Travel Montezuma, Costa Rica  |  Boho vibes, beach & jungle

Travel Montezuma, Costa Rica | Boho vibes, beach & jungle

Things to do in Montezuma

Costa Rica
Montezuma Itinerary

Remote Costa Rican jungles and beaches

Duration: at least one week

Budget: $ 75 per day

Stay: Luminosa Montezuma Hostel or MONTEZUMA RAINFOREST

Any local Tico (Costa Rican) will tell you that Montezuma, Costa Rica, is a must-visit destination to add to your itinerary. We agree with them! If you’re a person who loves the beach, natural beauty, and artsy towns, you’ll be in heaven here. The moment you step into Montezuma, you’ll see why people love it so much. This place is full of local shops and restaurants that attract visitors from around the world. You’ll find some fantastic waterfalls, beaches, and wildlife here. There is something for everyone in Montezuma.

Relaxation and boho vibes

Montezuma, Costa Rica, began as a small fishing village and is now a favorite among tourists on a budget. It is a bit off-the-beaten (and paved) path, but that’s why we love it. No matter where you go here, you’ll never be too far from the jungle.

  • Beaches 95% 95%
  • Nature 80% 80%
  • Activities 95% 95%

However, nature isn’t the only appeal to this small town. Montezuma has a distinct boho vibe, with veggie-friendly eateries, neo-Rastas, yoga classes, and live music to entertain locals and travelers alike. The setting for all of this is alongside the beautiful Pacific Ocean. With all these stunning landscapes surrounding you and exciting activities, you’ll find no shortage of things to do here.

Relax on the beach

Montezuma has countless beaches that attract visitors from around Costa Rica and the world. Playa Montezuma is the most popular beach in the area, just north of the town. It’s a great spot to sunbathe, swim, or take a walk. From Playa Montezuma, you can walk 15-20 minutes to see other beaches, secluded coves, and makeshift rock sculptures (cairns). You’ll even encounter a small waterfall!

beach in Montezuma, Costa Rica
waterfalls in Montezuma, Costa Rica

Chase some waterfalls

There are some breathtaking waterfalls just south Montezuma. One of the most famous waterfalls is the Montezuma
Waterfalls, which include three cascades. Its tallest waterfall is the most easily accessible, but adventurous types can swim and trek to the other two. These waterfalls are a must-see attraction in Montezuma.

Enjoy the ocean at Isla Tortuga (Tortuga Island)

Snorkeling tours to Tortuga Island are one of the most popular activities for Montezuma visitors. Most tour operators include a boat ride to the island, a lunch BBQ, and snorkeling. The island is about an hour away from Montezuma, and the journey is part of the experience. Along the way, you’ll see incredible coastlines, beaches, and possibly some sea creatures!

Isla Tortuga, close to Montezuma, Costa Rica
Cabo Blaco Nature Reserve in Montezuma, Costa Rica

Spend the day hiking at the Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve

Just south of Montezuma is the Cabo Blanco, Costa Rica’s first nature reserve, established in 1963. If you’re a hiking enthusiast looking for some exciting trails, this is your spot. Cabo Blanco is the epitome of sustainable travel, with carefully preserved tropical forests and stunning beaches to reward you at the end of your hike. This nature reserve has trails that are suitable for all skill levels.

Hang out in Montezuma

After spending some time in nature, hang out for a bit in town. Montezuma is a fascinating area with plenty of culture and intrigue. It’s not a place where you’ll see a lot of landmarks. Instead, it’s a destination where you can spend time with locals and other international travelers. There are plenty of locally-owned and sustainable shops, restaurants, and bars.

Downtown Montezuma, Costa Rica

Practical travel tips for Montezuma

What is the best time to visit Montezuma?

P

There is little variation in Montezuma’s temperature. Most of the year has average highs in the 80s and average lows in the 70s. The hottest months are March and April. You’ll encounter the most rain between May and November, so winter is the best time to visit.

How to get to the Montezuma

P

The best way to get to Montezuma is to rent a car in San José or catch a bus, then take the Puntarenas Ferry to the Nicoya Peninsula.

Remember that the road to Montezuma is not well-paved, so you’ll need to get a four-by-four vehicle. It is possible to drive the entire route to Montezuma, but it’ll add several additional hours to your trip. Driving and taking the ferry will take about 4-5 hours, and a bus ride using the ferry will take about 7 hours.

The closest airport is Liberia International Airport.

Is Montezuma safe for travelers?

P

Yes! I always felt safe at any time.

Nightlife in Montezuma

P

Montezuma may be a small town, but it has a robust nightlife. There are plenty of beach bars during the day that turns into live music venues and dance clubs at night.

Can I drink tap water in Costa Rica?

P

In Costa Rica, 92.5% of the population, has access to drinking water. The quality of tap water is safe to drink. If you still feel uneasy, bring your self-cleaning bottle. The bottles will keep your water fresh and cool, too!

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?

P

Trash: bring your collapsable food container & Lifestraw Pro with you to avoid causing plastic pollution.


Sunscreen: Protect Costa Rica's marine life and wear reef-save sunscreen.

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Packing Central America

Central America is super diverse and offers plenty of things to do. Check out our packing list, and get ready for an incredible adventure!

Find everything from eco-friendly toiletries to the only travel shoes you’ll ever want to exciting travel gadgets!

Places to visit in Costa Rica

Follow us to our favorite places in Costa Rica

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Hopkins |  Belize’s Garifuna culture hub

Hopkins | Belize’s Garifuna culture hub

THINGS TO DO IN HOPKINS

Belize
Things to do in Hopkins

Belize's Garifuna culture hub

Duration: at least one week

Budget: $45 per day

Stay:  Palmento Groove Lodge

Hopkins welcomed us with a spectacular blood moon on the night of our arrival. A breathtaking natural phenomenon! I have been back to visit several times since then.

