Is Ometepe island worthy? My favorite places on this Nicaraguan island

The first time I visited Ometepe island I had big expectations; I was ready to encounter paradise… I didn’t. After that, I went to the island several times, for work and pleasure. And yes, it is a nice place but for me not worth the hype.

So, is it worth visiting Ometepe island in Nicaragua? It is a matter of personal preference.

As for me, if you have a good number of days in Nicaragua or you really want to hike the volcanos, it is definitely worth it. If you are looking for an idyllic destination, there are much better places in the country. 

However, I still think Ometepe has beautiful and unique spots. C’mon, the island is in the middle of the biggest lake in Central America and it’s made of two volcanos, which is pretty cool.

The volcanoes are visible from everywhere. Just to mention some goods: the island has nature, wildlife, beautiful volcano landscapes, beaches and nature reserves. There is a bunch of activities you can do and definitely relax.

If you decide to include Ometepe in your trip to Nicaragua, let me tell you my favorite things to do on the island. Also some helpful tips before arriving.

Active volcan in Ometepe island in Nicaragua

1. Maderas volcano vs. Concepcion volcano

One of the reasons why I lived in Nicaragua was to hike volcanos, conquering these two was definitely on my bucket list, I did it and you have to.

Ometepe actually means “two mountains” in the Nahuatl language. The two volcanos are connected by a small land in the middle that together forms the island. Active volcano Concepcion (1610 meters) and dormant volcano Maderas (1394 meters).

These two volcanos are completely different for the rest of the volcanos in the country, and even from themselves.

The million-dollar question is which of the two volcanos should you hike? My answer will be both.

However, I understand not everyone has the time or the desire. I actually included Maderas as one of my favorite volcanos in Nicaragua, check my post here.

There are options to just go to viewpoints that are more easily accessible.

If you are willing to hike, the Concepcion volcano is steep but less messy than Maderas, and the hike is around 3 hours.

Maderas volcano, on the other hand, is a rainforest all the way and a mud paradise. Don’t expect to have a good view from the top but expect to hear and see monkeys. The hike is harder, dirtier and longer, but it is one of my favorites.

The Best Volcano Hikes Nicaragua Travel and HikeHiking Maderas Volcano in Ometepe island 

Views from Concepcion Volcano in Nicaragua
Views from Concepcion Volcano in Nicaragua

2. Punta Santa Maria

Punta Santa Maria is the perfect place to have a panoramic view of the Ometepe volcanos.  

It is a quiet place with a nice calm beach.

The locals go there to fish with nets or swim a little bit. Bring some food for a picnic, relax, swim in the lake waters and enjoy the view.

Essential tip: If you stay for sunset and don’t have your own transport, be sure to arrange with a taxi or someone to pick you up.

Punta Santa Maria in Ometepe island in Nicaragua
Punta Santa Maria in Ometepe island in Nicaragua

3. Sunset vs. Sunrise

If there is something that Ometepe can deliver that’s a good sunset and a sunrise.

The sun hidden in the waters of Lake Nicaragua or the sun rising behind a volcano, there are pictures you cannot miss.

What are the best places to watch them?

    • Get to the harbor in Moyogalpa in the evening to watch the sun dive into the lake.
    • Take the first ferry in the morning and check the sun raising from the middle of the lake.
    • Go to Punta Santa Maria, in Concepcion Island, and wait for the sunset.
    • Wake up early and go to Santa Cruz Island, an epic sunrise.

Sunrise in Ometepe island with concepcion volcano

Sunset in ometepe island

THIS POST CAN ALSO BE HELPFUL FOR PLANNING YOUR NICARAGUA TRIP:
BEST VOLCANO HIKES IN NICARAGUA

4. Swim in a natural pool

Ometepe has some popular natural pools which are surrounded by nature, ideal for freshen up and relax. Most of them have some small bars and chairs to take a nap.

