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Corn Islands

Nicaragua Though tourism is increasing in Nicaragua, it doesn't attract as many tourists as its more popular neighbors in Central America, such as Costa Rica. The civil war ended nearly two decades ago, and "Nicaragua has become a safer destination than it was 10 years ago," says Alicia Zablocki, director of Latin American programs at Mountain Travel Sobek. Travelers will find the country peaceful and affordable. You can get a meal of tamales or empanadas from street vendors for a buck or two, though higher-end and more expensive international fare is available in larger cities. Budget lodging goes for about $5 a night on the low end, but expect to pay more if you want features such as a private bathroom. Luxury hotels in major cities charge a fraction of the price in more popular Central American destinations. Nicaragua's natural features are its chief assets. Large tracts of rain forest and accessible volcanoes make for breathtaking wilderness excursions. Beatrice de Gea / Los Angeles Times
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