What makes the village is the special vibe and the way the community is engaging with tourism. Hopkins’s main street is lined with mostly locally owned guesthouses and small restaurants and forms the village’s center.

While Hopkins South is dominated by all-inclusive, the North has developed into a little backpacker haven. Tucked away behind the main streets, you’ll find charming locally-owned restaurants, cute bakeries, and even some nightlife. I love Hopkins because tourism seems to blend in seamlessly.

 

 A place for the soul

Yet, Dani wanted to introduce Lauri to Hopkins because it is a place for the soul which has to be felt to describe its charm and vibe adequately. It is a fantastic place to dive into Garifuna culture and everything that comes with it: Punta dances, delicious food, and a distinct lifestyle and values.

Garifuna culture

Punta Gorda, Dangriga, and the friendly town of Hopkins form the centers of Garifuna culture in Belize.

The Garifuna people are descendants of African, Caribbean & Indigenous South American origin. After being exiled from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent in 1797, the majority of Garifuna today live along the Caribbean coastlines of Honduras, Belize, and Nicaragua. Many Garinagu people cherish and live their cultural heritage until today.

The unique Garifuna culture and the chance to participate in and learn from it make Hopkins one of the best places to visit in Belize.

Garifuna 1

Music & Punta

Garifuna drums set the rhythm. While in Hopkins, you’ll surely get to listen to some typical drumming. If you have some rhythm, you might try and take some classes at Lebeha. The distinctive drumming is accompanied by either the Punta or Walavine. Two fierce, traditional dances.

garifuna 3

Garifuna Language

While many Belizeans speak English, Creole and Spanish, the Garifuna people also have their distinct language, Karif. Over time Carib and European languages have influenced the Garifuna language, a member of the Arawakan family.

By the way: Both Garifuna language and Garifuna music were declared “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” in 2008. Pretty impressive, no?

Hopkins Belize

Garifuna Clothing

Even though the heritage is actively lived, you’ll rarely spot Garinagu men wearing the traditional dashiki. A colorful v-neck shirt inspired by African printing.

Garifuna food

Garifuna cuisine

In Hopkins, you’ll for sure be able to taste the excellent typical cuisine. Deliciously spiced seafood, Hudut, or coconut rice will stimulate your taste buds. We find it one of the most delicious cuisines in the region!

Enjoy sea life and go snorkeling or diving

Since we planned to move on to Belize’s Cayes, we passed on the possibility of touring Belize’s Cayes from Hopkins. However, Hopkins offers an excellent starting point for excursions to the nearby Cayes and the Barrier Reef. Belize is supposedly home to the western hemisphere’s largest barrier reef. As a result, you’ll find plenty of diving, snorkeling, and fishing opportunities. 

Of course, you can enjoy the beach in Hopkins, too! A Miles-long, natural Caribbean coast seams the village. But, although it’s nice to hang out and dip into the water, Hopkins is not the typical beach destination.

Hopkins-Belize
Hopkins Belize 29 1000x630 1

Look out for Jaguars at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary

The world’s first jaguar preservation sanctuary offers the (admittedly small) chance to spot the majestic cats in the wild! Amidst lush vegetation, the park affords you waterfalls and stunning views! Cockscomb park is the best place to let go of some energy tubing and hiking if you have been a bit lazy the last few days. The park offers accommodations and a campsite within its grounds, but you can also visit the park on a day trip—entrance fee: BZ$10. The park is tranquil and does not get too many visitors. It’s perfect for taking in the lush vegetation in Belize’s jungle!

Pure Magic: Bioluminescence River Tour

The Bioluminescence River Tour is one of the coolest things to do in Hopkins! The tour takes you on a journey that is sure to wow your senses and leave you wide-eyed. Even though we have visited bioluminescence waters worldwide, we still find them super magical!

Starting at the Sittee River, conveniently located near the south end of Hopkins, you’ll hop aboard a boat and venture out into the water. Keep your eyes peeled for reflections that could belong to anything from birds to crocodiles! But the real magic happens as you cruise through the cut in the lagoon that leads to Anderson’s Lagoon. Prepare to marvel at the stunning bioluminescent waters as you dip your hands or dive in and swim. You won’t regret experiencing this miraculous natural wonder, so brace yourself for a night to remember!

shimmering waters on tour in Hopkins, Belize
horse hopkins 1

Go horseback riding

Exploring the surrounding by horse is one of the most magical things to do anywhere.  This half-day tour takes you to the beautiful orange groves and lush rainforest. And what’s more, you’ll cool off with a refreshing swim in the river with the horses! The working farm is also home to a variety of animals, including sheep, cows, and goats. Don’t miss out on this unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Hopkins while horseback riding.

Pure Magic: Bioluminescence River Tour

If you have relaxed enough and feel like a little adventure, check out Bocawina, the ultimate hotspot for thrill-seekers in Hopkins. Get your pulse racing by experiencing the longest zipline in Belize. With 14 platforms and 9 different runs, you’ll glide through the stunning rainforest canopy like a free-flying bird, taking in the breathtaking natural scenery from a unique perspective. The complete course is an adrenaline-pumping 2.5 miles long, and the longest single run is a whopping 2,300 feet. Try waterfall rappelling and conquer your fears for an even more heart-pounding thrill. Bocawina is truly beautiful and totally worth exploring!

waterfalls in Bocawina park in Hopkins, Belize

Practical travel tips for Hopkins & Belize

Which language is spoken in Belize?

