The Isla de Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua is one of my absolute highlights in Nicaragua and I recommend everyone not to miss this island. The island consists of two volcanoes connected by a small strip of land, giving the island the shape of an 8. The clocks tick a little differently on the island than on the mainland. It is very quiet, so definitely the wrong place for party-hungry people. For this, it is wonderful to hike, swim and relax. In the meantime I have been to Nicaragua 7 or 8 times and every second time on Isla de Ometepe. Reason enough to pass on my experiences in the form of travel tips and to fascinate you for this island.
Money and crime
Money: In the larger towns, Moyogalpa and Altgracia, there are several banks or ATMs.
Crime: Ometepe is considered very safe and crime is very manageable. Opportunity also makes thieves here, so you should still watch out for your valuables.
Arrival / on the go
Public transport works very well in Nicaragua, so it is not really necessary to rent a car.
With the public transportation The best way to get from Managua is from the UCA bus terminal (Universidad Centro Americana) to Granada and from there take the next bus (pleasant minibuses) to Rivas. It is only a few minutes by taxi from Rivas to San Jorge, where ferries leave for Ometepe. An alternative is also a direct chicken bus from Mercado Huembes to Rivas. At the harbor, it is advisable not to use the “nutshells” but to take one of the car ferries to the island due to the waves. On the island itself, buses run at relatively regular intervals, which drop you off or pick you up on the main road wherever you want and only cost a few Cordobas. You can find departure times in the link below.
San Jorge – Moyogalpa ferry
A rental car (If you want to visit the southern part of the island, definitely a 4 × 4) makes you significantly more flexible on the island, especially if you travel to more and want to get to know different places on the island. From Managua it is an uncomplicated journey via the Carretera Masaya to San Jorge and the ferry is not very expensive (depending on the vehicle type), see http://www.ometepenicaragua.com/de/ferryboat.php
A reservation for the vehicle definitely pays off (including confirmation one day in advance), since most Nicaraguan tourists come to the island by car.
The third and newest option is a 20 minute one flight from Managuas airport. More information can be found here
Hotels and hostels on Ometepe
On Isla de Ometepe you can choose between a variety of hostels, hotels and fincas. There is something for everyone, depending on the budget. I recommend an overnight stay on the lakeshore instead of in one of the villages or at the foot of the volcanoes, but tastes are known to be different. I can personally recommend these hotels:
El Tesoro del pirata: $ 30 / night for a bungalow with a single and a double bed. The hotel is located directly on the lakeshore, about 1 km from the main road. The bungalows are simply furnished and the hotel is currently particularly popular with Nicaraguans and is located on the quiet west coast of the island. The food in the associated restaurant is excellent at very good / not tourist prices. link
Hotel Villa Paraiso: Rooms from $ 35, bungalows from $ 75. Nice hotel on the windier east coast of the island, which is run by an Austrian. The hotel offers both rooms and bungalows and is also located directly on the lake with its own beach (Playa Santo Domingo). Eating just as well. link
Serenea Bed and Breakfast Ometepe : from $ 50 / night
Owned by a charming French-Nicaraguan couple, Serenea is a very cute and comfortable Ecolodge offering a jungle experience in a dreamy arabian nights atmosphere with it’s very original oriental design. It’s a quiet place, which is perfect for relaxing and have a real feel of the Nature. Meanwhile, despite the fact it’s a little remote, it’s also perfectly located and central, if you are looking for booking activities (visit to coffee plantations, observe petroglyphs, kayaking on the wetlands, horse riding on the beach…). All these activities can be booked directly from the hotel Serenea. Visit : https://www.sereneabnbometepelodge.com/
Things to do on Ometepe
San Ramón waterfall
A magnificent waterfall at the foot of the Maderas volcano. Driving in a 4 × 4 car is a must due to the nature of the road in the south of the island, and you also save yourself the first part of the hike because you can drive up the dirt road to the parking lot. Without a car, it’s best to ask the hotel which tour operators they can recommend. You can of course visit the local bus on your own. However, this is very time consuming and bumpy. The climb itself is not that difficult and can also be done in trekking shoes or sandals, but I recommend a good sole profile.
Ojo de agua
Swimming pool in natural surroundings. If you need a change from the lake, a good alternative.
The volcanoes on Ometepe
Both the Concepcion volcano in the northern part of the island (active – with a view of the crater), as well as the Maderas volcano (inactive – with crater lake) can be climbed. A guide is highly recommended, since the hiking trails are often not marked and are not always recognizable as such at first glance. Good shoes, a few liters of water and a reasonably good condition are not mistakes. Since it can get a bit fresh at the top and you sweat a lot more in the heat and humidity (personal experience;)), you should definitely have a thin jacket and a second T-shirt with you. The view from the summit or the crater rim into the crater as well as the entire island makes up for the effort!
At sea: Most hotels have kayaks that you can borrow. In addition, after a few days on the rather wild Pacific coast, it is very pleasant to be able to really go swimming again and not have to wipe any salt out of your eyes ;-).
Others: There are a variety of ecological fincas that you can visit and that tourists like to offer tours of the coffee plantations, chocolate workshops (Inca chocolate and so on), etc.
So, I hope you could get an idea of the absolute beauty of the island!