Plan Your Trip To This Luxury Eco-Friendly Treehouse On A Secluded Tropical Island

Nicaragua is often overshadowed by its popular neighbor Costa Rica. But with kind locals and spectacular scenery, this is one jungle paradise that's not to be missed. At the center of Lake Nicaragua, there's a hidden gem for honeymooners, adventure junkies, and wellness seekers alike. Jicaro Island Lodge offers a private island experience and lux amenities with minimal impact on the environment.

Founded in 2007, the idea for this eco-retreat arrived when owner Karen Emanuel, a London native, came to Nicaragua on vacation and saw a sign in a restaurant about an island for sale. She reached out to the owners, fell in love with the property, and the rest is history. Her blog, Karen's Island, chronicled the ups and downs of opening a hotel in paradise. Today, Jicaro Island Lodge is an important part of the community, as the tourism revenue provides solar panels and filtered water systems to the surrounding areas. From the building materials to the staff members, it's a local operation. It's also part of the Cayuga Collection, a group of five-star hotels that are committed to preserving the environment. Rest assured, no trees were harmed in the making of this getaway.

Accommodation and sustainability

Jicaro Island Lodge is situated on one of Lake Nicaragua's 300 inlets. Fresh off the boat from Puerto Marina, you'll be greeted with a beautiful view of Mombacho Volcano and a welcome cocktail, a good sign of things to come. One of the first things you'll notice is the commitment to sustainable tourism and eco-friendly touches everywhere, from a natural pool that's neutralized with salt to biodegradable toiletries. While you won't find any plastic straws here, you will find plenty of amenities to guarantee a memorable stay.

With nine dwellings on site, the island has room for 21 guests. Each casita — the Spanish word for "little house" — was constructed with local wood that's Rainforest Alliance Certified, meaning it was sourced ethically. Each structure is two stories, similar to a treehouse, with a private bedroom upstairs and a sprawling living space below. What better way to wake up than with swaying trees, singing birds, and a coffee delivery service? Depending on your travel dates, budget for $800 to $1,200 per night, with prices subject to change.

Things to do on the island and nearby

Whether you'd prefer to spend your time lazing in the sun or exploring Nicaragua Lake in a kayak, Jicaro Island Lodge has everything you need for some R&R. Start your laidback vacation with a yoga class on a deck overlooking the lake, take a dip in the pool, or meander over to the day spa, where you can take your pick between Swedish, Shiatsu, or hot stone massages.

Come mealtime, you'll be well taken care of. Your stay includes three meals a day at the island restaurant, with scrumptious eats like garlic shrimp tacos, plantain-infused lasagna, guava-glazed ribs, and passion fruit tart. The menu changes daily with a Nicaraguan buffet on Saturday nights. True to form as an eco-retreat, the fish is freshly caught, the herbs are hand-picked from the island's garden, and the cheeses and meats are sourced from local farms.

When you're ready to venture off the island — that is, if you can tear yourself away from an oversized hammock — Jicaro Island Lodge is just a short boat ride from Grenada. This culturally and historically significant city is much beloved for its colonial architecture, especially the striking Granada Cathedral that is coated in bright yellow paint. The staff at the lodge will be more than happy to help you arrange whatever kind of tour you fancy, be it educational, historical, or adventurous. If Nicaragua isn't already on your bucket list, now would be a good time to add it.