Customs and Etiquette

Nicaraguans are renowned for their friendliness and they are very informal people, but visitors should learn some basic greetings, dress in a manner that shows respect to your host and pay attention to local customs. The traditional greeting for complete strangers is mucho gusto (a pleasure) which will be followed by a handshake or a nod and a smile. If someone is making an introduction this might also include a kiss to the right cheek. The visitor best follow the lead of the person he or she is being introduced to. If they lean forward for a kiss return it, if not shake hands. If entering a shop or place where you know no one, the time of day greeting (Buenos Días, Buenas Tardes or Buenas Noches) is polite. If you are in a shop or corner store and there appears to be no one around to help, just call out ¡Buenas! to receive service. On business call try not to get down to business right away. Talk a bit and see how his or her day is going first. Timeliness is not as critical in Nicaragua as it is in many countries of the world. The visitor should be on time, but also patient, and expect meetings to start late and often run overtime. Slow down, a conversation could be more valuable than starting or finishing on time and for many Nicaraguans the human touch is more important.

The visitor will find most Nicaraguans wear long pants or skirts in the cities and villages. Shorts are reserved for the beach or walking in the wilderness if the visitor wants to dress to culturally sensitive. Nicaraguans generally dress as well as they can for all occasions. For the woman traveler, a simple, cool dress may be worn in many situations and some well ventilated, but stylish sandals are versatile. For men jeans are fine with some decent shoes and a short sleeve shirt. Once in the countryside hiking, or at the beach, shorts are fine. Nicaraguan businessmen often do not wear suits, but rather some nice slacks and a well pressed button-down shirt.

Tips are figured into the bill on restaurant tabs at 10%. At the airport or hotel a US$0.50 per bag tip is normal. Taxi drivers do not receive tips unless hired out on an hourly or daily basis.