Central America & Caribbean
- 6.1 million
Three decades ago Nicaragua – gripped by civil war and rendered a tourism basket case – was a no-go zone. Today, much has changed, and the Central American nation is a picturesque land of peace – the rest of the world, however, hasn’t quite caught on.
While nearby Colombia is emerging from a tumultuous past as a travel hot spot, and neighbouring Costa Rica has long been popular with American tourists, Nicaragua remains blissfully off the radar. Yet the country has so much to offer: rumbling volcanoes ripe for sandboarding, quaint colonial cities, pristine beaches, enviable surf breaks, smiling locals, enchanting cloud forests, and a rich biodiversity that includes animals like toucans, macaws, leopards and even freshwater bull sharks. Home to one of the world’s largest lakes and abundant eco-tourism opportunities (more than 20 per cent of the country is protected), Nicaragua is the kind of place where you can genuinely get off the beaten track. But the winds of change are blowing and it won’t be long before the developers move in, bringing with them the tourist masses. Get there now.