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This group of small islands in Lake Nicaragua is so far off the beaten path, nearby Ometepe seems like Paris by comparison. The only way to get here is by a small boat that makes the two-hour trip twice a week. Lodging is limited to a couple of small guesthouses and homestay opportunities with local families. Electricity and hot water are rare. Travelers with the confidence and patience to make the trip will find a wealth of archaeological, cultural and natural treasures. The ancient Nahuatl people left many petroglyphs and cave paintings around the islands. In the 1960s, a missionary named Ernesto Cardenal established a religious movement ...

This group of small islands in Lake Nicaragua is so far off the beaten path, nearby Ometepe seems like Paris by comparison. The only way to get here is by a small boat that makes the two-hour trip twice a week. Lodging is limited to a couple of small guesthouses and homestay opportunities with local families. Electricity and hot water are rare. Travelers with the confidence and patience to make the trip will find a wealth of archaeological, cultural and natural treasures. The ancient Nahuatl people left many petroglyphs and cave paintings around the islands. In the 1960s, a missionary named Ernesto Cardenal established a religious movement here, and cultivated the artistic talents of the islanders, who are famous for their wood carvings and delightful paintings in the tropical primitive style. Father Cardenal’s small church on the island of Mancarron is a highlight. The locals suffered greatly in Nicaragua’s civil wars — several of the islands are named for revolutionary martyrs. With less than 1,000 human residents, the islands are a paradise for wildlife. Eco-tourists can stay at the biological station on the island of Mancarroncito and view the bird sanctuary on Zapote and the howler monkey colony on Isla El Padre. Public transport barely exists, so a guided tour is just about the only way to see the sights.

Charlie Morris
About the Expert

Charlie Morris is the author of the Open Road guidebooks Best of Honduras, Best of Costa Rica, Best of Belize, and Switzerland Guide.

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Charlie Morris for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: An archipelago of islands towards the southern end of Lake Nicaragua, considered a national monument.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Nicaragua Cordoba
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    December through April (the dry season)