Isla de Ometepe's name derives from the Nahuatl words ome (two) and tepetl (mountain), meaning two mountains. An island in Lake Nicaragua in the country of Nicaragua, Ometepe is one of the country´s must-see. These twin volcanic islands are a remote escape located in the middle of Lago de Nicaragua. There are only a few small settlements on the island, along with a number of small coffee plantations.
- Moyogalpa, harbour village and the main point of arrival of ferries.
- Altagracia, 2nd biggest town on the eastern side of the island.
- Merida, southeastern coast of island.
- Balgue, southwestern coast of island.
- Reserva Charco Verde, a nature reserve with abundant wildlife on the southern part of the island, where you can swim, hike and kayak.
You can get to the islands main port (Moyogalpa) by boat or ferry from San Jorge near Rivas for about 2 USD. There are plenty of Hotels and restaurants within walking distance of ferry. Buses pick up and drop off at terminal,Taxi"s are also present.
On Monday and Thursday, a ferry leaves Granada around 2 pm and arrives in Altagracia ( 6 hr ride?) for less then $2 USD.
On Tuesday and Friday there is a ferry coming from San Carlos to the Island (12 hr ride) for about $2,5 USD.
Very slow local buses run to most villages on the island. Service is relatively frequent between Moyogalpa and Altagracia (roughly every hour), less so to Balgue and Merida (three or four per day).
You can easily flag down a bus for a ride or the occasional Taxi but expect the taxi"s to be expensive.
There are plenty of bicycle rental shops on the island that rent by hour ,half day or week.
The road along the isthmus and around Volcan Maderas is in very rough shape.
Options on the island include :
- Hike to the top of Volcan Concepcion (~ 8 hours return, strenuous)
- Hike to the top of Volcan Maderas to a crater lake (~ 6 hours return, less strenuous)
- Hike to a 35-m waterfall on the south side of Maderas (several hours return)
- See petroglyphs at the village of Finca El Porvenir
- Go horseback riding
- Rent a bicycle and explore the island on your own
- Rent a motorbike and explore the island on your own
- Go fishing
- Hire a kayak and explore the lake and one or two of the rivers
- Go swimming in the fresh water
- Trails are generally unmarked and the terrain is rough. Local guides are inexpensive, good.
- If off hiking on your own be aware that many trails are actually being used by locals as a means to work their bean fields,The same beans that are served in the local staple of beans and rice, These beans are of a low growing variety and are barely visibly so please stay on trails so as not to damage their crops.
- The island is very large and to go by bicycle around one volcano in one day is very challenging but possible, getting around both volcanoes by motorbike in one day is a little easier but still difficult.
- Cafe Campestre, on the road Before Finca Magdalena. Amazing food cooked with local seasonal and (where possible) organic produce. Great place to meet people and hang out.
- "" Finca el Zopilote"" , between Balgue and Santa Cruz, three nights a week (tue-thu-sat) pizza is prepared using a clay oven. With more than 8 different types of pizzas, beer, rum and liquors, pizza night is often an occasion to party. There is often live music and fire shows.
- Little Morgan´s, Snata Cruz (300m towards Balgue from Santa Cruz junction), ☎ 505 8611 7973, . Accommodation, bar and restaurant serving great food that gives a nice break from the typical rice and beans. Daily menu includes bacon and eggs, pancakes, cake, sandwiches etc, and then nightly dinner specials including lasagne, curry, pasta and stirfry. Food ranges from $2-$6.
- Hostal Ibesa Owned and operated by a friendly and helpful local family, shared room $3 USD per person, your own private room $4 USD, there is also a dorm room which may be even cheaper, very clean and comfortable (prices in April 2008), laundry service.
- Finca Magdalena, (near Balgue), . A cooperativly run organic finca. Conditions and food are fairly basic but the price and the incredible view help to compensate. A hike into the jungle nearby will allow you to witness Howler Monkeys and numerous wild birds. Dorm : 2,5 USD / Hammock : 1,25 USD.
- Finca Zopilote, (2 km before Balgue.). Finca El Zopilote is a farm/hostel runned by a italian family from tuscany from 2002 located in Isla de Ometepe in Nicaragua.Finca el zopilote offers to the visitors different types of accommodation such as camping, hammocks, dormitory and private cabins.Is equipped with a communal kitchen where all visitors can cook their own meals and is possible to buy handmade organic products in the reception. Three nights a week pizza is cooked in a tradictional wood owen. There are compost toilets and greywaters from the showers and the kitchen is cleaned through a system of constructed. The land is completely planted with trees and plants of every kind, there is a nursery and a vegetable garden and are present many works to limit erosion and water harvesting earth work. Have been used and ferro-cement techniques for the construction of water tanks.There are working possibilities for people interested in permaculture and helping in running the farm/hostel.Is possible to visit the farm including the litthe leather /handycraft shop and observe the view from a look out tower. For more informations check www.ometepezopilote.com. Cabins :7 USD /Dorm : 4 USD / Hammock 2,25 USD..
- Playa Volcan, (Near Merida). cheap
- Hospedaje Charco Verde. $5 - 18 USD per room.
- Hospedaje Ortiz, (Altagracia). Cheapest place in town, a block or so from the central plaza. There are reports about money being stolen from guests, hence the extremely cheap rates for accommodation.
