Nicaragua

Enjoying Granada As a Solo Female Traveller

June 18, 2016
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I’m quick to admit that Nicaragua wasn’t my jam. The places that I went, weren’t as scenic or as friendly as some of the other countries throughout Central America. And damn, was I uncomfortable! Especially in Granada. I did my research on Granada before I went, but nothing prepared me for how a solo female traveller is treated in this particular area of Nicaragua.

I would never judge other countries about their culture, however the way I was grabbed, touched, yelled out to, hissed at and even had one man run his fingers through my hair, cannot be excused as culture. Being a blonde solo female traveller in Nicaragua, I was definitely a minority to say the least. I of course, did not do anything to encourage this behaviour. I found it difficult and extremely uncomfortable. All of this did put a damper on my stay here. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have. For all you solo female travellers out there passing through Granada, the best advice I could give you – IGNORE IGNORE IGNORE! It goes without saying, do not encourage these men. Even down to a small eye roll can make it worse!

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When I did my research on Granada before I left, I don’t know how many times I read to wear long pants and cover the legs up, as to not encourage these men. Boobs are ok, knees and ankles not so much. I totally agree, however it is fucking hot in Granada. Yep, not just hot – fucking hot!  Where I come from in Australia, it’s tropical and hot all year round. But Granada is something I have never experienced. I felt like I was trapped in some vortex in hell where the fire just doesn’t die down! Seriously, it’s that hot! So, wearing pants as recommended by many other solo female travellers, is just insane! I couldn’t do it! I wore cool long flowing skirts and one day, I just had to go out in shorts. Honestly, it didn’t matter what I was wearing, I got just as much attention wearing shorts as I did a long skirt.

Aside from getting hassled at all angles in Granada, I was able to enjoy some of the sites. The architecture in this small city is beautiful and if you can stand all the unwanted attention, walking the streets can have you uncovering colourful buildings and some surprisingly cute cafes.

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Granada Cathedral & La Merced Church
The Granada cathedral is just beautiful. Located right on the edge of the Central Park, you won’t miss the bright yellow beauty. Inside is nice, although most cathedrals I visited through Central America are all equally as nice. It can feel same same if you have visited a few other cathedrals along the way. It is still worth a quick look inside.

After walking around the La Merced Church at least 3 times, I must of looked like a sad lost little tourist, as some friendly locals pointed out the tiny entrance up to the bell tower. It costs 120 Cordobas ($5) to get up to the bell tower. I thought this was steep until I got up there and discovered the breathtaking view. The 360 degree view is completely diverse, mountains one side, Lake Nicaragua another side and views travelling as far as the eye can see across the small city. The bell sits at one side of the viewing area and you’re not actually allowed to ring it, but oh my gosh is it ever tempting!

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Laguna De Apoyo
This was a much, much needed escape from the streets of Granada. Laguna De Apoyo is roughly a 15 minute drive outside of the hustle and bustle of the city area. There are many companies that do day trips to Laguna De Apoyo. I paid 350 Cordobas ($15) for a round trip to the lake. This got me a lounge chair, a drink, and unlimited use of kayaks and paddle boards at Apoyo Resort and Spa. Make sure you get your butts into the water! It is so gorgeous and surprisingly really warm.

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Va Pues Nicaragua Tours
The Las Isletas – Electric Boat Tour & Zopango Island is only 2 and half hours worth of gliding through the scenic and beautiful Lake Nicaragua. This tour was sweet and simple. If you’re only in Granada for a day or two, I would take the time to once again escape from the city and the see quieter side of Granada. I loved seeing the local fisherman hand fish with such skill in their tiny fishing boats. It was one of those moments, that have you thinking everything you have at home, you take can take for granted. The wild life was incredible. Especially the birds you spot. The birds you see on this tour are just beautiful! I don’t hide the fact that I am going to be one of those old ladies that totally goes bird watching! I am always a sucker for a good view and this tour provided the prettiest I saw through Nicaragua.