P

The official language of Belize is English, which is inherited from its history as a former British colony. However, many other languages are also spoken in the country. Spanish, a widely spoken language in neighboring countries, is spoken by a large portion of the population and is considered the main language for communication between different ethnic groups.

In addition to English and Spanish, several indigenous languages such as Mayan languages and Garifuna, a mix of West African and Arawak origins, are also spoken in Belize. These languages are an important part of the cultural identity of the indigenous communities and efforts are being made to preserve them.

What is the official currency in Belize?

P

The official currency of Belize is the Belize dollar (BZD). The BZD has remained relatively stable over the years and is pegged to the US dollar at a fixed rate of BZ$2 to US$1. This makes it easy for tourists and investors to use and exchange foreign currency while in Belize.

US Dollars are also widely accepted, but I recommended having some BZD for smaller purchases and transactions. ATMs can be found in most towns and cities, dispensing both BZD and US dollars.

What is the best time to visit Hopkins?

P

Hopkins experiences quite heavy rain from June to September as anywhere in the Caribbean. This time is also considered hurricane season. The high season starts in November till February. The best time to travel is, without a doubt, shoulder season in June so that you can visit Mango fest or November for Garifuna Day!

Is Hopkins safe for travelers?

P

Hopkins is calm and pretty safe during the day. We have never felt unsafe, but we've also almost always been hanging out with our local friends. Be more careful at night and during Mango fest & Garifuna settlement day.

How can I protect myself from sandflies?

P

Once you get to Hopkins, buy some handmade coconut oil to protect yourself from sandfly bites! They are especially active during morning and evening hours.

How to get to Hopkins?

P

Depending on where you are coming from, the bus may stop directly in the center of Hopkins or at "Junction," about 5 km outside. Don't be shy. Locals passing by will surely give you a ride.

Festivals and celebrations

P

Hopkins has two significant events: Mango Fest in June and Garifuna Day Settlement on November 19th. The otherwise sleepy village bursts with life, drumming, food, and celebrations. Both events are major and not to be missed if you are in Belize!

Can I drink tap water in Belize?

P

In the towns, the water is supposedly drinkable. But as you will spend a lot of time on the water and Cayes in Belize, bring a water filter or a self-cleaning bottle to be safe and avoid causing plastic pollution. The bottles will keep your water fresh and cool, too!

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?

P

Eating fish: To protect marine life in Belize, fishing is regulated by seasons to guarantee the species' time to recover. Therefore, make a point of not eating lobster or conch when not in season! Conch season runs from October to June. Lobster season is from July to February.

Sunscreen: Protect the unique marine life in Belize, and always wear reef-friendly sunscreen. Check out our guide to coral-safe sunscreens here.

Plastic: Bring your self-cleaning bottle to avoid causing trash by consuming bottled water.

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Packing List Belize

Check out our packing list to prepare for all Belize has to offer. You’ll find anything from clothing to travel gadgets and eco-friendly toiletries.

Hopkins, Belize: Colorful house

Best places to stay in Hopkins, Belize

Palmento Grove Lodge

Palmento Grove Lodge, owned and operated by Garifuna locals, offers an authentic experience of the Afro-Caribbean culture indigenous to Belize. This cultural preservation center has been promoting traditional knowledge, history, and way of life for over a decade now, and it operates as a sustainable farming business. By visiting Palmento Grove, you are empowering the local community, supporting their love for their culture, and participating in various cultural activities such as drumming, dancing, storytelling, and cooking. The Lodge’s socially conscious approach adds an extra layer of significance to your experience.

Kismet Inn

I LOVE this place. Tricia’s place is a true paradise located at the Northern tip of Hopkins. The uniquely designed house felt like home from the very first minute. The rooms are beautiful, and the location on the beach is peaceful! Owner Tricia is a wonderful host and makes you feel right at home.

Places to visit in Belize

A Small Country with a big personality!

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Santa Ana | Volcanic crater lake & colonial charm

Santa Ana | Volcanic crater lake & colonial charm

SANTA ANA

El Salvador
Santa Itinerary

The most amazing volcano experience in El Salvador

Duration: at least five days

Stay:  Hostal Casa Verde

Volcano Santa Ana’s incredibly impressive crater marks the highlight for many travelers coming to El Salvador for a good reason. We were left speechless (and breathless) when we first saw the turquoise crater lake. Despite stunning landscapes, Santa Ana offers a perfect base for travelers seeking to get to know the El Salvadorian culture and traditions. Yet, the charming colonial city maintains its authentic vibe, and you are unlikely to spot other travelers on the streets.

  • Activities 100% 100%
  • Authentic City Life 75% 75%
  • Culture 80% 80%
  • Adventure 75% 75%

Santa Ana, El Salvador’s second-largest city, marked the end of our travels. So naturally, we were slightly wistful once we got there. It took us one hour from Ataco to Santa Ana. However, our melancholy quickly faded when we met Rosi, our host, who picked us up from the city center. To be closer to the volcano, we decided to stay outside the city. As soon as we passed the gates of Rosi’s house, we were overwhelmed by the luxurious estate. Rosi’s son and best friend, Mario, greeted us warmly, and we quickly felt right at home.

The colonial city center

There are a handful of impressive colonial buildings in Santa Ana’s center. Admits them a gorgeous national theatre and an elaborate white cathedral. The side walls of the cathedral are decorated with delicate carvings. You’ll be able to spot the two buildings from Parque Central. Opposite the cathedral, you’ll find a nice restaurant that affords you a view over Parque Central.

