The republic’s name, which translates to “here united with the water,” is aptly named, as Nicaragua is bordered by the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and numerous lakes and rivers.
The country is also home to Central America’s largest lake, Lake Nicaragua, which is the only freshwater lake containing oceanic animals, including sharks, tarpon, and swordfish.
Nicaragua’s natural wonders expand beyond its spectacular coastlines.
The republic is also known for its rich tropical bird life, forty volcanoes, and archipelago of navigable islets.
Nicaragua’s historic colonial cities, known for their Spanish colonial architecture, offer a glimpse into the region’s long and storied history.
What makes this country even more unique is that it’s a melting pot of cultures.
Aptly named “Nica Charm,” the people of Nicaragua are known for being very kind, accepting, and cheerful people.
Since over 15% of Nicaragua’s surface is water, deciding which beaches to visit can prove challenging.
While we recommend exploring every inch of the country, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten beaches in Nicaragua.
If the country isn’t already on your bucket list, read on to find out why it should be.
- Best Beaches in Nicaragua
- 1. Yemaya Reefs, Little Corn Island
- 2. Playa Maderas
- 3. Las Peñitas
- 4. Pearl Cays
- 5. Playa El Coco
- 6. Playa Jiquilillo
- 7. Miskito Cays
- 8. Playa El Remanso
- 9. Playa La Flor
- 10. Punta Jesus Maria
- Nicaragua Safety Overview
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Beaches in Nicaragua
1. Yemaya Reefs, Little Corn Island
Located on the Caribbean island of Little Corn Island is the small fishing village of Yemaya Reefs.
Known for its stunning coral reefs, an abundance of marine life, and beautiful sunsets Yemaya Reefs is a popular destination for scuba divers and snorkelers.
This small, picturesque village dates back to the 19th century when a group of fishermen from the island of Jamaica settled in the area.
They named the village Yemaya, after the goddess of the sea in the Afro-Caribbean religion.
The village has a vibrant art scene and is a sanctuary for several endangered species.
What to Do in Yemaya Reefs
- Go snorkeling or scuba diving in the nearby coral reefs to explore the abundance of marine life.
- Take part in cultural activities, such as cooking classes and salsa classes.
- Enjoy a walk on the beach, looking for the island’s endangered species, which include the leopard frog, Caribbean monk seal, and hawksbill turtle.
2. Playa Maderas
Just north of San Juan del Sur, in the Rivas department of Nicaragua, is the small beach town of Playa Maderas.
Originally founded as a fishing village in the 1950s, the town began to attract surfers in the late 1980s.
The beach, which boasts stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, has become a popular destination for surfers of all levels, with waves ranging from beginner to advanced.
Whether you’re a surfer or just looking for a relaxing getaway, Playa Maderas is the perfect retreat into nature.
What to Do in Playa Maderas
- Go horseback riding or enjoy a variety of water sports activities.
- Attend a local yoga retreat or class.
- Visit the nearby Maderas Volcano for hiking and birdwatching.
- Explore Ometepe Island’s natural wonders, including its twin volcanoes and rainforest.
3. Las Peñitas
Las Peñitas is a small fishing village located on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, about an hour’s drive south of the capital city of Managua.
Known for its laid-back atmosphere and stunning beaches, this town is a popular destination for both local and international travelers.
First settled by indigenous people in the pre-Columbian era, the village was once a popular port for traders visiting the region.
It was also used extensively by the US military during the Contra War in the 1980s.
Today, the warm climate, relaxed atmosphere, and beautiful beach attract visitors to the region.
What to Do in Las Peñitas
- Visit the town’s unique cultural attractions, including the old town center and the local church.
- Enjoy spectacular views, hiking trails, and wildlife spotting in the city’s nearby national parks.
- Watch the sunset at La Vida Es Una Fiesta, Central America’s largest beach bar.
4. Pearl Cays
Located off the eastern coast of Nicaragua is the island of Pearl Cays.
Part of the Pearl Islands, this small island was once inhabited by the indigenous Miskito people.
The island is a popular nesting spot for both the green sea turtle and the hawksbill turtle, and the local fishermen often help protect the turtles from poachers.
What to Do in Pearl Cays
- Visit the island’s main town of El Bluff, and its small restaurants, bars, and shops.
- Take a boat tour around the island, where you’ll see lush vegetation, dolphin, and a variety of species of birds.
- Spend a day fishing, where you’ll have an opportunity to catch stonefish, snapper, nose-fish, and grunt. Take your fresh catch back to your accommodations for a fresh meal.
5. Playa El Coco
Playa El Coco is a small village located in the Nicaraguan province of Rivas.
First established in the 1880s, the village has relied on fishing and agriculture as its main sources of income.
The town now hosts tourists from around the world, who come for its beautiful beaches and tranquil atmosphere.
What to Do in Playa El Coco
- Take a guided whale-watching or turtle-nesting tour.
- Relax and enjoy the fine sand and seclusion of this crystalline beach.
- Immerse yourself in the unique blend of cultures in Playa El Coco.
6. Playa Jiquilillo
Situated on the northern Pacific coast of Nicaragua is the tranquil fishing village of Playa Jiquilillo.
