Nicaragua ’s best-organized and most easily accessed park features a paved road to the crater, a museum, interpretive center, and paid guides to lead you through more than 20 kilometers of nature trails.
Declaring the 5,100 hectares that surround Volcán Masaya a national park was one of President Anastasio García Somoza's last moves before he was disposed in 1979. The park’s extensive lava fields are home to coyotes, garrobo lizards, white-tailed deer, and cusucos. A rare variety of sulfur-tolerant parakeets inhabits the inside of the crater’s walls.
Thirty-four kilometers southeast of Granada  on the western side of Lake Nicaragua is an archipelago formed by Zapatera Volcano (629 meters) and the eight islets that surround it. Although owned by private landholders, the islands gained national park status in the 1980s in recognition of their immense natural, cultural, and historical value, and the government subsequently took control over much of the land.
The islands still contain virgin forests and lovely shorelines, but are perhaps most famous for their pre-Columbian statuary, many of which are displayed in the Convento San Francisco in Granada . Isla Zapatera and surrounding islets, like Isla de la Muerte, were at least used for ceremonies and rites, though they may have also been burial sites. In addition to the statues are extensive petroglyphs that date from contact with the first Spaniards.