Gigante (20-25 minute drive or 45-60 minute hike):
Restaurant, Activities and Exploring– Gigante is a small fishing village just 2 bays south of Hacienda Iguana that has a handful of great restaurants, the secluded beach of Playa Amarillo, activity options and some nice hike options. It’s a fun day trip to walk to Gigante from Iguana and you can walk or take a taxi back. The Gigante Bay Hostel on the south end of Gigante’s beach offers activities like surf lessons, guided hikes, rappelling, and a booze cruise or sunset catamaran sailing tours (reservations generally needed). Pastora Tours in Gigante offers rentals and tours including (also upon reservation); boat trips, fishing trips, ATV rentals, bike rentals, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and jet skis.
- To Playa Amarillo: If you’d like to take a short walk/hike you can walk north on Gigante’s beach and up to the top of the hill at the end of the beach and check out the great view from the top of the hill of Playa Amarillo to the north and Gigante to the south. There is a local restaurant called Buena Vista right there if you’d like to sit and enjoy the view with some Toñas. You can follow a trail further up and then down this hill that will take you to Playa Amarillo or you can take the more adventurous staircase in the rocks just below Buena Vista. For an easier route to Playa Amarillo, head south on the main road in Gigante through the river bed. About 60 yards past the river bed take the left turn up and over the hill and you will come down to Playa Amarillo.
- To the top of El Pie de Gigante: El Pie de Gigante translates to Giant’s Foot which is exactly what the land formation on the south end of Gigante’s bay looks like. Head to the south end of the beach and just before the rocks head inland. Follow the trail that goes up to the right. You will need to climb some lose rocks a little so please do not attempt this hike if you are not a comfortable climber. From the top of the Giant’s foot you have stunning views in all directions and can look over the sheer cliff on the other side.
- To Aqua: Aqua is a community with a beautiful an
tranquil beach just one bay south of Gigante. Head to the south end of Gigante’s beach and just before the rocks head inland. You will see a road/trail heading left. Follow this trail around the hill for about 10 minutes and past the palapa you will see on your right.Continue through the gate that is just after the palapa. Once through the gate head to your right up and over this small hill and you will come out at Aqua’s beach.
- Yoga Lots Hill – From the center of Gigante where you will see Blue Sol (restaurant) head inland on the road across the street. After approximately 100 yards veer left on the road or trail until you come to a fence with a cattle guard on your right. Cross the cattle guard and follow this road into the “Yoga Lots” and on up to the top of the hill where you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view if Gigante and the surrounding hills and valley.
Surfing– If the waves are too big for you in Iguana, take a trip to Playa Amarillo, the beach just north of Gigante and just south of Hacienda Iguana. The waves are generally smaller there (about half the size of Colorados). If that is still too big, the bay of Gigante may be breaking (only with really big swells). You can also arrange boat or surf trips, leaving from Gigante.
El Tambo Cultural Tour – 15-20 minute drive
El Tambo Tour- Experience true Nicaraguan country living by taking a local cultural tour. Check out multiple different farm animals and learn how the farm functions, take an ox cart ride, horseback ride or walk back into the jungle to view the local flor and fauna and wildlife. Return to a local families house to make tortillas. Afterwards enjoy the tortillas with freshly made cuajada (local cheese) and Jamaica (local juice). This is a great option for families. Pricing and tour options vary.
Aqua (25-30 minute drive or 75-90 minute hike):
Activities, Spa and Restaurant– Drive, hike or take a taxi to Aqua (lunch or dinner reservation needed to enter by car) and enjoy their tranquil bay, spa, activities and restaurant. As long as you eat a meal at their restaurant then you will be allowed to use their beach gear (kayaks, SUPs or snorkel gear) free of charge. You can also arrange to get a spa treatment or massage while there or participate in one of their yoga classes on their beautiful platform overlooking the bay. Please find the most recent yoga schedule and spa menu at http://www.aquanicaragua.com. For the adventurous, you can also hike here from Iguana and hike or take a taxi.
Guacalito de La Isla (25 minute drive):
Restaurant, Golf and Spa- Treat yourself to the life of luxury at Guacalito de La Isla, Nicaragua’s most upscale residential community. Enjoy lunch or dinner at one of Guacalito’s beachfront restaurants (reservation required). Indulge yourself at their lavish spa, with 6 different choices of spa experiences or challenge yourself on their beautiful 18 hole golf course, designed by David McLay Kidd. Find more info at www.guacalitodelaisla.com
Las Salinas Hot Springs (35-45 minute drive):
Hot Springs– Relax and rejuvenate in the local hot springs. This is a great option to pair with a nice lunch or dinner at Magnific Rock or Yolanda’s Cafe.
Restaurant and Activities – Spend the day at Magnific Rock, a restaurant/hostel located just south of Popoyo. Enjoy lunch or dinner at their restaurant with killer views to the south of
Playa Jiquelite and to the north of Popoyo. You can rent boards or SUPs from the hostel and they do also offer surf lessons.During surf season when the waves are big in Iguana this is the best place for beginners to surf or take a lesson. They also offer two yoga classe
s Monday through Friday at 9am and 4:30pm and one class at 9am on Saturdays and Sundays.
