Laguna de Apoyo, one of the most extraordinary places you’ll ever take a swim! Here’s all you need to know about a visit to this beautiful crater lake.
About Laguna de Apoyo
The stunning Laguna de Apoyo is located in the Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve between the Granada and Masaya, in western Nicaragua. At depths of up to 200m, this sapphire blue crater lake lies in the volcanic crater of the extinct Apoyo Volcano. Encircled by the lush green vegetation of the surrounding tropical dry forest of the reserve, it really is picture-perfect.
Things to do at Laguna de Apoyo
Most budget travellers head to the backpacker friendly resorts on the western side of the lake. Popular options are Monkey Hut, Hostel Paradiso and the Laguna Beach Club. We were no different, opting to base ourselves at the eco friendly Laguna Beach Club. All three places cater for day trips and multi-night stays, with endless activities on offer for guests.
The alluring clean water of the lake is what brings guests here! Like most people, we spent the majority of our time in or on the water. Not only is Laguna de Apoyo beautiful, but it’s heated by natural thermal vents which makes swimming here, a truly unique experience. It’s even suggested that the volcanic minerals found in the water have health benefits. A winning combination in our opinion!
Paddle boarding & kayaking
Laguna Beach Club had free use of paddle boards and kayaks, so you can get further out on the lake too. As the lake’s in a protected area, no motorised boats are allowed. So going for a paddle whether by kayak or board, is an ideal way to explore the lake and burn off a few calories! It really was great fun just paddling around and the perfect place to try either activity. The warm water means even novice paddle boarders need not worry about losing their balance and taking a dip.
Relax & chill
After months of non-stop travelling it was actually quite nice to just sit still, relax and reflect. Sometimes we just need to remember how fortunate we are and how amazing it is to travel the world and see places like this. The swimming platform was an awesome spot to chill and just take it all in. When, or if you ever tire of being out on the lake, there are hammocks and sun loungers to relax on and a full bar to buy a cocktail or Toña Cerveza or two.
Things to see at Laguna de Apoyo
Declared a nature reserve in 1991, Laguna de Apoyo has a wealth of flora and fauna. Commonly seen mammals include the Variegated Squirrel, White-Faced Capuchins and the Golden-Mantled Howler Monkey. The latter are often heard rather than seen and almost never leave the safety of the trees. In fact, some may never touch ground during their lifetime! But, over recent years Golden-Mantled Howler numbers have increased significantly here and at Laguna de Apoyo, you can often see them at very close range. They often come down to feed in the fruit trees close to the lakes edge in the mornings and evenings. During our visit, a troop ventured down and had a good feed in the Mango trees around Laguna Beach Club for their breakfast.
There’s over 200 recorded species of birds here. These include various Hummingbirds, Toucans, Long-tailed Manakins and the Ringed Kingfisher that kept whizzing past us. One of the most common and certainly one of the prettiest birds found here is the Turquoise-browed Motmot. It’s the national bird of Nicaragua and the locals call it ‘Guardabarranco’, which translates to ‘Ravine Guard’. It’s easily distinguished by its two long tail feathers with large rackets at the end of the rachis and they don’t tend to be too camera shy!
For epic views over the lake head up to Mirador de Catarina (Catarina Viewpoint). You can drive (paid parking), bus or walk to this viewpoint. Grab a maps from the resorts if you’re keen to hike. From the Mirador, there’s also the small circular trail – Sendero Los Mangos (US$2).
The knock-on effect from the civil unrest we talk about in our Granada blog, meant that there were practically no other tourists at the lake. We almost had the resort completely to ourselves during our visit. It really was a great spot and in retrospect, an overnight stay and a couple of days to explore would have been brilliant. It really was our sort of place and we loved our day-trip here.
Getting to/from & around
Laguna de Apoyo is approximately 25 minutes drive from Granada and is surrounded by various resort style accommodation. You can visit the lake as part of a day trip or visit independently.
The easiest way to visit Laguna de Apoyo is to arrange a day trip. This should include return transport and entrance to a resort and should cost around C$500 p/p (approx US$15 p/p).
Visiting the lake independently is also an option. You can easily book direct with the various resorts and travel here by bus or taxi.
There are no direct buses from from Granada, but there are from Masaya.
Take any local bus from Granada to Masaya or to Managua (most buses go via the lake entrance). Buses depart roughly every 30 minutes and let the steward know you’re going to the lake ‘La entrada de la laguna’ before you get on the bus. Jump off at the entrance of the lake – the steward will usually tell you when to get off. From there you will need to either:
- Walk downhill to the lake. This may take an hour or so depending on where you are heading
- Wait for a passing bus that can take you further (not so regular)
- Catch a taxi to the resort you are going to
Expect to pay around C$500 for a taxi one way. Only really a viable budget option if sharing the taxi with other travellers.
Laguna Beach Club day passes costs US$6 per person + 15% tax. You can book directly here. Day passes are valid between 9am-3pm only. Accommodation is also available if you want to stay overnight. Click here for prices.
When to visit
Laguna de Apoyo, like the rest of Nicaragua, has two distinct seasons – a dry and a wet. The dry season falls from December through April and is the most popular time to visit. The wet season falls from the end of April through to early November.
May and November are considered ‘shoulder’ season months and can be good months to visit. There’s less crowds, cheaper accommodation and only occasional rain.
During the dry season, the waters of Laguna de Apoyo can often be quite rough and choppy. In contrast the lake is at its calmest and the surrounding forest is at its most green and lush in the wet season. For a month-by-month weather breakdown for Laguna de Apoyo click here for a detailed article by Apoyo Lodge.
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