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Walk The Streets
Whilst I felt extremely uncomfortable in Granada, and I hated the way I was harassed when I did walk around, the bright side was, I didn’t necessarily feel unsafe. And I do think that a walk around the city is a must. You will discover cute little boutique shops with surprisingly fashionable handmade clothing, markets, street food and hidden book stores.

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Where I Stayed –
Entre Amigos
Right next door to the famous party hostel of Granada, The Bearded Monkey. I chose to stay here purely because I felt I needed somewhere quiet and a big private room for $12 a night was perfect for a rest from dorm rooms!

Where to Eat –
Pure Gym
A little on the outskirts of the main city area, but so worth the walk! It’s is simple healthy homemade food at its finest. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, its when you go in that you find a nice relaxing place to eat and sip on your kombucha. They do lunch and dinner special for $5 and the servings were huge! Make sure you try the vegartian chilli. YUM!

Garden Cafe
I don’t know what these guys are putting in their food, it was amazing. The menu was basic healthy sandwiches, salads, wraps and smoothies. It was on the pricier side and a little out of budget if you are being tight. Well worth it though!

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Note: Thank you to Va Pues Tours, for providing me with The Las Isletas – Electric Boat & Zopango Island Tour! All opinions of my experience are written honestly, and as always, are entirely my own!

Note: Some of the above links are affiliate links, which at no extra cost to you, will earn me a small commission and reduce the costs of running this site. Please know that commission or no commission, I genuinely believe in and highly recommend every product on this page. If you have any questions about these products, please let me know.

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13 Comments

  • Reply CHEYNE July 12, 2016 at 8:13 PM

    I lived in Granada, Nica and it is definitely the worst street harassment I have ever experienced in my many years living throughout Latin America. I would love to understand why i’s so bad there – but in the meantime, I got out!

    • Reply Shara July 13, 2016 at 12:47 AM

      Well done for living there! I hardly made it through 4 days there! I don’t understand why it’s so bad there either. The worst thing for me, besides the harassment, was seeing the men holding their sons hands and calling out to me. It will just keep getting passed down through generations that, that behaviour is acceptable.

  • Reply Amy July 13, 2016 at 4:26 PM

    What a shame! I’m a solo female who’s been traveling from for 6 years and I too get harassed and stared at being strawberry blond and have large tatas, but I absolutely loved Granada. The hissing, catcalling and even being followed happens to me everywhere (especially in Latin America), but I can’t let a few douchbags ruin my experiences.

    I planned to stay 2 weeks in Granada and ended up there for 3 months, not wanting to leave! I then cycled through El Salvador (where, albeit beautiful, I found the men worse) and now am in Guatemala.

    Crazy how people have different experiences! Wish yours was better.

    • Reply Shara July 13, 2016 at 5:32 PM

      I got plenty of hissing and cat calling in my time travelling through Latin America and that so much doesn’t bother me. I stand out like a sore thumb! I keep my head held high, I don’t let it ruin my time there and I ignore them. The thing that bothered me was the touching of my arms and hair. That is taking it a bit too far and left me feeling uncomfortable. That’s great you liked it so much Amy! I love hearing other peoples experiences about their travels and it intrigues me how different ones experience is to another. I didn’t particularly like Granada and thought my 4 nights there was more than enough! What was it that you liked so much?

  • Reply Ginger Lawrence July 16, 2016 at 6:13 PM

    I’ve lived in Granada off and on for more than 7 years. The catcalling on the streets of Granada is less than I’ve seen from a construction crew in any city in the United States. I haven’t noticed ANYONE having a problem with it. Most of the people are friendly and polite.

    • Reply Shara July 16, 2016 at 6:32 PM

      Before I went to Granada, I read so many different posts on what you experience with the catcalling there. Some people experienced it less than others. Some travellers, especially solo female travellers, said they had a hard time with it, just like me. I don’t know what made one man run his fingers through my hair, another man grab me on the elbow and make disgusting kissing noises at me, and many men ask me back to there place and hiss and cat-call at me. I know I did NOTHING to encourage this behaviour. Everyone experiences something different in each and every place they go to. Many people dis-like parts of South East Asia, because they think the people hassle you way to much to buy things from their shops. Yet, I don’t feel like I experience that there. I never said that I didn’t find the people friendly and polite, they were. I didn’t like the way some men, not all, demonstrated some ugly behaviour.

