Less than a half hour from the capital on the highway to León , the Peninsula de Chiltepe protrudes into the southwestern shore of Lake Xolotlán, cradling two ancient volcanic cones drowned in clean rainwater. Part of the Maribios chain, the twin crater lagoons of Xiloá and Apoyeque are a fun day trip if you find yourself in Managua  for more than a weekend and anxious for some greenery.
Legend says the Xiloá lagoon was formed when an indigenous princess of the same name, spurned by her Spanish lover, went down to the lake’s edge to cry. She cried so much that the valley began to fill with tears, and the lagoon formed around her.
Broader and more easily accessed, Xiloá was a popular swimming hole for decades, but former Minister of Tourism director Herty Lewites took the initiative to develop the site more completely, with thatched-roof ranchónes, concrete pads, parking areas, and lunch stands.
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch submerged the facilities under a meter of water. Rather forgotten, the lagoon will probably be deserted except for yourself and the occasional marine biologist, scuba diving to study the lake’s endemic species.
Apoyeque still bears much of its original cone shape—the lagoon is enclosed in steep crater walls that form the highest part of the Chiltepe Peninsula. The Nicaraguan military occasionally uses it for training special forces in the art of rappelling, and a radio tower perches on the southwest lip of the crater. In 2001, Apoyeque was the epicenter of a series of seismic tremors.
Buses leave Managua ’s Mercado Israel Lewites infrequently and go directly to the water at Xiloá. It’s easier to take any León-bound bus from the same market, get off at the top of the road to Xiloá, and walk (30 minutes). Pay $0.25 per person ($1 per vehicle) to enter the park facilities at the water’s edge.
Getting to Apoyeque is a more challenging hike, requiring good boots and some autonomy (compass, water bottles, etc.). Take the road from Mateare, which you can walk or hitch down until you reach the access road for the radio antenna. That road will lead you to the ridge, from where you’ll have to painstakingly and carefully make your way into the crater.
From Xiloá, a well-marked but little-used dirt road circles the entire peninsula (28 km), coming out in Mateare. The rest of the peninsula and the lower slopes of the two volcanic peaks are lush cattle farms, many owned by the Seminole tribe of Florida, which has invested heavily in the area. The view from the northeastern side of the peninsula is particularly beautiful in the late afternoon when the sky fills with colors.