Cavalerio church in Leon, Nicaragua
Granada, Nicaragua: market

Hang out at Parque Colon and Mercado Colon

After enjoying the friendly atmosphere at Parque Central, we wandered towards the Parque Colon. Amongst your way, you’ll be able to spot colonial “ruins,” which inherit a charm of their own. Just be aware that you are strolling Santa Ana’s most notorious neighborhood. However, the area is rebuilt to allow for more social activities to prevent violence and other crimes. Mercado Colon is an excellent place to hang out, observe, or indulge in a bit of shopping spring. The market is lively, diverse, and cheap. But, because Santa Ana’s biggest market is super crowded at times, watch out for pickpocketers.

Cerro Verde National Park's breathtaking view

We enjoyed the city of Santa Ana, but to be honest, the region is prone to outdoor activities. After a couple of days in the city, we hopped on a bus and arrived and reached Cero Verde National Park within an hour’s journey. The park afforded us fascinating views over volcanoes Santa Ana, Izalco, and Cerro Verde. On top of that, we could spot Lago Coatepeque with its pristine, deep blue water. Together, these natural phenomena make up one of El Salvador’s most impressive landscapes.

Leon, Nicaragua: barrio Sutiavia
Granada, Nicaragua: dani in front of church

Volcano Cerro Verde

The Cerro Verde National Park offers several hikes around the volcano and the park. The area is lush and green and a haven for nature lovers. You can choose between easy and challenging hikes. Several lookout platforms afford you breathtaking views of Lago Coatepeque. The caldera was formed thousands of years ago. If you are up for a swim, a little diving, or water skiing, Lago Coatepeque is the place for you. Just be aware that the lake is a favorite amongst El Salvador’s most affluent. Hence many restaurants and hotels are on the pricey side. 

Volcano Izalco

It’s a lot harder to climb volcano Izalco than volcano Santa Ana. The way up is steep, and the slippery slopes will lead you up before leading you down again. Zigzagging your way up, the hike takes a little longer than the Santa Ana hike.

Unfortunately, it’s only possible to visit volcano Izalco if sufficient people sign up for a tour.

 

Granada, Nicaragua: Lauri in Parque Colon
Crater Lake Santa Ana

Santa Ana's volcanic crater lake

Santa Ana’s volcanic crater lake El Salvador’s highest volcano is called Illamatepec. We started our guided tour at 11 am. The hike up was a lot more challenging than we expected. Starting in a forest area, the beginning of your walk is pretty unimpressive.

As we got higher, the flora changed drastically. Colorful lava rocks from beige to orange and red are home to some absurdly impressive plants. The hike took us about two hours, and it’s steep sometimes. It’s pretty windy on top of the volcano, so bring a windbreaker! If the hike didn’t leave you breathless, the view over the volcano crater will most certainly be. The turquoise sulphuric lake looks surreal. It’s so stunning that it seems impossible to take your eyes off the crater lake. As we continued to walk around the crater, we were rewarded with stunning views of Lago Coatepeque, too. It’s an impressive panorama, with Lago Coatepeque on one side and the mesmerizing sulphuric crater lake on the other. For obvious reasons, this hike highlights many travelers coming to El Salvador.

Lago Coatepeque

If you are up for a swim, a little diving, or water skiing, Lago Coatepeque is the place for you. Just be aware that the lake is a favorite amongst El Salvador’s most affluent. Hence many restaurants and hotels are on the pricey side.

Ruta de las Flores El Salvador 7
Santa Ana 1

Discover Mayan culture in Tazumal

Since we were headed to the ruins of Copan in Honduras, we skipped the trip to Tazumal. However, the historical site is one of the most important and impressive pre-Columbian sites in El Salvador. Excavated ruins cover an area of 10 km² and make up the most significant Mayan temple in El Salvador. If you didn’t get a chance to learn about the Mayan culture on your trip through Central America, Tazumal offers the perfect opportunity. You’ll find the ruins only 15 km from Santa Ana. A half-hour bus ride (bus line 218 towards Chalchuapa) from Santa Ana will take you almost to the entrance gate. Just let the bus driver know where you want to get off. They are super friendly and eager to help.

 

Practical travel tips for Santa Ana, El Salvador

How to get to Santa Ana?

P

Bus 201 connects San Salvador and Santa Ana. The trip takes about 1,5 hours and costs $1,5. To get to Parque Cerro Verde, take bus 248 from La Vencedora bus terminal in Santa Ana (1.75 hrs, $0.85)

Where to stay in Santa Ana

P

It's pretty tricky to find a local sleeping arrangement in Santa Ana. Most of the hostels seem very large, crowded and owned by foreigners. So it's worth checking out Airbnb.

When is the best time to visit the crater lake?

P

The best time to hike the volcano is in the dry season (from November to April). The sky is cloudless, and the bright blue sky promises the best views.

Tips for hiking the crater lake

P

The tour to hike Santa Ana takes at least 5 hours. Usually, there will be two tours: one starting at 9 a.m and the second at 11 a.m. The hike was way more challenging than we expected. Bring enough water and sunscreen.

There are two points to start the hike—one from the official gate, extending the tour by roughly 30 minutes. The second point to start is a bar at the bottom of the volcano. We wish we had taken this option but only found out too late.

Can I drink tap water in El Salvador?

P

Do not drink tap water in El Salvador; bring your self-cleaning bottle instead! While water from the national water company (ANDA) is generally safe, you never know the water source the restaurants, hotels, and so on may use.

Bring a self-cleaning water bottle to get clean and cool drinking water.

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?

