Everyone seems to talk about Corn Islands (which are amazing) and sometimes San Juan del Sur on the Pacific but it seems like people hardly talk about diving in the crater lakes. Both Laguna de Xiloa and Laguna de Apoyo are actually great for fresh water diving.

In the US every weekend there are a ton of people immersing themselves in quarries that are 60 degrees at the surface and 40 below the thermocline with very limited visibility just to be diving...I know, I used to have to teach diving in them and hated it. I never could figure out what the attraction was but the quarries always seemed full of divers, and not just students that had to go if they wanted to complete the course.

On the other hand Xiloa and Apoyo are always warm (lowest I have ever seen is a frigid 84 degrees below the thermocline), full of fish, and definitely have better visibility than the quarries I saw.

Xiloa is smaller than Apoyo but has a great abundance of fish life (including HUGE guapote) and some really nice, easy to get to dive sites including hot springs and a 100+ foot wall. Visibility can vary but is almost always good below the thermocline at 50 feet.

Apoyo has less fish life but always has pretty good visibility for training and there are some nice laid back dives available from the beach. Some of the better sites are on the other side of the lake and rather hard to reach now that motor boats are banned but there are still options. For the adventurous you could kayak or sail over, or there is someone on the lake with permission to use a propane motor that will rent out his boat with advanced notice (its a little pricey unless you have 5 or more people).

These lakes are an underwater Galapagos and should be considered a national treasure for Nicaragua. I got my first professional dive certification in Lake Malawi which was the first National Park for freshwater fish in the world. In 1984 it was designated a World Heritage Site and there is no reason Nicaragua´s crater lakes shouldn´t be held in the same regard. Unfortunately, they seem to be under appreciated. Hopefully this can change. I am currently working with a group that sees the value of the lakes is trying to get the lakes designated World Heritage sites. We also did a huge clean up of Laguna de Xiloa that removed over 8 tons of garbage. Our house in Xiloa was the center for 50 divers which removed over 2 tons of garbage from the water. You can take a look at http://yonotirobasura.blogspot.com/ for more information on the Allianza and our work.

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Growing up in Laguna de Apoyo and learning to dive when I was 9 in Laguna de Apoyo has given me a special appreciation of these unique lakes and I hope others can learn to care for them the way I do. If there are any divers out there interested if getting to know the lakes better drop me a line. I know a group of divers from the US Embassy is trying to plan a weekend of diving in Xiloa and we are planning on doing a clean up in Apoyo in November and would welcome any divers willing to participate. Or just drop me a line...normally I´ll drop whatever I´m doing for an excuse to go diving. I´m currently living in Apoyo and helping make my childhood home a place I can be proud of with community projects and cultural events. You can take a look at what we are doing at www.centroculturalapoyo.org