Published by Forbes

If you’ve ever dreamed about escaping to your own private island, that fantasy is within reach at Calala Island. But you’ll need help finding this tiny tropical hideaway on Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast.

Calala Island’s assistants will escort you through the process. A staff member meets you in Managua’s Augusto C. Sandino International Airport to show you how to transfer in the domestic terminal, an easy-to-miss separate building, and facilitates your check-in (the transfer is included in your hotel rate).

After a 45-minute flight, you arrive at Bluefields Airport (make sure you don’t get off at the wrong stop, your escort rightly warns) and another staff member greets you, secures your luggage and then accompanies you via cab to the dock, where a speedboat takes you on a 90-minute ride with nothing but verdant mangroves in sight.

Your Warm Staff Greeting

Just as weariness from travel starts to overcome you, a small lit-up island appears like an oasis on the horizon. As the boat inches closer, you notice almost a dozen people with convivial smiles lining the dock, welcoming you with chilled washcloths and sweet rum punch. They break out into song while one strums the guitar.

Your harried trip stress melts away.

While Calala is a hotel, you’ll practically have the place to yourself — there are just four villas that accommodate a maximum of eight people (and you can rent out the entire island). The only life we found (aside from the staff) at Calala were the golf-ball-sized hermit crabs scurrying across the sand.

Inside Your Private Paradise

At this deserted isle getaway, expect a more rustic experience: There are no TVs, air conditioning or even alarm clocks. If you want a quiet, away-from-it-all feel, it’s here.

But you won’t sacrifice luxury — a staff of 25 tends to you, and the secluded villas filled with different Nicaraguan hardwoods have floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the ocean just feet away. The cushy beds welcome you after a day of activities while the alfresco showers have semi-see-through rattan walls, giving you privacy while still allowing you to be at one with the pristine surrounding nature.

The Culture

This area of Nicaragua that hugs the Caribbean Sea is referred to as the Caribbean Coast or Mosquito Coast, named after the indigenous Miskito people who inhabited it. It’s unlike what you’ll find in Managua or elsewhere in the country. The Mosquito Coast is home to seven different ethnic groups, each with its own dialect and culture.

Whereas people speak Spanish on the mainland, Creole is the predominant language in this less-populated region, and you’ll hear more soft reggae and soca in these parts than Spanish-language tunes.