Ojo de Agua is a favorite spot for locals and tourists, it has a small entrance fee. Find the rope in one of the trees to do your best Tarzan impersonation before hitting the water.

Ojo de agua in Omatepe island

How to get to Ometepe island

1. Take the bus to Rivas:

First, you need to get to Rivas, easy since it is one of the main hubs to go south.

  • The fastest and expensive way is hiring a shuttle that takes directly to the ferry station. Travel agencies in the touristic cities in Nicaragua, like Granada, will offer you mini-buses that already are in sync with the ferry schedule.
  • The cheapest and fun way is taking public buses. Whatever you are in Nicaragua there is probably a bus going directly to Rivas or you can always connect in Managua.

2. From Rivas to the ferry:

There are usually no buses in the afternoon going to Rivas, so I will recommend starting your trip in the morning.

Once you arrived at Rivas Bus station you also have two options:

  • Negotiate with a taxi (30 / 40 cordobas is ok) that will drive you to the main gates of San Jorge Port. The drive is around 10 minutes from the station.
  • Take the chicken bus that goes from Rivas to San Jorge (20 cordobas). Ask the driver or a passenger where to get off since the bus stops on the highway.

3. Take the ferry to Moyogalpa:

There are two ferry stops, one that goes to San Jose and one that goes to the main city of Moyogalpa.

I definitely recommend going to Moyogalpa, since there are also more scheduled ferries and it will be easy to start your trip from there.

The ferry can be from 1 to 1:30 hours, you can check the schedule and prices on this web.

Ferry to Ometepe island

How to get around Ometepe island

Everything on the island is more expensive since everything has to come from the mainland. That includes gas prices, as result transports and especially taxis are more expensive too.

Staying the first night in Moyogalpa it’s a great decision. While here, take advantage and check who wants to share a taxi in your hostel. That’s the best option to take an affordable taxi and go fast to your next destination.

Right in front of the port is the local bus station, which’s the cheapest and best option for me to move around. It can take longer and they don’t have a set schedule, but it will take you around the island.

You can check a bus schedule here, but don’t trust it 100% and try to arrive earlier than the set time, just in case!

A lot of tourists rent a motorbike. I don’t trust myself, so I’ve never done it.

But if you don’t mind the 30$ a day and you have the experience, go ahead. Most of the hotels offer motorbike renting as well as in Moyogalpa.

You can also try hitchhiking if you don’t mind waiting. There isn’t a lot of traffic but with time you will be able to catch a ride on the main road of the island. You can also get stuck forever.

Bus stop in Ometepe island in Nicaragua
Plantain or banana are a common crop in Ometepe island

Other tips for Ometepe

  • Bring cash from the mainland. There are a few ATM options around the island and there are mainly on Moyogalpa. Every year more restaurant and hostels are improving their payment options, but you are safer with cash.
  • This is a unique environmental place so take care of it. For me is obvious that your trash goes with you and you should respect local people and traditions. Don’t be a bad tourist, please.
  • One of the main crops on the island is bananas. Don’t leave Ometepe without trying some plantains. Thank me later!
  • Enjoy this unique island and take a deep breath there. 

Have you been to Ometepe island in Nicaragua? Do you think is worth it? What other places do you recommend? I will love to know, leave a comment

 

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What to do in Ometepe island in Nicaragua and how to get there
Things to do in Ometepe island in Nicaragua and how to get there

2 Comments

    • Hi Emma. It really depends on what your main plans are if hiking or just relaxing.
      I will recommend Balgue if you are interested in hiking Maderas and also exploring that side of the island. The small town has a paved road for the car, a couple of restaurants and little shops. It is also close to Ojo de Agua, a waterfall and other cool places.
      If you are looking for something more remote check out around Merida, like Hacienda Merida or Totoco Ecolodge, but make sure you bring cash and some food from Moyogalpa, also once you get out of the main road it’s only gravel and mud roads, a little adventure.
      Hope you have a lot of fun!!

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