Updated on May 11, 2020 by Asher Fergusson
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
2. Activated Charcoal
3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)
When 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.
4. Neck Wallet
5. Quick Dry Towel
6. Sun Protection
7. Windproof Travel Umbrella
8. Hiking Boots
9. Athletic Clothing
11. International Power Adapter
12. Travel Insurance for Nicaragua
14. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger
16. Waterproof Sandals
Don’t forget these other items for a Nicaragua vacation:
Hanging Toiletry Bag
Filtered Water Bottle
Swimsuit Cover Up
Tide to-go pen
Hard Copies of Vital Documents
Steripod Toothbrush Cover
Lip Balm with SPF
TSA Approved Travel-Size Bottles
Travel Neck Pillow
ATM or Credit Card with No International Fees
Over the Counter Medications
Aloe Vera Gel
What to wear in Nicaragua
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.