Volcanos (or “Volcan” in Spanish), are the most prominent and unique feature of Nicaragua’s natural terrain. From hiking up a volcano, to swimming in a volcano crater, to seeing red hot lava in an active volcano, nearly every outdoor activity in Nicaragua highlights its volcanos. Whether you’re visiting Granada, Leon, or Ometepe, below are my 10 suggestions on how to experience volcanos in Nicaragua. You probably won’t have time to do all of these in one visit, so pick and choose wisely!
Volcano Activities Near Granada
- See Lava at Volcan Masaya – Get an up-close view of an active volcano! Volcan Masaya is located in Masaya Volcano National Park, about a 45 minute drive from Granada. When the weather conditions are right, you can see the glowing red lava within the volcano. The evening we went, unfortunately, a haze covered the lava, and we saw nothing. We paid $18USD/person, but, to our surprise, our tourism agency we went with refunded us the park entrance fee due to the poor visibility that evening.
- Hike a Volcano Crater at Mombacho National Reserve – We visited the Mombacho Cloud Forest Reserve national park near Granada and hiked an easy 1.5km trail around the crater of one of its dormant volcanos. There are some beautiful viewpoints along the trail, and on a clear day, you can see Granada, Laguna Apoyo, and the Islets of Granada. We paid $36USD/person for transportation and the guided tour on the trail.
- Swim in Laguna Acroypo – You can swim in the crater lake of Laguna Acroyopo, which has warm water. Only 30 minutes away from Granada, this is a good day trip option if you’re looking for some beach and relaxation time. $6USD/person gives you access to the beach from some of the beachfront guesthouses and usually includes kayak rentals.
- Boat Tour of Islets of Granada – 365 scattered islands were formed on Lake Nicaragua from a volcanic eruption. You can take a boat tour on the lake to see them.
Volcano Activities Near Leon
- “Volcano Board” in Leon – This is the must do activity when you are in Leon. Cerro Negro is an active volcano, 45 minutes north of Leon, Nicaragua. Aside from Leon, there’s no other place in the world where you can climb up the side of an active volcano, and slide down on a wooden plank! If you aren’t staying overnight in Leon, it is possible to go volcano boarding on a day trip from Granada. For our experience, read our blog post on: Volcano Boarding in Leon.
- Stay Overnight on Telico Volcano – Several tours from Leon offer sunset tours to the active Telica Volcano. To take it one step further, there are even overnight visits to Telica Volcano where you stay in tents and can watch both the sunset and sunrise from the volcano.
- Explore the Ruins of León Viejo (Old Leon) – On the shores of Lake Xolotlán (Lake Managua) are the ruins of the original city of León, before it got wiped out from a volcano eruption.
Volcano Boarding on Cerro Negro in Leon, Nicaragua
Volcano Activities On Ometepe
- Swim in Volcanic Water at Ojo de Agua – This was one of our highlights of Ometepe. Ojo de Agua (literally translated as “Eye of Water”) is a swimming pool that’s fed directly from Volcano Conception. Apparently volcanic water is rich in all sorts of minerals including potassium, magnesium, calcium, sulfur and sodium, which helps with relaxation and easing muscular pain. Although the spring site is natural, it’s been cleaned up and commercialized with $5USD admission and vendors selling natural coconut water…mixed with rum!
- Hike to San Ramón Waterfall – The San Ramón waterfall at the Southern slope of Volcan Maderas. It’s about an hour hike through forest to get there, and the volcanic water is so pure than it’s bottled and sold as pure “Maderas Volcano Water”.
- Hike Volcan Concepción or Volcan Maderas – Travellers who are physically fit can opt to hike up either Volcano Concepcion or Volcano Maderas, the twin volcanos of Ometepe. The hike takes about 10 hours, and hiring a guide is mandatory.