Friday, December 7, 2012

Isla Juan Venado Nature Reserve

Isla Juan Venado Nature Reserve is an amazing 22 km island on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua and is part of Nicaragua's National Park system. You can reach this Reserve through an organized tour (via motor boats or kayaks) or you can arrange with one of the local fishermen to take you.

We visited this nature reserve on Monday, December 3rd, 2012 - a bright and sunny day (as they all are). We had arranged to meet up with our guide, Nelson, at Barca de Oro Beach hostal/restaurant at 9:00 am. Our tour was not arranged through any Tour Company, but was made directly with Nelson from recommendations from friends.  Before we could embark on our tour we were required to register with the Nature Reserve and pay a 50 cordoba per person fee to enter the island.

local transportation using dugout canoe

Traversing the mangrove swamp - Isla Juan Venado

Soon we were on our way. We traveled through the mangrove swamps between the mainland and the island to a landing on the southern end of the island. On the way we saw a variety of birds (egrets, herons and pelicans) and enjoyed the winding waterway with a new scene around every corner.

 tour through the mangrove swamp at Isla Juan Venado

Enjoying Isla Juan Venado by kayak

Mangrove swamp - Isla Juan Venado

We arrived at a part of the island that has a beach that perhaps isn't what you would call a sandy beach. What there was however, was an amazing amount of small sea life in the nooks and crannies of the rock that lined the beach. Even though the shore is lined with rock formations it is possible to swim here - so don't forget your bathing suit.

First stop on Isla Juan Venado

Hermit Crab - Isla Juan Venado

Rocky shore - Isla Juan Venado

Tidal Pools - Isla Juan Venado
Fish left in the tidal pools - Isla Juan Venado

After about 1/2 an hour scouring the rocks for all it's treasures we got back on the boat and started our return. However, another delight was in store for us because Nelson had whispered the word "turtles". In no time at all we were stopping at the first "dock" that we had passed earlier in the morning. This is a wider section of the island and you walk through an area with many hungry mosquitoes - so be warned you should bring some insect repellent.

walking through tall grasses - Isla Juan Venado

The beach at this part of the island is beautiful. If you have time be sure to paddle in the water.

Beach - Isla Juan Venado

We, however, opted to view the baby turtles that were being reserved for the tourists to see. We were asked to put on a glove before we picked up any of the turtles in order to protect them.

Chelsea showing one of the baby turtles - Isla Juan Venado

 After an enjoyable time visiting the baby turtles it was back on the boat for the final leg of the return journey to Las Peñitas. The tour lasted about 3 hours and was well worth the cost.  I would suggest anyone who is visiting this part of Nicaragua to take the time to enjoy the beauties of Isla Juan Venado. Thanks Nelson for an unforgettable tour!

Nelson - our captain - Isla Juan Venado

Sea shells - Isla Juan Venado