Today Lake Nicaragua is known for its fishing, scuba diving and stunning scenery of peaceful shores. However, Lake Nicaragua hasn’t always been peaceful.
Since Lake Nicaragua is connected to the Caribbean Sea by the San Juan River, this area became a main trading center with Granada as the primary hub. Thus, Granada was a constant target of marauding pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy which began in the mid-1600s. Think of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean film with more pillage and plunder and an overall stench to really get an idea of what this era may have looked like.
Henry Morgan, a famous pirate, first invaded Granada in 1655 by navigating the San Juan River with six twelve-meter long canoes stolen during a raid on Villahermosa in Mexico. Moving under cover of darkness they managed to cross the Lake and make a surprise attack on the city before the Spanish authorities had time to respond. They set fire to all the Spanish boats and made off with around half a million sterling silver pounds!
Due to the large amount of pillaging Spanish authorities built a massive Fortress in 1673 alongside the San Juan River which you can still visit today. While this did deter some piracy, during the latter part of the 1600s, pirates founded their own towns on Lake Nicaragua, using them as bases from which to attack other villages and towns instead constantly travelling up the river. Today, two of these pirate towns are still in existence, that of Bluefields and Pueblo Veijo. Who knows maybe there is still some buried treasure hidden there!
Unfortunately for the residents on Lake Nicaragua, much piracy continued until the development of the Panama Canal in the early 1900s,when the trade route through Lake Nicaragua was no longer required.
Today, there are many stories and legends about the great pirates who pillaged and burned leaving hidden treasure behind and Jicaro Island Eco Lodge is a great base camp for the pirate story seekers; Jicaro is a place where the old stories and myths are there for the traveler to discover and wonder.
Who knows!? You might find a treasure chest in your walk around the Island.