Las Isletas (1.5 hours)

 
Following the crescent of Granada’s lakeside malecon to the south, one comes upon Las Isletas, a one-of-a-kind aquatic island Garden of Eden. An ancient eruption of the Mombacho volcano hurled boulders and lava into Lake Nicaragua, forming a vast peninsula surrounded by an archipelago of more than 350 small islands. These “Isletas”, as they are known, became overgrown with exuberant tropical foliage and filled up with fauna. They are now home to about 1200 inhabitants that garner a living through tourism and fishing from wooden canoes. Some of the larger islands host lodges, restaurants, and lavish weekend retreats, and all of them are buzzing with birds like oropendolas, egrets, hawks, and herons darting between the leafy canopies and lounging on enormous water lilies. Troops of gregarious spider monkeys make the occasional appearance high in the treetops.
 
Take in the scenery and experience the wildlife right from the water, either cruising on a traditional covered tour launch or at the helm of your own kayak. The calm, sheltered waterways are perfect for a refreshing freshwater dip. From a vantage point on a small Isleta, the diminutive Fort San Pablo guards Granada’s waterfront since the times of the Spanish Main and makes for an amusing archaeological break amidst the natural splendor.

Volcan Mombacho Nature Reserve