The best beaches in Nicaragua

Nicaragua might be more of a volcano country for you, but it has actually a hidden “weapon”. Nicaragua beaches may not have huge popularity amongst travelers, but that can only mean that you have high chances of having all the beach to yourself. You have the beaches at the Pacific ocean, those at the Caribbean Sea, the beaches on the islands in both oceans plus the lake beaches and lake island beaches. That’s a lot. We asked travelers to share their favorite beaches in Nicaragua.

Sunset at San Juan del Sur beach, Nicaragua

Otto Beach, Little Corn Island

Little Corn Island is a perfect little Caribbean island off the coast of Nicaragua, virgin beaches, no roads, no big hotels, good diving and a jungle with mango and coconut covered floor. You can walk across this tiny little island in about an hour exploring some of the beautiful beaches encircling this piece of paradise. We loved visiting the beautiful Otto beach, walking through the jungle to reach the white sand of this secluded, jungle infringed beach. From the shore the snorkeling at Otto beach is nice; you swim across the sand and some grass patches for about 5 to 10 minutes before reaching coral reef with beautiful tropical fish.

We were usually the only people on this flawless, secluded beach spending the day swimming, snorkeling and reading under a palm tree next to the perfect, clear, warm Caribbean. Pick up a freshly baked coconut bread at the bakery on the trail leading to the beach for lunch and don’t forget to rent some snorkeling gear in town.

Campbell and Alya of Stingy Nomads

Alya, Stingy Nomads walking on Otto Beach Little Corn Island Nicaragua

Big Corn Island Beaches

Most visitors to Nicaragua head to Little Corn Island, but Big Corn Island actually has the best beaches. There are a few small, secluded beaches but the highlight is Picnic Beach on the southwest of the island.

Picnic Beach has a wide stretch of soft sand with gently lapping Caribbean water. The combination of being protected in South West Bay and the low gradient means that you can safely play in the water. Nearby, Arenas Beach and Picnic Center hotels allow visitors to grab a drink, food, and some shade for bargain prices.

For those that don’t like sand, you can still enjoy the beach on the north side of Big Corn. The water is pristine since it is protected by a small reef. During low tide, you can relax on the beach. Otherwise, there are a few grassy alcoves where you get all the benefits of the sea without getting sandy. One exists across from Hotel Morgan.

Another option on Big Corn’s north side if you need some exercise is to head to Dos Tiburones Dive Shop. From their dock, you can snorkel out to the reef and drift west with the currents to your grassy beach patch. If this sounds appealing to you, find out how to get to the Corn Islands to start planning your trip!

Sheena and Erik of DIY Travel HQ

Big Corn Island Best Beaches in Nicaragua

Playa Maderas, Pacific Ocean

Playa Maderas is located on a bumpy dirt road 20 minutes north of San Juan del Sur. The beach is characterized by a signature shark-fin-shaped rock formations and protected jungle cove. Maderas is an all year round surf spot that caters for everyone, from beginners to advanced surfers. This is due to the waves breaking in layers, so newbies can enjoy the smaller sets closer to shore, whilst the outer section is more challenging for experienced surfers. 

As well as several surf schools like Dream Sea Surf, the beach has a few cafes to relax in and enjoy a cold beer, ceviche, and fish tacos. During low tide there are some beautiful walks along the beach and if you have time I recommend a sunset catamaran sailing trip. From the capital, Managua, Playa Maderas is 3-hour drive. If you don’t have a car, you can reach San Juan del Sur by bus and then catch the daily beach shuttle to Playa Maderas from outside Casa Oro.

Roshni of The Wanderlust Within

Roshni at Maderas beach, Nicaragua

San Juan Del Sur Beach

Do not miss this picturesque place surrounded by mountains, pleasant weather and friendly, welcoming people to enjoy a well-deserved vacation. This beach is an almost perfect “U” shaped bay, surrounded by mountains. In between the town of San Juan del Sur was established, making it one of the most attractive in the country. The sand of the beach is not white as in the Caribbean, but clearer than in the rest of the Pacific.

