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Clinging to the western edge of Lake Nicaragua, the laid-back city of Rivas now figures as the traveller’s gateway to the pristine beaches and legendary surfing breaks of the nation’s southern Pacific coast. It is also a popular jump-off point for excursions to the soaring volcanic peaks and paradisiacal backcountry of Ometepe Island across the waters to the east. Nearby, at the La Flor Wildlife Reserve, Olive Ridley turtles share beach space with water sports enthusiasts, while the fishing village of San Juan del Sur elsewhere boasts some serene lakeside beaches, and a mouth-watering selection of Mesoamerican chicken grills.
However, before making a beeline to the fascinating attractions that exist on the city’s peripheries, consult your Rivas tour guide about the colonial vibe of the town, as well as the pretty cathedral and central park that dominate the centre. Then don’t miss the exhibitions at the Museo de Antropologia, which include thousands of Aztec artifacts and relics from the newly excavated site of Quauhcapolca just to the west.