17 Top Nicaragua Packing List Items for 2020 + What to Wear & NOT to bring

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Updated on May 11, 2020 by Asher Fergusson

Nicaragua is Central America’s largest country, with borders on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Renowned for its stunning landscape, Nicaragua is brimming with lakes, beaches, and volcanoes. From the rich Latin American culture to the Spanish colonial influence in the major cities, Nicaragua is a destination no traveler will want to miss.

Check out this must-read Nicaragua Packing List, which will also touch on what to wear in Nicaragua, what NOT to bring, and other useful frequently asked questions.

What to Pack for Nicaragua – 17 Essentials


1. Packing Cubes

Keep organized with these color-coded packing cubes! With the wide variety of clothing needed for Nicaragua’s many activities, these cubes will help you access exactly what you’re looking for quickly and easily. These are great because they come in different fun, bright colors and space to write what’s inside each cube.

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aqua packing cubes

2. Activated Charcoal

In Nicaragua you will no doubt be tempted to try all the delicious local cuisine. However, your body may not be used to the country’s spices, ingredients, and germs which could potentially cause a problem. Activated charcoal will quickly absorb and expel any toxins in your system to keep you out and enjoying your adventure instead of locked away in your hotel room with an upset stomach.

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activated charcoal

3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

virtual private networkWhen traveling anywhere, it is essential to have a reliable VPN. Protect your passwords, credit card information, and identity from potential hackers when connecting to WiFi in public spaces, such as airports, hotels, and cafes. A VPN is also useful for connecting to websites from your home country that may not be available in the country you’re traveling to.

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4. Neck Wallet

Be sure to keep your valuables safe and secure by wearing this handy neck wallet underneath your clothes. We love this one because it’s large enough to hold your passport, smartphone, credit cards, and cash. A neck wallet is great for helping you to stay organized and keeping your valuables out of reach for pickpockets. Keep yourself from being a target of petty theft by packing this incomparably useful item.

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neck wallet

5. Quick Dry Towel

With so many water-based activities available to you, you will definitely need a compact towel that can be folded up and tossed in your daypack. Most budget accommodations like hostels do not provide towels for showering, or charge a rental fee. Save money and be prepared for anything by bringing one of these.

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6. Sun Protection

Nicaragua is full of beautiful beaches (two coast lines!), breathtaking greenery and hiking opportunities. Needless to say, you will want to protect yourself from the intense rays of the tropical sun while you’re there. Make sure to wear waterproof sunscreen, a sun hat, and sunglasses.

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7. Windproof Travel Umbrella

This area of Central America is no stranger to the occasional burst of rain, especially near Rio San Juan. A good windproof travel umbrella will definitely come in very handy during your time spent in Nicaragua. This one is great because it’s compact, easy to carry, and will keep you dry and comfortable throughout your trip even if it’s super windy.

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8. Hiking Boots

Outdoor adventuring calls for a good pair of hiking shoes. Waterproof boots are best, in case you want to trek trails like the Aguas Frescas on the Rio San Juan. Make sure the shoes you pack provide you with ample ankle support, as you may find yourself hiking up a volcano or two!

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9. Athletic Clothing

To get a real taste of Nicaragua, you’re going to have to work for it – hiking, surfing and climbing are popular ways to experience the country! For all of your active endeavors, make sure to pack a few workout tops, sports bras, athletic shorts or capri leggings.

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10. Swimsuit

A swimsuit is an absolute must-bring for any trip to Nicaragua. We recommend bringing two to be sure you’ll always have a dry one. This swimsuit is great because it stays put so you can swim, scuba dive, jog along the beach or even trek through the jungle in comfort and style.

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11. International Power Adapter

Though Nicaragua uses 110 volt electricity and the same two-pronged flat outlets as are used in the United States, if you’re coming from another location or your device uses three prongs, you’ll want to be prepared with an international power adapter. This one will cover you in nearly every region of the world and comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee!

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HERO International power adapter

12. Travel Insurance for Nicaragua

With so many opportunities for adventure in Nicaragua, you’ll want to make sure you’re covered in case of emergency. Something you never think about until you need it, travel insurance is a must-have when traveling abroad. We love World Nomads because they’ll cover the costs for medical expenses, stolen items, lost luggage, and flight cancellations if necessary.

