If I asked you to imagine and describe Nicaragua, you’d probably detail a lush, green landscape dotted with volcanoes and beautiful beaches. You’d be correct, but one of my favorite places in Nicaragua isn’t near the beach, nor it it a volcano. Okay, so it’s a crater lake that originated from a volcano, but it doesn’t look like a volcano itself.
Laguna de Apoyo isn’t so much of a secret in Nicaragua, but it’s absolutely one of the country’s most beautiful places. 20,000 years ago, the Volcán Apoyo imploded and filled with both subterranean and rain water, creating a gorgeous crater lake surrounded by greenery with a view of Volcán Mombacho in the distance. It’s the cleanest and deepest lake in Central America and the water is more blue than any lake water I’ve ever seen.
As soon as I stepped off the shuttle bus from Granada and saw the lake for the first time, I knew I was in paradise. Ahead of me, there was nothing but a vast, pristine lake, trees, and mountains in the distance. I knew this stunning lagoon was going to be well worth the visit.
To be honest, there’s not a lot to do in Laguna de Apoyo, but I had one of the best days of my trip in Central America there. The group of new traveler friends I met in Granada and I stayed at one of the lakeside hostels and took advantage of all the water-related activities we could. My favorite? Stand-up paddle boarding – and also just laying on the stand-up paddle board!
Swimming out to the floating dock and looking around me, I couldn’t believe where I was. Laguna de Apoyo was just so peaceful and beautiful. We spent the rest of the day floating around in inner tubes, kayaking, and jumping off the dock into the water. After watching a pretty sunset and a night of playing – and winning – at trivia at the hostel, waking between 5 and 6AM to watch the sunrise was so worth it. Without many businesses nearby and only a few lakeside hostels and hotels, the lake was silent in the early morning. I watched a guest swim out to the floating dock and cats play at the shore as the sun rose above the distant tree line, painting the lake in hues of blue and yellow. The lagoon was completely serene.
There were so many things about Laguna de Apoyo that I loved in the one day I spent there, what I loved most was how clean and clear the water was. It was as if I was swimming in the Mediterranean Sea; it really didn’t look like any lake water I’d ever seen. I could see straight down past my feet into the deep, pretty blue unknown. The lagoon is big enough that it does not feel crowded at all; it felt like my friends and I had the entire hostel lakeside area to ourselves. Located between Granada and Masaya in Nicaragua, Laguna de Apoyo could be a great day trip but would definitely be best discovered and and explored over one or two days. More than anything, it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the nature that Nicaragua has to offer.
So if you ask me what where my favorite places to visit were in Nicaragua, I’d tell you San Juan del Sur was fun for surfing and the beach, Isla de Ometepe is fantastic for bicycle riding and volcanic views, but Laguna de Apoyo was the best place to go for a quiet time away from the many tourists that you can find in other parts of Nicaragua — there are plenty of facts about Nicaragua that tourists should take their time to learn, but the main one is that this country is safe and fun.
Though this hidden gem isn’t such a secret anymore, it still felt like it when I was swimming in the pure, unadulterated waters, surrounded by nothing but nature.