  • Reply Lori Nolan July 19, 2016 at 7:13 PM

    I love to travel. I am a solo female traveler. I have been traveling solo for 5 years now. I spent a week in Nica in 2014, visiting the exact locations that were highlighted in this article, as well as Southern Nica. Besides enjoying life, I was doing research on where I want to spend time living once I am no longer care giving for my father here in the U.S.

    I’ve spent a lot time in Central America. My experience in Nica was awesome! I will return as soon as the opportunity presents itself. I walked through the streets at night because, as it was pointed out, it is hotter than what is bearable on some days (at least for me). I did have a few experiences that were uncomfortable, but I carry myself confidently, or like I will kick your a** if I have to. I never felt truly threatened. I would strike up conversations with the street vendors, or the kids trying to sell tourists handmade items in the central park area in Granada, instead of being in school. I learned a lot from the young people.

    The one component that is different in my case is that I am older than the ladies that have shared their experience in this blog chain (perhaps a lot older – lol). My message to all the solo female travelers out there is “everybody’s experience is different, so don’t let words stop you. Make your decision based on what you think is best for you.” I spent all day at Laguna de Apoya swimming out to the floating docks and enjoying the hammocks, along with all the other amenities this great location offers. I jumped in vans or taxis that took me to many other areas of Nica. I loved visiting Nicaragua and look forward to my return.
    Happy Trails to all….
    Lori Nolan recently posted…6 Ways To Spend Your Cruise Day On Roatan Island

  • Reply Lori Nolan July 21, 2016 at 7:19 PM

    I love to travel. I am a solo female traveler. I have been traveling solo for 5 years now. I spent a week in Nica in 2014, visiting the exact locations that were highlighted in this article, as well as Southern Nica. Besides enjoying life, I was doing research on where I want to spend time living once I am no longer care giving for my father here in the U.S.

    I’ve spent a lot time in Central America. My experience in Nica was awesome! I will return as soon as the opportunity presents itself. I walked through the streets at night because, as it was pointed out, it is hotter than what is bearable on some days (at least for me). I did have a few experiences that were uncomfortable, but I carry myself confidently, or like I will kick your a** if I have to. I never felt truly threatened. I would strike up conversations with the street vendors, or the kids trying to sell tourists handmade items in the central park area in Granada, instead of being in school. I learned a lot from the young people.

    The one component that is different in my case is that I am older than the ladies that have shared their experience in this blog chain (perhaps a lot older – lol). My message to all the solo female travelers out there is “everybody’s experience is different, so don’t let words stop you. Make your decision based on what you think is best for you.” I spent all day at Laguna de Apoya swimming out to the floating docks and enjoying the hammocks, along with all the other amenities this great location offers. I jumped in vans or taxis that took me to many other areas of Nica – SJDS. I loved visiting Nicaragua and look forward to my return.
    Happy Trails to all….
    Lori Nolan recently posted…6 Ways To Spend Your Cruise Day On Roatan Island

    • Reply Shara July 21, 2016 at 7:29 PM

      Agreed Lori and well said! Everyone experiences something different when they travel. This was what I experienced in Nica. I travel with confidence and my head held high wherever I go 🙂

  • Reply Laura July 27, 2016 at 7:48 PM

    Hi Shara!

    I¨m currently living in Nicaragua and read your post on a “expats in Nicaragua” Facebook page (shared by a foreigner living here like “Check out this less-flattering blog on Granada, written by a a female solo traveller”).

    Well, as a solo female living and managing a small business here three years ago, I could write hundreds of pages about this issue (and if you´d like more details it´d be a pleasure to share them with you). What I can say is that the constant harassment and macho attitude is getting worse for me instead of getting used to it. Yesterday I talked about this with a friend of mine (he´s also from Europe) who told me that he´s sending her daughter to Europe to study there cause he doesn´t want her to put up with this macho threat and to grow up in such a victimized women culture.

