YOU ASKED, WE ANSWERED: What is the norm for tipping in Nicaragua?

What is the norm for tipping in Nicaragua?

– Restaurante El Pescador: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

If you’re a first time visitor to Nicaragua you may be wondering what is acceptable when it comes to tipping. 

Eliminate the guesswork by reviewing our tipping guidelines below.


In Nicaragua shuttle drivers and tour guides expect a tip. 10% of your fare or excursion fee is acceptable.

If your driver went above and beyond to provide safe and friendly service an extra 5 to 10% is appropriate. Same goes for a tour guide that made your excursion extra special.

Private taxis may expect a tip, but it’s not necessary to tip your driver when you’re in a collectivo taxi (shared taxi).

If you’re taking a taxi or shuttle from the airport and are without córdobas (local currency) American dollars are fine. Just make sure they are not ripped, torn or marked on.

We do not recommend exchanging money at the airport. You will always get a lower exchange rate than what you can get at the bank or with a money exchanger on the street.   


Whether you’re at a hotel or a vacation rental you should tip for your maid. Depending on your length of stay $10 – $20 USD is appropriate. If your rental home has a cuidador (caretaker) its a nice gesture to leave a little something for him as well.


When dining at a sit down restaurant in Nicaragua a 10% tip is the norm. Many individuals will leave an extra 5 to 10% for stand out service.

It’s very common for restaurants to add a 10% voluntary tip to your bill. This should not be confused with IVA, which is a 15% sales tax. Always review your bill to ensure you’re not double tipping.

What is the norm for tipping in Nicaragua?

– Tip jars are commonly seen at small locally owned restaurants, bars and sometimes even pulperias (small convenience store). 


Baggage handlers at the airport also expect tips.  $1 – $2 USD is enough for a bag or two, but if you have a cartful of bags you should give a bit more.

Tipping is also customary for other service providers like hairdressers, estheticians and massage therapists. The amount you wish to give is up to you, but a 10% minimum is common.

Some people give small tips to parking lot attendants. Depending on how long you’ve been in the store or restaurant between 10 and 50 córdobas (35 cents to $1.75 USD) is acceptable.


Salaries in Nicaragua are minimal. Many employees in the service industry rely on tips to feed their families. When in question about whether you want to give that extra dollar or two keep in mind that a little generosity goes a long way!

Socializing, Dancing & Piñata Smashing with the Elders

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Quarterly Meeting of the Elders (Mother’s Day Edition): San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, May 2016

Just Another Day in Paradise

When Emilie from Nica Sail and Surf called us out of the blue to ask if we wanted to help with the Quarterly San Juan del Sur Elder’s Luncheon Elisha and I had no idea what to expect. I envisioned a quiet stuffy environment with a few people leading the group.  Maybe a few speeches followed by a solemn lunch.

Once again Nicaragua had a surprise in store for us.

Mother’s Day with the Elders

Once every 3 months over 200 of San Juan’s finest gather for the elders meeting and luncheon. Mother’s Day is more like a week long event in Nicaragua. Accordingly, the gathering that coincides with this holiday is highly anticipated and well attended.

A special Mother’s Day mass at the church proceeded the elders meeting so the well treed church courtyard made for the perfect location. After mass and before lunch there are gifts passed out to each of the mothers.
Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua


These events are free for the elders, but they take some cash, planning and lots of hands working together to pull off every quarter. Consequently many of the local businesses and prominent families help with funding.  Payita Solis, Hermanas Sanchez, Sunday Funday Pool Crawl, Eduardo and Angelita Holman, Arenas Pizzeria, Pizzeria San Juan, Frida Fajardo, Iskra Travel, Casa Oro, Madera Futura y más all pitch in.

The Sanchez sisters – who own clothing, grocery and tourist shops in town – not only help fund the event but run point on organizing logistics.

Nas Naked Mama Productions


Pacha Mama and Naked Tiger hostels round up most of the volunteers/dance partners for the elders. Nas (sporting her Sunday Funday tank top above) the General Manager for Naked Tiger brought the idea of volunteering for this event to her team over a year ago. They have been a fun part of these meetings ever since.

Our Experience

This was just an all out party with constant dancing and laughing culminated by some piñata smashing. One man tried to sit with the women pictured below and they sent him packing. Elisha overheard them saying they were busy gossiping so he needed to go sit with the men.

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– The real gossip girls.

The elders were not shy about grabbing up the cute young men and women volunteers and dragging them up on the dance floor. The elders not inclined to dance didn’t let that slow them down from flirting. One fellow Elisha chatted up gave me the stink eye and made a gun pointing gesture (all in good fun) at me when he heard I was the competition.

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Don’t be fooled because these guys are players.

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Two of our favorite Sanchez sisters getting in the mix.

Once lunch arrived we served it up as quickly as possible because this group wanted to get back to dancing. Some of them were already eyeing up the piñata.

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

You know what’s better than watching kids smashing a piñata? Seniors smashing a piñata.

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Candida (one of our all time favorite grandmas in SJDS) cheering her friend on as she is trying to cheat.

After some serious hits on the heart shaped piñata candy finally started to rain down.

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Once the candies hit the floor those elders dove on the ground and scrummed like it was a rugby match. I’m still blown away there were no injuries.

After three hours of dancing, a big meal and a candy scrum the elders of  San Juan were ready to head home.

Elisha and I stayed long enough to pack up the chairs and tables and help clean up the courtyard. We were ready to go home for our afternoon nap after all the excitement.

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– The volunteers fueling up after a long day of dancing.

We felt privileged for the invitation to help out at this event and grateful to have the time to give back to our community. Thank you Sunday Funday for inviting us and special thanks to the elders of San Juan for allowing us to be a part of your special day!


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