P

Trash: Often, you'll find food vendors selling typical El Salvadorian dishes on the go. It's not just delicious but cheap. To avoid plastic wrapping, choose to buy your food at the bus stations and have them put it in your collapsible container. Bring your water filter or UV bottle to avoid having to buy bottled water.

Sunscreen: Protect Marine life and wear reef-friendly sunscreen!

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List Nicaragua

Nicaragua is super diverse and offers plenty of things to do. Check out our packing list, and get ready for an incredible adventure!

Find everything from eco-friendly toiletries to the only travel shoes you’ll ever want to exciting travel gadgets!

Places to visit in El Salvador

Do not skip El Salvador! It’s one of the most amazing countries to visit in Central America!

Suchitoto | History, weekend markets & history

Suchitoto | History, weekend markets & history

Suchitoto almost feels like a little journey in time and space after we visited busy San Salvador. The city’s name originates from the Nahual language and translates into “place of flowers and birds.” Known as the cultural capital, Suchi’s colorful historic houses are home to art galleries, boutique hostels, and NGOs. On top of that, little Suchitoto offers and exciting surrounding for outdoor and history enthusiasts.

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Ruta de Las Flores | picturesque trip through colorful villages

Ruta de Las Flores | picturesque trip through colorful villages

RUTA DE LAS FLORES

El Salvador
Ruta de las Flores Itinerary

Food markets, volcanos & colorful villages

Duration: at least one week

Ruta de las Flores is undoubtedly one of El Salvador’s most popular tourist destinations. The 40 km winding road leading from Sonsonate to the colonial town Ahuachapán includes picturesque villages such as Juayúa, Concepción de Ataco, and Nahauizalco.
Each of them is unique with its colonial architecture and indigenous tones. Every El Salvadorian we asked adored the area for its “bien fresco” (pretty chilly) mountain air and beautiful scenery surrounding the villages. It’s a quiet, tranquil life in the communities, at least during the week. On the weekends, food and artisan markets attract tourists from nearby San Salvador, and the streets are buzzing with life. Western El Salvador is also a renowned coffee area. If you haven’t visited a coffee plantation yet, we highly recommend visiting one in El Salvador. Coffee beans from El Salvador are some of the most revered worldwide.

Ruta de las Flores was slowly leading us toward the end of our El Salvador trip. We didn’t feel ready to leave San Salvador quite yet. San Salvador was nothing like we expected, and we felt comfortable in the city. As it was time to move on, our friend Douglas asked his group of friends if someone would go on a day trip and give us a ride to Juayúa. The next morning Gustavo, one of Douglas’s friends, picked us up, and we were off to El Salvador’s West.

Juayúa’s food festival

Juayúa means “River of the purple Orchids” in Nahuatl. Surrounded by lush green coffee fincas and several volcanos, the peaceful town comes to life on the weekends and offers plenty of things to enjoy life. Juayua was our entry to the famous Ruta de las Flores. As always, we arrived a little too late and missed the first day of the food market. Nonetheless, we had a relaxing time just walking around the small mountain village. The next day, we ventured out to Juayúa’s buzzing food market and tried as much typical food as possible. The atmosphere is incredible. When everything gets tranquil during the week, you can quickly arrange for some day trips. Visiting coffee plantations and hiking waterfalls are among the favorite activities in the Juayá area.

Granada, Nicaragua: market

Nahuizalco - the former indigenous capital

The small, underdeveloped town managed to maintain an influential indigenous culture. As a result, it might be one of the very few places in El Salvador where you’ll find some older women wearing traditional clothing. There are almost no hotels, so we recommend visiting the small town on a day trip. In addition, Nahuizalco boosts El Salvador’s only night market, a great place to try traditional Mayan cuisine.

Apaneca- El Salvador's highest town

Apaneca’s fresh air and lush surroundings invite you to visit its two sister lakes, Laguna Verde and Laguna de las Nifas. Enjoy the stunning views over nearby volcanos and coffee farms. The actual town is tranquil and mellow.

Leon, Nicaragua: barrio Sutiavia

Conception de Ataco - our favorite

Its cobblestone streets and colorful houses are incredibly charming. It’s mellow but offers plenty of eye candies. Conception the Ataco is also home to a great weekend food and art market.
While the food market might be smaller than the one in neighboring Juayúa, you’ll find a more exotic atmosphere. Offers include grilled iguana and lizard and some typical sweets and treats from wild honey.
There are some beautiful churches, and the Mirador Buenos Aires offers a lookout over the city.
Unfortunately, we didn’t find many places to stay online, but as we walked around the town, we encountered numerous cute guesthouses for a reasonable price.

Practical travel tips for Ruta de las Flores

What is the best time to visit Ruta de las Flores?

P

It's indeed "bien fresco" compared to the rest of El Salvador. However, since it cools down at night, bring a sweater. You'll see most of the flowers blooming between November and February.

How to get to the Ruta de las Flores?

P

You can quickly reach Ruta de las Flores when you are coming by bus from San Salvador. It shouldn't take longer than 2,5 hours. Buses connect the villages along the Ruta de las Flores at least once daily. Just ask someone to make sure. Buses are generally cheap and cost between $ 0,5 and $ 1.

Is Ruta de las Flores safe for travelers?

P

Visitors are generally safe in Granada. Don't stray too far from Calle Calzada at night or take a cab.

Where to stay on Ruta de las Flores?

P

Ruta de las Flores is much like the rest of El Salvador safe to travel for tourists.

When are the food markets taking place?

P

The villages framing Ruta de las Flores are tranquil on the weekdays and get busy on the weekends with domestic and some international tourists. The food market in Juayúa opens at 11 am and closes at 4 pm.

