Skip the hike and drive right up to the lava-spitting rim of Masaya Volcano (Volcan Masaya), perched between Managua and Granada. The active volcano’s famous lava shows at the Santiago Crater, combined with ridiculously easy access, have made it one of the most popular attractions in all of Nicaragua.
Daytime trips to Masaya Volcano National Park—the first national park in Nicaragua—allow for leisurely hiking and tours of bat-inhabited caves, ideal for a quick urban escape into one of Nicaragua’s premier wildlife sanctuaries. The real show, however, begins after sunset, when cars line the highway to witness the spectacular sight of lava roiling just below the active crater’s rim, making for once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities and a chance to see geology in action. Night tours are so popular that tours are limited to just a few minutes at the rim—but that is all it takes to make a lasting impression. Make the most of your trip to Managua or Granada with a guided tour that takes in Masaya Volcano and other nearby attractions like the Mirador de Catarina, Lake Apoyo, or Lake Nicaragua.
Things to Know Before You Go
- If visiting at night, go early and plan to keep yourself entertained while you wait for the “show” to begin.
- Some Costa Rica and San Juan del Sur shore excursions include a trip to Masaya for unbeatable transportation value.
- The volcano itself is wheelchair accessible; check with tour providers for details.
How to Get There
Masaya Volcano is located just 12 miles (19 kilometers) from Managua and 18 miles (30 kilometers) from Granada, roughly a 30- or 40-minute drive, respectively. You can take your own car or a public bus from either city to the park, but be sure to call the park in advance to reserve a spot if you want to visit without a tour.
When to Get There
An outdoor activity open year-round, Masaya Volcano is easy to visit on your own schedule. Daytime visits are ideal for hiking and outdoor adventure, while night tours let you see the volcano’s famous lava.
Volcanic Activity at the Masaya Volcano
Masaya is one of the most active volcanoes in the area, having erupted at least 19 times since Spanish arrival in 1524. The most recent eruption was in 1993, though smaller ash eruptions have occurred as recently as 2008.