    When I read your experience I felt so identified that I thought about letting myself express my experience… Then, I read all the incredible stupid things that people living in Granada (and part of “expats in Granada” group) and decided not to do it. It´s gone down the drain! It was so shameful reading women saying “oh, I don´t understand why she´s complaining, even as an over 60 years old I love when guys tell me “guapa” and take it as a compliment”… Whaaat? a compliment?… or “I´ll feel bad when I stop getting the looks and the comments”… or “my beautiful daughter walks the streets and the men smile and yell guapa and they may turn around and watch her walk… but yes they admire her”… Whaaaat? They admire her?…

    The worst part came from men: “”I think she was exaggerating or asking for it. Then she should stay out of the kitchen…”or “Come on, it´s part of the culture. Even the guides talk about it. I think she protests too much”… Part of the culture? Then, should women accept harassment, touching or even rape as a part of any culture around the world? Or someone else saying “Snobbish. Yes, you are the first blond solo female traveler in this part of the world. Congratulations, everyone wanted a piece of you”… This one was specially disgusting (I figured that he was a nica man living in USA)…

    I also read a reply here, on your blog, from a girl that I met in Granada. Amy lived here for a few months and I don´t know why she´s telling half truth. She told me that she´s been traveling around Latin America with her Argentinian boyfriend (who I met) during these months, not as a solo female traveller… Don´t understand it… 😛

    Also, women who came around my place often told me that they´ve never felt such an harassment while traveling on their own (not even in other latin american countries). It´s not only about being confidence, hold your head high or have more clothes on, it´s about education, values, public awareness… but something not close to come…

    I´ve talked about this and other thorny issues with a few european friends living here like me. We feel as we´re living immersed in a weird sect where you cannot complain about things we don´t like living here and we shouldn´t accept them, not even as a part of any culture when it comes to rights, respect or human evolution…
    Nica society is not only unreceptive to constructive criticism but intolerant. But what we don´t really understand is these kind of expats who are living here and don´t tolerate any criticism. That´s why we say, as a joke, that they´re a kind of sect… 😉 We think they might be concerned about their own interests here; they own houses, properties, businesses, the country is being pointed as the new place to come, property market is rising, investments… and tourists or new expats won´t come to visit or invest in a place where they wouldn´t feel safe, comfortable and happy. Who knows, those our thoughts…

    Finally, I´d like you not to leave this reply to be read, please. I´d rather prefer to post another comment that I´m writing, just in case…

    Thanks for being brave to write about your experience and for letting me confide mine to you.

    Regards, 🙂

    • Reply Shara August 26, 2016 at 12:54 AM

      Laura…… wow! I’m actually speechless at this and thank you so much for sharing! And the comments people have said! Unbelievable! They quite clearly have never experienced what we have in Granada, or they like the sick attention they get from these men. Either way, I will never stop writing about my experiences and I thank you again for sharing yours!

  • Reply Laura July 27, 2016 at 8:41 PM

    I´ve been living in Granada for more than three years. I´m upset and can’t believe my eyes when women who posted here say they haven´t noticed ANYONE having problems with catcalling, harassment and similar nasty behaviors. Please, talk regarding your experience and don’t talk for talking´s sake. Many of us, independent woman who don´t need a caveman to maintained our self-respect with that kind of deplorable attitude, are daily annoyed and feel helpless to put up with this.

    It´s so irresponsible to accept this as part of any culture in the world that I feel ashamed about women thinking like that. I can´t understand why there´re so many women in retrograde at this stage…

    I do understand you, Shara, cause I´ve never felt like this in my life. And I appreciate that you´re so brave to tell your experience so woman can be aware and don´t be easily manipulated by this behavior erroneously identified as “latin charm”. It´s about respects, rights, conscience, awareness, dignity and self-respect.

    Thanks and kind regards,

    Laura

    • Reply Shara August 26, 2016 at 12:43 AM

      Thanks for that Laura! I totally agree with what you said! Thank you for speaking up!

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