First settled in the early 1980s, this town is the youngest city in the country.
Playa Jiquilillo is home to a large population of leatherback turtles, which come to the beach every year to lay their eggs.
The beaches are monitored by local conservation groups, who ensure that the turtles are protected.
Free of modern distractions like ATMs and Wi-Fi, travelers visit here for the peaceful atmosphere and secluded white sand beaches.
What to Do in Playa Jiquilillo
- Hike to the peak of the local volcano.
- Spend an evening volunteering to help the locals release hatched turtles into the ocean.
- Pitch a hammock and spend the day unwinding from the hustle and bustle of normal life.
7. Miskito Cays
Miskito Cays is a small archipelago of islands located in the Caribbean Sea.
The cays are made up of more than thirty small, mostly uninhabited islands, and they form the Miskito Cays National Wildlife Reserve.
The Miskito Cays were the first Caribbean islands to be declared a National Wildlife Reserve.
The islands are also home to a variety of endemic species, such as the Miskito Cays Iguana, which are found nowhere else in the world.
What to Do in Miskito Cays
- Take a boat to explore the many natural wonders of The Cays.
- Hike the mangrove forest and explore Miskito Cays’ lagoons, one of which is only accessible on foot.
- Snorkel, fish, and swim the region’s waters, which are the perfect temperature year-round.
- Don’t forget to catch Miskito Cays’ world-renowned sunsets, which are said to be some of the best in the world.
8. Playa El Remanso
Playa El Remanso is a small beach town located in Nicaragua’s stunning Emerald Coast region.
The town is known for its stunning white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and lush tropical forests.
It’s an ideal destination for those looking to relax and enjoy a quiet, peaceful getaway.
The town has a long and colorful history.
Its name is derived from the Spanish word for the nearby Remanso River, which has been an important part of the region’s history since the colonial era.
The area was also an important port during the country’s struggle for independence from Spain in the 1820s.
Today, Playa El Remanso is a popular tourist destination, offering a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy.
What to Do in Playa El Remanso
- Enjoy traditional local fare, like nacatamales (stuffed corncakes).
- Learn to surf a longboard on Playa Remanso Bay’s modest rolling waves.
- Hike the lush rainforest and observe local wildlife, including monkeys, iguanas, and tropical birds.
- Interact with the town’s friendly locals, who are always happy to chat and share stories about the area’s history and culture.
9. Playa La Flor
Located near the small town of El Astillero is Playa La Flor, which is known for its long stretch of white sand, lush vegetation, and crystal-clear ocean waters.
The beach is part of the Juan Venado National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to a variety of wildlife, including sea turtles, dolphins, and iguanas.
Once a port of call for Spanish conquistadors, Playa La Flor is now a popular wildlife tourism destination.
Every year, the beach is visited by thousands of visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of green sea turtles nesting in the sand.
What to Do in Playa La Flor
- Attend the annual Festival de la Tortuga, a celebration of the green sea turtles that come to nest on the beach.
- Explore the nearby mangroves and estuaries by guided boat.
- If visiting between July and January, observe one of the seven massive arribadas that occur on this beach each year.
10. Punta Jesus Maria
Punta Jesus Maria is a small fishing village located on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua.
The area has been inhabited since the 16th century and was once a major trading post.
The area is known for its black sand beaches and crystal clear waters, where visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities.
When vacationing here, travelers can learn about the region’s vibrant culture through traditional music, dance, and cuisine.
The village also hosts several festivals throughout the year, including the Fiesta de San Pedro and the Fiesta de Santa Rosa.
What to Do in Punta Jesus Maria
- Bike to the infamous sandbar, formed from local volcanic activity. Just a few feet past the sand line, you’ll have the illusion of walking on water, which is how Punta Jesus Maria earned its name.
- Take a guided tour of the Punta Jesus Maria Ometepe.
- Enjoy a boat ride to the nearby islands of Big Corn and Little Corn.
Nicaragua Safety Overview
READ THE FULL REPORT: Nicaragua Safety ReviewSafety Index:
- OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
- TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: MEDIUM
- PICKPOCKETS RISK: HIGH
- NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
- MUGGING RISK: HIGH
- TERRORISM RISK: LOW
- SCAMS RISK: HIGH
- WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: MEDIUM
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Nicaragua so famous?
Each year, over 1 million tourists travel to Nicaragua to enjoy the country’s lush, unique landscape, white and black sand beaches, and relaxed atmosphere.
Is Nicaragua tourist friendly?
Nicaragua is known for its welcoming Nica Charm and passion for sharing the region’s unique culture.
The U.S. State Department does urge tourists to be aware that access to healthcare services is limited in the country.
Can you swim with dolphins in Nicaragua?
Nicaragua offers many opportunities to explore the country’s wildlife.
Little Corn Island and Big Corn Island are the best places to swim with dolphins in Nicaragua.
Is Nicaragua's water clean?
WaterAid reports that, despite the bountiful freshwater sources in Nicaragua, much of the country does not have access to potable water.
Drink only bottled and filtered water during your travels there.