Islands in Las Isletas are priced in U.S. dollars
The idea of buying any property abroad is exciting. But it’s hard to think of anything more exotic than owning your own private tropical island. The sense of being on your own—and the feeling that you really own your own piece of the earth—is unlike any other.
For centuries, owning a private island has been the dream of the rich and famous. And in most of the world today, owning a tropical island is indeed prohibitively expensive for most of us.
Yet there’s one place left in the Americas where you can still own a private tropical island for less than US$78,000.
Las Isletas is a group of small islands that caught my eye on my first exploratory trip to Nicaragua, and they still hold my attention today. They’re located in the giant Lake Nicaragua, adjacent to the historic colonial city of Granada and about 45 minutes from the airport in Managua. Las Isletas is actually an archipelago consisting of 365 islands, which was formed when the nearby volcano Mombacho erupted in prehistoric times and blew much of its cone into the lake.
If you’re thinking of island ownership, this island group offers a few special advantages over islands located in the ocean. Although Lake Nicaragua feels like the ocean—it’s almost half the size of New Jersey—you’re actually on an inland, freshwater lake. This means you don’t have to worry about the tides, hurricanes, complete isolation, or other natural hazards that go along with open-water island dwelling.
Since the islands are just offshore, many of them have excellent views of historic Granada…yet they’re far enough away that you still enjoy the feeling of privacy that comes with private-island living. Many islands also have views of mountains, volcanoes, and, of course, the expansive lake with its other islands.
Perhaps the biggest advantage is that you’re just offshore from Granada, one of the oldest Spanish Colonial cities in our hemisphere. As you stroll through its clean streets and marvel at the beautifully restored colonial homes, you’ll be surprised at the facilities here, including well-stocked supermarkets and a broad selection of fine restaurants along with local open-air markets and tiny local shops.
Las Isletas is noted for the islands’ lush vegetation and abundant birdlife, with egrets, cormorants, ospreys, kingfishers, flycatchers, parrots, and parakeets. And I also enjoy watching the frolicking white-faced monkeys as much as they seem to enjoy watching us.
Electricity is nearby anywhere in Las Isletas and is already servicing many of the islands. Water supply, perhaps the biggest challenge for offshore island-dwellers, is not an issue here, as many people simply filter the lake waters or install a freshwater well.
Of course there are disadvantages to living in Las Isletas, too. One is that some of the islands are fairly close together, so it’s not as private as you might picture when you conjure the image of living out in the ocean somewhere. Also—and this probably goes without saying—island living is nowhere near as convenient as living in Granada. You can’t just pop around the corner for a loaf of bread; you need to get into your boat (or call the water taxi) before you head into town.
Despite being so close to shore, you’ll find a unique subculture among the islands. Many of the locals make a living as caretakers for the homes built there, while others live off the land and the lake. Because the school, cemetery, restaurants, and bars are all on different islands you’ll see locals and expats commuting in rowboats or hitching rides from the tour boats. You’ll often see local fishermen in dugouts throwing their nets to take their share of the lake’s abundant fish.
The island properties are popular with people who enjoy all types of watersports and especially those who enjoy fishing.
As an expat, you won’t be alone in Las Isletas. You’ll not only be in the company of families of wealthy Nicaraguans who’ve known about the islands for a long time, but also a fair number of North American expats—both those who live on their island as well as some who have homes in Granada and use their island as a vacation home or weekend getaway.
Some of the islands have no improvements at all…while others have beautiful homes with pools, tennis courts, and all the amenities of a luxury setting.
The private tropical islands of Las Isletas are definitely a fixed inventory; nonetheless, I wouldn’t buy here to make a quick buck in the near term. Island prices have gone up steadily but slowly and gradually during the past 10 years. I’d recommend that you buy here to enjoy the island lifestyle at a price that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Here are a few examples of islands on the market today.
|The most reasonable island for sale now is a small one of just less than a quarter-acre. It has no buildings but does have an electricity supply and a clean title. The island is offered by my friend Jeff Cassel (developer of Vistalagos, where I own a property). His recently reduced asking price is US$78,000. Write to Jeff directly here.|
|For just US$125,000, you can buy an island of around a half-acre with a home on it. The house has two bedrooms, one bath, and a covered terrace. The island comes with a dock for two boats, a water tank, a water pump, and an electric generator. You can see the island here.|
|Las Gemelas (The Twins), an island pair that I’m long familiar with, is up for sale again. It’s your chance to get two islands, about 20 feet apart (connected by a bridge), for the asking price of US$175,000. Call Edgard Toruño (in Spanish) at +505-8948-9123, or see my contact below.|
|Also on offer, I saw a 1.75-acre island for US$200,000 and a giant, 30-acre island for US$600,000, among many others.|
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a private tropical island, you owe it to yourself to look here first. You’ll have the romance and privacy of island ownership, along with the all the charm of one of the best colonial cities in the Americas.
Editor, Overseas Property Alert
I am a real estate investor in the United States and own 12 properties in Florida, Arizona, and Nevada. I will be selling two Arizona properties this fall and am interested in investing internationally. I am in the research and exploration stage at the time but am leaning toward investing in Italy after two visits in the past year. If you are knowledgeable about the area around central Italy, where would you recommend I concentrate on looking?
Thank you for your reply,
My first rule of international investment is to invest in a place where you’d love to be and in a property that you’d enjoy owning. It sounds like Donna is on the right track.
I haven’t been to Italy personally in a while, but my colleagues tell me that the Abruzzo region is a good choice for a high quality of life and prices that are undervalued when compared to nearby, more-discovered Italian markets. I’d suggest that you check with expat Nikki di Girolamo, founder of House Around Italy. She’s my go-to source for Italian real estate in this area.
You recently wrote, “But personally, I trust Uruguay’s banking system.” Good.
My question is, with Switzerland’s bankers in the process of folding to the pressure of the United States, how can we be confident that places like Uruguay and Panama will stand tall and strong, and resist Uncle Sam?
The short answer is that you can’t…no one is “standing strong” these days. In fact, most people don’t realize that Panama caved in to the United States on April 15, 2002, when they agreed to the exchange of tax information. And you can bet that Uruguay will soon be forking over information on U.S. citizens, when the request comes through proper channels.
My trust in Uruguay’s banking system is based on their strict banking controls and my experience with their excellent service. I trust them not to lose my money…
not to keep it a secret.
Have a question? You can write to Lee here.