Can I drink tap water in El Salvador?

P

Do not drink tap water in El Salvador; bring your water filter or purifier instead!
While water from the National Water Company (ANDA) is generally safe, you never know the water source the restaurant, hotels, and so on may use.

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?

P

Trash: As anywhere in Latin America, a lot of street food is served in plastic or one-way
containers. Make sure to bring your foldable food container with you. Don't forget to bring your UV-bottle, too.

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List El Salvador

El Salvador is super diverse and offers plenty of things to do. Check out our packing list, and get ready for an incredible adventure!

Find everything from eco-friendly toiletries to the only travel shoes you’ll ever want to exciting travel gadgets!

Places to visit in El Salvador

Do not skip El Salvador! It’s one of the most amazing countries to visit in Central America!

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Isla Ometepe | Nicaragua’s mysterious volcanic island

Isla Ometepe | Nicaragua’s mysterious volcanic island

Things to do on Isla Ometpe

NICARAGUA
Isla Ometpe Itinerary

The mysterious volcanic island

Duration: at least Five days

Stay:  Zopilote & La Urraca Loca

Visiting Isla Ometepe in Nicaragua was a surreal experience! The scenery and wildlife were simply spectacular – from soaring volcanoes to lush forests, it’s the perfect place for an unforgettable adventure. The lake surrounding the island, Lago Nicaragua, was unbelievably pristine, and it’s actually the biggest freshwater lake in all of the world.

The twin-coned island

Formed by two volcanos, Conception and Maderas, the island took the shape of an infinity symbol. The once native Nahual people called the island “two hills” (Ome = two, tepe = hills). Because of Isla Ometepe’s mystical charm and breathtaking rugged landscape, humankind has been intrigued by the island ever since.

  • Natural Beauty 95% 95%
  • Beaches 85% 85%
  • Culture 95% 95%
  • Activities 100% 100%

As you approach the island with its twin-coned silhouette dramatically rising into the horizon, the boat ride itself promises a magical experience.

Beaches at Lago Nicaragua

The Spanish conquistadors referred to Lago Nicaragua as “La Mar Dulce” for its sheer size. Naturally, there are many beach spots across the 270 km big island.

Isla Ometepe: horse in Lago Nicaragua
Isla Ometepe: beach Lago Nicaragua

Playa Puesta del Sol

Whereas you need about one hour from Moyogalpa to Santa Domingo, you can quickly reach Playa Puesta del Sol within a few minutes. The beach is not just tranquil and relaxed. You’ll also find great homestay options there. Several families offer a room in their own home to a guest.They enjoy telling intriguing island stories and never fail to feed you with insider knowledge. It’s an exciting chance to get an authentic experience and glimpse local life.

We have never been disappointed when we stayed at homestays. To us, it’s a must-do not to miss the chance to learn more about the friendly culture.

Playa Santa Domingo

Playa Santa Domingo is one of Isla Ometepe’s most popular beaches. This 4km long beach stretch is located right at the isthmus. You’ll find great swimming, numerous bars, restaurants, and hostels. In addition, the two indigenous communities, Urbaite and Las Pilas, are just outside Santa Domingo.

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Isla Ometepe at sunset from Zopilote

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz is located right at the island’s isthmus and offers a great starting point to discover. We spent our first night at the quiet Hostal Maria, a favorite for its cheap, traditional food. You might have to wait a while, but the delicious dishes are worth it. Afterward, we ventured out to get to know the island.

Relax by the water

After a tasty Nicaraguan breakfast, we headed to the beach to enjoy the water and the first sun rays. We admired the vast lake, which could have been easily mistaken for an ocean. However, the pristine water was calling for a swim. We got pretty sunburned even though it seemed overcast. For most of the day, we had a little bay to ourselves. It’s a lovely spot to let time pass. Every once in a while, a gaucho would lead his herd of horses to the water. It’s so beautiful to watch!

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Ometepe

Have a beer at Morgan's Bar

We ended up at Morgan’s Bar, a lively place where you can get in touch with the party crowd of the island. Of course, it gets wild in the late hours, but it’s an excellent spot to meet other travelers.

Take in the sunsets at Zopilote

Zopilote is the place to conclude the day with a magnificent sunset. We enjoyed the lush vegetation and the laid-back vibes. The eco-friendly permaculture farm is nestled right amid the jungle. It’s a fantastic spot to meet locals and travelers and kick back.

Isla Ometepe sunset from Zopilote
REMo on Isla Ometepe

Impact travel opportunity - REMO

Overwhelmed by Isla Ometepe’s magical beauty, we forgot to arrange a place to sleep. So, because Maria was booked entirely, we headed out at night to find a new place to stay. Luckily, we struck it rich and found a hostel right down the main road. We were excited to learn that the owner is part of the organization “REMO.” REMO supports women and girls suffering from domestic and sexual abuse. They develop actions and projects to intervene and prevent such incidents. The organization also strengthens women by providing employment and career development opportunities

Climb the twin volcanos Conception or Maderas

Nicaragua offers plenty of volcano hikes. On Isla Ometepe, you can climb both volcanos on a guided tour. Conception is still active and is considered one of Central America’s most beautiful volcanos. It promises a stunning view over the island and mainland if it’s cloud-free. The near-perfect coneshaped volcano reaches an altitude of 1610 meters. Islanders will confirm that sporadic explosions of ashes and dust are commonplace. The inactive volcano Maderas has become home to a crystal clear crater lake. The slopes of the 1394 high volcano are covered in a lush cloud forest, boosting a magical setting. According to the Islanders, this area is inhabited by ferries and supernatural spirits. Even though we heard about the fantastic experience and the breathtaking views, we decided against climbing a volcano. Both hikes take 8- 10 hours to return and are incredibly challenging. So we have to admit that we did not have enough confidence or the appropriate gear. Hiking boots, a wind jacket, and several liters of water are an absolute must!

