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Nicaragua Steps Up as the Next Big Thing in Central America

Nicaragua is quickly becoming a pristine and popular destination for eco and adventure tourists alike.

Nicaragua is quickly becoming a pristine and popular destination for eco and adventure tourists. Surfing already attracts hordes to its shores, and now a new sport called kiting, which combines windsurfing, kite-flying and small board surfing, has taken a toehold as well. Kiters can catch up to 25 feet of air when that perfect mix of high winds and high waves combine to power the athletes up, up, up. Add inexpensive hotels, rainforests and a coastline on both the Caribbean and the Pacific, and Nicaragua begins to compete with Belize and Costa Rica for Central America's top tourism spot.

Getting to Nicaragua is not a hassle with Intratours (tel. 800/334-8069; discounted fares to Central America. Round-trip airfare into Managua will run you $383 out of Miami in the fall or winter period. Flights to and from New York cost $615 while round-trip from Los Angeles costs $524. From Atlanta, expect to pay $615 while flights out of Houston and Dallas run about $485 round-trip. These fares are for midweek travel with a Saturday night fare mandatory and a maximum stay of 30 to 90 days.

Once in Nicaragua, the country is an open book rife with incredible topography, great bird watching and small coastal fishing towns inundated with deep sea fisherman, surfers and other water enthusiasts. Managua, home to Nicaragua's international airport, is located on a large lake close to the Pacific Ocean.

A good starting point for Nicaragua travel is, a comprehensive site covering travel, tourism and commerce to the resurging Central American nation. Not a self-contained one-stop shopping website, provides an index of links to other providers and sites where you can purchase goods and services. The site's "Culture" section has links in Spanish and English.

For travel deals to Nicaragua, Tucan Travel (tel. +61 2 9326 4557; has an eight-day and seven-night land-only deal that focuses on Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. For $400 plus a local payment of $80 for food and tips and such, you get all accommodations, transportation around the three countries, sightseeing excursions and the use of a Tucan Travel tour guide. In Nicaragua, you'll hit the revitalized capital city of Managua and the mellow tobacco growing region around the Spanish colonial city of Grenada. You'll also visit Ometepe, the largest fresh water island in the world that happens to sit in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. With an active volcano, pretty countryside and a gentle island population, Ometepe is a favorite of visiting tourists who often choose to extend their stay on the island paradise. This tour departs about twice a month all year round.

For you surfers and kiters, Tico Travel (tel. 800/493-8426; has a land-only seven-night/eight-day surf trip to in San Juan del Sur starting at $1,099 per person that takes you boat surfing, meaning they drop you off well beyond the shoreline to maximize the best waves. Accommodations are at small hotels near the beach. The package is for Saturday to Saturday travel with six surf days, weather providing. Longer trips of 14 or 21-days are available upon request. Fresh cooked breakfast and lunch is provided daily.

See what fellow travelers have to say about their trips to Nicaragua at the Nicaragua Message Boards.