Nicaragua might not be as well known as Costa Rica as an eco-tourism destination, but in recent years this tropical beauty’s growing range of activities on both land and sea have been giving its southern neighbor a run for its money.

Wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Nicaragua is a country where lakes and volcanoes meet colonial gems. Granada, the best preserved of its towns, is famed both for its architecture and an archipelago of hundreds of islets perfect for sailing and kayaking.

Outdoor recreation can be found throughout the country, from climbing, hiking, zip-lining and sandboarding down active volcanoes, to visiting coffee farms in the highlands. The dark sand beaches of San Juan del Sur, on the Pacific side, are a renowned surfing spot and attract an international elite.

The Corn Islands, on the Caribbean, have unspoiled coral reefs that can be explored by snorkelers and divers.