The nature reserve Isla Juan Venado  is an intriguing stretch of mangrove swamp with abundant wildlife. It makes for a perfect spot of paddling. The reserve is situated 30 minutes west near the beach town of Las Peñitas. Beach hostel Barca de Oro (tel. 505/2317-0275; www.barcadeoro.com) rents out kayaks and surfboards.


The nearby coast is not as famous for surfing as farther south, but there are still plenty of big waves to catch. Surf Tours Nicaragua (tel. 505/8814-2975; www.surftoursnicaragua.com) specializes in surfing tours of the north Pacific coast and offers 7-day packages with accommodations included.



The nearby volcanoes Momotombo and Cerro Negro are the most popular trekking excursions. Quetzaltrekkers, 1 1/2 blocks east of Iglesia La Recolleción (tel. 505/2311-6695; www.quetzaltrekkers.com), specializes in treks to both places, as does Big Foot Hostel (see above; tel. 505/8917-8832; www.bigfootnicaragua.com).

Volcano Surfing

Yes, you read correctly. Hurtling down the side of a live, black volcanic mound has become the latest craze in Nicaragua, and the place to do it is just outside León city, on the 40-degree slope of Cerro Negro. The people at Big Foot Hostel (tel. 505/8917-8832; www.bigfootnicaragua.com) were the pioneers, and they run daily excursions up to the belching mountain and back for about C400. Tour agency Vapues (tel. 505/2315-4099; www.vapues.com) also runs daily excursions for the same price. Whomever you go with, make sure you get properly kitted out with jumpsuit, goggles, gloves, and kneepads, as volcano surfing is exactly how it sounds -- very exciting and a little dangerous. It takes less than an hour to reach the volcano's base by truck, followed by a 45-minute slog up to the rim.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.