You need only to look at it on the map to realise that Ometepe is not your average island. Formed of two volcanoes in a figure of eight, two perfect cones punctuate the skyline, rising out of the thick cloud forests at their bases...
You can come to Ometepe to walk, to look for birds or to kayak; to stroll the beaches, enjoy the pace of island life or just soak in the views. For most, it’s a bit of all the above.
Whatever you come here for, we’ll put you in the right company and point you in the right directions.
Life on the lake The Istian Isthmus connects the volcanoes’ round bases and forms the centre of the island’s figure-of-eight shape. The landscape here is dotted by lagoons home to caiman and a host of birdlife, while the beautiful white sand beach of Playa Santo Domingo stretches along the eastern shore.
Other than the imposing volcanic forms at either end, the island is relatively flat, with sprawling plantain fields and cattle pasture lining the roads. Farming is the main industry and large quantities of plantain, rice, beans, corn and sesame seeds are grown across the island.
You’ll spend a pretty good chunk of time in the company of our local guide here to pick your way through it all.
Volcano hikes The arrival by the traditional ferry lets you enjoy the view of Concepcion and Maderas as they gradually loom taller. For perhaps the greatest appreciation of the place though, you have to summit one of the two volcanoes. Both are long, hard slogs, especially Concepcion, but the views are very special indeed.
At 1,394m, Maderas may be less visually impressive than its active neighbour, but its slopes are covered in one of the only tracts of cloud forest found in Nicaragua’s Pacific basin, home to a variety of plant, bird and animal life, including an endemic species of salamander. A trail leads through the forest to the Laguna de Maderas, a cold, misty crater lake at the summit of the volcano.
Just rewards for your efforts.
Slow down to island pace Aside from a good walk and time with your guide embedding you in island life, you should have ample downtime to relax, go for a stroll along the beach or perhaps sink into the Ojos de Agua hot springs, two very pretty natural volcanic pools surrounded by trees. If you want to be just a little more active there is excellent kayaking to be had on the Istian River which runs between the two volcanoes. The river is home to a lot of wildlife; particularly birds, but it is possible to spot caimans and turtles. And if you want more wildlife, particularly of the primate variety, you might want to visit the Charco Verde reserve on the northeast edge of the isthmus. Its forests are an excellent place to spot howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys.
How to visit Ometepe Island with Pura Aventura You’ll likely spend three nights on the island, perhaps staying in what was once a working hacienda and is now a charming lodge. Set on the eastern edge of Concepcion Volcano, looking out over the immense waters of Lake Nicaragua, it’s a wonderful place to just sit and enjoy the birdsong all around you, as the sun goes down.
As we say above, you’ll share the company of our local guide for a decent chunk of your time, seeing some of the sights and hearing about the rich folklore, such as the legend of Chico Largo. People on the island are particularly friendly, so it is generally a fluid and fascinating experience.
For the rest of your time you have your Pura Holiday Guide to lean on for advice, information and opinions, including the best walks and activities to book locally. Given its proximity to Managua and Granada, Ometepe slides neatly into just about any Nicaragua itinerary. For more island life, of a contrasting nature, do have a look at the Solentiname Islands though.
Whatever your ideas, or if you’d like us to make some recommendations, please do get in touch to chat through your trip.