Jicaro Island Ecolodge
What We Love
- Jetsetter 2015 Best of the Best Finalist: Best Eco-Lodge
- All-inclusive rate includes three multicourse à la carte meals daily, nonalcoholic beverages and one round-trip lake transfer between Granada’s Asese Port and Jicara Island
- Peaceful, secluded location right in the middle of a lake
- READ MORE: Find Your Perfect Nicaragua Vacation
What To Know
- A stay here is all about relaxation and getting back in touch with nature
- Healthy food with an emphasis on local and organic ingredients
- Sustainable design and support of local communities
- Eco friendly
- Free WiFi
The brainchild of British businesswoman Karen Emanuel, who bought the island on a whim while on holiday in 2007, this stylish eco-hideaway sits smack in the middle of island-dotted Lake Nicaragua. With an environmentally friendly foot forward, Jicaro offers a refreshing disconnect, but it’s still just a short boat ride from the charming colonial town of Granada. The use of WiFi (available in public areas) is strongly discouraged, and watching TV is not even an option — there isn’t a single set on the islet.
Bed and Bath
Tropical trees surround the nine two-story wooden casitas, which are elegantly but simply dressed and have enormous windows looking out over quiet Lake Nicaragua. Spend mornings with fresh coffee, tea or hot chocolate delivered to your deck, and afternoons lazing in your lakeside hammock. Open-plan bathrooms offer little privacy but allow you to shower with views of the rain forest.
Nicaragua may not be known for its cuisine, but Jicaro certainly is. The lodge’s San Francisco–trained chef prepares light, healthy, organic fare in an open kitchen next to the restaurant. Don’t miss the huevos nicaraguenses for breakfast and the essential Nicaraguan accompaniments: gallo pinto, onions, smashed red beans and rice. For more active diversions, salute the sun with alfresco yoga on the floating dock, hike to the beautiful Asese Peninsula, go on a sunset kayak cruise or try exhilarating canopy ziplining. Back at the lodge there’s the promise of a relaxing Swedish or hot stone massage in one of two open-air rooms at the lakeside spa.
In the Area
Paddle out with a guide to explore the diverse ecosystem that surrounds Jicaro. As you glide through water lily–covered canals, spot howler monkeys, an occasional lake turtle and many of the area’s 87 bird species. Don’t forget binoculars, plenty of sunscreen and a swimsuit if you want to take a dip. Or, for a more adrenaline-filled excursion, zipline through the canopy using harnesses and pulleys along 2,000 feet of cable that stretch between 17 platforms placed as much as 100 feet above the forest floor. Save time for a trip to the pastel-colored streets of Granada. Climb the bell tower of Iglesia de la Merced for the spectacular view, and then head for a delicious dinner at Imagine.
How to Get There
My husband & I went to Jicaro for our belated honeymoon/anniversary/birthday trip. It was everything we could have imagined and MORE! Believe all the hype in these amazing reviews, it is all that & more. We stayed at Jicaro for 4 nights and 5 days. With all the extra excursions that we did, we felt that this was the perfect amount of time for us. We did one extra activity a day. Due to the slow return of tourism in Nicaragua we found that we were the only people at the resort for most of our trip. It was magical. Let me say here that we visited 4 towns in Nicaragua and felt welcome and safe everywhere we went! I'll try to breakdown what I think will be helpful for future travelers. FOOD/DRINKS- there was not one thing that touched my lips that was not fresh & delicious. My husband us a great cook and can be picky about flavors but everything here he loved. A few of our favorite things were the french toast, huevos rancheros, any of the fresh made bread (and the spicy sauce that comes with it!!), crab soup, croquettes, any of the fish, coffee & coconut ice cream. You'll want to request the daily coffee & bread service each morning, it is so lovely to wake up to. They provided snacks daily and they were not nuts or chips & salsa, we are talking quesadillas, fresh made hummus, shrimp on plantain chips. We ordered quite a few dinks at the bar & took a cocktail making class. The cocktails are made with fresh juice and are fantastic. ROOM/LODGE/SERVICE- even though we were the only people there we felt that we had our privacy but also felt safe and well taken care for at all times. The staff is so friendly and accommodating. One of the nights was my husbands birthday and they made it such a special dinner for us. One thing we did not plan for was gratuity. At first we tried to tip our server daily but they switch shifts midday so sometimes we felt that we missed someone. Also we did not have enough of the same currency in cash to tip so we were getting confused on the exchange rate. I suggest doing it all at the end when you check out, either in cash or card. We were in love with our casita. Although it is warm most of the day the casita is designed for air flow and we were comfortable the entire stay. The water is heated by solar power so hot showers in the morning were few and far between but this was not an issue because we were doing activities or at the pool. The room does have a mini bar which I did not read anywhere. They stock it with 2 small local rums, sodas, local beers, & a snack (ours was plantain chips, dried pineapple, then little cookies; not sure if they stocked these multiple times because we were the only ones there or not). They clean the room twice a day & bring ice each evening with UV filtered water. All water there is safe to drink. The paddleboards & kayaks they have for use are very fun and actually easy to get around on. ADD ON EXPERIENCES- We prebooked the artisanal fishing (was fun & beautiful early morning views but it was difficult for my husband & I, and he's a fisherman, great guide though!), massages (so relaxing & nice!), & romantic floating dock dinner (this was like out of a dream, beautiful sunset & very romantic ambiance) then once we got there we added a day trip (not guided) trip to Granada (we did 3 hours but probably could've just done 2 and seen as much as we wanted since we were eating all the meals at Jicaro) and night trip to Masaya volcano (did this for husband's birthday & it was bucket list, visited a crater lake on the way in Catarina & market in Masaya, we arrived at volcano at night and could see the lava, breathtaking). If you have ANY questions don't hesitate to ask!
