Updated October 2017
If you're spending even just a couple of days in Granada or Managua, chances are you'll want to check-out Laguna de Apoyo.
Whilst it is possible to stay in one of the many lovely resorts at the lake-side, the lack of shops around and higher costs mean that a couple of nights here could end up costing you a little more than you'd like.
The hostels have caught on to this, and many offer shuttle services to and from the lake, varying from $4-6 one-way to $6-8 return. Yet, whilst this may be the more convenient option, there is always a cheaper, more enjoyable way to do it.
Here's our guide on how to get to Laguna de Apoyo on your own.
All roads begin with a bus from Granada, so head to the local market and find one with Managua as a destination. They go very frequently (every 10-15 minutes) so you shouldn't have to wait long. Ask to get dropped off at 'la entrada de la laguna'.
Duration: Approx 30 minutes
Price: 10 - 20C dependent upon the whim of the ayudante!
The bus will drop you off on the main road. Cross over, and you will see a clearly sign-posted road leading up a hill. From here you have four choices.
If you've set off early enough and it's not too hot, this is a lovely way to spend the morning. This one and a half hour walk takes you through small villages and gives you time to take in the views of the lake from up high.
Simply follow the road, and then follow the signs posted for various lodgings by the lake. If you get really shattered, have a go at hitch-hiking - it's not unusual in Nicaragua and someone will usually stop for you.
Time: 1.5 hours
#2 masaya-laguna bus
This route requires a little more organisation, as you need to co-ordinate the bus departure from Granada with the much less frequent Masaya-Laguna bus, which passes the Apoyo entrance at around 6 a.m., 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. only. Note that, to take this bus back, its departures at around 4.30 p.m. and 6.30 p.m.
Time: 30 minutes
Price: Approximately 15C (updated February 2018 - see reader comment below for their 2018 experience).
#3 la valle bus
Catch the 'La Valle' bus at the entrance which will take you as far as the 'rim' of the laguna, but then requires a 45 minute walk downhill to the water. This is ideal for those that would love the time to take in the spectacular views from the summit, but don't fancy the initial uphill walk.
Time: 60 minutes
#4 take a taxi
Depending on the time of day, there will usually be plenty of cabs waiting at the entrance to quickly ferry you to the lake.
Time: 20 - 30 minutes
Price: 100C flat rate (only really a viable 'budget-option' if there are few of you in the same cab!)
A bonus fifth option...
Instead of taking the bus from Granada to the entrance, instead go all the way to Masaya (please note, this is a different bus!). From here, you'll be able to catch a bus that goes all the way to the lake. There are two daily buses that leave Masaya, which generally leave Masaya Market at 10:30 and 3:30 and arrive in Laguna De Apoyo an hour later.. Last bus on Sundays leaves the market around 2:30pm.
WHERE TO STAY IN LAGUNA DE APOYO
Laguna Beach Club | A popular choice for day-trippers (this is where we hung out), Laguna has cabana style room, a guest kitchen, on-site restaurant and bar and free use of SUP/kayaks - and it's lakeside. Dorms from $10. Click here to check availability and prices.
Paradiso Hostel| Probably the most popular spot in town for backpackers, Paradiso has an excellent lakeside location, large dorms, excellent staff and a good restaurant. They also do Spanish lessons if you wanted to hang around a while longer. Check availability and prices on Booking.com and Hostelworld.
Hotel SelvAzul | Open air cabanas, pool overlooking the lake and excellent breakfast, Hotel SelvAzul is an excellent choice for a couple. No kitchen, but a really good quality restaurant and all rooms come with a mountain-view balcony. Click here to check availability and prices.