03/18/2014 12:51 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Is Nicaragua the Next Costa Rica?


The Spanish Colonial City of Granada

I remember traveling to Costa Rica in the early ninties. This was when travelers were just starting to take notice of this lush land of jungle and beaches. As an owner of a travel agency, I heard stories of clients of mine buying pieces of beach front property for $8,000.00 on Costa Rica's endless Pacific beaches. When I finally visited Costa Rica, I recall driving from the Pacific side, east to the Caribbean and seeing few tourists. I was in awe of the landscape and eco-system. Like all undiscovered travel destinations, Costa Rica became very much on the radar of adventurers and backpackers alike. Costa Rica became touted as the "Switzerland of Central America," known for the fact that one is always safe, no noticeable crime, and no need for an army.

In the first century of the new millennium, Panama became the new "in" nation in Central America. Panama also boasted a relatively safe nation with a thriving eco-tourism sector. Panama City with its high rises, markets and American lifestyle became a convenient destination for many American and Canadian retirees.

Fast forward to present day and there is a new Central American travel destination ready to take the crown of next "hot destination" to visit before it also gets discovered and makes the travelers circuit: Nicaragua. Many travelers have not yet heard much about this country, or if they have, one might associate the peaceful nation to a bygone era of civil war and strife. This is far from reality. Even in the hustle and bustle of the fast paced and often crowded capital, Managua, crime is almost non-existent.

What more can you ask for in a nation ripe for tourism? A bio diverse ecosystem, including Lake Nicaragua, with over 300 islands -- which is almost the size of Lake Titicaca in South America. Endless coastline, complete with sleepy surfer havens; noisy Howler Monkeys and Macaws elevated in the miles of rain forest; close to 200 species of orchids; volcanic peaks with majestic views; your own personal StairMaster and few crowded areas.


Miles Of Surf On Beautiful Pacific Beaches

Everything that one can find in Costa Rica is abundant in Nicaragua. But unlike its neighbor to the south, Nicaragua is blessed with a rich, Spanish colonial culture dating back centuries and well preserved in Nicaragua's colonial city of Grenada.

For your next vacation, consider the less traveled version of Costa Rica. Visit Nicaragua before the word gets out that this exotic land is well worth a visit.

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