Nicaragua is Central America's largest country, located between Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south, though is relatively undiscovered. The Pacific plains to the west, flanked by rip-roaring waves which attract surf dudes, are punctuated with fascinating Spanish colonial cities: Granada is the best preserved and enchants with vibrantly-coloured colonnaded buildings, charming plazas, imposing mansions and pretty courtyards; Leon is its working class neighbour delightfully authentic, with crumbling architecture and revolutionary murals which nod to the country's turbulent history.
To the east, lies the Caribbean Sea and the peaceful Corn Islands, perfect for a spot of R&R. The interior is a delight to explore, with a vast inland lake dotted with tiny volcanic islands; pre-Columbian ruins lie amidst lush rainforests rich with wildlife. Adventurers will enjoy sandboarding down the 728 metre high Cerro Negro volcano, zip-lining or cycling through the forests, canoeing through the wetlands or kayaking across crater lakes.
In 1886, Mark Twain described Nicaragua as an 'earthly paradise'. It remains so; absolutely authentic and charmingly timeless. Go, before everyone else does.