Couple Holding Cocktails at Apoyo Lagoon Nicaragua

One of the of the most spectacular destinations in Central America can be found in the Volcanic crater lake of Laguna De Apoyo in Nicaragua. In this post we’ll share all you need to know to plan a Granada day trip to Laguna De Apoyo! The Apoyo Lagoon natural reserve is an amazing place to visit and we had heaps of fun kayaking across the lagoon and relaxing in Laguna De Apoyo. Make sure you put Lake Apoyo on your list of ‘things to do’ when next visiting Nicaragua.

Short on time? Here are our Laguna de Apoyo top recommendations:

Activities: Laguna de Apoyo Tour.

Accommodation: For budget accommodation we recommend Paradiso Hostel and for a boutique hotel experience you can’t go past Casa Única.

Flights: find cheapest flights with cashback on WayAway.

Airport Lounge Access: start your holiday the right way with Priority Pass.

Travel Medical Insurance: SafetyWing Nomad Insurance is the ideal choice for long-term travellers and digital nomads.

About Laguna de Apoyo

Mirador de Catarina overlooking Laguna de Apoyo Nicaragua, purple flowers
View from Mirador de Catrina

Apoyo is part of a volcanic chain that runs from the north to the south of Nicaragua. It is nestled in between Mombacho Volcano and Masaya Volcano.

Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve

The Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve, or Reserva Natural Laguna de Apoyo, has been a nature reserve in Nicaragua since 1991. It has a tropical dry ecosystem and an abundance of flora and fauna. The wildlife at Apoyo Nature Reserve includes coyotes, deer, opossums and howler monkeys. The calls of the howler monkeys can be heard from most parts of the lake.

How Laguna de Apoyo was formed

The crater lake of Apoyo was created around 23,000 years ago as the result of a big volcanic eruption. The crater is about six kilometers in diameter and Apoyo Lagoon has a maximum depth of 176 meters. There is still volcanic activity underneath the lake and this heats the lake to a very comfortable 30°C (86°F) all year round.

Mirador de Catarina Nicaragua

The best views of the lagoon can be found at the Mirador de Catarina. There is plenty of seating at the Mirador as well as market stalls and vendors selling souvenirs and trinkets. You can also admire the views by riding a horse!

Woman on horse at Mirador de Catarina Nicaragua
Horse ride at Mirador de Catarina

Getting to Laguna de Apoyo

Apoyo is located in the centre of the Nicaraguan Pacific Coast. It is half way between the towns of Granada and Masaya, about half an hour drive from each. The drive from the capital of Managua to Apoyo can be done in under an hour.

If you are feeling particularly energetic, it is possible to walk from Granada to Laguna to Apoyo. We’ve done this before and it took us about an hour and a half each way. It’s a pleasant but tiring walk down a dirt path. It gets quite hot in the middle of the day, so make sure you bring plenty of water with you if you decide to walk it yourself. There were a few tuk tuks that we saw as we walked there and back, so you could also get a tuk tuk at least part of the way.

Foreshore of Laguna de Apoyo Nicaragua, turquoise water, rocks in foreground
Worth the walk!

How long to spend at Laguna de Apoyo

Visiting Laguna de Apoyo is a nice day trip from Granada, Managua or Masaya. When we go we generally leave Granada at 10am and return just before dinner.

If you are looking for a relaxing place to spend a few days, this is a lovely option. During your time at Apoyo, you can enjoying beautiful views and a relaxing atmosphere. You can also go swimming in some of the cleanest water in Central America.

Where to stay at Laguna de Apoyo

Laguna de Apoyo has a great selection of hotels, hostels and holiday homes, located at the shore or very close to the shore of the lagoon.

We recommend the following accommodation in Laguna de Apoyo:

  • Best hostel at Laguna de Apoyo Nicaragua – Paradiso Hostel is an excellent hostel ideally positioned on the banks of Laguna de Apoyo. We’ve visited this hostel a couple of times and we were impressed with its facilities as well as the delicious range of meals available at its restaurant.
  • Best holiday homes at Laguna de Apoyo Nicaragua – Casa Única is an amazing boutique hotel on the shore of Laguna de Apoyo. From the moment you arrive, you’re greeted by the serene beauty of the crater lake and lush surroundings. With its unique accommodations, eco-friendly ethos, and genuine hospitality, Casa Única offers more than just a stay – it’s an experience that nourishes the soul and leaves you longing to return.

Where to stay at Granada Nicaragua

If you prefer the comforts of the city and just want to do a day trip to Laguna de Apoyo, we recommend staying at the nearby city of Granada. Granada is an easy half hour drive from Laguna de Apoyo.

We recommend the following accommodation in Granada Nicaragua:

  • Best hostel in Granada Nicaragua – Hostal De Boca en Boca is one of the best hostels in Granada Nicaragua. It’s clean and comfortable with delicious free breakfasts. There is a spacious common area and it also has a well equipped kitchen.
  • Best value hotel in Granada Nicaragua – We highly recommend staying at Hotel La Gran Sultana for budget friendly accommodation in Granada Nicaragua. We stayed here ourselves and thought it was a great value option. It’s also conveniently located, has a pool, delicious breakfasts and a spectacular rooftop area.
  • Best hotel in Granada Nicaragua – Hotel Jardín de Granada is one of the best hotels in Granada Nicaragua. It has an amazing garden and pool area. It is within easy reach of the major attractions of the city whilst also being in an area that is peaceful and quiet.
  • Best luxury accommodation in Granada Nicaragua – If you are after an impeccably presented villa and a luxurious experience in Granada Nicaragua, you can’t go past Casa Bubu Guesthouse. The team at Bubu offer exceptional service in a little piece of paradise.