San Juan Del Sur (1.5 hour drive or boat ride):
Shopping and Restaurants-Drive, take a taxi or boat to San Juan Del Sur for the day to shop for souvenirs and enjoy one of their many restaurants.
Surfing- Take a boat down the coast to San Juan Del Sur and you can stop at Maderas to surf on the way.
Activities – You will find a large amount of activity options in San Juan del Sur, ranging from Canopy Tours (zip lining), Horseback Riding, ATV Tours, Paintball or just go out exploring the surrounding beaches.
Refugio Silvestre La Flor and Reserva Chacocente :
Refugio Silvestre La Flor, 22 km south of San Juan del Sur, and Reserva de Vida Silvestre Chacocente, 20 kms north of Hacienda Iguana, are both protected beaches where Paslama turtles come on a yearly basis to lay their eggs. You can visit these beaches during the mass arrivals and hatchings from June to February where thousands upon thousands of Paslama turtles can be seen.
Isla de Ometepe (45 minute drive and then a 1 hour ferry ride):
Ferry and Day Trip – Wake up early and take a taxi to catch the earliest Ometepe ferry. Spend the day on the island, exploring their beaches, volcanoes, waterfalls and El Ojo del Agua (crystal clear lagoon).
Volcán Mombacho (1.5 hour drive):
Hikes and Canopy Tour- Do a guided tour that takes you to the top of the volcano in private transportation. A guide will take you on the 1 hour loop hike to see the local vegetation and wildlife and on a clear day great views of the colonial city of Granada. You can continue on to do a Canopy Tour where you can do a series of zip lines through the forest. This is a great option to do along with lunch in Granada (only 20 minutes from Volcan Mombacho).
Granada (1.75-2 hour drive):
Shopping and Restaurants–Visit the colonial town of Granada and check out the old colonial buildings, cathedrals and many amazing restaurants. If you’re lucky, some days you can pay $1 to climb to the top of the bell tower of the cathedral in the middle of central park and look out over the city. There are all sorts of excellent restaurants, spas, tours and cultural site seeing.
Las Isletas– Go on a stand up paddle board, boat or kayak tour around Las Isletas. Some tours will take you to Monkey Island, to a restaurant on its own island or to an island with a pool. SUP yoga classes are also available through Livit Water.
Masaya or Catarina (1.5-2 hour drive):
Shopping and Restaurants- Catarina and Masaya are known for their artisan shops. You can find beautiful hand-made hammocks, pottery, leather items, paintings, shirts, wood sculptures, coffee, cigars and much more. Catarina has a small street with many shops. You could also go to lunch at the Catarina Mirador, which has more shops and a breathtaking view of Laguna de Apoyo, Volcan Mombacho and Granada in the background. Masaya has a couple huge, outdoor markets devoted to artisan shops. Grab a map and head for El Mercado Viejo or Mercado Municipal.
Masaya Volcano (2 hour drive):
Volcano Tour– The Masaya volcano is just outside of Masaya. You can go check out the beautiful view and look down into the crater or take one of the hikes in the area ranging from 1.5-6 km. The park also offers night tours, starting just before sunset. On this tour you often get to see the bubbling lava up close in person and also the crater dwelling parakeets flying around at sunset and bats at night. They also offer horseback riding tours in the national park.
Laguna de Apoyo (2 hour drive):
Lunch, Swim, Kayak and Relax – Visit the beautiful and tranquil crater lake of Laguna de Apoyo that is said to have healing waters. There are many hotels and hostels here that offer a day pass for $5-$10 which can often be used towards food at their restaurant. Some hotels have kayaks, inner tubes, paddle boats or sailboats.
Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica (3-4 hours each way)
Rincon de la Vieja Adventure or Nature Tour – It is a very long day trip but also a ton of fun and you can sleep in the transportation on your way there and back. Head down to Rincon de la Vieja, Costa Rica in organized transportation and spend a day of adventure or enjoying nature on the side of the volcano. With the Adventure Tour you will do a zip-ling course through a canyon, horseback riding, white water tubing excursion and end with a mud bath and soak in the hot springs. Please note that kids must be at least 8 years old and 4 ft tall to do the white water tubing.
The park also offers a Nature Day Tour for the less adventurous which includes checking out local snakes (and taking a photo with one), a butterfly garden, frog exhibit, walk to look-out point, visiting a waterfall and ending with a mud bath and soak in the hot springs. Both tours include a buffet lunch. It is recommended that you arrive at Rincon de la Vieja to start the tour around 8-9am so you would have to leave Iguana around 4am and wouldn’t get back until late at night. Please inquire about pricing as rates vary depending on group size and choice of tour.
* Many of these locations are great to visit on your way to or from Managua upon arrival or departure. Masaya, Granada, Laguna de Apoyo and Volcan Mombacho are all on the way or only a short detour off the driving route from Managua to Hacienda Iguana.