Rivas has a few fans – some say it’s authentic and lively, with some wonderful buildings downtown. However, little remains of the old colonial charm that gold seekers would have seen in the mid 19th century on their way to California. The overwhelmingly held view is that Rivas is a busy urban sprawl – a necessary evil that you whizz through on your way to more exciting coastal and island destinations.
Rivas’ strategic position on the only sliver of land between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans made it an essential stop along the arduous overland crossing to San Juan del Sur during the Gold Rush. Now, with all the development on the southwestern beaches and Ometepe, it is once again an important trading and transport hub.