Enjoy the Tranquil Beauty of the Solentiname Islands
Located at the southern end of Lake Nicaragua, in the department of Río San Juan, the archipelago of Solentiname consists of thirty-six islands, the four largest of which are inhabited – Mancarrón, Mancarroncito, La Venada and San Fernando. These spectacular tropical islands which are volcanic in origin, are listed as one of Nicaragua’s protected areas and are a National Monument of Nicaragua. The Soletiname Islands are very remote and can only be reached by boat. Modern amenities such as running water and electricity are not part of everyday life for most of the inhabitants of the island, which adds to its appeal as a tranquil haven that has inspired countless artists over the years.
<>There are seventy-six species of birds living in the various habitats of the islands, including a number of colorful parrot and toucan species, making Solentiname a popular destination for birding enthusiasts. There are close to fifty species of fish in the waters around the islands, including tarpon, swordfish, sawfish and the freshwater Bull Sharks of Lake Nicaragua, also known as Lake Cocibolca, and the island of La Venada is home to a thriving population of deer. There are also some archeological sites on the islands. Among the items of interest discovered on San Fernando are petroglyphs with images of monkeys, parrots and people.
The Solentiname Islands are particularly well-known for the community of artists who live there, producing art which is exhibited throughout Nicaragua and the international art world. The community was developed by Father Ernesto Cardenal in the mid-1960s, when he traveled to the Mancarrón (the largest of the four inhabited islands) to establish a religious meditative retreat in the tranquility and beauty the islands offered. As a talented artist, poet, political figure and priest, Cardenal recognized the wealth of artistic talent in the community and encouraged people to use their art as a means to express themselves and lift the community out of poverty. With their paradisiac surroundings as their subject matter, the islanders were soon selling their paintings balsawood carvings and their standard of living has indeed improved through their own hard work.
Today, the Solentiname Islands are gaining favor as an ecotourism destination. Visitors can experience the beauty of the islands, mingle with the artists, explore their own creativity and simply appreciate the wonders of nature in this Nicaraguan haven.