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Costa Rica vs Nicaragua: A must-read comparison for travelers

by | Feb 3, 2020 | Costa Rica vs Nicaragua, Ecotourism, Nicaragua

Are you dreaming about the pristine beauty of Central – America, with its lush jungles, magnificent volcanoes, marvelous beach scenes and diverse wildlife? You might be thinking about Costa Rica when envisioning your dream destination, but have you ever considered its neighbor Nicaragua for your next unforgettable travel experience.

Sloth mom and baby in a natural park in the south of Nicaragua

Discover our top five main reasons why Nicaragua is your travel dream coming true


1. Costa Rica vs Nicaragua: The beaches , waves & biodiversity

All beaches are not created equal. But Costa Rica and Nicaragua share both a Pacific and Atlantic coastline and so in this case beaches are created equal. Whereas the Gulf of Fonseca creates a stark break in the coast between Nicaragua and El Salvador, and Costa Rica’s southern border with Panama doesn’t share the coastal qualities that tourists flock to in the central and northern regions, much of Nicaragua’s south-Pacific coast is a carbon copy of Costa Rica’s busiest tourism beaches, minus the excess of people .

Costa Rica is well known as an ecotourism destination to find quiet beaches and lush jungles, while it is Nicaragua that actually has the largest rainforest of Central-America (home to 7 % of the worlds biodiversity!). Costa Rica and Nicaragua are two beautiful places with jaw-dropping beaches and friendly locals. But if you’re looking to enjoy the marvelous sunsets, immersed in nature, while surfing uncrowded breaks, you’ll have a much easier time finding that in Nicaragua.

Natural Immersion in to the untouched jungle of Nicaragua

2. Costa Rica vs Nicaragua: Safety First

Both Nicaragua and Costa Rica are quite safe destinations, especially when one uses some travel sense. The violent crime rates in both nations are less than many North American states and cities, but they are significantly lower in Nicaragua than in Costa Rica. In the tension between this safe reality on the ground and the perception of danger online and in many of our perceptions is a hidden gem – a Costa Rica as experienced by its early discoverers – ready to be found by those willing to stretch beyond the powerful confines of group thought. A bit of history helps uncover some of the layers.

Nicaragua has had a troubled history with the United States government ever since the U.S.-appointed dictator who ruled Nicaragua for 40 years was overthrown in 1979. Media and public perceptions thus sensationalize any danger o unrest in the country. Although the political tensions subsided in 1989, and Nicaragua’s violent crime rate is significantly lower than Costa Rica’s , it took 15 years for tourists to begin visiting. More recently, social unrest in areas far removed from the country’s prime Pacific tourism beaches led to a media frenzy in North America. This led to fewer tourists but created an ideal situation for travelers seeking pristine beaches and authentic natural and cultural vacations: even fewer travelers, better value and local hosts as grateful as ever to show off their peaceful and beautiful land and culture.


3. Costa Rica vs Nicaragua: Local connections and culture

Many people vacation simply as an escape to a busy North American urban life. Most of us need this at some point in our lives. We want a beach, sun, margaritas, a cozy bed and not much else. The standard tourism cycle reflects the power of this need. Early in the cycle, a place is discovered by adventurers for its natural, social and cultural purity. In the middle of the cycle, word of this grows and more people visit because of these purities. Eventually, people visit not because of the purities but because it’s popular.

Feel the amazing vibe of locals and tourists sharing the world’s best sunsets


Nicaragua does not have any fast food chain food and a lot of healthy and fresh, vegan/vegetarian options. Another of the benefits of Nicaragua’s slower tourism curve is that the tremendous hospitality experiences are delivered in a distinctly Nicaraguan way. Connections are genuinely made with tourists not because they are tourists but because they are human and because the people genuinely want to share and connect with other cultures and people.


4. Costa Rica vs Nicaragua : Value for money

Nicaragua and Costa Rica share much more than a border that spans from coast to coast. The wildlife, ocean activities, and available eco-wellness experiences are similar among the two countries. Plopped at random in either country, one might have a hard time identifying which country they were in. The clearest difference is price, where Nicaragua is about twice as cheap as Costa Rica.

Like Costa Rica, Nicaragua has a range of tourism infrastructure, from budget to 5-star resorts. All expenses factored a backpacker’s vacation at a busy beach-town in Costa Rica will likely end up costing similar to an all-inclusive eco-retreat experience at a private, pristine beach in Nicaragua. Matched for value a Nicaragua experience will exceed your price – value expectations and will be considerably more affordable. This allows many travelers who choose Nicaragua to stay longer and experience more of what they’re looking for in a Central American vacation.

Foto of Escameca beach in Nicaragua, with Costa Rica in the background.

5. Costa Rica vs Nicaragua: Getting to the best parts of the country by airfare

Liberia’s International Airport is Central America’s busiest airport for beach seekers. It’s only 75 kilometers from the border with Nicaragua. Since many of Nicaragua’s best beaches are in the south of the country, close to that border, by looking at possible destinations there a traveler opens up to nearly double the potential beaches within the Liberia airport catchment area. And, since most beach travelers who de-board at Liberia head to a select few beaches in Costa Rica, those who expand their horizon ever so slightly have access to some of the most pristine and tranquil beach experiences that are difficult to find on the Costa Rican side. Many resorts in Nicaragua arrange a transfer directly from the airport in Liberia to their front door, which takes only an hour more than a trip to one of the nearest by Costa Rican beaches.

