Located in the southern portion of the country just off of Lake Nicaragua, Granada is one of a few of Nicaragua’s most notable cities. Granada is the oldest colonial city in the country, which visitors quickly recognize by the historic architecture and buildings that fill downtown.
However, while it’s a city full of culture and history, Granada adventure activities offers plenty of fun for the adventure traveler. Nicaragua’s neighbor, Costa Rica, is often considered to be one of the top Central American destinations for adventure travelers, but Nicaragua is an alternative since so much of the land is undeveloped. Today I spotlight five adventure things to do in and around Granada, Nicaragua.
Island hop Las Isletas
Island hopping is no longer just for the rich and famous. Nor is it an activity reserved for islands in the ocean. Guests can easily pop from island to island on Lake Nicaragua, although these aren’t your typical islands. The small isles of Lake Nicaragua are said to have formed thousands of years ago after nearby Mombacho Volcano exploded. These isles are home to everything from capuchin monkeys to millionaire mansions to one isle that has its own bar that you can dock your boat at to enjoy a drink. Travelers can take a ride in one of the small motorized boats to access the isles, or for a more serene experience, rent a kayak to tour the isles. Accessing the entry point to get to Las Isletas is a quick day trip from Granada.
Hike Mombacho Volcano
There are numerous volcanoes in this region of Nicaragua, including Masaya Volcano, but Mombacho is the closest to Granada. Travelers to both Granada and Lake Nicaragua’s isles will see Mombacho Volcano in the distance, as it’s the volcano that looks like the top was blown off it. Since it’s a much smaller Nicaraguan volcano, it makes for a more manageable hike. There are a few different trails, none of which are longer than a few hours to hike.
Travelers who just want a short, easy trip to Mombacho, can just ride up to the tourist center at the top and walk around one of the craters. Otherwise, there are a couple different hikes to the other craters that range in length from one to four hours. There is a nominal fee for entering and tour guides are also available for a small fee.
Explore Apoyo Lagoon
Apoyo Lagoon is one of Nicaragua’s most captivating natural landmarks because of the view it offers at the top of the little town of Caterina, overlooking the lagoon. Like many of Nicaragua’s other notable natural landmarks, it boasts an interesting story, as the clean, blue lake sits inside the crater of the Apoyo Volcano. While Apoyo Lagoon is one of many Nicaraguan lagoons, it’s unique in that it’s much cleaner than most of the country’s other lagoons, meaning that visitors can take a dip in it. Other activities at Apoyo lagoon includes kayaking and horseback riding.
Zipline through the rainforest
Ziplining is one of the most popular adventure activities in Central America. Since most of Nicaragua is undeveloped, it offers a unique way to see untouched parts of the country. The most accessible and popular area to zipline near Granada is at Mombacho Volcano. Don’t worry, you won’t be ziplining inside the crater, but rather through the natural, greener areas of the reserve. Visitors begin their canopy tour with an introduction to ziplining and a test run before making a trek to zipline from platform to platform through the forest. No prior experience is required.
See Granada by horse
Life goes at a much slower pace in Central America, so what better way to see it then by horseback. With so many natural landmarks within a short distance of Granada, many of these landmarks offer horseback riding, including Apoyo Lagoon and Lake Nicaragua. Seeing Apoyo Lagoon via horseback takes travelers through some of the fields and forests around the lagoon which aren’t so accessible by foot.
For something less on the adventure side and more on the romantic side, travelers can take a horse and carriage ride through Granada. Head to the western side of Granada to Parque Colón to catch a ride on the carriages that take guests throughout the narrow, historic streets of Granada. Guests pay a nominal fee of $10-$20 per hour.
Photos courtesy of Spencer Spellman.
– Spencer Spellman