- Casa Istiam, Playa Santo Domingo. A great budget place to stay right across the road from the beach.
- Hotel Finca Santo Doming, (Playa Santo Domingo). A more expensive place right on the beach. Approx. 30 USD.
- Villa Paraiso, (Playa Santo Domingo). Reputedly the nicest place to stay and probably the most expensive. Tours can be arranged. Bicycle rental available.
- Hospedaje Central, From Procredit Bank, 1 block south, ☎ 2569-4262. Very colorful and friendly atmosphere with free parking lot, internet service, dvd movies, laundry, volunteering opportunities, a restaurant and a bar. However, some travellers report that, despite Lonely Planet's endorsement, theft is a problem, especially in the dormitory rooms where random locals wander in and out through three doors. And the bar/restaurant shares a filthy bathroom with guests and plays loud music until late at night. $2.50 hammock-$3.50 dorm-$5.50 to 9.50 for room.
- Hacienda Merida, . is a lovely lodging option in Merida. Providing options for food and recreation, this all-inclusiveesque venue is perfect for both backpackers and vacationers.
- Puesta del sol. The community association invites you to come share the rural lifestyle of 16 families in the community of la Paloma, 1,5 km away from Moyogalpa. You will be able to practise spanish and if you want to, protect environment and help them in their projects.
- Hotel Bahia, Primary a restaurant, it also has two rooms in the back after the open fire kitchen. Private with a bathroom with a shower, no sink and a toilet with cushioned seat for 7 USD.
- Finca del Sol, Santa Cruz (Ometepe), ☎ 8364 6394, . An ecological farm offering 2 private cabins, with private bath and the Orchid Loft for rent. Very private, overlooking Volcano Concepcion and Lake Nicaragua. The Cabins are fully screened, with mosquito netting, purified water, TV and DVD - over 100 movies in English, Spanish and Italian to choose from. We are 100% solar powered and have a composting toilet system. Located a 10 min walk from the trailhead to Volcano Madaras and a few minutes from the best beach on the island, we are a great choice for the adventurer wishing for a little more comfort. On the farm we raise tropical sheep, grow rice, fruits and veggies. Priced rate- $31 single, $37 double, $43 triple and $49 for a party of four (great for a small family or group of friends) We have a maximum occupancy of 8 guests, so reservations are highly recommended. Visit our website for more info
- American Cafe and Hotel, Moyogalpa (Two blocks up main street from ferry). Owners Simone and Robert have created a delightful little oasis on the main drag, several blocks up from the ferry landing. Spotless and spacious, the AC & H is a daily gathering spot for tourists and locals alike. Robert can usually be found somewhere near the front door greeting visitors while Simone commands the kitchen, where remarkable things are created. Simone's Italian, 'nuff said. The rates are incredibly affordable. The exterior of the building is kind of bland.
- Hospedaje Soma (Hospedaje Soma), Frente Instituto R.Smith Moyogalpa, ☎ 00505-25694310, . checkin: 12pm; checkout: 11am. Hotel Hospedaje Soma is located in Moyogalpa on Ometepe Island. With only a ten minutes walk to the dock of Moyogalpa Hospedaje Soma is a bit away from sometimes noisy ´downtown´ but still in reach of all neccesary services which provides the village. This really quiet place offers a dormitory $5, private rooms $10 with shared bathrooms and cabins with private bathroom from $25 on, depends if you like AC or not. The Hotel has a nice and cozy tropical garden with some space to hang out and chill and provides a communal kitchen free to use for its clients. Prices reach from $5 to $40.
- Little Morgan´s, Santa Cruz (300m towards Balgue from Santa Cruz junction), ☎ 505 861107973, . Beautiful accomodation, bar and restaurant. Owned by Morgan (the fun Irish guy) and run by a lovely Australian couple. All types of accomodation catered for with hammocks, dorms and private casitas. It is set amongst tropical tress feeling like a real paradise, and is on the lake, so is perfect for a swim and then relax by the bar or in a hammock. The bar has a pool table and is the most happening place at night. The dorms are far enough away though that you can sleep if you need to. Great food and great people. They offer everything from horseriding to remedial massage. A wonderful pace to stay, see www.littlemorgans.com for pictures and more information. $3-$30.
- Little Morgan´s, Santa Cruz (300m towards Balgue past Santa Cruz junction), ☎ 505 8611 7973, . The only place around with a pool table and cable TV. Beautiful surroundings with fun atmosphere at night. Beer, wine and spirits avaiable from $2-$3.
- The trails are not marked so if don't know the island, it is best to hire a guide. They are usually cheap and can give you so much help. Many people have gotten lost climbing the volcanoes and the trails are small. There are no services and help is hard to come by when climbing one of the mountains, so bring what you need before hand.
- Thanks to the fact that it's an island which is kind of easy to check traffic of persons it is, in comparison to the rest of Nicaragua, pretty safe.
- Minor annoyance such as kids begging for money may happen, but in a day, many locals will greet you and are happy to help you.
- Some locals report that there is some danger when climbing the top of Concepcion because of the activity that exist in the top. It is important to take a guide and make sure that if you notice anything suspicious, get away.