When planning our honeymoon, we knew we wanted a bit of an adventure. Nicaragua first came on my radar through one of my favorite bloggers/’grammers/designers/sources of inspiration, DesignLoveFest. She took a beautiful trip last spring through El Camino Travel (a company I am now thoroughly obsessed with), and while we didn’t book through the group, we copied her itinerary nearly stop for stop.
Our first stop was the Hulakai Hotel in San Juan del Sur, an ex-pat surf town near the border of Costa Rica. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean via Playa Maderas, this eco-friendly boutique hotel feels like a total jungle oasis. We surfed, strolled downtown San Juan, and enjoyed delicious sunset communal dinners with the other hotel guests.
The sunsets were pretty insane on Playa Maderas.
On our last morning in San Juan, we took the somewhat scary drive up to the 25-foot Christ of Mercy Statue that overlooks the beautiful bay. It was insanely windy up there but the views were unbeatable.
We finished off our time in San Juan with an incredible afternoon of sailing with Two Guys Adventures. Can’t recommend this company enough! They picked us up in the marina and we sailed to a private beach, accessible only via boat, for a few hours of swimming and snorkeling and beer drinking. We turned home just in time to see the sunset from the water. Totally spectacular day.
Our next stop: Ometepe Island. I’ve been hearing about Ometepe my whole life, since Bainbridge Island and Ometepe Island are sister cities, and my high school sends a group of students to do service work there every year. Of course, we had to visit.
Made up of two volcanoes, Ometepe was the true adventure part of our trip. After an hour-long ferry ride from Rivas (let me tell you, these are not your Washington State Ferries…), we drove the bumpy ride to Finca Mystica, a beautiful farm sitting on 25 acres in the foothills of the volcano. We stayed in a sweet little cob house with windows made of wine bottles, and it felt straight out of Fern Gully.
We started our day there at 6am with an eight-hour hike up the Maderas Volcano. It was muddy and challenging but included incredible views of the other volcano, Concepcion, and an eery, misty crater lake at the very top that was the perfect place to cool off (and devour the gnarliest PB&J sandwiches packed by our hosts at Finca Mystica).
Pretty typical traffic jam in the country of Nicaragua.
Our trusty Suzuki Jimny, the car we rented for our trip and were so thankful to have.
Lime trees abounded.
Our cozy little cob house.
Our view of Volcan Concepcion, midway up the side of Volcan Maderas.
The coffee in Nicaragua was outrageously good, and part of our hike included a stroll through a coffee plantation on the side of the volcano.
The misty crater lake, straight out of Lord of the Rings.
Sweet corn plantation.
Matt being a dreamboat and cleaning off our muddy shoes in Lake Nicaragua, post-hike.
See that smoke to the right of the sun? That’s the active Volcan Masaya, which we visited later on in our trip.
From Ometepe Island, we drove up to the colonial city of Granada. Founded in 1524, Granada is ostensibly the first European city in mainland America. We stayed at the Tribal Hotel, and it was such a dream. Easily the best hotel experience we’ve ever had. Every inch of the seven-room hotel was so thoughtfully planned and curated. We had our own private breakfast balcony, where they brought us bottomless French press coffee and a three course meal every morning. The pool was heaven, the cocktails were perfect, and the hospitality was unparalleled. We are seriously plotting our return.
Our room, which I would live in full-time if I could.
I mean, have you ever seen a dreamier pool in your life?
Give me all of the Caipirinhas, por favor.
The lounging and dining area of Tribal Hotel.
The colorful architecture in Granada was a sight to behold.
One of our day trips from Granada included Masaya, where a famous artisan market thrives on Sundays.
Need a pair of leather shoes?
Granny Smiths from Washington State!
From the Masaya market, we made the drive up to Volcan Masaya, an active volcano that you can drive right up to.
Our last stop on that trip was to the city of Catarina, which overlooks La Laguna de Apoyo, an impossibly blue crater lake. The city is small and charming, known for its plant nurseries.
Instead of yard signs, the political parties paint murals all over buildings and walls. This guy was everywhere!
Our morning traversing Granada was hot, humid, and vibrant.
If you say so.
Straight out the coconut for me, and an unexpectedly blended Bloody Mary for Matt (I swear he liked it, despite the surprise!).
Next up: Isleta el Espino, a three-room hotel on a private island in the islets of Granada. We parked at Marina Colcibolca, where they picked us up in a boat and took us to paradise. We slept in a treehouse, enjoyed copious amounts of coffee, tacos, avocado toast, passionfruit, and the most divine waterside couples massage.
Another dreamy pool with a volcano view.
Our treehouse and the public bathrooms on site (#bathroomgoals).
Gimme that blanket.
We spent our final night at Los Patios Hotel in Granada. Another wonderful stay.
I didn’t take my camera on our zip-lining adventure but I snapped this iPhone photo of the canopy we cruised. It was just the right amount of adrenaline for me 🙂
Our final adventure was a roadtrip to Leon, a city in northwest Nicaragua home to more beautiful colonial architecture and incredible churches.
The main attraction was the Cathedral of Leon, an all-white dreamscape in the center of the city. Can you believe that is real!?
Volcanoes in every direction you look.
All in all, a nearly perfect (and Trump-free!) two weeks with my favorite person in the whole world.