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[highlight1]  Jicaro Island Ecolodge  [/highlight1]

Nine private casitas comprise Nicaragua´s most upscale nature resort, located on a private island in Lake Nicaragua. A short boat ride from the colonial town of Granada, the lodge offers spectacular views of the Mombacho Volcano across the lake. There are just nine two-story lakefront casitas of spare, treehouse-chic design, which bring the outdoors in via huge windows, abundant use of (Rainforest Alliance-certified) hardwoods, and soft, earth-toned fabrics, most made from bamboo or organic cotton.

Jicaro-Island-Ecolodge-By-Architect-Matthew-Falkiner-04-450x300 Jicaro Island Ecolodge / Architect Matthew Falkiner© Jicaro Island Ecolodge

Tree-lined path leads past dramatic saltwater infinity pool to chic, contemporary, light-flooded guest lodgings. Airy upstairs bedroom contains cedar-framed bed draped with mosquito netting; ceiling fan and large doors and windows provide ventilation. Spacious, main-floor living area includes a daybed that can accommodate a third person; an inviting deck with inviting hammock overlooks the lake.

Jicaro Island Ecolodge is Nicaragua´s most high-end nature eco resort located on a private island in Lake Nicaragua. Jicaro is the best of hotels in Granada Nicaragua. The ecolodge is located just a short boat ride from the colonial town of Granada with spectacular views of the Mombacho Volcano across the lake. Nine private casitas serve as the perfect setting for romantic escapes, tours and activities as well as wellness and yoga retreats. Immerse yourself in a magical island experience filled with peace, tranquility.

Jicaro-Island-Ecolodge-By-Architect-Matthew-Falkiner-02-450x300 Jicaro Island Ecolodge / Architect Matthew Falkiner© Jicaro Island Ecolodge

The exquisite Jicaro Island Ecolodge is situated just 15 minutes by motorboat from the vibrant colonial city of Granada. Jicaro’s neighbors include a handful of residential islands and about a dozen tiny specks big enough only for a tree or two. The resort’s island is scarcely larger, but architect Matthew Falkiner managed to squeeze in nine duplex guest casitas without making the one-acre space feel overbuilt.

A sliding door revealed an expanse of auburn cedar. Three walls were either screens or shoji-like translucent plastic, allowing natural light to flood the space and giving the casita an almost Japanese feel. Upstairs in the airy bedroom, mosquito netting draped the cedar-framed bed. Ample screens and a ceiling fan provided cooling breezes. An open-air lakeview restaurant served unfailingly delicious local and international cuisine. The staff proved to be reliable bartenders, as well, and it was sheer delight to sip mojitos while watching the sunset. A small but well-appointed spa provided another excuse to remain on the island, although Jicaro’s well-organized excursions made it well worth the effort to leave.

Developed in harmony with the surrounding nature and local community, Jicaro Island Ecolodge is Nicaragua´s most upscale nature resort. Nine private two story casitas serve as the perfect setting for romantic escapes and wellness retreats on this secluded island getaway. The open kitchen serves Nicaraguan fusion cuisine using local and organic ingredients in an open air setting overlooking Mombacho volcano. Immerse yourself into a magical island experience filled with peace and tranquility and access to a wide variety of activities ranging from hiking or zip lining on volcanoes, bathing in hot springs and exploring the colonial treasures of Nicaragua.

Jicaro-Island-Ecolodge-By-Architect-Matthew-Falkiner-28-450x300 Jicaro Island Ecolodge / Architect Matthew Falkiner© Jicaro Island Ecolodge


Karen Emanuel has been running a successful company in London for the past 19 years. Whilst on holiday in Nicaragua in January of 2007, she walked into a restaurant and saw a notice proclaiming “Island for Sale”. This rather interested her- partly as a fantasy, partly as she had recognized that Nicaragua was a developing Central American country with a lot to offer. A short boat ride later with the owners, followed by a relaxing week at an astounding eco lodge on the Nicaraguan coast, an idea had started developing in her head. After arriving back home to the bleak London winter, she got out the back of an envelope and scribbled down a few figures. Within a few weeks she had wired a deposit for the Island over to the owners.

Two years later, with the help of architect Matthew Falkiner and team from Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality the dream has become a reality and the resort is about to open in early 2010.

Jicaro-Island-Ecolodge-By-Architect-Matthew-Falkiner-08-436x650 Jicaro Island Ecolodge / Architect Matthew Falkiner© Jicaro Island Ecolodge


At Jicaro you stay in your own little house, a “casita”. The nine casitas on the island all have lake views and are within a short walk from the pool, restaurant, and wellness center. The casitas are two stories, with a private bedroom and a king size bed on the second floor; and on the first floor, a spacious living area that connects to an outside deck overlooking the lake. The casitas and the furniture are made locally from Rainforest Alliance certified wood. Most notably, the oversized hammock and comfy furniture of the deck will invite you to relax and feel the peace of this magical lake.

