Best Secret Islands on Earth
Nicaragua: Jicaro Island
You’ll get a dose of cognitive dissonance arriving at Jicaro Island. There are palm trees and thatched roofs, even a shadowy volcano in the distance, but the air has none of the tropical tang you’d expect, and there are no waves or powdery shores. That’s because Jicaro is located on Lake Nicaragua, a freshwater lake 10 minutes by boat from the colonial town of Granada. The island’s single acre is occupied by Jicaro Island Ecolodge (505/8403-1236; jicarolodge.com; doubles from $480, including meals), a hotel as sensitive to the environment as it is easy on the eyes. Its nine casitas, stylish with their slatted façades and mosquito-netted beds, are crafted entirely from Nicaraguan timber, salvaged from storm-felled trees. The food is locally sourced, all organic; solar power heats the water; and there’s a freshwater infinity pool. As you sip a passion-fruit-banana cocktail and watch the cormorants dive into the lake, you’ll marvel at how you managed to find such a smart hotel in such an unexpected location.
T+L Tip: Spend an afternoon hiking around the cloud forest on the upper slopes of the nearby volcano, Mombacho. —Peter J. Frank