The hillside pueblo Catarina is mainly known for the viewpoint Mirador de Catarina, a cliffside walkway at the edge of the crater lake Laguna de Apoyo. It is lined with restaurants and a few souvenir shops where you can buy some locally produced handicrafts. There is a small entrance fee to the viewpoint. Mirador de Catarina is one of the highest hills surrounding the Laguna de Apoyo, with one of the best panoramic views in Nicaragua. You will be standing on the edge of a vast volcanic crater looking across the spectacular Laguna de Apoyo to Lake Nicaragua, the Isletas and Mombacho Volcano to the south, and on a clear day the twin volcanic peaks of Ometepe. Truly breathtaking!
The viewpoint is a popular attraction for tourists, and a favourite place among Nicaraguans during weekends, when many gather here to enjoy the view, grab a bite in one of the restaurants or have a look through the telescope. It is said to have been young Agusto Sandino's favourite place to consider decisions.
Once in Catarina, the mirador is easy to find. Walking through the village you will see signs. Otherwise ask, anybody will know.
Streets of Catarina are lined with souvenir shops selling local pottery, which can be pretty nice or very touristy. Whatever you think of it it makes colourful photos. You can go in and see how pottery is made and the artisans are happy to tell you about how they make it. I didn't see anybody actual buy any items and wondered how they make a living. Of course it was not high season and I like to believe that sales are better then.
You cannot help noticing all th nurseries around the village. To me it seemed that every house was decorated with flower baskets and their gardens were just beautiful.
One day Petra and I made a very nice trip from Granada to Pueblos Blancos and Laguna de Apoyo. We took a chicken bus that leaves from a block south of the market, across from the Shell station, and goes to San Juan de Oriente and Catarina. The bus was already full when we left. On the way it stopped on every corner so more and more people were coming in the bus. After about 40 minutes we arrived in San Juan de Oriente, a small village known for the production of pottery.
Another village that we wanted to visit was Catarina. We asked some local people about the bus. They told us it was very close so we decided to walk. Catarina is a little bigger than San Juan de Oriente and most of the people come here for the Mirador (viewpoint) which offers a spectacular view of Laguna de Apoyo. It’s just a short walk from the village. There we took a three wheel taxi to Laguna de Apoyo where we spent the rest of the day relaxing on the beach.
For going back we took a 4pm bus that runs from Laguna de Apoyo to Masaya, and got out at the main road that connects Managua (and Masaya) with Granada. We did not have to wait long until the bus to Granada arrived. The journey was short, it only took about 15 minutes. The bus stopped at the bus station near the old hospital (some 8 blocks west from Parque Central) from where we walked to the city centre.
I took a bus from Granada to Catarina. It was one of those slow buses stopping everywhere, so it took one hour to reach Catarina, the first village I visited during my daytrip. The bus was 10 cordobas (July 2009). From where I was dropped there was a walk of about 1km through the village to the Mirador. After admiring the beautiful views over Laguna de Apoyo and drinking a Coke I walked back through the village to the big roundabout down at the main road. I cross the road and took the next bus heading for Masatepe. It took 15 minutes and it was 5 cordobas.
After eating lunch and an ice cream in Masatepe I took the bus to Niquinohomo, where I visited the Sandino Museum. On my way to Catarina and Masatepe I had noticed that the villages Niquinohomo, Catarina and San Juan de Oriente were all very close to each other. I asked at the museum how far it was to my next destination, San Juan de Oriente. And they told me it was only 2km, and they advised me to take one of the mototaxis standing by the plaza to San Juan de Oriente. It would cost 10 - 15 cordobas. But as the last mototaxi just left when I came there I decided to walk.
From Niquinohomo I walked along a smaller road, parallel to the main road, up to the roundabout by Catarina, and then I followed the main road to San Juan de Oriente. In San Juan de Oriente I visited a few pottery shops before heading back to Granada. Going back to Granada I had to wait 20 minutes for the bus. Dark rain clouds were approaching, but luckily the bus arrived just before the rain started to pour down.
Catarina has an obvious love of potted plants and is home to more flowers than people. This pretty hillside village is known for its viveros (nurseries) which overflow onto the streets with potted ornamental plants and colourful flowers. It's like tropical garden everywhere. The fertile soil and climate is perfect for the cultivation. There are many small nurseries scattered around the villlage, most of them are on the main road. The friendly Nicaraguans seemed more than happy to show you around their gardens.
Local people from nearby towns and cities, such as Masaya, Granada and Managua, come to Catarina to buy their house plants. There's an awesome selection of palms, bougainvilleas in tons of colour variety, tropical flowers, including different types of orchids, jasmines, dahlias and gorgeous light blue forget-me-nots. Some nurseries also have culinary and medicinal herb section.
All the homes in the village are beautifully decorated with plants and flowers and are a great advertisement for the nurseries.
Not really a local custom but something you probably face when travelling. Children shouting: "Take a photo of me"! I couldn't but obey!