Valentine’s Day is of no importance to me. I’ve never had a boyfriend to celebrate with but I’m not a hater either. For the most part, it’s just another day and I intended to treat my first Valentine’s Day abroad as just another day. Then my friend Kate suggested a trip to Laguna de Apoyo.

I’d never even heard of Laguna de Apoyo but I figured hey, why not. I didn’t have anything better to do. That was the right choice because spending Valentine’s Day at Laguna de Apoyo with Kate and my friend Grace ended up being one of the best travel days I’ve had so far.

My first view of Laguna de Apoyo

My first view of Laguna de Apoyo

Laguna de Apoyo is a crater lake located about 20 minutes outside of Granada. It rests in the center of the Apoyo Volcano and is naturally heated and supposedly full of minerals.

Though it’s possible to take a shuttle or the local bus, we opted for a taxi ride, $24 split between the three of us. There is a public beach at the end of the road circling Laguna de Apoyo but rumor has it that it’s not all that great so we opted instead to pay $6 for a day pass to the Monkey Hut hostel, complete with free coffee and use of their inner tubes and kayaks. I didn’t know it then but diving in Laguna de Apoyo is also possible – and gives back to the community!

I was wondering what exactly made this lake so special that it was necessary to spend $14 for a visit. I mean, come on, a lake is a lake is a lake, right? Sure, unless that lake is located in a volcano and just happens to be one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen.

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Grace and I posing by the lake

We spent a few minutes exploring our surroundings and taking photos. “Oh my god, this is so beautiful” was repeated frequently.

The water looked rough, much more like an ocean with pounding waves than a placid lake. We almost didn’t get in the water – it wasn’t too hot, why cool down in a lake? Can’t we just lay in one of the beach chairs and watch the waves?

But Grace was ready to swim, Kate soon followed her, and I wasn’t about to be left out so I grabbed an inner tube and joined them. Or, rather, I grabbed an inner tube and spent ten minutes walking across the rocks covering the “beach” and yelling “ow, ow ugh, why are there so many rocks, ow!”. I realized how strong the waves were, as they almost knocked me over a knee-depth and almost turned around. While I am able to keep myself above water, swimming is not something I’m good at and I absolutely loathe having water in my face.

The water was perfect – warmer than expected and though the waves were a bit annoying, they did add a bit of fun to floating around. Floating around and chatting, we lost all sense of time. Three hours later, we headed back to shore. I’m sure everyone on the beach was laughing at our pathetic attempts to get out of the water and across the rocks as none of us had a particularly graceful exit. (Read – I ended up sprawled across the rocks as a wave knocked me over, inner tube still around my waist.)

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Food options at the Monkey Hut are limited to a brick over pizza restaurant, which offers a personal pizza for $5.With a thin crust and lots of delicious cheese, it was the perfect treat after swimming for hours.

While Kate and Grace headed straight back out to the water, I chose to stay on shore and just breathe in our surroundings. It was one of the moments where I had to remind myself that yes, this was real life and spent a few moments just filling myself with gratitude for the day and the lovely people I got to spend it with.

Great day with two wonderful ladies

Great day with two wonderful ladies

None of us were ready to leave when our taxi returned and our goodbye to Monkey Hut was met with a round of “That was so amazing. I’m so happy we did this.”

Though Laguna de Apoyo is just a short bus ride away for the next few months, I can’t say I’ll return. The day was just so perfect that I’d be terrified to lose the magic of the first visit.

A visit is highly, highly recommended for anyone traveling through Nicaragua.

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Laguna de Apoyo