Thursday, April 28, 2016

5 Reasons to Choose Nicaragua Over Costa Rica

san juan del sur, nicaragua
Article Contributed by: Emily Flowers

My first introduction to Nicaragua started at a company Christmas party in 2014. It wasn’t my company’s party, but that of my ex.  “That’s my boss,” he whispered as we made our way over to greet the tall English man.

It wasn’t long before I realized the boss and I had a lot in common. Though we were gathered with a group of people from a small town who had never traveled out of the US, we somehow got on the subject of Central American travel. 

“I love Costa Rica,” I purred. “I’ve been 3 times.” Thinking the boss man would be impressed with me, I waited for him to acknowledge my good taste.  Instead he just smirked and said, “Take off the training wheels. You need to go to Nicaragua instead. Costa Rica isn’t Central America. It’s Disney’s version of Central America.”

Yes, I love Costa Rica and have many memories there, but there’s something more authentic about Nicaragua. 

Read on for more reasons to choose Nicaragua over Costa Rica.

1. It’s Untouched

nicaragua emerald coast

Nicaragua is what Costa Rica used to be, decades ago, back when everyone was still discovering it, and tourism hadn’t yet turned it into “Gringolandia.”

Yes, you can find cities that are more geared towards tourists, but you can also balance that quite easily with the more hidden spots and just hang with the locals. Whereas in Costa Rica, you’re more likely to be surrounded with other US tourists.  In Nicaragua, the country is booming as everyone who missed out on the Costa Rica boom, are now investing or making Nicaragua their new home as it is still somewhat undiscovered.

2. Colonial Cities

granada nicaragua
Nicaragua still has historical colonial cities such as Granada and Leon. They have tons of churches and old buildings dating back to its colonial period. This is something you just won’t find in Costa Rica.  Granada, for example, is the oldest city in the country, founded back in 1524 and was the first European city in mainland America.

3. It has Everything You Love About Costa Rica (but Cheaper)

surfing nicaragua emerald coast

Nicaragua has beautiful beaches, inclusive luxury resorts, surfing, fresh food, volcanoes, zip lining, monkeys, and all the nature you have come to expect in Central America, but all for a much cheaper price tag. 

When I first discovered Costa Rica, I was a little taken aback by how going out cost just as much as it did at home in the US. Not in Nicaragua, you can have more fun on a much smaller budget.  Beers are still just a little over $1 USD.  Although the prices are going up as tourism increases, the rates in Nicaragua are still a lot cheaper than in Costa Rica.

4. It’s Now the Safest Country in Central America

nicaragua emerald coast
Costa Rica is regarded as safe (when you use common sense), but now Nicaragua can be considered safer, according to the United Nations, than even Costa Rica. It has been ranked as the safest country in Central America.  There are no gangs or drug violence, and Nicaragua tends to keep it this way.

5. Friendlier People and Authentic Charm 

san juan del sur, nicaragua
Costa Rica has lost much of its inherent charm and authenticity from its deluge of tourism. Nicaragua’s people are very grateful for the tourism and you’ll find them to be incredibly welcoming and warm. Even though they’re considered a very poor country in comparison to Costa Rica, they still feel safer and lead in countries on the overall happiness index. 

If you’re looking to experience real Central America, step out of the theme park and into Nicaragua. The amazingness of Nicaragua is no longer a secret. It was rated #3 on New York Times list of 46 Places to See in 2013.

What do you love about Nicaragua? Keep the Discussion Going by Commenting Below!