Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sat June 13 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | June 13, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    Outside Of Granada: Off The Beaten Path

    Outside Of Granada: Off The Beaten Path

    Hanging out on the cliff s at El Gigante with some travel friends (Photos by Shannon Wolf)

    The time was near 12 p.m. After spending the day laying on the floating dock or swimming in the calm crater lake, like clockwork, Jess and I would lock eyes and smirk. “Piña-O-Clock?” she would ask. And we would then meander over to the beach bar and stand like kids in a candy shop as the bartender made us fishbowl Piña Coladas decorated with fresh pineapple and a cherry on top for a few dollars.

    We would take a sip while our eyes practically rolled in the back of our heads and I would whisper “It feels so good to be bad. I love Paradiso.”

    If you want to live in paradise for a fraction of the cost, look no further than these gems a little off the gringo-trail.

    El Gigante

    Getting Here: Take the early morning chicken bus from Rivas that leaves almost every hour and heads north to Salinas. These buses can drop you at the turn off to Playa Gigante for about $2. Then it's about a 4-minute walk to the hostel.

    Best Accommodation: Camino Hostel ($12 a night)


    • Hostel is right on the gorgeous beach
    • Lockers
    • Fans in every bunk bed
    • Plenty of Showers (clean and nice)
    •Can take a boat out to a surf point from the hostel

    Note: The dorm beds are uncomfortable and food is (next level) gringo priced both at the tienda/hostel restaurant so buy food prior in Rivas — A small price to pay for paradise.

    MUST DO’S:

    • Swim: Perfectly calm water, great for swimming

    • Hike up a cliff to the left of the water for a beautiful lookout point

    • Bonfires on the beach every night

    Lago De Apoyo

    Sitting with a coffee in hand at 5 a.m. on the patio at Paradiso Hostel watching the sun rise

    Nestled between Granada and Masaya, this beautiful nature reserve is like stepping into paradise where days will slip by as you swim in its calm crater lake while sipping on cheap Piña Coladas the size of fish bowls.

    Getting Here: You can catch a taxi for $3 a person from Granada or take any Masaya bound bus from Granada and ask to be dropped off at Laguna De Apoyo entrance or “La entrada de la laguna”. Buses run every half hour or so. From here you can easily catch a taxi to Paradiso Hostel.

    Best Accommodation: Paradiso Hostel ($12/night)


    • Feels like you are on a resort without the high prices!
    • Hostel is right on the crater lake with stunning patio views all around
    • Open-air dorm and large lockers
    • Free coffee/tea 24/7
    • Floating Dock
    • Free FAST Wi-Fi

    MUST DO’S:

    • Swim: Take advantage of the floating dock and soak up the sun or do a night swim!

    • Make use of the FREE amenities: Kayaks, Inner-tubes, ping-pong, volleyball, petanque and darts!

    • Wake up early for sunrise!

    • Order their giant Piña Coladas

    • Try their veggie burger — even meat eaters will love it! (everything on their menu is incredible).

    Taking a refreshing swim after jumping off of the floating dock in Lago De Apoyo

    Little Corn Island

    If you have the time and patience of an angel or the funds for a quick and easy flight; Little Corn Island is a must for anyone wanting to experience a taste of the Caribbean away from tourists on secluded white sand beaches and a crystalline turquoise sea that you can’t believe.

    Getting Here: You have two options: A flight for around $100 round-trip from Managua or a slew of buses, boats, pangas, ferries, and six-hour delays that will deem you a “real” backpacker by the end of it and cursing everyone under your breath who took the easy route and flew.

    Overland Route is as follows:

    1. Bus from Granada to El Rama
    2. Panga from El Rama to Bluefields
    3. Cargo Ship or Ferry from Bluefields or El Bluff to Big Corn
    4. Big Corn to Little Corn -> Head to Brigg Bay to catch the Panga to Little Corn.
    5. BC to LC: Departs 10:00 a.m. arrives 10:30 a.m.
    6. BC to LC: Departs 4:30 p.m. arrives 5:00 p.m.

    Best Accommodation: 3 Brothers Hostel ($10 a night)


    • Kitchen access (only accommodation with guest kitchen on Little Corn)
    • Fans in all rooms
    • Outside garden area with hammocks and tables
    • Free drinking water
    • 2-3 minutes to restaurants, bars and shops
    • 5-10 minute walk to the beach
    • Discounted guided deep-sea fishing and snorkeling trips

    Note: Bring CASH! And bulk up on all of the food and drinks before you head to the island due to the heavily inflated prices.

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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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