Let’s start this off by clarifying that Ometepe is definitely my favourite destination in Nicaragua and if you’re in the country, you MUST plan a visit!
Formed by two volcanoes rising from lake Nicaragua, Ometepe Island is an absolutely stunning place.
The entire island is 31km long, based around two volcanoes: Conception – the highest point on the island (1,610 meters) and Maderas – second highest (1,394).
Clearly, the main thing to do on Ometepe is to hike the volcanoes. Both take around 8-9 hours to fully complete, even if you are in proper hiking shape. (If you are not, you might want to sit this one out :)) While I can only speak to the difficulty of Maderas, I can assure you that it’s no joke!
A good portion of the climb takes you through a swamp-like terrain and there is simply no avoiding mud covered shoes and clothes..
.. And legs.
If you’re expecting phenomenal views when you reach the summit, you might as well quell those thoughts right now. The constant mist and cloud cover doesn’t allow for a true ‘money-shot’, but the climb is extremely satisfying nonetheless!
This little pond (above) will be your final destination, and a nice place to eat lunch while preparing for the not so fun climb back down ; )
This is the best picture I took from the top of Maderas. It was possible only after the cloud cover dispersed.
In addition to climbing a volcano or two, another popular thing to do in Ometepe is to rent a scooter. For $15 USD per day, you can own the quiet streets throughout the island! Or, you can be cheap and choose the much more inefficient method of taking local buses like I did…
In my defense, how can you not hop on something this bright and flashy!?
Nevertheless, whether you decide to rent a scooter or choose to ride the local chicken buses, you will see how the local Ometepians (yeah.. I just made that up..) live their lives!
Overall, Isla Ometepe is quite cheap but things can be a little more expensive than mainland Nicaragua. Hostels can be found for $10 USD and delicious meals for about $6-$8 USD.
Two very different pescado (fish) dishes..
After Costa Rican prices forced me to live on peanut butter toast for a week, I was willing to splurge a little bit for good meals. But make no mistake, there are plenty of $3-4USD meals available on Isla Ometepe – as long as you’re willing to eat fried chicken or hot dogs ; )
Whether you’re coming from San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua or Granada, Nicaragua, you will first have to take a bus to the town of Rivas. From there, you can take a short bus (leaving every 30 minutes-don’t listen to the taxi drivers!) to San Jorge – the ferry port. The ferry to Isla Ometepe costs 50 cordobas (roughly $2USD) and takes an hour to an hour-and-a-half.
While it is a bit of a hassle, don’t let these minor inconveniences dissuade you. Isla Ometepe is awesome and should not be missed! Get there, and enjoy!