SAFETY TIPS

SAFETY AND SECURITY

CRIME

There are reports of increases in crime in Nicaragua since April 2018. Police forces are limited throughout the country and extremely scarce outside of major urban areas.

VIOLENT CRIME

Violent crime, including armed robbery and sexual assault, occurs. You should pay particular attention in tourist areas including the Corn Islands, Granada, Managua and San Juan del Sur.

Confrontations between rival gangs of youth have also led to violent incidents in certain neighbourhoods, particularly on the outskirts of Granada and on other urban peripheries.

PETTY CRIME

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs.

These incidents occur often while drivers are stopped at intersections and while pedestrians are walking on the street. They often involve 2 people on a motorcycle, in which the passenger grabs the bag while the driver keeps driving.

Crime tends to increase during holiday seasons such as Christmas and Easter.

  • Remain alert when walking in markets, near the old cathedral and the Tica bus terminal in Managua, at public transportation terminals and in poorer areas
  • Restrict travel to tourist areas and to daylight hours
  • Travel in groups whenever possible
  • Avoid hitchhiking
  • Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times
  • Carry a photocopy of the identification page of your passport and a photocopy of the page that was stamped by local immigration authorities at the point of entry
  • Don’t carry large amounts of money, especially while travelling on buses
  • Use only hotels that provide adequate security

KIDNAPPING

“Express” kidnappings have occurred, especially in areas where violent crime is prominent. In these abductions, criminals ask for small, immediate ransoms. The kidnappers usually force their victims to withdraw funds from an ATM or to arrange for family or friends to pay the ransom. This ploy is often used by criminal taxi drivers, who pick up the victim and then stop to pick up associates.

  • Use only taxis that have red stripes on the top and bottom of the licence plate and the circular “Cooperativa” logo on the door
  • Book your ride in advance, when possible
  • Avoid sharing a taxi with strangers
  • If attacked, don’t resist, as criminals often carry weapons and may become violent

FRAUDULENT TOUR GUIDES

Tourists have been robbed by fraudulent tour guides offering a tour on the island of Ometepe.

Consult hotel staff and local authorities for information on reputable tour guides.

WOMEN’S SAFETY

Women travelling alone may be subject to some forms of harassment and verbal abuse. Local authorities may not regard harassment as unlawful unless physical contact or explicit threats are made.

Safe-travel guide for women

DEMONSTRATIONS

The political situation remains unpredictable in Nicaragua. Demonstrations, civil unrest and outbreaks of violence occur regularly, particularly in Managua.

This can lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Access to the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport and to the area of Carretera a Masaya in Managua may be affected.

According to the Nicaraguan constitution, it is illegal for foreigners to participate in Nicaraguan political affairs, including demonstrations and protests. Participation may result in detention and/or deportation.

Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)

SWIMMING

Coastal waters can be dangerous. Riptides are common. Warning signs, lifeguards and rescue equipment are often lacking.

Drownings occur regularly.

Water safety abroad

ROAD SAFETY

Road conditions and road safety are poor throughout the country. Except for the Pan-American Highway, most roads lack shoulders and are narrow, potholed and poorly lit. Road signs are usually non-existent. Most streets are unnamed. Detours are common but often unmarked. Livestock may be on the streets and highways. Therefore, driving after dark is very dangerous.

Vehicles are poorly maintained. Drivers do not respect traffic laws and can be reckless. Drinking and driving is prevalent.

Roadside assistance is not available. Cell phone coverage outside urban areas can be lacking, particularly in mountainous areas.

Despite regular security patrols by the Nicaraguan army and police, armed banditry and carjackings occur in areas near Bonanza, La Rosita and Siuna (known as the mining triangle) in northeastern Nicaragua. Carjackings have also been reported between Managua and Puerto Cabezas.

  • Only travel overland to Honduras on Nicaraguan highways with official border crossings: El Espino, Guasaule and Las Manos
  • Restrict road travel in these areas to daylight hours
  • Travel in convoys of at least two vehicles
  • Keep your car windows closed and doors locked when driving through crowded areas
  • Avoid hitchhiking

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Public transportation is unreliable and often overcrowded. Vehicles are generally in poor condition.

BUSES

Pickpockets often target tourists in public buses. Travellers have also been assaulted when getting off a bus.

  • Avoid conversations with friendly strangers
  • Don’t reveal your intended destination
  • Don’t share a cab at the end of a bus ride
  • Be cautious of any advice or shortcut that could convince you to get off a bus earlier than planned

TAXIS

Many taxis are in poor condition and lack safety features such as seat belts.

It is common in Nicaragua for taxi drivers to pick up other passengers, unless it has been agreed upon that you want a private ride.

Unauthorized taxi drivers have robbed passengers.

  • Use only taxis that have red stripes on the top and bottom of the licence plate and the circular “Cooperativa” logo on the door
  • Avoid hailing a taxi on the street
  • Take taxis from hotels or from main entrances to shopping malls
  • Make detailed arrangements before your trip and consider coordinating your pick up at the same time
  • Avoid sharing taxis with strangers
  • Ensure that the driver doesn’t pick up any other passenger on the way to your destination; this needs to be agreed upon prior to entering the taxi and a higher fee will likely be requested

MARINE TRANSPORTATION

The Caribbean and the Pacific coasts of Nicaragua are known to be drug transit zones.

Mariners should take appropriate precautions.

AIR TRAVEL

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

General information about foreign domestic airlines