You Must Adventure To The Solentiname Archipelago

“Solentiname is both a geographical location and a cross-roads of the Spirit.” This is one of the more poetic descriptions you’ll hear of these islands. It was made by Ernesto Cardenal. One of Nicaragua’s most renowned poets, and one of the island’s residents. Safe to say, he knew why you must adventure to the Solentiname Archipelago.

The Solentiname Islands are unlike anything you will find in the rest of Central America. This is because of how the natural beauty, ancient art, and modern culture mix to create a blend so unique in Nicaragua and the World.

Hence, these islands are a must on any adventure to Nicaragua, Rio San Juan, or Lake Nicaragua. Subsequently let’s explain why you must adventure to the Solentiname Archipelago.


You must adventure to the Solentiname Islands, but fist you will probably need to get a boat from San Carlos.
You can get a boat from San Carlos to the Solentiname Islands


Where is Solentiname?

The Solentiname Islands are an archipelago of thirty-six islands. They are located in the southeast corner of Lake Nicaragua. Indeed, they are about an hour boat ride from San Carlos. Moreover, a boat can reach the islands directly from Guacimo Lodge in three hours.

The four largest islands, La Venada, San Fernando, Mancarrón, and Mancarroncito, are uninhabited.

Mancarrón is the largest and most populated island and has the most amenities. You can get to the other islands via kayak or boat. However, there is no public transport on the sparsely populated archipelago.

In addition, the tropical paradise is home to many species of birds and fish including parrots, toucans, freshwater sharks, and swordfish.

The people of the islands have always had a close connection with the islands’s flora, fauna, and landscape. In fact, there has been an anti-plastics campaign on the islands recently. The community tried to glean the plastic waste off the islands and replace plastic products with sustainable materials. You can also see the relationship between people and nature in the ancient and modern art from Solentiname.


Your first view of the Solentiname Islands from the boat.
Your first view of the Solentiname Archipelago


You must adventure to the Solentiname Archipelago to see the petroglyphs

There’s a record of people living on the Solentiname Archipelago since ancient times. In fact, on San Fernando Island you can see these pre-historic art pieces called ‘petroglyphs’. The petroglyphs of the Solentiname Islands are rock carvings by the ancient peoples of the islands. Snakes, lizards, snails, and human figures can be seen etched into the rock.

Whether a you’re an art aficionado, history buff, or a pursuer of novelties the petroglyphs will fill you with wonder. There’s no sensation like witnessing the timeless memento of our ancestors. You can visit these marvels on a tour to San Fernando Island. Even today they indirectly influence the culture of the islands through their inspiration behind the modern primitivist art movement.


The Solentiname Archipelago & Ernesto Cardenal

People have lived continuously on the archipelago since pre-Colombian times. In the 1960’s artists and innovators moved to the islands and helped make the community that they are now famous for.

It is impossible to describe the Solentiname Archipelago without mentioning Ernesto Cardenal. Cardenal was a priest, poet, and innovator who moved to the islands in the 1960s. I have established a contemplative community on the islands. He took over an abandoned church and began hosting discussion sermons. Then, Cardenal guided the islanders to create art that reflected nature. The first sculptures they made were from local balsa wood. The first paintings were done on gourd canvases.


Solentiname Islands and Primitivist Art

Nicaraguan artist named Roger Perez De La Rocha came to the islands after Cardenal. He began giving workshops to improve the painting skill of the native community. He wanted to foster their pure style by not giving academic art classes. Instead he gave them exercises in observation. I have told them that they live in paradise. All they had to do was copy what they saw.

Even today, three generations after the first artists instructed by Cardenal, the Solentiname Islands are still famed for their primitive art. Primitivist art existed elsewhere before it was cultivated in Solentiname. The modern primitivism art movement comes from a fascination with ancient and indigenous art, and a desire to remove Renaissance notions from art.

Solentiname primitivist artworks depict nature scenes and daily life. Trees, parrots, herons, sloths, streams, people, huts can be seen in their works. Accordingly, the style is vibrantly colourful and simplistic. Hence, there is a greater focus on expressing the beauty of the natural environment. These artworks are the main reason why you must adventure to the Solentiname Archipelago.

La Venada Island is the painters island. The island’s painters still sell primitive paintings all over the world.

Macaroni is the island of folk artists. They carve wooden pieces and decorate them with primitive designs. They make toucans, herons, fish, peacocks etc, and their figures can be bought all over Nicaragua.


The shores of the Solentiname Islands.
The shores of the Solentiname Islands



Cardenal died in 2020 at the age of 95. The island community still maintain his church on Macarrón. For this purpose, they decorate the walls inside the church with primitive art.

In summary, you must adventure to the Solentiname Archipelago to see the art and life of the islands. Visiting the Solentiname is like stepping into one of the primitivist artworks from there. Indeed, nature, simplicity, colour, calm, and community await you on your journey to the Solentiname Archipelago. 

For more information about the Solentiname Islands check out this blog here

From Guacimo Lodge you can book a boat directly to the islands. For more information contact us at .

Book a reservation at Guacimo Lodge here


Solentiname Archipelago FAQ


What is the Solentiname Archipelago famous for?

The Solentiname Archipelago is famous for the modern primitivist art movement that began in the 1960’s.

How do you get to Solentiname?

You can get to Solentiname by taking a boat from San Carlos. Although you can also hire a private boat from elsewhere.

Where is Solentiname?

Solentiname is in the southeast corner of Lake Nicaragua near the source of the Río San Juan.


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