Jicaro Island Ecolodge overlooks Lake Nicaragua. // © 2011 ftp.caorda.com
Jicaro Island Ecolodge
All meals and non-alcoholic beverages for two adults are included in the room rate, which varies in the low and high seasons from $480 to $540 per night, respectively.
My casita was void of television, air conditioning and a phone, and I spent the night cocooned by a mosquito net. This was my experience at Jicaro Island Ecolodge and, to be quite honest, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Located on a private island in Lake Nicaragua, not far from the colonial town of Granada, Nicaragua, Jicaro won me over from the start with its elegant simplicity. The journey began with a calming boat ride, Mombacho Volcano looming over us in the distance. Birders will want to keep their eyes peeled on the ride over — in a span of about 20 minutes, I spotted a ringed kingfisher, a purple gallinule fanning its wings, a chestnut-brown northern jacana and a yellow-tailed Montezuma’s oropendola. Wildlife encounters continue on the island, and binoculars are readily available at the reception desk.
Harmony with nature and the local community were top priorities during the development of Jicaro. The resort was built with minimum impact to the island, and it continues to tread lightly on the land. Energy-efficient lighting illuminates the property, and solar panels heat the water used by both guests and the kitchen. Wastewater is treated on the island with a treatment plant that complies with internationally accepted standards, and an underground electricity system keeps from disrupting the surrounding wildlife.
The island features nine casitas crafted from Rainforest Alliance-certified cedar. A bedroom with a comfy king-size bed occupies the top floor, and the first floor features a spacious living area connecting to an outside deck with a hammock. All accommodations overlook the lake, and spending a tranquil morning on the deck with complimentary coffee and freshly baked banana bread (delivered en suite) will make guests feel like they have the entire island to themselves.
Rainshowers come equipped with biodegradable soap and shampoo. With an open-floor plan and use of natural light, they have the feel of an outdoor shower without actually exposing guests to the elements.
My fondest memories of the trip were enjoying a Tona beer with my traveling companions in the resort’s saltwater pool (the pool uses a system that turns saltwater into a natural form of chlorine) and dining at the sole open-air restaurant on the island. All of the dishes are organic and locally sourced, and a typical dinner features regional delicacies that would be difficult to find elsewhere. I savored the homemade Jicaro Island soup made from ground jicaro seed, caramelized onions and tamarind, while my friends raved about the braised pellibuey (sheep) served on a bed of cabbage with cucumber slaw.
“With the exception of Chilean wine, all of our products are local,” said general manager Howard Coulson. “Most of our staff are locals too, and we participate in community outreach programs at local schools. For us, sustainability in all facets has been the key to our success.”