The view from your hammock can vary wildly in Nicaragua. It may be of a lush jungle island, a turquoise Caribbean shore, a green sandy lagoon with a volcano in the background, or a beautiful colonial archway with intricate Spanish tiles. Whatever it is, you're guaranteed one constant: peace and tranquility in what is Central America's largest and safest country. It is hard to believe that Nicaragua's recent history has been one of war, rebellion, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and devastating hurricanes. This country is so fully on the mend and experiencing an energetic and colorful renaissance, that it couldn't be more primed to be discovered by travelers.
This land of poetry and poverty, murals and martyrs, is located on the lower elbow joint of the Central American isthmus. Honduras borders it to the north and Costa Rica to the south. Its landscape varies greatly from the volcanic lowlands along the Pacific to the impenetrable swampland of its Caribbean coast, with misty mountain highlands in between. It is dominated by two large lakes that are in turn dominated by volcanic peaks towering above the waterline. It is a land of coffee, tobacco, and banana plantations. Despite being the second-poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, its people are proud, educated, and passionate about literature and art. It is the birthplace of Rubén Darío -- a giant of Spanish poetry -- and the location of a vibrant art scene based around the primitive paintings of the Solentiname Archipelago.
If you're after fun and adventure, you can surf the rum-and-sunshine town of San Juan del Sur or hike the jungle paradise of Miraflor nature reserve; or choose between visiting the misty mountain retreats of the Northern Highlands versus the white, deserted beaches of the Caribbean Corn Islands. But people are not just coming here to kick back but also to give back. The country has a profusion of volunteering opportunities, from helping street kids in Granada to rehabilitating wildlife on Ometepe Island. Wherever and however you decide to visit the country, know that Nicaragua's fascinating history and character will surely make an impression on you -- as will those glorious views from your hammock.