The Miskito Cays aren’t for everyone. Once a hot-spot for pirates, today the archipelago is still only accessible via boat, and the lack of infrastructure (including accommodation, electricity and even potable water) means that you have to be more than just a tad bit intrepid to add the Miskito Cays to your adventure destination bucket list. But for those travelers looking for the Wild West of Central America, an off-the-beaten-track locale that remains virtually untouched by tourism, then the Miskito Cays are for you.
The Miskito Cays are part of the North Atlantic Autonomous Region of Nicaragua and consist of 76 formations, including estuaries, coral reefs, cays, seagrass beds and islets. The Cays are primarily uninhabited, save for the sleepy wooden fishing villages supported on poles above the ocean. Visiting the fishing villages is a unique experience in and of itself—the primary population are the native Miskito people, whose traditions have survived hundreds of years and are still practiced to this day.
Miskito communities actually govern themselves, and are recognized by local government authorities. Some prearranged guides can set up homestays with the locals. This often resembles a simple hammock hung in a common room, but can be a unique opportunity to meet and talk with the Miskito community, most of whom speak Spanish.
It’s not easy to arrive at the Miskito Cays. First, you must hope for calm weather. Tropical storms and rough water can be common, making a trip to the cays virtually impossible (not to mention, unsafe). Then, you must arrange for a boat and a guide to take you on your arduous journey. Prices are based upon the cost of fuel and how many people are in your group to split the costs; four people can expect to pay around $400 for six days, full board. Once the details are arranged, which is often easier done in person, and then it is another two to five hours to arrive at the Cays from the port city of Bilwi, also known as Puerto Cabezas.
But if all the logistics fall into place, you’ll be rewarded with pristine islands, glassy turquoise water, and plenty to discover both on land and under the water. Some of the most popular activities include snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, hiking, birdwatching and, of course, boating from cay to cay. The local fishermen know the best spots to take a dip underwater and explore the marine life, and snorkeling gear is easily rented from them on the Cays.
Perhaps the best part about a visit to the Miskito Cays is the chance to escape from it all and enjoy a simpler way of life, complete with sun, sand and sea. There might not be WiFi or places to charge your iPhone, but there is ample beauty to see, refreshing water to swim in, and lovely people to engage with. If you’re looking for a unique travel experience that isn’t so easily replicated (and a hundred other people don’t already have photos of) then the Miskito Cays are for you.
Don’t skimp on whom you chose to guide you in and around the Miskito Cays. This will likely determine the overall experience of your trip. Most boats can accommodate up to eight people; the more people in your group, the more economical the experience. Finally, don’t forget, a visit to the Miskito Cays is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but it’s not for those seeking a luxury ocean escape.
Have you heard of the Miskito Cays before? Would you be up for an adventure like this?
Some of the information for this article was sourced from ViaNicaragua. For more on the Cays, read the full article here.