I came to this piece of paradise for a birthday treat and oh, what an experience. The hotel is stunning, the surroundings incredible, the staff first class. Each meal was a sensation for the taste buds and what better than to swim in a private lake, kayak, climb the local volcano or relax by the pool with a cocktail? Nothing is too much trouble for the wonderful staff, who seem to be able to magic up local tour guides, private cars and travel connections! Just perfect.
We decided to take a quick romantic trip on a whim and stayed at Jicaro for a few days – best decision ever! We didn’t know exactly what to expect but the island was so so peaceful. The energy of the place is seriously magic! The hotel has free paddleboards and kayaks which was fun, and also yoga. We also booked a couples massage which was utter bliss. Service was amazing (special shout-out to Arge – we miss you!!) and the food was to die for – those rum banana pancakes and fish tacos!! If I had to pick a highlight it’s got to be the surprise romantic dinner the staff set up for us out on the floating deck. Total goose bumps and truly unforgettable! Jicaro, we will be back!
After our first stay at Jicaro Island Lodge and I need more stars and diamonds to describe our experience.
My husband and I had never before traveled to Nicaragua and a last-minute decision to escape from work ahead of the holidays landed us at Jicaro Island. Before we even arrived, the service was tremendous. A quick chat online through their website enabled me to arrange a wonderful and charming driver to pick us up at the Managua airport and deliver us to the marina 45 minutes away in Granada. From there, we were greeted by several staff members and shuttled across the bay to the gorgeous resort. I never wanted to leave.
I cannot emphasize enough how every aspect of Jicaro Island shows impeccable attention to detail. From the dining spaces to the casitas to the spa, every spot is stunning and genius in its design, and every view is more enchanting than the next.
The service is unparalleled. The staff members were truly excellent. Everything from arranging a tour of the Mombacho volcano, to planning an impromptu fishing excursion for my husband , to overseeing laundry service – it happened seamlessly and with so little effort on my part that I felt truly spoiled. It was like magic that coffee was delivered, rooms were straightened, drinks were refreshed, hammocks hung were and beds were turned down. I am in awe of the efforts. Also, I could not be more appreciative of everyone’s fluency in English and their patience with my Spanish.
Last but not least, the menu at Jicaro Island is hands-down phenomenal. Pages of meal options ranged from healthy spa cuisine to robust local steaks and hearty Nicaraguan dishes – any and all made to order and every choice delicioso! I dream of their spicy tomato soup, ceviches, and fish dishes whenever I sit down for a meal.
My husband and I have ventured far and wide in our vacations, from Airbnbs to the Ritz. Jicaro Island has raised the bar forever for us because of its beauty, luxury and tranquility. I simply can’t wait to return.
I've been fortunate enough to stay at Jicaro Island Lodge on multiple occasions, and it truly is a magical experience.
Firstly, I think it's really important to acknowledge the people who make Jicaro Island so special. In my experience, everyone I've met from the front of house team, to the food and beverage team, to the housekeepers, manager and sustainability team is always so friendly, warm and welcoming. They always have a smile on their face, nothing is too much trouble, and they always make time for conversation. Each time I've visited, I've been welcomed back as if I were one of the family. In fact, whilst visiting last year for my birthday, I was greeted in the morning with balloons, flowers and a chalkboard mural wishing me a Happy Birthday, and in the evening, the chef had baked me a beautiful cake, which I shared with the team. It's the little gestures like that which make a difference.
The island itself is simply beautiful. Accessible by a short boat ride from the port in Granada, Jicaro Island is beautifully peaceful, tranquil and private and is surrounded by views of the nearby volcanos. It's also home to the most picture postcard perfect sunrises and sunsets. Jicaro is a nature-lovers paradise and is perfect for bird watching and if you're feeling a little more adventurous, you can even borrow one of Jicaro's kayaks or paddleboards to visit the monkeys on some of neighbouring isletas.
You don't have a room at Jicaro Island, but instead you have your own private casita, complete with terrace and requisite hammock, indoor sitting area, beautiful bathroom with a rainforest shower, and canopy bed. It sort of feels like a grown-up version of a treehouse. It's so easy to feel at home here - I spent many afternoons lazing around in my hammock, watching the birds, reading, and reveling in the serenity.
It's hard to imagine wanting to leave the island, but a trip to the colonial town of Granada is a must-see, as well as visiting the volcanoes, all of which are excursions Jicaro are able to arrange. I also enjoyed the daily yoga sessions, kayaking around the isletas and swimming in the lake. And of course, lazing by the pool with a cocktail or two.
And of course, that brings us to the food. Quite simply, the food at Jicaro is absolutely divine. It's hands down the best food I've eaten in Nicaragua, and some of the dishes are up there with my all-time favourites. The menu offers a great selection of local cuisine and tried and true classics, and is all made using fresh and local ingredients, many of which are grown on neighbouring isletas. Every day, I promised myself that I'd limit myself to just 2 dishes at lunch, but every day I caved in and treated myself to a 3-course lunch and dinner, the food really is that good. There is also a good selection of wine and spirits on offer, and no visit to Jicaro would be complete without one of their signature cocktails.
It's impossible not to fall in love with Jicaro Island Lodge, and its amazing team, and I would highly recommend staying at Jicaro when you next visit Nicaragua. I'm sure you won't be disappointed!