Touting original colonial-era furniture, Granada is one of the oldest cities in the Americas. // © 2017 Michelle Juergen
Feature image (above): The Las Isletas area offers a front-row view of Mombacho Volcano. // © 2017 Getty Images
In western Nicaragua, along the coast of Central America’s largest lake, lies the charming town of Granada. One of the oldest cities in the Americas, Granada is a must-stop on any trip to lush Nicaragua. With a bustling city life, original colonial-era architecture, internationally recognized dining and close proximity to nature and adventure activities, Granada is poised to serve all types of clients.
Those seeking to explore Nicaragua’s bountiful natural beauty while based in Granada will want to venture to Las Isletas. Located on Lake Nicaragua’s northwestern coast, the area consists of about 365 small islands that were formed some 20,000 years ago by a large eruption of Mombacho Volcano. Las Isletas is also home to a few small hotels and shops, local residences and vacation homes, a fishing community and ample wildlife.
Older clients and families with smaller children can hop on a boat tour of the islets from one of many local operators. The tours typically last one to three hours, during which travelers can see rich birdlife — including pelicans, egrets, parrots, herons and hawks — as well as animals such as spider monkeys (who will steal your belongings if you’re not careful). Boaters will also view the fort of San Pablo, an 18th-century structure built to protect Granada from pirate raids; it was restored in 1974 as a museum.
Active clients may prefer to see the archipelago by kayak; tours generally run from two to four hours. As they paddle through the waters, they’ll take in panoramic views of Mombacho and can get a close-up look at the islets, which range from just 1,000 square feet to more than 200 acres.
Before the day’s end, suggest that clients head back to Granada for dinner at the intimate Espressonista Specialty Coffeebar and Restaurant. The eatery, opened by two New York transplants a few years ago, serves dishes such as rabbit confit, ox-cheek bourguignon, "osso bucco tagliatelle" and "ajo blanco" (a cold soup of almonds and artisanal oils) — all using natural, local, organic ingredients.