View their plans at WorldNomads.com ➜

World Nomads Logo

13. GoPro

A waterproof GoPro camera is the perfect tool for capturing the intense beauty of Nicaragua. Whether you’re soaking up the sun at Playa Maderas, or admiring the view at Laguna de Apoyo, a GoPro is exactly what you need for your trip. It’s waterproof, compact, and nearly indestructible.

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14. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

If you plan to use your smartphone for photos, navigation, or translations, a small, portable charger will be incredibly useful should you run out of battery at an inconvenient time. An external battery pack can really be a lifesaver when you need it most, particularly if you’re lost or don’t speak the local language.

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15. Daypack

In Nicaragua, you’ll definitely want to bring along a reliable daypack. From hiking to beach days, be sure you have everything you need in an easy to carry pack. This one is well-designed, large enough to hold your water bottle, rain coat, beach towel, camera, and anything else you might need during a day spent exploring.

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16. Waterproof Sandals

For less intense hikes, jungle treks to waterfalls or quick jaunts to the beach, bring along some sturdy waterproof sandals like these Chacos. These can be worn at any time on your trip and will prove infinitely useful no matter the activity. If you’ve only got space for one pair of shoes, let these be it.

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17. Sarong

A lightweight sarong in a bright or neutral color is something that you will likely put to use every day of your Nicaraguan adventure. It can be worn as a coverup on your way to the beach or a shawl when you’re out at night. It can double as a beach blanket or keep you warm on a long bus or plane ride. This versatile item is a must-pack when visiting Nicaragua.

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sarong
 

Don’t forget these other items for a Nicaragua vacation:


 

What to wear in Nicaragua


The dress code in Nicaragua is typically very casual, although the Nicaraguan people generally look put-together while in public. Popular tourist cities like Granada and Leon are still relatively conservative, so be mindful of the length of your short shorts!

Be sure to pack swimsuits, tank tops, loose shorts, cover ups and sundresses. Sturdy sandals are a must and don’t forget to bring comfortable walking shoes! A tropical Central American country, you can expect hot, humid weather year round, so leave your heavy winter coat at home.

What should WOMEN wear in Nicaragua? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).










sandals


Be mindful of the local culture by avoiding skimpy clothing in the bigger cities and when visiting churches. Swimsuits and coverups are the norm on the beach and islands, and shorts and tank tops will work for hiking and athletic endeavors. Generally you’ll want to keep clothing loose and breezy, and bring at least one nicer dress or top for evenings out. Leave expensive jewelry at home.

What should MEN wear in Nicaragua? – (Click to expand)

Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).
mens polo tshirt












You’ll typically find Nicaraguan men wearing long pants and button-down shirts in public, especially in the cities. However, shorts and t-shirts are great for the beach and outdoor adventures. In general, casual and versatile clothing such as t-shirts, shorts, polos and swimwear should be the main staples for men when visiting Nicaragua.

Nicaragua has a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons, which are often referred to by locals as “winter” and “summer”. That said, the weather remains hot and humid year round, with temperatures typically in the 70s°F (21°C) and 80s°F (27.5°C) regardless of the season. Dry season is a bit shorter, running from December to May, and wet season lasts from June to November.

Dry Season – December, January, February, March, April, May:

Nicaragua’s dry season is the most popular time for tourists to visit the country. The season consists of hot, humid weather with majority sunny days. However, you can still expect the occasional tropical rain shower. Be prepared for the heat with loose fitting clothing, shorts, t-shirts, and swimwear, as well as a lightweight rain jacket and umbrella for unexpected bouts of rain.

Wet Season – June, July, August, September, October, November:

During wet season you can expect a good amount of rain, so be prepared with a rain coat and reliable umbrella. Though there will be less days of sunshine, expect the weather to remain warm and tropical throughout the season. You won’t need to pack your heavy winter coat, and you’ll want to leave wool sweaters and materials that are slow to dry at home.

How to dress for different activities in Nicaragua – (Click to expand)

Hiking and Adventuring – If you have any outdoor activities or tours planned during your vacation, make sure you pack accordingly. Bring comfortable walking or hiking shoes, and waterproof, athletic clothing. Keep your options open in case you want to climb a volcano, scale coastal cliffs, or go surfing!

