One of my favorite birthday trips we have ever taken was to Nicaragua two years ago. While there, we stayed at Jicaro Island Ecolodge, a modern eco-resort located on a private island in the Grand Isletas of Lake Nicaragua. You get to the hotel by way of a small boat that picks you up at a dock in Granada. Each of the resorts' nine wooden casitas have lake front views and provide the perfect place to unwind after visiting the busy markets in town. Our casita was two stories, built entirely of wood (tropical hardwoods felled during a hurricane in 2006) and a deck with just enough room for an unfolded hammock looking out over the lake.
Here are a few of my favorite things and tips from our stay.
Breakfast is served from 8-10, but you can arrange for coffee at your casita starting at 6am. A warm canister of milk and buttered banana bread are set out on your patio table along with a hot carafe of Nicaraguan coffee.
There is need for an alarm clock, as howler monkeys start roaring around 6:30, and if you are an extra sound sleeper you can always request a buenas dias knock on your casita door at a specific time.
Get up early to go for a kayak around the surrounding isletas before breakfast. The lake wildlife is most active at dawn and dusk and gliding through the water in the morning sun works up quite an appetite.
For breakfast order, the huevos nicaraguenses, a plato tipico or regional Nicaraguan dish consisting of eggs any way, gallo pinto (black beans and rice), fried plantains and crema.
Explore the nearby city of Granada and local markets in Masaya. For the more adventurous, hire a guide and visit both the locals market and the tourist market for a well-rounded experience.
Relax and enjoy the island. Hanging out by the pool has its perks. Ice cold water with lime rounds in hurricane glasses are brought to guests lingering poolside along with afternoon snacks of handmade guacamole and plantain chips to tide you over until dinner.
Island activities are posted on the blackboard by the dining room each morning. Crafting a signature Jicaro cocktail using the local Jicaro liquor, simple syrup, lime juice, soda and grama (a sweetened tea of steeped local grasses) was a favorite.
All nine casitas are waterfront, nestled into the side of the tiny, private island, but some have more unobstructed view across the lake to nearby islands than others. We stayed in the one above and it was perfect.