Jicaro Island Lodge: About

Located in Lake Nicaragua, Nicaragua

Known to locals as Cocibolca, or Sweet Sea, Lake Nicaragua stretches across the country’s base in an expanse of shimmering sapphire, framed in several spots by soaring volcanic cones. More than just a lake, Nicaraguans revere these waters as a life force that fuels hundreds of tiny islands, many of which harbor centuries-old fishing communities. Jicaro Island Lodge’s tree-house casitas are perched on one such isleta at the heart of this captivating water world, offering guests the rare opportunity to truly live the archipelago. Travel between neighboring islands by kayak or paddleboard, or journey to the shoreline to explore Nicaragua’s many cultural and natural wonders. Back at the lodge, settle in to watch the tropical sun drop behind volcanoes as evening brings stillness to the Sweet Sea.


  • Greet the day with a lakeside yoga session, gazing at the tranquil scenery as you practice sun salutations.
  • Launch a kayak or stand-up paddleboard onto Lake Nicaragua and glide between isletas to spot myriad tropical birds and butterflies.
  • Grab a fruity rum drink at sunset and climb the island observation tower for panoramic views of the Mombacho Volcano.
  • Savor traditional Nicaraguan cuisine on a floating dock, where wait staff deliver your meal by boat.
  • Discover the wonders that await on the lakeshore, from the colorful, cobbled streets of colonial Granada to the Masaya Volcano’s fiery lava lake.

Why We Love This Lodge

Opening a sustainable lodge in Nicaragua seemed a revolutionary feat when founder Karen Emanuel began building Jicaro: Nicaragua’s tourism industry was still relatively undeveloped, and sustainability was a little-known concept. So Emanuel brought sustainability lessons over from across the border in Costa Rica, an ecotourism capital where several of Jicaro’s sister properties have thrived. Her relationship to these success stories empowered her to work sustainability into every phase of Jicaro’s construction. The structure was carefully adapted to the natural features of the isleta and locals from neighboring isletas were brought over to staff the lodge and, ultimately, to share their culture with guests. The result is a serene hideaway with strong sense of place at the heart of a wild aquatic world—and a crucial example of the positive impact tourism can have at a tipping point for the Nicaraguan tourism industry.

Lodge Features

  • Nine two-story casitas, each nestled in its own patch of jungle on the shores of Lake Nicaragua
  • Open-air lakefront restaurant and bar
  • Yoga deck at the water’s edge, outfitted with a telescope for stargazing
  • Offshore floating dock for lounging, swimming, and private dinners
  • Fleet of kayaks and stand-up paddleboards
  • Observation tower with views of Mombacho Volcano
  • Infinity pool overlooking the lake
  • Wellness center offering massages and other spa treatments
  • Gift shop featuring regional handicrafts and items made from locally recycled materials.
  • Free Wi-fi throughout the lodge

National Geographic Exclusive

Each of our lodges has created a special complimentary experience offered exclusively to guests who visit through a National Geographic expedition. At Jicaro Island Lodge, guests are invited on an excursion along the base of the mighty Mombacho Volcano. Travel by boat to the foot of the volcano, and set off on a guided interpretive hike through the lush, tropical forests of La Calera Natural Reserve. Your destination is a secluded hot spring, where you’ll enjoy a picnic breakfast. Spend some time kayaking along inland waterways before catching the boat back to Jicaro.

A Note About Travel to Nicaragua

Please note: A US Department of State travel advisory for Nicaragua is currently in effect (travel.state.gov). National Geographic is not accepting bookings for Jicaro Island Lodge at this time. For any questions, please call us at 1-888-701-5486.

Photos from Our Lodge and Travelers

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