Bluefieldsor Blewfields is the capital of the municipality of the same name, and of Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur (R.A.A.S.) in Nicaragua. It was also capital of the former Zelaya Department, which was divided into North and South Atlantic Autonomous Regions. It is located on Bluefields Bay at the mouth of the Escondido River. Bluefields was named after the Dutch pirate Abraham Blauvelt who hid in the bay’s waters in the early 17th century. It has a population of 87,000 (2005) and its inhabitants are mostly Mestizo, Miskito, whites, blacks, along with smaller communities of Garifuna, Chinese, Sumu, and Ramas. Bluefields is Nicaragua’s chief Caribbean port, from where hardwood, seafood, shrimp and lobster are exported.
Bluefields was a rendezvous for English and Dutch buccaneers in the 16th and 17th century and became capital of the English protectorate over the Mosquito Coast in 1678. During United States interventions (1912–15, 1926–33) in Nicaragua, Marines were stationed there. In 1984, the United States mined the harbor (along with those of Corinto and Puerto Sandino). Bluefields was destroyed by Hurricane Joan in 1988 but was rebuilt. Until recently, there was no road access to Bluefields from the west coast of Nicaragua. There is now a dirt road from El Rama, but no bus service. It may not be open year-round. Visitors usually either fly in from Managua and other cities, or take a Panga (boat) down the Rio Escondido from the city of El Rama.