Swimming in the Volcanic Crater Lake of Apoyo
On our way back to the airport from Nicaragua‘s Pacific coast, we broke the journey by spending one night at Laguna de Apoyo (Lake Apoyo), Nicaragua’s largest volcanic crater lake. We had already marvelled at its shiny waters from afar on our tour of Masaya at the beginning of our week. However, with so much to see and do in and around Granada, we never found time to reach its shores. I was thankful for this second chance as swimming in a crater lake seemed a fitting way to complete our week in The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes.
Video: A Day in Lake Apoyo with Kids
Who, What, Where is Lake Apoyo?
Lake Apoyo was formed some 23,000 years ago after the volcano erupted, leaving a vast crater that, over time, filled with water. Sandwiched between Masaya Volcano and the old colonial town of Granada, this scenic lagoon is easy to access by car and is a wonderful place for families to spend the day.
The steep slopes of the caldera are covered in thick jungle and home to an abundance of birds and wildlife including howler monkeys, toucans, hummingbirds, parakeets and butterflies. You may even spy a motmot, Nicaragua’s national bird, that boats the most brilliant blue tail feathers. The glassy lake waters are warm and clear year-round, making it an ideal spot for kayaking and swimming. I should point out, in case anyone was worried, that the Apoyo Volcano is now dormant!
The Best Way to Enjoy Lake Apoyo
There are a number of lakeside restaurants and clubs that offer access to the lake, most of which sit adjacent to each other and charge a small day fee. We based ourselves at Laguna Beach Club for the day as it is affiliated with Pacaya Lodge & Spa, the hotel that we stayed in, and offers its guests a discounted rate of $4 per person, per day, excluding tax. Their full rate is only a couple more dollars at $6 per person, per day, or $3 for children under 12 years.
The day rate includes access to a handful of canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle boards and inflatable donut rings that kept us all happy for hours. Lifejackets are also provided. Also included is access to a floating platform in the lake, a ping-pong table and petanque (a form of boules), as well as WiFi!
The restaurant serves simple, fresh food and we enjoyed their grilled chicken kebabs and bucket-size maracuja smoothies.
If like us, your visit coincides with a National Holiday it’s worth arriving first thing in the morning to secure yourself a spot before the day-trippers start descending around 11am. We also splashed out and upgraded ourselves to the VIP area! For $15 you can secure this shady spot that houses a four-poster double lounge bed with table and chairs. It felt a little indulgent but once the crowds started arriving by the busload, we were very thankful to have our own private space in the shade along with excellent service (our lunch order skipped the long queue for example – so worth the extra when travelling with kids!).
Laguna Beach Club is open from 9am to 3pm daily.
Pacaya Lodge & Spa also plan to open their own exclusive lakeside restaurant soon – watch this space!
Getting To Lake Apoyo
From Granada: 15 minutes by car
From Managua: approx. 30 minutes by car
The little road that runs down to the lake can be accessed from Valle La Laguna. If you are driving, you can find detailed directions here.
Best Family Hotels at Lake Apoyo
Although Lake Apoyo can be visited as a day trip from Granada, it is also a lovely place to base yourself for a night or two. There are a handful of good options for families. The following are ones that we have either visited ourselves or like the look of.
Pacaya Lake Lodge & Spa
We stayed in, and highly recommend, the beautiful Pacaya Lake Lodge & Spa. It occupies a stunning spot at the top of the caldera and offers some of the best views of the lake in the area. It also provides daily shuttle bus rides to the lake.
Note! if you decide to stay at the Pacaya Lodge then globetotting families receive a discount! See here for details.
Laguna Beach Club
For budget travellers, Laguna Beach Club (see above) offers basic accommodation. As we didn’t stay in or see the accommodation during our visit we are unable to vouch for it personally but would be interested to hear from any families who have stayed here. For more details you can visit their website here.
Casa de Sol
Also affiliated with the Laguna Beach Club is Casa de Sol, a fabulous looking 5-bedroom villa on the shores of the lake. Again, I am unable to vouch for it personally but I’d love to hear from anyone who has stayed here as it looks ideal for large families or friends travelling together. For more information, see their website here.
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