The laguna de Apoyo, in the Southwest quadrant of Nicaragua, is a must see if you are spending some time in that region, or plan to go through Nicaragua. It is an ideal very relaxing day trip, of weekend trip, or even more if you feel like it. You will be amazed by the beauty of the location !
Why you will want to go there
Note that this title is not a question, as «would you like to go to this laguna ?» could have been. I am positive, you will want to head over there.
What Laguna de Apoyo is
First of all, let me just begin by introducing you to the laguna de Apoyo. Straddling the regions of Granada and Masaya in Southwest Nicargua, the laguna de Apoyo is what could be refered as a lake in a crater. It was created thousands of years ago following a volcanic erruption, and progressively filled with water. As incredible as this may seem, it is one of the most pleasant and most beautiful lake I have ever seen so far. The lake surface area approximates seven square kilometers (a little under three square miles). Therefore, it really is a large body of water.
The whole thing is surrounded by green coverd mountains, in a way that you cannot see any construction from a neighboring city. The water is very clear, as blue as the sky, fact that contributes to the enoyable feeling of isolation and calm of the location. Also, very important point, it is not too warm. If you have spent some time in Nicaragua, or, really, any country of Central America, you know how hot and humid the atmosphere is. I found myself to find the Pacific water in some places to be not fresh enough. Laguna de Apoyo is cold enough to give you a nice chill as you enter the water, but still very pleasant, not anything like a cold mountain stream, of course.
What you can do there
Still not convinced ? You want more ? Let us see what you can do there then.
The first attraction of this place is of course the water. Clear, beautiful, fresh, it is one of the best spot around here to swim. A whole part of the shore of the laguna is occupied by small resorts, little hotels that each one have their own private piece of beach. You will need to pay around USD 5 to enter any of these places, but once in you will have access to a range of services and activities. The fact that the beach is private for every resort makes it a really clean one. Beach chairs, but also tables, back from the water, where you can sip your Nica libre while taking a sunbath, or if you prefer in the freshness of the shade, while a light breeze blows.
You indeed have access to a bar, the cocktails are very cheap compared to northern countries, from USD 1.5 to 4/5, for the most expensive ones. Be careful though, their tab system where you just need to show a card to order something, and you pay when you leave, can be dangerous. You can order food as well. From salads to hot meals, there is choice.
The resorts also offer kayaks in self-service. They have around 5 or 6 of these, both singles and doubles, which is often sufficient compared to the number of guests. Life jackets and paddles are also available. All of this is included in the entrance fee.
Some of the resorts also have table tennis tables, and areas to play pétanques (also known as boules or lawn bowling).
Some of the hotels also offer the opportunity to dive or snorkel in the laguna (for a fee of course), which is said to be an amazing and beautiful experience, in phase with the quietness and natural beauty of the place.
Most of the resorts have WiFi, air conditioning and a laundry room, if you decide to stay a night (or more) there. Check out this link for a list of the hotels, and a link to their homepage for more.
How to get there
Now that I am sure you will want to spend at least a day to the laguna de Apoyo, let’s see how you can go there.
The laguna de Apoyo is less than an hour away from Managua. From the capital city, head to Masaya. Stay on this road (Carratera Masaya) past Masaya, heading to Granada. At kilometer 3.7, take a right turn. After about 15 minutes, you will only be able to take a left or a right. Go right, and take the next left onto the road descending to the laguna. From there you can choose to stop at whichever hotel you wish.
From Granada, you can take every bus heading to Masaya, and ask the bus driver (or the person who is in charge of collecting the fares) to stop at La laguna de Apoyo, or La entrada de la laguna. It takes about half an hour. Buses are running both ways every 30 minutes or so. You can ask at the hotel at what time the last bus back to Granada. There, a couple of taxis are always waiting for tourists heading to the laguna. You can take one for approximately USD 4/5. Watch out as they will first give you a much higher price.
You can also decide to take a taxi directly in Granada all the way to the waterfront. This should cost you around USD 10/15 and take about half an hour. Be ready to bargain !
There are direct buses in Mayasa to the waterfront of the laguna, leaving at the Masaya market. Watch out for one reading «La Laguna» on the front window, or just ask anybody around (taxi drivers might not be the most honest ones because they want you to use their service). The ride takes about an hour.
For more detailed instructions on how to get there, follow this link.
It is best to go to the laguna during weekdays as less people will be there, but it is definitely not over crowded during weekends either.
I hope this will have given you a good insight on what to expect, and will have made you want to take a day off there !