With a low cost of living, tropical weather and friendly locals, Nicaragua offers many options for travelers and expats seeking to relocate or buy a second home. From beautiful colonial cities like Granada and Leon, to Caribbean paradise on the Corn Islands, Nicaragua offers an abundance of natural and cultural riches. See the following article from International Living for more on this.
The road was still damp from the recent rain, and the streams were still rising. The dense, green foliage formed a dark tunnel over the dirt road I was traveling on. It was almost dark. I’d been assured that this shortcut was faster than the main road…but now I was starting to wonder if I’d done the right thing by coming this way.
I brought my Toyota Land Cruiser to a halt abreast of a huge ox…probably the largest farm animal I’d ever seen up close. The small man in a wide-brimmed hat who had been guiding the animal nodded to me as he brought the beast to a halt next to my open window. Ahead of us was a swollen stream about 40 feet wide, with a depth that could have been anywhere between six inches and ten feet.
“Puedo cruzar aquí con este vehículo?” I asked him, wondering if I could cross the stream safely thanks to my high road clearance. “Inténtalo señor…” He replied, telling me to give it a try, as he extended his hand in the universal “after you” gesture.
It was more of a dare than a straight answer, but I shifted into low-range four-wheel drive, got up to a good speed, and plunged in. I guess I wasn’t too surprised when a wave of water came up over the hood to my wipers. But both my onlooker and I were equally surprised when the Toyota’s diesel kept running—thanks to a high air intake—and rose steadily out the other side of the wash. He gave me a cheerful wave as I drove off.
Nicaragua has been one of my favorite countries since my very first visit more than five years ago. I’ve been here on writing assignments on several occasions, presented at a few conferences, and spent a good many weeks just traveling on my own, enjoying the fascinating countryside.
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I’ve explored Nicaragua’s colonial cities, the tropical islands off its Caribbean coast, and also the Pacific seaboard, from top to bottom. Along the way, I’ve found a number of favorites that I keep returning to, time after time:
This fascinating colonial city is seen by few foreign travelers, and even fewer expats. Once the capital of Nicaragua—in 1839—León remains Nicaragua’s intellectual capital today. With its stately churches and narrow streets lined with small shops, León will take you hundreds of years back into Nicaragua’s past.
For its colonial originality and unspoiled charm—along with its avant-garde university-town feel—León is always at the top of my list.
With a rich colonial heritage that’s obvious as soon as you arrive, Granada is one of most beautiful colonial cities in the Americas.
It sees a good number of international travelers, and has a sizeable expat community…both of which account for its wealth of hotels, fine restaurants, and well-kept state. Granada sits on the shores of Lake Nicaragua with beaches and a group of small private islands—Las Isletas—just off shore.
Granada is a great base of exploration for the area, a good place to invest in a colonial property, and a fun place to stay. I recently bought a property on the edge of town, on the rim of an extinct volcano, overlooking Lake Apoyo.
Whatever image you may have of Nicaragua, I doubt that it’s anything like what you’ll find on its Caribbean side, with its warm waters, swaying palms, and English-speaking population. The Corn Islands lie just off Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. You get to Big Corn Island by plane from the mainland, while you’ll arrive at Little Corn Island via a high-speed launch that departs from Big Corn.
I’ve spent weeks swimming and diving off Little Corn Island, and find its isolation and lack of vehicles to be completely refreshing.
Nicaragua offers one of the best values for Pacific coastline in the hemisphere. The weather and water are warm all year, and the property values are far lower than you’ll find most anywhere else…less than half of what you’ll pay even in Costa Rica’s adjacent Guanacaste province.
I’ve explored this coast from Las Peñitas in the north to Coco Beach in the south, and would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite area. Each stretch of coast has its own appeal and advantages. Throughout, you’ll find wide, white-sand beaches…black-sand beaches…tiny coves and majestic cliffs… as well as small fishing villages and beautiful, modern developments.
Nicaragua has a lot going for it. Aside from the weather, it enjoys one of the Americas’ lowest costs of living, and—in my opinion—one of its friendliest populations.
Regardless of where I’ve traveled in Nicaragua, I’ve always felt at home here…at peace among the land and its people. And that’s the biggest reason why I keep coming back.
This article has been republished from International Living.