragua is one of the cheapest countries in Central America, and Latin America as a whole, due to its low cost of living and abundance of natural resources: much, if not all fruit sold in local markets is homegrown, and it is a largely self-sufficient country in terms of agricultural production.
Normally, travelers will spend $15 on meals per day when eating in non-expensive local restaurants.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, local authorities have highlighted it is now the main destination in Central America, a statement their counterparts in Costa Rica will certainly dispute at some point.
The Government expects 1.82 million tourists to have landed in Nicaragua before the end of 2023, up from 2019's all-time high 1.2 million.
Nicaragua is getting trendier to visit every year, and if you want to enjoy it while it's yet to go viral on TikTok and the crowds start gathering, the time is now.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.