La Costena / ferry schedule to San Carlos

Hi all, Will be arriving in Managua on Jan 7 and would like to get to San Carlos on the 8th. Can't seem to find La Costena's schedule online. Would appreciate it if someone could point me in the right direction. I am also thinking about taking the ferry from either Granada or Altagracia. Any info/tips on the ferry schedule would also be appreciated. Thanks

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I recommend not bothering trying to get to San Carlos from Altagracia. Its really not worth the effort of taking a 2-3 hour trip down to San Jorge, getting on a ferry for about 1.5 hours, and then getting on another bus/taxi to the dock about 30 minutes away from Moyagalpa when you can just get right on that exact same ferry in Granada--which is only a 45 minute microbus ride from Managua. A friend of mine lived in Altagracia for 2 years and he told me he could get to Managua in 5-12 hours. It really just depended on a whole bunch of different factors. But more often than not it was nearer to 10 hours than 5.

I have heard the plane is quick and safe, and I believe less than $100 round trip. If you have the money and, it might just be your best option. Like I said before, the bus is really hellacious and the ferry only runs certain days.

Granada/San Carlos ferry

I don't know the ferry schedule between Managua and San Carlos (in fact, I didn't even know there *was* a direct ferry between the two cities!). But the ferry to San Carlos leaves Granada on Monday and Thursday at 2 pm, with the last ticket sales at 1:30pm. This is a 14-hour trip, and I recommend paying the extra 80-100 cords to go first class if you can swing it - there's more space, cushioned benches, and movies. But bring warm clothes and/or a blanket - they crank up the A/C and it's COLD!!! Better yet, bring a hammock and string it up on the covered deck.

There are also buses that run between Managua and San Carlos approximately every hour or two. I made this trip once, and I don't recommend it unless you have no other option - 10+ hours in an old school bus on incredibly bumpy roads, with only one rest break ~3 hours outside of Managua. If you must go this route, I strongly recommend taking an overnight trip - at least the weather's cooler and you can *maybe* sleep.

Buen viaje!

------- "Life is what happens while we're busy making other plans." - Pablo Neruda

Granada/San Carlos ferry

Thanks RSJGringita (Does RSJ stand for Rio San Juan?)thats exactly what I was looking for. Ideally I would like to fly one way spend a few days exploring the Rio San Juan and return on the ferry. Taking the ferry from Managua to San Carlos would indeed be a good trick !!!

RSJ = Rio San Juan

Yes, I picked that as my handle because I spent 3 months on the Rio San Juan a few kilometers downstream from El Castillo, at Refugio Bartola (which is not currently open, due to a fire that burned down the kitchen and ranchon last month).

I love the Rio San Juan! As others have said, there's not a lot to do in San Carlos. I love the town, but for the people than for the sights. If you stay there, I recommend either the Hotel Cabinas Leyko (my personal fave - you can get basic rooms upstairs for $18/night or rooms with A/C downstairs for ~$40). The new Hotel Gran Lago also looks really nice, and runs somewhere between $20 (the price quoted to my Nicaraguan husband) and $40 (the price paid by my gringa friend). If you're going cheap, Hotel San Carlos is your place at ~$5/night, though it's a bit sketchy. El Granadino is a must-visit restaurant (they have the 2nd best sopa de mariscos I've ever had!), Mirasol is nearly as good, and Soda San Carlos is good for a quick and cheap bite.

El Castillo is definitely worth spending a day or two in. I stay in Hotel Richarson there ($10/night), though there are nicer places as well - Hotel La Posada has been highly recommended to me (they have hot water! A rarity on the RSJ). You'll want to check out la fortaleza ($2 entrance) and walk around town - there are several tour companies in town as well.

Sabalos has some nice hotels - Hotel Sabalos is a fairly traditional but nice hotel, while Sabalos Lodge has some great tree-house-type rooms overlooking the river. There's not much to do there - though you'll probably be amazed by how many hours you can pleasantly pass just watching the river go by!


"Life is what happens while we're busy making other plans." - Pablo Neruda / John Lennon

Ferry across the lake

RSJGringita gave you good advice. The ferry goes from Granada (not Managua) and really seems to leave about 3 p.m. It's a long ride, no matter what. But kind of fun if you do bring warmer clothes (if you sleep on deck outside the AC area the breeze can be chilly, but nice.) Another nice option is to split it up by getting off at Ometepe for a few days and recatching the ferry (Altagracia) from there for an overnight at about 8 p.m. Be advised, you'll roll into San Carlos (something less than the Garden of Eden about 4:30 a.m. Try to catch the first ponga out on Rio San Juan. We found a first stop at El Castillo (about 4 hours) to be long enough and very enjoyable. Have fun!

I think the ferry leaves at

I think the ferry leaves at 230 or 3pm from Granada. The last I heard they had plans to add more ferries but I doubt that has happened. Which means it only leaves Granada twice a week, and leaves San Carlos twice a week. It does not run on weekends. I would get to Granada around noonish to get your ticket. Splurge for the deck up top, it has an indoor seating area and they played a few DVDs. I also brought a hammock (you can buy "sacos" and "macate" in granada and easily make one for a few bucks) and I strung it up by the balcony so at night I could sleep. I strongly recommend doing this, because seating can be limited and its nice to have a place to lie down for the night. Although be prepared for it to be cold. Outside during the night it was very very cold, and I traveled in August. Inside it was even worse, I have never felt air conditioning like i did on that ferry. That entire night I put on all the clothes I had packed and I was still absolutely freezing.

You will make three stops in Altagracia, Morrito, and San Miguel before finally arriving in San Carlos at about 5AM. I strongly recommend taking the ferry over the bus from Managua. I took the ferry out, and bussed it back and it was absolute hell. Although I heard they are going to be repaving that road, its just not worth it when you can spread yourself out/walk around on the ferry.

I stayed at an absolutely amazing "resort" in Boca de Sabalos. You can only access it by boat. It is known for great (albeit expensive) fishing trips by the, I believe Dutch man who owns it. El Castillo and the Indio Maiz Nature Reserve sit just down the waterway. El Castillo is a nice looking, sleepy town on the water. You can also inquire about tours into the Nature Reserve from there.

As for San Carlos itself, there is not much to see really. I would consider it "up and coming." But no doubt you could find a relatively decent hostel to stay in and sample the gallo pinto in that part of the country. But I strongly recommend staying in the Boca de Sabalos lodge. Or maybe even El Castillo. The prices at the lodge are very reasonable, with Swiss Family Robinson-like cabins, and very few tourists have the testicular fortitude to make it all the way down there, so you have the place virtually to yourself.

RSJ was quite possibly the most striking trip I took in all of Nicaragua. It is so unlike the rest of the country. It is absolutely worth the effort, but it can be one hell of a trip to get there and back.

Thanks everyone.

Thanks for all the great info. So far based on what all of you have told me I will probably fly to San Carlos, work my way down to El Castillo return to San Carlos and take the ferry back to Altagracia then head for Rivas/SJDS for a day or two. Am I correct in assuming that the ferry schedule returning to Granada is on tues/Friday. Based on the early morning arrival in San Carlos is the return trip to Granada during the day?


The ferry leaves San Carlos at 2pm(-ish) on Tuesday and Friday, arriving in San Miguelito around 6 pm, Ometepe around midnight, and Granada at 4-5 am.

Have a great trip!



"Life is what happens while we're busy making other plans." - Pablo Neruda / John Lennon