You can do boat trips to visit neighboring beaches, sport fishing, diving, marine photography, whale watching, canopy tour in the mountainous surroundings, and enjoy an active nightlife. On the shore of the bay is the town of San Juan del Sur, which over the years has worked on its tourist offer, becoming one of the beach destinations with the widest choice. Here you can enjoy a wide variety of seafood in the many restaurants that are located by the sea, and the warmth of the variety of hotels that provide lodging service. In addition, there are all the facilities of a small town: shops, post office, Internet, health centers, language schools, police station, gas stations, and workshops.

Near the port, you can also visit beaches such as Marseille, Majagual, Ocotal, Remanso, and Ostional, among others, as well as the La Flor Wildlife Reserve. La Flor Beach is one of the few in the world that annually receives the arrival of the Turtles of the Paslama species between the months of July to January. It is possible to camp on the beach to observe the spawning of these turtles.

Discover Nicaragua with Nicaragua Travel

San Juan Del Sur beach, Nicaragua

Santo Domingo Beach, Ometepe Island

On the northeastern side of Ometepe, Santo Domingo beach (Playa Santo Domingo in Spanish) is a relaxed 4km stretch of black sand bordered by volcanoes. While not in the area closest to the ferry port, the area surrounding this beach is considered a favorite on Ometepe. 

Since Ometepe is located on a lake, the beach itself is actually the shore of the lake. Hence the waters aren’t as clear as they are on the Corn Islands. The draw here, however, is that the beach is flanked by volcanoes and its a great spot for stargazing and swimming. The water here is quite calm too so is a good choice for swimming.

The beach is sometimes frequented by local horses, and I was lucky enough to see a family of them while I was there. To get to Ometepe island you’ll need to catch a bus from Granada and then a ferry across the lake. Once you arrive on the island, you can catch a taxi to Santo Domingo beach, which has accommodations nearby.

Lexi of South Pacific Trip

Santo Domingo beach, Ometepe island, Nicaragua

Punta Jesus Maria, Ometepe Island

Punta Jesus Maria is the westernmost point of the Ometepe island and that’s why we decided to visit it for the sunset. It was a bit of bumpy motorbike ride through the dirt narrow road, a few domesticated animals saying hi as we passed them. Then we got to the area with two small houses and a souvenir stall. After we passed some super off-beat benches, we had to get into the water.

We surrounded some low trees and water bushes and finally got to a very narrow strait of sand – the small “tongue”. We could dance in the shallow lake waters nearby, we could bury our toes in the sand. Others started coming, bringing their sunset entourage – beers, music, tanned smiles. It was still magical and intimate as an experience.

With a group of total strangers, we watched the sun go down in the distance. Everything was covered with golden colors and our silhouettes were contrasting with a soft black against the setting rays. Watching the sunset of the tiny beach of Punta Jesus Maria was definitely a highlight of our visit to Nicaragua.

Punta Jesus Maria, Ometepe island, Nicaragua

Beaches of Islets of Granada, Lake Nicaragua

If you thought Granada is all about colorful colonial architecture and cobblestone streets, then you’re wrong! Granada lies on the coast of Lake Cocibolca (a.k.a. Lake Nicaragua )and a boat tour will take you to many of the 365 “isletas” or islets (small islands). While some of them are owned by hotels and private facilities, others are inhabited by monkeys. On some of them, you can stop to check out old fortresses (e.g. San Pablo island).

On some of them, there are nice pools or even sandy beaches so you can swim in the cool lake waters. It’s not the best of the best beach experience, but it’s definitely something unorthodox. Or you can just enjoy a beach party with a cocktail by the pool on the island. Laguna de Apoyo is not so far and they say it’s the best place for enjoying the sun and swimming in the area. Whatever you choose, Granada Isletas are definitely a great detour to your Central America itinerary.

San Pablo island, Granada isletas, Nicaragua

So those were some of the best beaches in Nicaragua. What are your favorite beaches in the land of volcanoes and sunsets? Recommend your dearest beach in Nicaragua and we’ll add it in the article!

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One Response

  1. […] everywhere – people are calm and relaxed, smiling and positive. When you add those unbelievable Nicaragua beaches – at the Pacific coast, at the Atlantic coast, and even on the lake islands like Ometepe, […]

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