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Wondering what to pack for Nicaragua? Read our tips on León, San Juan del Sur, Granada, Ometepe Island, and Laguna de Apoyo!
What to Pack for Nicaragua
Written By: Megan Stetzel
I spent a month exploring Nicaragua and quickly fell in love with this incredible country! From magical volcanoes to sprawling coastlines, there’s something for everyone!
Read this Central America packing list for travel to neighboring countries!
Nicaragua is a great country for adventure activities, wandering around beautiful towns, and surfing. What you’re planning to do and see during your visit will greatly influence what you should bring.
No matter what, pack comfortable, sturdy shoes because most of the streets in towns are cobblestone, and roads in more remote villages can be a bit uneven.
Find out the best shoes for cobblestone streets!
When planning what to pack for Nicaragua, keep in mind that it’s a developing country. Leave your flashy and expensive looking clothing and jewelry at home. I never felt unsafe there, but it’s always best not to draw unwanted attention to yourself.
This little town has a very local feel with brightly colored buildings, bustling markets, and a massive cathedral with a stunning white roof that looks like it’s out of a dream.
The draw of this town is the infamous and thrilled adventure activity: volcano boarding. If you plan to partake, don’t bring your camera or anything of value up the volcano unless it’s an indestructible type, like a GoPro.
Bring a thick scarf to wear around your mouth and nose as you sled down the volcano, because you don’t want a mouth full of the dusty ash! Most importantly, have fun! It’s a bit scary, but well worth it for the experience!
León is a bit more modest than Granada or San Juan, so opt for slightly longer skirts, shorts, and dresses, as well as slightly less revealing tops to avoid un-wanted cat-calling.
These are the best shoes for cobblestone streets!
Like most Central American countries, Nicaragua’s capital of Managua is rarely visited by tourists other than to catch a flight. Granada has become the major transportation and expat hub of the country. From here you can catch chicken buses, shuttles, restock supplies, book tours, and relax for a few days.
Granada feels like León but on a much grander scale; like León, you can spend days wandering the brightly colored streets and markets. The expat community here is large, so if you’re in need of any English-speaking services like a pharmacy or bank, find it here.
As you plan what to pack for Nicaragua and organize your outfits for the various destinations, keep in mind that you may want to leave short dresses and short shorts for beach towns. Like much of Central America, men may catcall and heckle when women show a bit more skin, unfortunately.
Again–I never felt unsafe, but it’s always best to avoid those types of “hellos”. Pack longer dresses or loose fitting pants to stay cool in the warmer months while maintaining a bit more coverage.
Ometepe Island and Laguna de Apoyo and Hiking
If you’re looking for an adventure in Nicaragua, look no further! From Granada, you can book day hikes, overnight hikes, day trips to the beautiful lake of Laguna de Apoyo, and even a trip to an island in Lake Nicaragua, Ometepe Island.
I highly recommend making the trek out to Ometepe and doing the volcano hikes on the island. There are two volcanoes to choose from and both offer stunning views.
Read these tips on how to choose the best hiking shoes!
During the hotter, dry season, bring a lightweight scarf to wrap around your mouth and nose as the volcanic dust can be quite intense; it will save your lungs from an infection.
Ometepe and Laguna de Apoyo are great places to rent kayaks or canoes. Make sure to pack a drybag or at least a waterproof case for your camera or phone as you’ll definitely want to take pictures without ruining your electronics!
Use a dry bag like this one to protect your electronics!
San Juan Del Sur and Beaches
This town is a bustling backpacker hot spot. Delicious, cheap seafood, good bars, and an overall relaxed vibe will greet you upon arrival!
This is the town where you can sport your cute beach dresses and shorts with no shame. Nearby beaches are great to spend the day soaking up the sun or catching a wave.
Backpacking? Take a look at these budget travel essentials!
Don’t forget a beach blanket as the sun turns the sand scalding hot and many beaches don’t have beds to rent. No matter how convinced you are that you don’t burn, pack plenty of strong sunscreen–the sun is super intense here.
If you plan to take chicken buses at all, even for short trips, having a theft-proof bag is essential (or avoid bringing a purse all together)! Unfortunately, it’s becoming common practice for thieves to slice open the side of bags and make off with your valuables, even if the bag is sitting on your lap.
Use anti-theft accessories to keep valuables on your body instead of in your purse. And NEVER store them in your suitcase!
These are the top anti-theft travel bags!
Nicaraguan culture is vibrant and you won’t stick out if your wardrobe is just as vibrant! This is a destination where prints and bright colors are encouraged.
My last piece of advice is to bring a hat. As I’ve said, the sun gets very intense and you could burn just from strolling around town. A floppy hat or wide-brimmed hat will save you pain and embarrassment from too pink cheeks.
Enjoy experiencing Nicaragua! It’s one of my favorite countries and there’s so much to be seen and experienced!
What are your tips on what to pack for Nicaragua? Share in the comments!
For more Central America packing lists, please read:
- What to Wear in El Salvador
- What to Wear in Costa Rica
- What to Wear in Guatemala
- What to Wear in Honduras
Suggested Travel Sources:
- Lonely Planet Central America Budget Travel Guide
- Lonely PlanetLonely Planet Nicaragua (Country Guide)
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Author Bio: Megan is a full-time traveler and loves to eat her way through new places, even though she is gluten-free. Find more of her stories, mishaps, and adventures on her travel blog, ForksAndFootprints.com or follow her on Snapchat as ForksFootprints.