Jicaro-Island-Ecolodge-By-Architect-Matthew-Falkiner-11-450x300 Jicaro Island Ecolodge / Architect Matthew Falkiner© Jicaro Island Ecolodge


The pool is kept clean using natural salts, not chlorine, and was built around the natural landscape and rocks. Biodegradable shampoo, soap, lotion and conditioner are provided. Solar panels heat water. Tap water is drinkable and biodegradable water bottles are given to every guest (water is not sold in regular plastic bottles at all). There are recycling bins in all casitas. Specialist Chris Shanks consulted on the eco building plan and very few plants or trees were removed down during construction and more plants were added during final landscaping. All black and grey water is treated using naturally occurring microbes, not chemicals, and treated water is used in irrigation. Cleaning is done using vinegar and baking soda (not chemical cleaning products) whenever and wherever possible. There are no plastic straws on the island. Biodegradable bamboo straws are used instead.

Jicaro-Island-Ecolodge-By-Architect-Matthew-Falkiner-07-450x300 Jicaro Island Ecolodge / Architect Matthew Falkiner© Jicaro Island Ecolodge


Besides Yoga sessions and a variety of massage and wellness treatments, a visitor to the island will be enticed by the fresh and healthy local cuisine, the warmth of the local staff and the authenticity of the overall experience. The Yoga deck looks out over the lake and towards the Mombacho volcano; it is a spot that inspires serenity and tranquility. Yoga classes are available for guests on a daily basis. The wellness center is located right on the lake and offers two spectacular open air treatment rooms with private showers. Massages range from Swedish to Shiatsu to Hot Stone treatments and are available on a daily basis for every guests.

Jicaro-Island-Ecolodge-By-Architect-Matthew-Falkiner-22-450x302 Jicaro Island Ecolodge / Architect Matthew Falkiner© Jicaro Island Ecolodge


Harmony with nature and the local community were a key consideration in the development of Jicaro Island Ecolodge. The resort was built with minimum impact to the island and with very careful planning in terms of water supply, wastewater treatment and electricity usage. The team in charge of management of Jicaro has a 10 year track record of running ecolodges and sustainable hotels in Costa Rica and has brought this accumulated know how to Nicaragua. Just a few examples of how the hotel is sustainable.

  • Water is heated with solar panels for guest and kitchen use.
  • No air conditioning is installed on the island. Cross ventilation and ceiling fans create enough of a cooling effect to ensure guest comfort.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. While there is a strong recycling program installed, the focus due to the island location is on reducing. Bring as little trash to the island as possible.
  • Wastewater is treated on the island with a treatment plant complying not only with Nicaraguan but internationally accepted standards.
  • Hiring of a local staff is essential to the success of the lodge. We want to spread the potential wealth that tourism brings to Nicaragua by hiring locals as employees, subcontracting services locally and buying and producing locally.
  • Use of organic and biodegradable soaps, cleaning detergents and spa products.
  • Chlorine free systems to clean water in the pool.
  • Energy efficient lighting and illumination throughout the island.
  • Underground electricity system that does not interfere with the surrounding wildlife.

Jicaro-Island-Ecolodge-By-Architect-Matthew-Falkiner-26-450x300 Jicaro Island Ecolodge / Architect Matthew Falkiner© Jicaro Island Ecolodge

Jicaro is a unique boutique property, and because of its fantastic yet inconvenient location, and serious commitment to sustainability, the resort won’t be every discriminating traveler’s choice in Granada. As a luxury ecolodge, however, it just about perfect, and really raises the bar—in the most responsible way possible—for Nicaragua’s nascent luxury travel scene.

Jicaro-Island-Ecolodge-By-Architect-Matthew-Falkiner-30-450x299 Jicaro Island Ecolodge / Architect Matthew Falkiner© Jicaro Island Ecolodge 

[highlight1]  Project Data  [/highlight1]

Project name: Jicaro Island Ecolodge
Location: Granada Isletas, Nicaragua
Coordinates: 11.886344, -85.901434
Type: Lodge & Tented Camp, Resort, Lodge & Tented Camp Interior, Resort Space
Materials: Hardwoods, earth-toned fabrics, bamboo or organic cotton.
Site Area: one-acre
Size: nine two-story lakefront casitas
Project Year: 2005-2010
Status: Built
Completion Year: early 2010

  • 2013 Andrew Harper Grand Awards
  • 2013 Tripadvisor Awards – Ranked No.1 of 33 hotels in Granada

Visit Jicaro Island Ecolodge’s website: here

[highlight1]  The people  [/highlight1]

Client / Owner / Developer: Karen Emmanuel
Architects: Architect Matthew Falkiner
Project Team: Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality
Text Description: © Courtesy of Jicaro Island Ecolodge, Andrew Harper
Images: © Jicaro Island Ecolodge

[highlight1]  Video  [/highlight1]
[highlight1]  Location Map  [/highlight1]

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