Book airfare into one of three nearby airports, followed by a private ground transport directly to the Orquidea.
Airport & Flight Info
The Orquidea del Sur is accessible by three airports. Guests can fly through Nicaragua’s capital city of Managua (MGA) or Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR) on major commercial airlines. Most flights to either airport connect through Houston (IAH) for United and Southwest, Atlanta (ATL) for Delta or Miami (MIA) for American. Managua is about a 2.5 – 3 hour drive to the Orquidea, whereas Liberia can be about 3 – 3.5 hours. Costa Esmeralda (ECI) is a smaller, regional airport near Tola, Nicaragua, about 45 minutes from the Orquidea. Guests can book a short connecting flight from Managua, or from Liberia or San Jose, Costa Rica.
Please be aware that guests traveling through Costa Rica will need to pass through Customs and Immigration at both the airport and again at the land border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The border stop can be lengthy, with several stops on both sides. (The time estimate noted above of 3 – 3.5 hours includes this border stop on an average day.) Guests choosing this option will cross the border with the assistance of the ground transport driver (more info below).
When booking airfare, we recommend choosing a flight option that arrives on the ground in the middle of the day, by 2 pm at the latest. Noting the differences in ground transportation in Nicaragua described below, it is best to arrive in time to make the final driving leg to the Orquidea during daylight. If you are traveling as part of a large group with people traveling in from multiple originating cities, we recommend that you book the grand transport for the afternoon of the day your stay at the Orquidea begins. Members of the travel group whose connecting flights don’t get arrive in time to make the transfer can stay overnight the night before at a hotel nearby the airport until the rest of the group arrives.
Transportation on Nicaraguan roads is a bit more rustic than a lot of places in North America, Europe, and elsewhere. Uber and Lyft do not operate here; taxis and privately hired transports are how most travelers get around the country. While car rentals are available in each of the three nearby airports, please be advised that driving on Nicaraguan roads is very different than driving back home. Even major highways are only one lane in each direction, and everyone uses these roads including semis, buses, horse buggies, ox-drawn carts, motorcycles, bicyclists, pedestrians, and livestock. Amusingly, “Nica traffic jams” are often caused by cattle farmers driving their herds across the road on horseback. In short, there are a lot of obstacles and it can be stressful and time consuming for the average driver.
Most guests will feel more comfortable leaving the driving to someone else. In these cases, we will assist you in booking a ground transfer from your airport of choice to the Orquidea. We work with several trusted, experienced transport companies and will arrange the ride on your behalf based on your travel plans. A good general estimate is that a van for up to 10 people will cost about $200 total one way from Managua or Liberia. A transport from Costa Esmeralda, given that it is much closer, will cost about $100.
Getting Around During Your Stay
Most guests will not have their own transportation while staying at the Orquidea. (For how this impacts planning for food options, please read our blog post Customize Your Cuisine.) We work with each group to design the ideal vacation, including getting an understanding of how much time the group would like to spend lounging around the resort and how much time is desired adventuring off property. Please visit the Adventures section of our website to get ideas on the multitude of options available for entertainment during your stay. Based on your party’s wishes, we will arrange transportation as needed with one of our trusted transport company partners. This can be as simple as getting a taxi to and from town for shopping or bar hopping, or reserving a 20-person mini-bus for a day trip to see Volcán Masaya and colonial Granada.
As the saying goes, getting there is half the fun. While getting around in Nicaragua is likely to be a bit different than wherever you call home, it is an opportunity to glimpse through an intimate window into the daily lives of Nicaraguans. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride… it is sure to be miles away from ordinary.