As the largest country in Central America, Nicaragua is an abundant environmental haven and a traveler’s dream. Designated as a biodiversity hotspot - bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the east by the Caribbean Sea - there are a variety of travel adventures awaiting all interests. Known as “La Tierra de Lagos y Volcanes” (Land of Lakes and Volcanoes) Nicaragua offers adventures for all interests including surfers, biologists, and sustainable tourists. In addition to the eco-conscious traveler, Nicaragua draws culturists as well and is known for its literary history including known poets such as Rubén Darío and Ernesto Cardenal.
Nicaragua may not have always been known for ecotourism, but a recent push by the government to market and protect its natural beauty will surely make it a sought after destination for years to come. One fifth of Nicaragua is protected in national parks and natural reserves. A large rainforest covers over 7,000 square miles on the Atlantic Coast, giving it the largest area of primary rainforest north of the Amazon. Cougars and jaguars are known to inhabit the forest, but intrepid tourists are more likely to spot monkeys and toucans. Nesting sea turtles, protected by the Nicaraguan government, can be seen during certain times of the year along the country’s beaches.
Lake Nicaragua’s verdant Ometepe Island, dominated by the twin cones of Volcán Concepción and Volcán Maderas, is one of the world's largest volcanic islands in a freshwater lake. Thanks to its diverse topography, dramatic altitudinal range, and varied climactic conditions, the island holds examples of most of the ecosystems found in Nicaragua ranging from tropical dry forest to humid forest, cloud forest, dwarf forest, wetlands, and beaches. Ometepe is also a birdwatchers paradise - at least 56 Neotropical migratory bird species and 18 species that are considered conservation priorities use the island's forests and wetlands.
In visiting the captivating colonial architecture of Granada or Leon, the sustainable traveler will quickly come to see why so many international visitors respect and visit this special place. On Lake Nicaragua, the city of Granada is marked by narrow one-way streets that were built before cars.
Nicaragua has a made a push recent years to grow its ecotourism market, which has resulted in a variety of sustainable lodging options. Here you can find eco-lodges tucked into mountains and rainforests, boutique hotels on the beach, and even built onto piers overlooking inland rivers. Either way, seclusion is easy to come by.
SustainableTrip.org features Rainforest Alliance Verified accommodations in Nicaragua.
Learn more about ecotourism and sustainable tourism in Nicaragua on the Rainforest Alliance’s Eco-Index Web site.