Explore the Scenic Gulf of Fonseca

Washing the shores of Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, the Gulf of Fonseca forms part of the Pacific Ocean. It was officially discovered and named in 1522 by Spanish Conquistador Gil González Dávila, reportedly in honor of his patron, Archbishop Juan Rodriguez de Fonseca. González Dávila is considered to be the first European to arrive on the land which is now Nicaragua. The Gulf of Fonseca covers an approximate area of 1,200 square miles, with its coastline measuring 162 miles, of which 25 miles belongs to Nicaragua. The rather lengthy dispute between the three countries as to which has the rights to the Gulf and its islands was brought to an end in 1992 when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decide that Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua were to share control of the Gulf of Fonseca.

The climate in the Gulf is typical of that experienced in subtropical and tropical regions, in that it has two distinct seasons – dry and rainy – with the rainy season being from May to November and the remaining five months being dry. With the evaporation that takes place during the dry season, there is an increase in the water flowing into the Gulf from the Pacific Ocean, leading to a rise in salinity levels in the estuaries and resulting in drought conditions, exacerbated by the fact that the hottest temperatures are experience in March and April.

The Gulf’s wetland ecosystem consists primarily of mangrove forests, with red mangroves, found in areas which are permanently under water, being the most common. Black and white mangroves, as well as the mangrove shrub botoncillo also form part of the wetland ecosystem of the Gulf. With the cycle of tides being an average of 7 foot 7 inches, low tide reveals a wealth of marine life, including a variety of crabs and conches. When the waters rise with the tide, the roots of the mangrove forests serve as a secure feeding ground for shrimp, fish and other marine creatures that may otherwise land up as food for predators.

The Gulf of Fonseca is one of Nicaragua’s many scenic natural attractions that visitors can enjoy when exploring this fascinating Central American country.