Nicaragua Rental Cars


(Excerpts from The Surfer's Guide to Costa Rica & SW Nicaragua​)


Whether it’s your first trip or 20th, planning car rental in Nicaragua is always a bit confusing. The good news is that it’s better than most countries and the vehicles are usually in pretty good condition.

If you fly into the Managua airport, you’ll find the car rental desks on the other side of the crowd awaiting your fellow passengers. Hertz is first, on your left, and a pretty good bet. I’ve found Hertz to be quick, efficient, and the cars to be in good shape. Hertz also has better pricing than Avis, which also has good vehicles and service, and some of the highest pricing. But it all depends. From time to time I’ve found better deals with Avis, or Alamo.

You can wait to rent your vehicle upon arrival, or rent in advance. They do run out of trucks during busy times, so reserving online in advance is a good idea. They don’t charge your credit card until you actually pick the vehicle up, so there’s no risk there. But they also don’t always have the car you reserved, either, so that’s the trade-off.

As with most countries, your current driver’s license will do unless you are staying more than 90 days, and you need to be at least 25 years old.

I always buy all of the insurances. If you get into an accident, that’s your best bet. Also, the police reports suck, and your insurance company likely won’t accept the police report anyhow, and they also likely won’t be able to reach or speak with the police when you file a claim. Yes, this was learned through experience, with American Express, no less.

What type of vehicle should you rent? During the dry season (November through May) you can rent anything as you won’t have to deal with mud or difficult roads to reach the surf in Nicaragua. Nicaragua actually has pretty good roads, including the dirt roads. Even during the rainy season you don’t have to rent a 4x4 as most of the places you will surf have good roads. That said, the higher road clearance afforded by trucks is probably a good idea. Personally, I only rent trucks, regardless of the season.