What To Do
Ojo de Agua
Only having 2 full days to really explore the island, we chose not to do Ojo de Agua. Being from Florida, these crystal clear cool water springs are found all over the state, and we’ve been to over 30 of them in the past year. If we had more time in Ometepe, we certainly would have gone for a dip in one of Ojo de Agua’s two natural springs, however this just wasn’t a priority for us.
Entrance into this tropical sanctuary is 40 Cordoba, or about $2 USD, for the entire day. They serve food and beverages here as well, and we recommend taking a day to relax here and cool off from Nicaragua’s humid heat and enjoy this natural oasis.
San Ramon Waterfall
By far our favorite (and most eventful) adventure we went on in Ometepe was the San Ramon waterfall. About an hour journey from Moyogalpa, we came here as a day trip. The road here is extremely rocky! Although we made it here safely (thank goodness!!) on scooters, this is not something we would recommend!! We were skidding down the rocky hills at each and every turn and it’s a miracle we didn’t crash or get hurt. Go on a bicycle, motorbike, or ATV! Okay, lecture over.
It’s important to note the waterfall is a good one-two hour hike uphill, depending on how fast you go (and if you stop to look for howler monkeys at every turn like we did). You must be in good physical condition, and although the first half of the hike is paved, the second half is more rugged. Expect to climb up rocks and through streams for another kilometer or so. Wear good sneakers or hiking boots and bring plenty of water! Once you get to the top you’ll be rewarded with amazing views and a small, natural pool you can go swimming in. Entrance costs $3 USD.
Bonus: Look for the dog pictured below at the restaurant near the base of the hike. He will guide you up to the waterfall!
Kayak The Istrian River
Only possible during the wet season (May-October), the Istrian River lies between the two volcanoes. For $25, you can go on a 3-4 hour kayak tour. Expect to see a variety of wildlife, from birds and monkeys, to turtles and even caimans!
Hunt For Petroglyphs
Pre-Columbian petroglyphs can be found scattered all around Ometepe. We saw some on the Maderas volcano when we went, but you can also view them at Hotel Finca Porvenir and at Finca Magdalena.
Hike Up One Of The Two Volcanoes
Either way you will need a guide. We don’t recommend trying to do the hike alone, as hikers have lost their lives doing so. Maderas (the inactive volcano) is a shorter, but still intense hike (6-9 hours round trip). Concepción (the active volcano) is a longer, more intense hike. The hike is extremely strenuous and takes about 8-10 hours round trip. Expect to pay $30-45 each for a guide, depending on group size.
What (And Where) To Eat
Where To Stay
Know Before You Go
It’s worth mentioning…
- The island may look small on a map, but it’s 19 miles from end to end, with the poor road conditions making transportation throughout much of the island tricky. Expect it to take an hour and a half to get from one end of the island to the other (via scooter, ATV, or motorbike).
- Take out cash in Moyogalpa, as you may not find ATM’s throughout the smaller towns on the island.
- Watch out for herds of cattle and horses!! It’s common to see herd’s of cattle heading down the streets of Ometepe. Don’t be afraid, just stop your bike/scooter/4 wheeler and let them pass. They will go around you.
- Watch out for chickens, pigs, and stray dogs! Another thing that will cross your path on the island is stray dogs, pigs, and chickens. Be aware they roam free on Ometepe and use caution while driving. They can run across the road at any moment so be prepared to brake. Also, be prepared to see many emaciated, sickly dogs roaming the island. This broke our hearts and it was hard not to just claim them as our own and bring them home with us (I mean look at this guy!!): ).
- Riding at night: we don’t recommend driving long distances (over 20 minutes) here at night. On our day trip to the San Ramon waterfall, we had to scoot an hour back to Moyogalpa in the dark. We were forced to wear our sunglasses at night due to the vast amount of bugs hitting every part of our body as we rode. This can be hazardous, so we recommend finishing any far away activities and being back on the road before sunset.
- And that brings me to our final point: BUG SPRAY!!!! Bring bug spray EVERYWHERE with you on Ometepe. Being an island, it’s much buggier than mainland Nicaragua.
Have you guys every been to Nicaragua? Have any recommendations or questions? Comment below!
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