Shore excursions in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Tourism in Nicaragua is on the rise.

Every year more and more people visit this beautiful country. Nicaragua has emerged from the shadow of the Cold War and is fast becoming the most popular destinations in Latin America.

It is not difficult to see why; Nicaragua is blessed with incredible natural landscapes. There are unspoiled beaches, huge lakes, and impressive volcanoes (both active and inactive). There is also a wealth of flora and fauna, wildlife, and culture.

Another selling point is its relative lack of development. The events of recent history have meant that Nicaragua has not become westernized in the way that Costa Rica, its southern neighbor, has done. Instead, Nicaragua has stuck to its unique charm (and low prices).

However, things are changing rapidly. People are beginning to recognize the opportunities Nicaragua offers and investments are being made throughout the country. This is most notable in San Juan del Sur, where a new $ 3 million cruise port opened last year.

This new port makes Nicaragua more accessible than ever. In the 2017/18 cruise season, 50% more ships will visit San Juan than the previous year, bringing tens of thousands more visitors.

So what activities are available to these visitors when they arrive?

We’ll see …


Located 90 minutes from San Juan del Sur, the charming colonial city of Granada is the oldest European city in America. Founded by the Spanish in 1524, it is known as La Gran Sultana due to its Moorish and Andalusian architecture.

Visitors to Granada can enjoy a tour of its historic center, either on foot or in a horse-drawn carriage. The highlights of the tour include the impressive Cathedral and the Convent of San Francisco.

From Granada it is also possible to take a boat tour of the islets of Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America. The islets are 365 small islands that were created by the eruption of the Mombacho volcano thousands of years ago. Today they are home to many species, including capuchin monkeys, who are always ready to greet their visitors.


The small town of Masaya has two great attractions: its impressive volcano and the best artisan market in Nicaragua.

The Spanish conquerors referred to the Masaya volcano as “the gates of hell”, and it is easy to see why. The bubbling lava must have been a terrifying sight back then. No wonder they erected a large cross and a priest blessed the crater!

The market is not that scary. Instead, it offers tourists a place to admire Nicaraguan crafts and leather goods, and to collect souvenirs from their trip.

San Juan del Sur

For those looking for a more relaxed day out, there is absolutely nothing wrong with staying close to the ship and spending the day in San Juan del Sur.

San Juan, often overlooked by official boat tours, has a lot to offer. There are beachside restaurants where you can enjoy freshly caught fish, high-quality spas where you can get a relaxing massage, and a market where you can find Nicaraguan products such as coffee, cigars, and rum.

If you want to be a little more active, you can climb the impressive statue of the Christ of Mercy. From there, you can look down on your boat and take in the breathtaking views of the Pacific coast.

Or you can visit Las Nubes Adventure Park, where you will be driven through the cloud forest in an ATV, stopping to see monkeys along the way. You could even zip line once you get to the top!

You can even combine these activities into a half-day tour that also includes a brief history of the Nicaraguan Revolution.