Mini Guidebook: Masaya

>> Saturday, October 11, 2008

There was once a plan to create a guidebook for new volunteers by volunteers but like most great ideas here it never really materialized. I spent some time writing this, though, so I thought I'd share it with the Internet.

Masaya, Nicaragua
  • To here: Buses leave constantly from Managua coming here from la UCA, Huembes, and Oriental (UCA is best). You can also get on any other bus that’s going south (Granada, Rivas, etc.) and get off at La Esso. Micros from Managua cost C$13.50 and expresos cost C$10.
  • Around here: Taxis in the city cost C$10.
  • From Here: Big buses leave from the mercado nuevo and travel regionally—Granada, Masaya, Huembes, and Carazo. The best way to get to UCA is to take a bus that leaves from Iglesia San Miguel.

  • Groceries: There’s a Palí facing the central park that usually has most things. You can also look around the mercado nuevo for vegetables and stuff. If you want things that are generally hard to find (Dr. Pepper, Tabasco, Rice Krispies) there’s a store in Nindirí (about a 10 minute bus ride) called Porta’s that has all kinds of stuff imported from the US and Europe.
  • Restaurants: Restaurants are pretty easy to find. The best Nica food option is Asados Emelina that is 2 blocks south of Iglesia San Miguel and ½ block west (about C$100/person). We have a Mexican-ish restaurant called La Jarochita that has decent vegetarian burritos (most dishes are about C$100). From the northeast corner of the central park walk a block and a half north. For less expensive fare, try some of the fritangas/comedors that line Calle Monimbo—in the middle of central park take the road that leads south.
  • Other: My favorite place for bread and such is Repostería Castro. If you’re at the mercado viejo walk one block north past the BAC and turn right. It’s about ½ block on your left. For desert try one of the many Eskimos around or the Homemade ice cream place that’s 1 block east and ½ block south of the park.

Where to Stay
The majority of people traveling through Masaya don’t stay the night here so there’s not a great lineup of hostels to choose from. Most people just stay in Granada, so if you want a place filled with mochileros then go with that. Otherwise, there are some decent options in Masaya that are usually much less crowded.
  • Really Cheap: Hotel Masayita (2 blocks west of Palí) is C$80/person but not exactly the greatest place in town (don’t stay there).
  • Mid-Range: You have to walk through Fruti Fruti smoothie shop to get to Hotel Mi Casa (1/2 block north of La Curacao), but it has a variety of comfortable rooms that range from C$100 for a shared room/bathroom/no A/C to C$400 for a single room/bathroom and A/C. The bar next door can get loud at night, though. Hostal Santa Maria (1/2 block south of the mercado viejo) is nice and quiet and about C$200/person.
  • Carísimo: Hotel Ivania’s is about $35/night and has A/C and cable. It’s nice and is more centrally located than the other hotels in this range. The other nice hotels are on the highway and preclude walking anywhere for anything, so only stay there if you don't mind taxis or if you have a car.

What to Do
  • Coyotepe is an old fort right outside of Masaya that was used by both Somoza and the Sandinistas to hold political prisoners. Besides that depressing use it’s a really nice lookout over the city of Masaya and the surrounding countryside.
  • In front of the baseball stadium in Masaya there's the Malecón that overlooks Laguna de Masaya and the volcano.
  • I’m sure you’ll make it to the markets if you pass through Masaya. The mercado viejo is the place if you’re buying something that’s one-of-a-kind or you want select higher quality things. It is generally about 2-3x the price of the mercado nuevo and for the most part they carry the exact same items. If you start at the central park and walk west you'll first see the old market and then eventually the new market. They're about 5 blocks apart.
  • The Laguna de Apoyo is a great place to spend a day/night swimming and relaxing. There are several hostels that will let you use their stuff for about $5/day or if you want a more upscale place San Simian is farther to travel but the beach is nicer and it’s not at all crowded. You can get there in a bus that leaves a couple of times a day from the market that goes only about 1/2 way down or if you have a group you can get a taxi to take you all the way down there for about C$100 (depending on your bargaining skills).
  • The mirador overlooking the Laguna is also a great place to go. It’s in Catarina about 15 minutes away.
The view of Masaya from Coyotepe:The Castle-like old market is a nice place to browse but you can find almost everything you need in the new market.
The new market is actually the dirtier market but the handicrafts section is pretty well stocked, though.
The Laguna de Apoyo with Volcán Mombacho in the background.
The mirador overlooking the Laguna.


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