We’re almost finished with our tour of the best snorkel sites in Central America, but we still have a couple of countries left to explore. In today’s post we’re looking at one of the most diverse countries in terms of snorkelling sites, Nicaragua. With its access to two completely different seas, its fresh water lakes, and its stellar reputation for water sports, you know that the best snorkel sites in Nicaragua are going to be something special.
Probably the most popular snorkel site in Nicaragua is the tropical Corn Islands. The larger island boasts an amazing coral reef with some outstanding marine life, but the true magic comes when you snorkel off the smaller island, Little Corn. The Atlantic side of this cute little island has over 12 kilometres of reef just meters from its shore. In this vibrant collection of coral you can find spectacularly diverse wildlife. Rays, groupers, sharks, eels, damselfish and African pompano are sighted on a regular basis. There are certified dive ad snorkel shops on both islands, where you can rent any equipment you may need for your snorkel adventure.
This picture perfect beach can be found on the Pacific side of the ever popular San Juan del Sur. La Flor doesn’t just have virgin beaches, turquoise waters and palm tree-lined shores, it’s also home to some amazing sea life! Being primarily a surfing beach, the waves make snorkelling close to the shore rather difficult. The surfers and waves also churn up a lot of sand, making visibility very low. However, if you persevere through the initial waves, or if you take out a boat to the deeper waters, you will be rewarded with a colourful underwater dream world. As the reefs in this area are purely volcanic rock and not coral, you can see some extremely unusual wildlife. Wrasses, snappers, giant surgeonfish, starfish, scorpion fish and even a few octopi call this unique black reef home.
La Flor is also a turtle nesting zone, and some turtle species are present in the waters all year round. If you’re visiting Nicaragua between October and December, then you can see the amazing turtle migration, where thousands of turtles all enter La Flor beach.
If you fancy a little break from your salty snorkel adventures, then you can head on over to one of the freshwater crater lakes created by the impressive Apoyeque volcano. Nicaragua has two main volcanic crater lakes, Apoyo and Xiloá. Although Apoyo has some amazing endemic cichlid fish species, it’s no where near as interesting or easily accessible as the vibrant lake Xiloá. During the months of November and December, you can see thousands of incredibly bright and colourful fish species in Lake Xiolá, 10 of which are still undescribed species. What makes this lake even more appealing, is that it’s only a short drive away from Managua, making it the perfect place for a unique snorkelling day out.
The stunning Pearl Cays are an archipelago containing 22 colourful coral cays. This protected area is the stuff of tropical dreams, with the white sand beaches, glistening warm water and shady palm trees, you will be snorkelling in absolute paradise. Getting to the Pearl Cays requires a leisurely boat trip from Pearl Lagoon, but the views make the journey worth it. You can see playful dolphins diving along side the boat, the coral rubble rushing by below and the picturesque islands growing in the distance.
Due to the extremely calm and clear water, this area is perfect for both the avid snorkeler and the absolute beginner. Expect to see giant green sea turtles, starfish, nurse sharks, parrot fish and manta rays swimming along as you explore this amazing underwater world. The coral rubble also provides the ideal habitat for some interesting invertebrates. Giant conch, anemones, sea cucumbers and sea fans are very abundant in the Pearl Cays.