Exploring Volcanoes – Hiking up volcanoes is a popular activity in Nicaragua, as is Volcano Boarding at Cerro Negro! Bring athletic clothing, a pair of good hiking shoes, and a headlamp in case you want to summit in time to watch an epic sunrise.

Water Activities and Surfing – The sky’s the limit for water activities in Nicaragua. Think snorkeling, diving, fishing, paddle boarding, and especially surfing. Pack a couple of swimsuits and don’t forget sunscreen!

Sightseeing – With plenty to see and explore all over the country, you will certainly be doing your fair share of sightseeing in Nicaragua. Bring comfortable clothing, walking shoes, sunglasses, a daypack, and always check the weather before you leave your hotel, hostel or airbnb.

What NOT to bring to Nicaragua:


1) 🚫 DON’T PACK a Winter Coat: With a year round tropical climate, you won’t have much occasion to wear your winter coat or heavy sweaters. Instead, opt for lightweight and waterproof clothing to keep you cool and dry during both the wet and dry seasons.

2) 🚫 DON’T BRING too many items in your backpack: The lighter you pack the more comfortable you’ll feel. Only bring the essentials, as you’ll likely be able to find anything you need or a good alternative in the country itself. Plus, you’ll be left with more space in your luggage to bring home fun local finds and souvenirs.

3) 🚫DON’T TAKE Lots of Cash: ATMs are plentiful in Nicaragua so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take out more cash when you need it. Consider bringing an ATM or credit card that doesn’t charge international fees. Having less cash on you at any given time will also help to make you less of a target for petty theft and pickpockets.

4) 🚫 DON’T PACK Unnecessary Valuables: Things can get lost on the road, and there’s always some risk of theft when traveling anywhere. Unless it’s a true necessity, like your smartphone or kindle, leave your expensive jewelry and other valuables at home.

What clothing should I NOT wear in Nicaragua? – (Click to expand)

As Nicaragua has a tropical climate and you can expect warm, humid weather year round, don’t bring a winter coat or heavy sweaters as you won’t be needing them. Avoid wearing wool, cotton, or materials that don’t dry quickly, as you will likely experience rain during your time spent in Nicaragua.

If you plan to visit the big cities, it is advisable to dress a bit more conservatively to fit in with the locals. Don’t show too much skin and dress respectfully when entering churches or religious sites. Leave flashy jewelry and accessories at home to avoid making yourself a target for pickpockets and petty theft.

FAQs about traveling in Nicaragua


1. What currency is used in Nicaragua?

The country’s national currency is the Nicaraguan córdoba. That said, US dollars are also widely accepted throughout the country. Though many higher-end restaurants, hotels, and shops will almost always accept major credit cards, particularly those located in more touristy areas, be prepared to deal mostly in cash in Nicaragua. Local vendors at markets and shops from coast to coast will prefer small bills in the local currency.

2. Is the tap water safe to drink in Nicaragua?

Tap water is not considered safe to drink in Nicaragua. Stick to bottled water, or bring a reusable water bottle with a built-in filter. Avoid eating lukewarm soups or drinking juices made with the local tap water.

3. When is the best time to visit Nicaragua?

Nicaragua can be comfortably explored nearly year-round. Dry season runs from December through May, which is when you’ll experience plenty of sunny days and warm sunshine. On Nicaragua’s Caribbean coastline, however, you may experience a tropical shower at any time throughout the year. Nicaragua’s wet season officially begins at the end of May.

4. What type of adapter do I need to bring to Nicaragua?

Nicaragua uses 110 volt electricity, which is the same as in the US. Plugs are typically the 2 pronged flat type so US travelers will not typically need a plug adapter (unless your device requires 3 prongs).

5. Which languages are spoken in Nicaragua?

The official language of Nicaragua is Spanish, however, Nicaraguans on the Caribbean coast speak a variety of indigenous languages as well. English is widely spoken in touristy areas throughout the country, though it is spoken less in the more rural areas. Learning a few basic phrases in Spanish will be infinitely helpful when traveling in Nicaragua and will help endear you to the locals as well.