Packed with attractions, the southwest offers up some of Nicaragua’s hallmark vistas and adventures. Surfers have been hitting this coastline for years, drawn by perfect, uncrowded waves and laid-back surfing encampments. Beginner surfers and partygoers head for San Juan del Sur, where there are better accommodations, high-octane parties and a solid selection of restaurants catering to international appetites. Beyond this are quiet fishing villages, sea-turtle nesting grounds and beaches rocked by world-class waves.
No trip to the southwest would be complete without a few days on Isla de Ometepe. The island itself is shaped like an infinity symbol, with bookend volcanoes dominating either side of a secluded universe where you'll discover waterfalls, wildlife, lost coves and enchanted forests. There's kayaking, swimming, hiking and biking, and many travelers extend their stay as they dive into paradise, lost in the quiet spots and friendly traveler encampments that define this island escape.