When going to Ometepe you set the first step into a time full of discovery and adventure. Get yourself a scooter to be able to fully experience Ometepe on your own. The Island has so much to offer and you do that the best independently of any organized groups. Just hop on the scooter and get lost (like always: not hurt!).
The island is made out of 2 volcanos, the Maderas (1400m) and the Conceptión (1600m). The Conceptión erupted the last time in 2010 and the Maderas hasn’t erupted in the last 800 years. Both are connected by a low isthmus to from the island in the shape of an 8.
Legend tells that the lake and the island are the result of a love story. The volcanos are the boobs of a woman. That’s the motivation to climb both of them ;-). The fresh water lake is one of the biggest lakes of the world and even a few fresh water sharks are swimming in it.
Arrival at Ometepe
You will arrive on the ferry port of Moyogalpa, the biggest town on the island. The two volcanos are connected over land with one main street which is paved and is in really good shape. This street is really just connecting the two volcanos and is not going fully around them. So most of the roads you have to take to get somewhere beside the main street are off-road paths.
When you get off the ferry you will see several restaurants, promotors for accommodation and tours, shops and vehicle rentals. I would recommend you to not stay in Moyogalpa, it’s nice but there are nicer places in the island. Moyogalpa is on the feet of the volcano Conceptión. I stayed on the other side on the feet of the volcano Maderas next to the town Altagracia (read more about that here). If you want to rent a vehicle don’t go the first rentals. Walk the street straight up until it is getting a bit quieter. Close to the end of the town you will find smaller shops with better prices for vehicle. You can rent scooters, motorbikes or quads.
If you like horses you can also rent a horse for around 7$/hour to explore Ometepe. As I am not a big fan or horse riding in didn’t do that.
Renting a scooter at Ometepe
Renting a scooter is easy. Everywhere on the island there are scooter rentals. The normal price is 20-25$ per day, but I you rent a scooter for some days in a row you may get a discount. You will also need to show them your driver licence, but nobody really cares what is written on it to be honest.
As already written in my post “Nicaragua – because it’s simple awesome” I got my scooter for 3,5 days and paid 50$. Everyone was quite surprised how I managed to get such a good price but I was just a bit doggedly while negotiation. The scooter I had and all I have seen were in pretty good shape. Gas is not expensive, I paid around 1$/Liter. Gas stations you can only find along the main street and just a few of them, so better don`t make the mistake I did and wait until the last drop of gas in your tank to search for one. Luckily when I ran out on gas in the middle of nowhere on a pretty bad outback road I found a local who sold me some gas so I could fill up my tank and keep on going.
I recommend, if you are an unexperienced driver, to train yourself a bit on the main street. The off-road paths over the island are in really bad conditions and not so easy to drive if you have 0 experience in handling a scooter. If you feel like they are getting to crazy better get off the scooter and push it until the way gets better again.
Getting lost on Ometepe
Soon as you feel ready just get lost. There are waterfalls, untouched beaches, stunning nature and hidden restaurant all over the island. The little villages you will drive through are cute and beautiful, the people on the streets are nice and welcoming. Me and some guests form my hostel gathered together and drove aimlessly over the island. There are some springs, which are supposed to be healthy any make you younger, but you have to pay an entrance fee and for me this was overpriced as there are everywhere waterwholes and water to swim in. So while some of us visited the springs, the others just drove a bit off-road over the island until we suddenly got around a corner and ended up on a untouched beach with no one around. The water was warm and you could walk in for ages as it didn’t got deeper than my hips.
After swimming a bit we got back to meet the others again and started our way to the waterfalls. It was supposed to take us 30 minutes, but the path you have to take is so bad after 1 hour we didn’t even made it half way. As we got hungry we decided to search for some place to eat. We found a little family restaurant in a garden and as usual got provided with self-made food for little money. After that we kept on going and after another hour we finally reached the waterfalls. Unfortunately I forgot to make pictures from this moment of glory 😀
Getting back quite the same effort was needed and we had to push the bikes several times until, as above already mentioned, I ran out of gas. Thanks to the little boy saving me with bringing me a tank full of gas from his father’s workshop.
Afterwards we were tired and just searched for a place to chill. We found the chocolate factory, a perfect place. The chocolate factory is a café on the water with hammocks and seats directly on the water. They serve everything that you can produce out of chocolate. Shakes, cookies, ice cream, etc. DELICOUSE. With some chilled background music you can laze away here the hours.
On the next day, the others made up their way the volcano Maderas but as I was still suffering from a foot injury I again got on my scooter and got lost on the island. I was driving from beach to beach and through the jungle until I suddenly ended up in the middle of a landing field 😀 #notkidding
Below you can find some pictures of my discovery trip.
If you want to go kayaking on Ometepe are several places for that. I didn’t went kayaking in the Lake Nicaragua on Ometepe but in Granada. Read more about that here.
I am sure you can even spend a week on Ometepe and it won’t get boring, there are so many places to explore. If you are interested in permaculture and organic agriculture there are tons of place to learn about that on the island. Permaculture and organic agriculture is the lifestyle of the locals.
If you need any more information or more details on the given information just contact me. I am happy to help everyone travelling.
Get lost but don’t get hurt.