Day Trip & Activity Ideas
Gigante (20-25 minute drive or 45-60 minute hike):
Restaurant, Activities and Exploring- Gigante is a small fishing village that is 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 to get breakfast, lunch or drinks and you can walk or take a taxi back. It takes about 1 hour to walk from Iguana to Gigante and is easiest to take the rocks at low tide but there is also a trail if it is high tide (see hike info).
To Playa Amarillo from Gigante: Once in Gigante, 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 for an easier route to Playa Amarillo, head north on the main road in Gigante across the riverbed. 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, the land formation at the south end of the beach that Gigante got its name from. 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 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 from Gigante: Aqua is a community with a beautiful and 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 15-20 minutes and continue 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 on Aqua’s beach.
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
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 flora and fauna and wildlife. Return to a local family’s 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. They have SUPs (stand up paddle boards) and kayaks available to rent hourly. 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 back.
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 Las Ceibas beachfront restaurant. 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. Reservation required.
Nahualapa 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 or just sunset at Magnific Rock, a restaurant/hostel located just north of Popoyo. Enjoy lunch or dinner at their restaurant with killer views to the south of Playa Jiquelite and to the north of Popoyo surf break and Guasacate. 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 yoga classes (please inquire with them for their schedule).
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 or activity options.
Surfing- Take a boat down the coast to San Juan Del Sur and you can stop at Playa Maderas to surf on the way.
Activities – You will find a variety of activity options in San Juan del Sur, ranging from Horseback Riding, ATV Tours, Paintball or just go out exploring the surrounding beaches.
Tree Casa Resort (1.5 hour drive):
Tree Casa Resort is a beautiful, kid-friendly resort that is about 15 minutes north of San Juan del Sur. Families love going here to enjoy their beautiful pool, water slide, waterfall jump, restaurant/bar and explore their tree platforms. The day pass cost is $25/adult of which $20 is consumable and it is $20/child (6-11 years old) of which $15 is consumable.
Catamaran Tour (1.5 hour drive): The catamaran tour with SALT is day full of fun and natural beauty. You will sail and explore the beautiful waters of Nicaragua, heading north up the coast, stop for 1-2 hours at Playa Blanca where you will have the opportunity to swim, snorkel, hang out, and partake in other beach activities and then sail back at sunset with the opportunity to see turtles, dolphins, whales and other sea life.
Isla de Ometepe (45-minute drive and then a 1-hour ferry ride):
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 view 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 de Granada– Go on a boat or kayak tour around Las Isletas admiring the beauty and wildlife. Some tours will take you to Monkey Island (where the monkeys will come out onto your boat), to a restaurant on its own island, or to an island with a pool.
Masaya or Catarina Mirador (1.5-2 hour drive):
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 Mirador has a breathtaking view of Laguna de Apoyo, Volcan Mombacho and Granada in the background, artisan shops and a short canopy tour (3 lines). Masaya has a couple huge, outdoor markets devoted to artisan shops
Masaya Volcano (2 hour drive): The Masaya volcano is just outside of the city 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 the crater dwelling parakeets flying around at sunset and bats at night.
Laguna de Apoyo (2 hour drive):
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.
* 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.