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Isla Ometepe, waterfalss san ramon

Hike the waterfall San Ramon

You find the waterfall, San Ramon, on the southern side of Isla Ometepe. Expect about a 3-4 hour drive from Moyogalpo. The two villages, San Ramon and Merida, lie on the south slope of Maderas. You can hike to the waterfall from either one in about 2 hours.
The public bus reaches the villages twice per day. However, you can rent a vehicle in Moyogalpa or Santa Domingo to be a little more flexible. The way towards the waterfall leads you through a nature conservation area. However, the unpaved road is a little rough. You’ll have to pay a small fee of 100 C ($2,50) at the park’s entrance gate. The easy walk towards the waterfall leads you through lush vegetation. You can quickly get there on Flipflops. You’ll see the diverse local wildlife unique to the island on your way. The waterfall is beautiful and offers an opportunity to cool down. The water is not deep enough to swim, though.

Swim in the Ojo de Agua

Admittedly, the Ojo the Agua is a touristy spot. However, the mineral spring lies just 2km outside Santa Domingo amid a jungle. The two large swimming pools are 40 m long and perfect for swimming. It’s crowded at times. But, if you’re up for a bit of cooling down in crystal clear water and the company of other travelers, this is the perfect spot for you. The entrance fee is $2-3

Isla Ometepe Ojo del Agua
Isls Ometepe, Charco Verde

Discover Laguna Charco Verde

The lovely green shimmering lagoon is located in the eponymous natural reserve Chaco Verde. It’s a 30 minutes bus ride from Moyogalpa. Chaco Verde is super calm and an excellent place to relax. However, you can best get in touch with its originality by wandering the hiking trail. Some of the most beautiful beaches are located along the way. Playa Baleón offers unbeatable views of the volcano Maderas. On top of that, Chaco Verde is excellent for wildlife spotting. There is a small butterfly farm, too. If you are lucky, you might even see different kinds of monkeys.
Mirrador Diabolo offers fantastic views of the island. On top of that, 10 Ziplines are waiting for you if you are ready to wake your tired bones!

Finca Magdalena

Finca Magdelena is a 350-hectare organic farm is run by a co-operative of 24 families. It is located in the foothills and up the slopes of Volcán Maderas. The farm produces fantastic organic coffee, plantains, milk, corn, beans, rice, and vegetables. They offer visitors the chance to participate in coffee tours and tours of their Finca. The tours usually do not need to be arranged in advance, turn up and speak with one of the staff members. The tours of the coffee plantation take place a short drive away (transport is included), cost $16 for a group of three people, and last around 1.5 hours. If you don’t have time for a tour, you can still buy their delicious coffee in the on-site café. Finca Magdalena is a great place to learn about organic farming and sample some delicious coffee!

Finca Magdalena

Practical travel tips for Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua

What is the best time to visit Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua?

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Isla Ometepe's climate is warm all year round. However, it gets boiling and rainy during summer (from June-October). So, the best time to visit Isla Ometepe is from October to April.

How to get to the Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua

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You'll have to get to Rivas first to reach the ferry port of San Jorge. However, it's straightforward and comfortable to go. If you are starting from Managua's bus terminal, UCA (Universidad Centro Americana), take a bus to Granada and change there for a bus to Rivas.

Alternatively, take a chicken bus to Rivas from Mercado Huembes in Managua. Once you get to Rivas, you should take a cab to the ferry terminal in San Jorge. However, it's only a 10-minute ride.

Transport on Isla Ometepe

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You'll arrive at Moyagalpa; from there, you can choose the local bus or a cab to reach your destination. Buses commute every hour without a fixed schedule. Just ask the locals - they are super eager to help.
The island's taxes are more expensive and charge you around 10$ for a ride.

Is Isla Ometepe safe for travelers?

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Yes, just don't stray too far at night.

Are there ferries to Isla Ometepe?

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The ferries to Isla Ometepe leave approximately every half hour. We choose a spot right next to the captain's hut. The cheerful and friendly team even let us take over the steering wheel! The boat ride usually takes about 1 hour, depending on the weather and the type of boat—the ride costs between 35 and 55 Cordoba. You will arrive in Moyogalpa, a picturesque port village. There used to be a ferry from Moyogalpa to Granada, but they aren't operating.

Can I drink tap water in Nicaragua?

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After a personal experience with some parasites, tap water in Nicaragua is not good to drink! Bring a self-cleaning water bottle to get clean and cool drinking water.

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?

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Trash: Often, you'll find food vendors selling typical Nicaraguan dishes on the go. It's not just delicious but cheap. To avoid plastic wrapping, choose to buy your food at the bus stations and have them put it in your collapsible container. Bring your water filter or UV bottle to avoid having to buy bottled water.

Sunscreen: Protect Marine life and wear reef-friendly sunscreen!

tanzania travel Zanzibar beaches

Packing List Nicaragua

Nicaragua is super diverse and offers plenty of things to do. Check out our packing list, and get ready for an incredible adventure!

Find everything from eco-friendly toiletries to the only travel shoes you’ll ever want to exciting travel gadgets!

Places to visit in Nicaragua

Often overlooked, Nicaragua is home to friendly people, dramatic landscapes and rich culture!

