Around Managua

Laguna de Xiloá

There are several volcanic crater lakes close to Managua, some of which have become centres of residential development, with swimming, boating, fishing and picnicking facilities for the public. Among the more attractive of these lakes is Laguna de Xiloá, 16 km from Managua just off the new road to León. On Saturday and Sunday, the only days when buses run, Xiloá gets very crowded. It is quiet during the week and you can camp there, but without public transport you will have to walk or take a taxi. Other lakes within a 45-minute drive of Managua are the
Laguna de Masaya
and
Laguna de Apoyo
.

Museo Las Huellas de Acahualinca

These ancient prehistoric animal and human footprints, preserved in the sedimentary tufa and discovered when stone was being quarried, represent some of the oldest evidence of human occupation in Nicaragua. A museum has been created around the original site and the 6000-year-old footprints have been left as they were found in excavation. The museum also has a small display of ceramic artefacts found at the site and an illustration of the estimated height of the people who made the footprints.

Buses pass the site; look for a concrete tower and a huge stone slab by a small red footbridge. Off the main road there are no signs. If you are driving, take the street that leads west (
abajo
) from the old centre. Turn right immediately before López Richardson; the pavement becomes a dirt road and the museum is on the right.

Mateare and Momotombito

Thirty kilometres northwest of Managua,
Mateare
is a pleasant fishing and agricultural town with some of the finest lake fish in Lake Managua (eat at your own risk). Distanced from the capital by a large peninsula, the lake is much cleaner here than on the Managua side. The fishermen can take you to the small volcanic island of
Momotombito
. The best time of year to visit is during the rainy season, when the island is green and the swell on the lake small. Beware of snakes when hiking around the island. There are other small islands in the shadow of the smoking Momotombo volcano, which appears to loom over the lake from the mainland shore. Momotombito is a nature reserve, and has much bird and reptile life and a legendary family of albino crocodiles. There is a small military outpost on the calm side of the island. Stop there to check in if you wish to hike on the islands. Bring drinks or food as gifts for the (non-uniformed) guards, who are very friendly and usually quite bored. They might take you hiking for a small fee.

Pacific beaches near Managua

There are several beaches on the Pacific coast, about an hour's drive from Managua. Because of their proximity to the capital, they get very crowded during the high season (January to April). The nearest are Pochomil and Masachapa (54 km from Managua, bus
service from terminal in Israel Lewites market).
Pochomil
beach is deserted in the week out of season; it gets cleaner the further south you go, but there are rocks
and strong waves here so swim with care. It is a tourist centre with a few hotels and many
small family-owned restaurants. Don't sleep on the beach or the mosquitoes will eat you alive.

At the entrance to
Masachapa
is the access road to the
Montelimar Resort
. Just before the resort gates is the dirt road to the area's nicest public beach,
Montelimar Gratis
or
El Muelle de Somoza
, a long deserted stretch of clean sand from the Somoza pier to the rocky point that separates the resort from the rest of Masachapa. Take a bus to Masachapa and walk from main highway on the entrance road or drive to the pier, then walk north.

La Boquita
is the nearest beach to the villages south of Managua and is visited by turtles from August to November. Just south of
Casares
(69 km from Managua) are further beaches. Access is a long hike or journey by 4WD and lodging is available.

Heading north from Managua, a visit to the broad sandy
El Velero beach
, is recommended, despite the entry fee and poor road. Facilities are controlled by the
INSSBI
(
Instituto Nicaraguense de Seguridad Social y Bienestar
) for state employees and weekends are fully booked weeks in advance. The beach is beautiful and the sea is ideal for surfing and swimming. To get there, turn off at Km 60 on the old road to León and follow signs.
El Tránsito
is another lovely, undeveloped Pacific beach. Buses from Managua.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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