Chic, Eco-Friendly Casitas on Private Island in Lake Nicaragua
From its buildings down to its furniture, Jicaro Island Ecolodge was built almost entirely from trees that were toppled by 2007’s hurricane Felix. That’s one of the many ways the lodge has managed to keep in harmony with its setting on a private island in Lake Nicaragua. The resort also stocks only biodegradable soaps and uses an underground electricity system to avoid disturbing the local wildlife.
Since it’s so in tune with the island atmosphere, Jicaro Island Ecolodge seems to have earned a laid-back vibe by default. The lodge’s nine casitas each feature a deck outfitted with an oversized hammock, and there are gorgeous views of the surrounding lake, palm trees, and Mombacho Volcano in the distance.
The casitas look like stylish treehouses, standing two stories tall with thatched roofs and slatted façades, and inside, they’re decorated with earth-toned fabrics made from bamboo or organic cotton. There are large doors and windows in here, too, which makes the indoor and outdoor scenes seem to blend together.
When you want to get outside, there are plenty of ways to check out the scenery. The lodge sits in the middle of a freshwater lake, and the hotel can help set you up on rainforest hikes and zipline tours. Onsite nature guides also lead tours through the area that shed light on local wildlife and the area's colonial past. Jicaro Island Ecolodge also keeps kayaks handy, which you can use to explore the islets' canals and get close enough to hug a lonely Loch Ness monster.
For dining, three meals are crafted daily with locally sourced produce and fish caught fresh from the lake. You can watch chefs work magic thanks to the restaurant's open kitchen area. Feel free to then take your meal out on the floating deck. On the sample menu, you’ll find plates such as banana pancakes with Flor de Caña rum for breakfast and chili rellenos under a pineapple salsa for dinner.
Granada Isletas, Nicaragua: Volcanic Islands Off the Shores of an Old Colonial Town
Jicaro Island is one of more than 300 small volcanic rock islands in an archipelago just off the coast of Granada. You’ll arrive on the island by motorboat, and it’s easy to explore the rest of the islets by simply hopping in a kayak. Check the Ecolodge's list of tours and activities to get an idea of all you can do in the area.
One of the highlights is the nearby Mombacho Volcano, where you can visit plantations and hot springs. Mombacho has varied ecosystems, including both high-altitude cloud forests and lower altitude dry forests; there’s also a wide variety of animals that make their home there, including howler monkeys and iguanas.
On Nicaragua's mainland, Granada itself is one of the oldest cities in the New World; it was founded in 1524 by Spanish colonists. Today, the city offers a glimpse of the old Spanish empire at the height of its powers: there are restored cathedrals, colorful squares, and glistening bell towers. Old-fashioned horse carriages still clip-clop through its cobblestone streets, and in its central plaza, vendors showcase hand-carved wood toys and jewelry.