My tour of Nicaragua is done, at least for now.
Please SEARCH FOR ‘Nicaragua‘ to find all of my Postings, Travel Budgets and Retirement Reviews.
I found a couple of nice GRANDPAcking Retirement Locations in Nicaragua.
Meanwhile, here is some general information about Nicaragua and / or the places of interest that I did not get to …
Nicaragua can be very cheap – almost as cheap as Southeast Asia – if you go to the right places. The key is to not stay in the popular Western-owned ‘party hostels’ such as Bigfoot, Pacha Mama or Naked Tiger which charge at least $10 for a dorm bed; walk a few blocks further and you can get a private room for the same amount (US$10).
You’ll be on a “chicken bus” now and then if you get off the main tourist track.
Most food is very affordable in Nicaragua and you can eat a Tipico Breakfast for N$90 (US$3) and an average Dinner for N$150 (US$5). As always, pizza and pasta are notorious for being the most expensive food options around.
English is spoken among educated Nicaraguans, expats, and by the tourism sector. In the Caribbean coast (due to the African and English heritage) cities like Bluefields and The Corn Islands speak a form of English creole.
SOUTH & THE PACIFIC COAST:
I visited the, following, locations:
NORTH & THE CARIBBEAN COAST:
I visited the, following, locations:
- San Carlos
- Rio San Juan / El Castillo / Greytown
- El Rama / Bluefields
- Big Corn Island
- Little Corn Island
INTERNET / WIFI:
There are 2 main providers: Movistar and Claro.
TOP-UP / REFILL / RECHARGE FEES:
PLEASE NOTE: When you top up in a store / tienda they usually charge you a 10% fee. If you top up for more than N$100, they usually charge you a flat rate fee of N$20. To avoid these charges, try and top up at a proper Movistar / Claro Store or Street Stall.
Claro sell a new SIMcard for N$60 which includes N$50 in credits. You can use the N$50 credit to buy your first Mobile Plan.
Some of their ‘fancier’ plans (such as their N$230 15-Day Plan) aren’t very well known: they are not easy to top up because many of the shops don’t know how to do them.
One downside of being on Claro is that their miClaro app is not very easy to use. Personally, I hate it!
HOW TO TOP UP YOUR CLARO: You MUST wait until your current active plan expires BEFORE you top up with any more money. Claro send you an SMS Message to tell you when your plan has expired. ONLY THEN do you top up with EXACTLY the right amount of money for the package that you want to buy. In my case, I have to do this in a store because the miClaro app only allows you to top up with N$50, N$100, and N$150 (not N$230). IN ADDITION, the miClaro app does not always update your information properly … EACH TIME that you top up, you are best to uninstall the app and reinstall it … this fixes the problem.
TOP UP USING A CREDIT CARD: You can avoid paying ‘Top Up Fees’ by topping up online with your Credit Card. Go online and sign up on miClaro.com.ni. Their refill module accepted my New Zealand Credit Card.
MY ADVICE: It is obvious that CLARO dominates the Corn Islands. If the Corn Islands are a major part of your Nicaragua trip, buy a Claro SIMcard. But, be prepared to be frustrated.
I bought Claro when I first arrived in Nicaragua. I found it very hard to use and understand. Somehow, I lost my refill money and Clar refused to allow me to connect. I abandoned Claro and bought Movistar.
On The Corn Islands, I bought a new Claro SIMcard. I had the same problem with my top-up funds disappearing without Claro giving me a working Mobile Plan.
In the end, I wanted nothing to do with Claro – they drove me mad.
The Movistar App is much more user-friendly and helpful. The downside is that it doesn’t like foreign Credit Cards, so you may find (like me) that you cannot top up online.
You can get around this by using someone like RECHARGE.COM who do the recharge for you for a small fee. The fee that you pay is less than what you would pay in a tienda.
PLEASE NOTE: Movistar & Claro run regular promotions (usually at least 2 per week) that can as much as Quintruple your top up credits. This only applies to call and text credits – not to data. Try and top up on a Promo Day. If you are a sports fan, they also do regular N$30 Promos that give you unlimited internet for 24 hours … great for streaming weekend sports from back home.
Geographically, Nicaragua is blessed, with two long coastlines and two big lakes, plus volcanoes, highlands, rain forest and rivers. In this regard, it’s got everything Costa Rica and Panama have got, all less discovered and developed and available for the adventurer and eco-traveler at bargain rates.
One of the greatest things about Nicaragua, is that it’s still relatively off the radar of many travelers and retirees. As the country continues to attract tourists and expats, its list of amenities is likely to keep growing.
Among the least expensive places to live in Latin America, Nicaragua is also one of the safest.
If you are looking for first-world comforts, exciting culture and nature adventures, the colonial city of Granada is an ideal place to live. Other areas of Nicaragua offer all the conveniences retirees look for against the backdrop of beautiful natural wonders.
Granada and Leon vie for the title of Oldest City in the Americas. Whichever story you believe (that the Spanish conquistadores settled first on the shores of Lake Nicaragua at Granada or, perhaps, a few months earlier in Old Leon), Nicaragua is the big winner, with impressive colonial-era churches, public buildings and parks to her credit.
Sales aren’t as brisk as before Ortega’s re-election, but they are trending up, especially near the tourist hubs of Granada (with its old colonial center, markets, restaurants, and thriving expat community) and San Juan del Sur.
Nicaragua has a National Health System. A visit to a doctor is N$500. Medical costs are low enough to pay as you go.
The secret of enjoying a wonderful retirement here won’t last long.
One of the most modern hospitals in Central America is 45 minutes away in Managua. You can buy one of Granada’s classic Spanish-colonial haciendas for US$50,000 or less.
Property values have fallen significantly over the past several years, thanks to the re-election of Sandinista President Daniel Ortega and the post-2008 global recession. As a result, you can buy a house on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast for less than US$100,000.