Published on May 25th, 2014 | by admin
Q&A: Nomadic Matt on the Best Nicaragua Travel Experiences
Matthew Kepnes, otherwise known as Nomadic Matt, is the authority on cost-conscious travel. An intrepid globetrotter, blogger, and author of “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter,” Nomadic Matt and his money-saving travel secrets have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Time, BBC, The Huffington Post, The Guardian, and National Geographic. In this exclusive interview, this seasoned traveler shares some of his favorite travel tips about one of his favorite destinations in Latin America: Nicaragua.
How did you first “discover” Nicaragua, and what were your first impressions?
I’ve known about the country for years. It’s always talked about by other travelers and my friend Joshua used to write the Moon guidebook for the country so I had always been intrigued by it but it wasn’t until last December that I finally got a chance to go. I really loved the country – the people were friendly, hospitable, it was cheap, great weather, and it’s filled with a lot of adventure activities. I know people say this all the time but it really is like a cheaper Costa Rica.
What are the biggest misconceptions that travelers might have about Nicaragua?
I think people in America still view it as that drug state from the 80s that’s filled with contras. Nicaragua is never in the news so people don’t have new information. In general, people view Central America as a little unsafe and Nicaragua gets lumped in with that. That is changing as Nicaragua becomes a more go to destination for travelers. It’s a wonderful place.
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What are the must-see and must-do activities and sites for first-time visitors?
Nicaragua is packed with a lot of fun and amazing activities. I wrote a whole article about my favorites, but some of the ones that really stand out for me are volcano boarding, hiking Miraflores park in Esteli, hiking in Granada, visiting the Corn Islands, and relaxing on the beach in San Juan Del Sur.
What are your favorite hotels in Nicaragua?
I loved Momento Hostel in Granada and The Naked Tiger in San Juan del Sur.
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What Nicaraguan food do you recommend?
I ate mostly at local stalls and in markets so I don’t have any specific restaurants that I can name, but my favorite dish was Vigoron (yuca, pork rinds, and cabbage). It’s delicious. I found it a lot in Granada and it became my go to meal. I must have had it at least twice a day. There’s a lot of somewhat bland rice, beans, and chicken in the country and this was a refreshing change.
In spite of recent investment, Nicaragua maintains a lower profile in the world of tourism, compared to destinations like Costa Rica, Panama and Guatemala. Why is that, and do you think that will change?
I think people go with what they know, and Costa Rica, Panama, and Guatemala (though I would argue that tourism there isn’t very big — I think Belize is bigger) have all been promoted for decades, so people have heard of them and know people who have gone there. Many Americans have bought property there which makes those countries more popular. I think Nicaragua will become a hotter and hotter destination in the near future. More people are writing about it and as more people visit and see that it is actually an amazing value and destination, tourism will increase. The country is only going up!
First launched in 2008 as a means of cataloging his personal travel experiences, Matt’s website NomadicMatt.com has evolved into a valuable trip-planning tool for budding and savvy travelers, alike.