Read more reviews and experiences of your fellow travelers here!

Don’t book the Central America yoga retreat the pictures sell you on. Book the one your mind envisions.

Inquire now to book the Central American yoga retreat your mind imagines, watching whales during meditation and listening to nothing but the precious sounds of nature.






The Best Surfing Spots in Nicaragua

Nicaragua vs Costa Rica – which one should I travel to?

4. To be present

The most rewarding and probably hardest skill to master: the act of presence. We can be so caught up by fear of the future or regret of the past, that we can no longer find a connection at the moment. Connecting your mind and body in the present moment through breathing will make you more present in your daily life, in your job, and when connecting with your loved ones.

The beautiful, natural scenery of a getaway yoga retreat will contribute to that presence and stimulate you to let go of all that is not here and to focus solely on yourself in the here and now.


5. To train your mind

A big part of our reality finds its origin in the quality of our minds and thoughts. Although you can’t prevent certain thoughts from entering the mind, yoga and meditation will provide you with the right tools to reframe your mind and reality in a positive way.

New cultures, new people, new teachings, will open and strengthen your mind from day-to-day. Opening your body and mind simultaneously will inevitably open your hearts as well and new ways of living will become apparent.


6. To overcome your fear of change

Trying new things can be challenging, given the fact that growing and learning often implies making mistakes first. The first classes you’ll teach, you’ll probably be happy they are over and nobody got injured or hurt. It’s only after some time that we can really get to enjoy the art teaching itself.

Being confronted with our fears -and therefore the self-rejection that is most scary- helps us to overcome them and to become more compassionate towards ourselves. Trying new things and embracing the change is a great way to look at and grow into your life experiences.

Flying into a new and exotic country solo definitely can be scary as well! But no great growth was ever achieved without fear first. Embrace the feeling, as you embrace the process itself. You won’t regret it!

7. To be you – authentically

Being alone, in a new environment, doing yoga, will confront you with yourselves and the things that are holding you back to becoming the best and most happy version of yourself.

Learn what holds you back and discover a new definition of freedom. Freedom that is not about moving freely physically, but about entering a new state of mind.

When you travel into a whole new environment like Costa Rica or Nicaragua, you’ll discover that you don’t have to pretend anything for anyone, since you know no-one. In our daily lives, we are used to having certain roles (at work, partner, parent, son/daughter,…), that it is hard to find our authentic personality behind it. Yoga will get you there, finding and accepting who you are, to share it authentically with the world.


8. To experience the impact of positive people

Could it be that you have toxic, negative people in your life without knowing it? People that choose a YTT are people that want to work on themselves, to be better and more connected. As soon as you know how liberating it feels to connect to the right people, you will no longer get your energy stolen by negative ‘energy-consuming’ people.

Especially during an intensive Yoga Teacher Training, you’ll be sharing deeply with others get to experience the bubble of positivity that other, like-minded -like – energy – people bring. Besides, the cross-cultural vibe of the YTT, will give you a new in-depth understanding of your own culture, habits, and thoughts and support your personal path of growth even more.


9. Make an impact on the planet

A big part of the yoga journey – which is definitely not only about the physical- is about the spiritual part and moreover our connection with others and the world as a whole in our ‘dharma’ or calling. It is about discovering our strengths and developing/using them to create a greater impact on the whole.

Given our current understanding of global warming and environmental change, you might not find it logical to see a long-distance flight as making a positive impact. Luckily, there are YTT’s – such as the Costa Dulce Yoga Teacher Training- that allow you to offset your footprint and contribute to reforesting and preservation projects by your visit. Win-Win, since both you and your surroundings will flourish by your visit.


10. To switch career

Yoga is an excellent way to work and make money while doing the thing you love most (either full- or part-time).

If you’re looking to make a career switch, but you’re not sure in what direction … The YTT will give you the confidence and tools to embrace any change. Or do you have a traveling soul? Then traveling opens up endless opportunities to work and live abroad while making a positive change in the lives of others.

In-between jobs and not sure where to go? A YTT abroad is the excellent getaway from your daily work worries into yourself and your true path/ journey. It can be an excellent start of a long journey, not only discovering more about yourself but about the world as well.

Please share with us your thoughts, experiences, or questions with/ about (immersive) Yoga Teacher Training! Or haven’t done training yet? Discover the unique, small-group YTT at Costa Dulce (max. 10 participants). We would love to hear from you!






Why do yoga teacher training if you don’t want to teach?


Written by Ann Schreppers





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Yoga is a crucial element of our life here at Costa Dulce since it is the foundation of the holistic lifestyle we embody. Yoga and wellness is the key to take care of ourselves, our surroundings, and the people we love. Learn more about our Yoga Program.

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Costa Dulce provides the perfect opportunity to learn how to surf. This is your chance! Nicaragua is a great place to learn but many try and do it at the crowded and more popular surf breaks. Learn more about our Surf Program.

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