The best day trip to Laguna de Apoyo is with Paradiso Hostel. They have a great spot right on the lake and their food is fantastic. You can buy a day pass or stay overnight. They have excellent facilities and they can also organise transport or tours.

Day Tour to Laguna de Apoyo with Paradiso Hostel

Cost of a day trip to Laguna de Apoyo Nicaragua

We’ve done a couple of day trips to Laguna de Apoyo with Hostel Paradiso. Their Wednesday Get Away Laguna de Apoyo package was just $10 USD per person (as at January 2021). This included round trip from Granada to Laguna de Apoyo, a Mango Daiquiri as well as a day pass at Paradiso Hostel. On other days of the week you can organise a day trip with them for $15 USD per person.

Cabana by the Lake at Laguna de Apoyo
Lake View at Paradiso Hostel & Restaurante

Meeting point for day trip to Laguna de Apoyo

The meeting point for our tour was Iglesia La Merced in Granada. On the second time we went with them we were the only people on the tour and they picked us up from our home.

The day tour requires guests to wear masks while on transport. They also provide hand sanitiser at the hostel and before entering the vehicle.

Lookout overlooking Laguna de Apoyo

The first stop on the day trip is a lookout point next to the restaurant La Cueva de Tigre, where you can get a great vantage point of the lagoon. This makes for an excellent photo opportunity.

Woman looking at view at Mirador La Cueva del Tigre overlooking Laguna de Apoyo Nicaragua
Mirador La Cueva del Tigre

Arriving at Paradiso Hostel Laguna de Apoyo Nicaragua

Once you reach Paradiso Hostel there is a place for you to wash your hands before you enter the grounds of the hostel. After that, you go down to the restaurant and each group is provided with a token. You can use this token to order food and drinks from the bar. You pay your tab at the end of your stay.

Food and Drinks at Paradiso Hostel Laguna de Apoyo

Coffee and tea is provided when you arrive and at any point during your stay you can ask for your free Mango Daiquiri. This can be swapped out for a non-alcoholic drink if you want. They have a few smoothies available.

The restaurant overlooks the water and is a great place to relax and enjoy the view. The food at the restaurant is excellent and they have a large menu with a variety of Nicaraguan as well as international cuisine. We recommend the fillet mignon and the breaded fish. Both were amazing! Sometimes there are also vendors that come by selling cerviche.

Activities at Paradiso Hostel Laguna de Apoyo

There are games, books and a pool table to keep you entertained while you’re at Paradiso Hostel. And of course there’s a lot of water activities such as swimming, kayaking and floating with an inner tube. There are also stand up paddle boards with you can hire for an extra fee.

Kayaking from one side of the lake to the other takes about 1-1.5 hours and is around 6km each way.

Woman kayaking across Lagoon Apoyo Nicaragua
Kayaking across Lagoon Apoyo

You can pay by cash or card but payments by credit card attract an additional fee.

Tour time for day trip to Laguna de Apoyo

The official times for the tour are leaving Granada at 10am and returning at 3pm, but you can request your return transport whenever you are ready to leave. We stayed until about 5:30pm each time we went as we were enjoying ourselves so much!

We have been on this tour a couple of times and we have thoroughly enjoyed ourselves each time we’ve been here. This is a great day out and it’s something I could happily do again and again.

What to bring to Laguna de Apoyo

We’d recommend packing the following items for a trip to Laguna de Apoyo:

  • Swimming costume
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect Repellent
  • Towel (towels are also available from the hostel)
  • Cash or credit card
  • Perhaps a book or a magazine if you feel like lounging in a hammock and having a read

If you forget any of the above, don’t worry. The hostel also has a gift shop where you can buy most of these items.

Is Laguna de Apoyo safe?

Laguna de Apoyo is a very safe area.

General safety considerations for travel in Laguna de Apoyo:

  • Drinking water – Hostels provide filtered bottled water for you to drink
  • Mosquitoes – We personally haven’t had any issues with mosquitoes in Laguna de Apoyo, but it’s probably worth bringing insect repellent with you just in case
  • Road safety – The roads are well maintained in the area around Laguna de Apoyo.
  • Water safety – Take care when swimming or kayaking as currents and waves may be stronger than you expect. Keep in mind that the weather can change very quickly. We managed to get stuck on the far side of the lake with our kayak during a storm, which was not too fun!
  • Sun safety – The UV Index is very high in Nicaragua, so sun protection such as sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses is very important to ensure you don’t get burnt.
  • Dogs – in many countries in Central America, stray dogs are common, however we didn’t notice any around Laguna de Apoyo. For more on dog safety while travelling, check out this video.

As with any destination, take all of your normal safety precautions.

Final thoughts on Laguna de Apoyo

Laguna de Apoyo is one of our favourite day trips from Granada Nicaragua. It’s a beautiful setting with a relaxed atmosphere and a must visit for your next Nicaragua trip!

If you want to learn more about visiting Laguna de Apoyo, check out our Granada day trip to Laguna de Apoyo video.

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