Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve (Spanish: Reserva Natural Laguna de Apoyo) is a nature reserve located between the departments of Masaya and Granada in Nicaragua. Lake Apoyo was declared a nature reserve in 1991 and is managed by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARENA) and comprises one of 78 protected areas of Nicaragua.
The reserve houses a tropical dry forest ecosystem, within the reserve the flora consists of over 500 species of plants and tropical dry trees, such as pochote, black rosewood, mahogany, hogplum and guacuco, as well as a large variety and amount of orchids. The fauna consists of mammals such as Variegated Squirrels, opossums, anteaters, pacas, jaguarundis, Howler and White-faced Capuchin monkeys.
As well as a variety of reptiles such as green iguanas and common boas. Over 230 species of birds have been documented in the reserve, oropendolas, falcons, hummingbirds, and 65 species of migratory birds are present. Two-hundred twenty species of butterflies have been documented in the reserve, including 25 first records for Nicaragua and dozens of mollusks.
Lake Apoyo also contains a variety of fish species, including six species of mojarras, which are to be found exclusively in the lagoon. One of these species is the arrow cichlid (Amphilophus zaliosus), discovered in 1976. Three additional species were discovered in 2008, by the multinational research team directed by the Nicaraguan NGO, FUNDECI/GAIA, which manages a research station on the shore of the lake. Two additional species were discovered in 2010.
Lake Apoyo attracts tourists with various tourist attractions such as dark sand beaches for swimming, kayaking, hiking, SCUBA diving, birdwatching, paragliding, boating, and nature. Recently, petroglyphs and artifacts of indigenous peoples have been found in the reserve.
Strict laws limiting human activity exist in the reserve, and several residential construction projects have been stopped and many landowners have been engaged in legal processes by the Ministry of Natural Resources inside the Reserve, in accordance with the laws regarding Nature Reserves in Nicaragua.