Masaya | Nicaragua’s folklore capital

Masaya | Nicaragua’s folklore capital

From the admittedly touristy, but still beautiful Granada, we set off to the cultural and folklore capital, Masya. The bubbly city is famous for its passion for music, dance and traditional crafts. Stroll around the and discover colorful corners of the ingenious influenced small town. Masaya will surprise you with its creative diversity and authentic charm. Most of all, charming Massaya bursts with life.

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San Ignacio, Belize – Wild rivers, Maya ruins &latino vibes

San Ignacio, Belize – Wild rivers, Maya ruins &latino vibes

THINGS TO DO IN SAN IGNACIO

Belize
San Ignacio Itinerary Practical travel tips

Wild rivers, Maya ruins &latino vibes

Duration: at least 3 days

Budget: $ 80 per day

Stay at: Maya Mountain Lodge or Pine Ridge Lodge

San Ignacio and its twin town Santa Elena, form the heart of the “Cayo” district. It’s the first stop for many travelers coming from Guatemala. While there is a comfortable touristic infrastructure,  San Ignacio maintains an authentic and vibrating charm. Contrary to the coastal part of Belize, Spanish is the most widely spoken. San Ignacio is surrounded by lush vegetation, fast-flowing rivers, Maya ruins, and caves. There are lots to do in this lively little town!

  • Sight Seeing 85% 85%
  • Food 75% 75%
  • Culture 80% 80%
  • Activities 95% 95%

After some great weeks on Belize’s Cayes, we decided it was time for us to continue our journey. So, with our newfound friend Zoe, an American ex-pat whom we met on Tobacco Caye, we were off to discover Belize’s western part. As soon as we hopped off the bus, we felt an entirely different vibe from the coastal area.

 

Tour the mysterious ATM cave

We saw fantastic pictures of the famous ATM cave and were eager to visit. That was until we checked our budget and the prices for the tour. Unfortunately, our extended stay on the Cayes has ripped quite a hole into our budget, so we decided against visiting Belize’s ATM cave. However, we have heard from other travelers that it is an awe-inspiring experience. 

Granada, Nicaragua: view of Calle Calzada
Granada, Nicaragua: market

Stroll around the colorful market

As in many Central American towns, visiting the local market is always a good idea. It was in San Ignacio when we first tried Soursop juice. The white juice gained from the exotic fruit has become one of our all-time favorites!

Cool down at the Rion pools at Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve

After some pretty lazy weeks by the beach, we felt a bit itchy. Eager to head out, Lorena and I decided to go on a hike through Mountain Pine Reserve. Together with two younger guides, we ventured out to challenge our muscles at least a bit. The walks were pretty easy, and we enjoyed being surrounded by green. A tour to Mountain Pine Reserve can be combined with the Big Rock Falls and Rio Frio Cave, ending in Caracol. However, as mentioned above, the prices for tours are steep, so we decided to enjoy a full day at the Rion Pools and its surrounding caves.

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Granada, Nicaragua: dani in front of church

Xunantunich Ruins - Belize's Maya ruins

You can find ancient Mayan ruins all across Central America. Compared to its neighbors in Guatemala, Mexico, and Honduras, the ruins of Xunantunich are a lot smaller and less visited. As with many Maya ruins, it’s advisable to take a guide to get a complete understanding. However, if you are also short on cash, you can quickly discover the ruins of Xunantunich by yourself. The ruins are located on the other side of the river in the village of San Jose Succotz, easily accessible by bus and ferry (it’s free). The ruins cost 10 $BZ to enter and make up for a great half-day trip. We followed the recommendations of our hostel and took our swimsuits with us. After visiting the ruins, we dipped into the river for refreshment. We got off at the gas station and accidentally wandered towards Cahal Pech Resort Hotel on our way back. While it was the wrong direction to our hostel, we saw a fantastic sunset from there!

Float along the River

San Ignacio and its twin town Santa Elena offer plenty of opportunities to float along the river. Our friend Zoe wanted to visit a friend of hers, the owner of Rawspa Resort, so we decided to come along. Located within lush vegetation, we enjoyed the day by the Mopan River. After so much time by the sea, it almost felt weird to swim in the sweet water again. We spent our day listening to birds, jumping off the pier, and floating along the river in a tube. To our surprise, Misael and Michael invited us to a wine tasting. Contrary to “traditional” wine, Michael produces wines from exotic fruits. Sipping wine, we let the time pass until it was time for us to head back to our hostel. After so much time by the beach, our “jungle day” at Rawspa made up for the perfect change!

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Practical travel tips for San Ignacio & Belize

How can I cross the border to Guatemala?

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The twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena are popular stops for travelers from Guatemala. Once you have crossed the border, San Ignacio is a ride of about 45 mins. However, if you continue your journey by bus, keep in mind that there is no "fixed schedule." Therefore, we recommend you show up in the morning to get an early bus.

What is the best time to visit San Ignacio?

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San Ignacio experiences quite heavy rainfall and high temperatures during the summer months. But, other than that, it's a year-round destination.

Is San Ignacio safe for travelers?

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As anywhere, exercise extra caution at night. Other than that, it feels safe.

How to get to San Ignacio?

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Depending on where you are coming from, the bus may stop directly in the center of Hopkins or at "Junction," about 5 km outside. Don't be shy. Locals passing by will surely give you a ride.

Can I drink tap water in Belize?

P

In the towns, the water is supposedly drinkable. But as you will spend a lot of time on the water and Cayes in Belize, bring a water filter or a self-cleaning bottle to be safe and avoid causing plastic pollution. The bottles will keep your water fresh and cool, too!

What's the biggest challenge for the conscious traveler?