Ometepe Island in Nicaragua: Everything You Need to Know Including Some Surprises

Today we will introduce Ometepe island in Nicaragua, how to get there, where to stay, how to get around and what difficulties and surprises you may face here.

Ometepe Island is located inside the vast lake of Nicaragua and formed by two volcanoes: Concepcion and Maderas. The volcanoes are connected by an isthmus and thus the length of the island is 31 kilometers, and its width reaches 10 kilometers! Of course, the island of Olkhon on Baikal Lake is much bigger, but still Ometepe is impressive. Here you can easily spend two or three days, depending on your wishes, activity, and, most importantly, the weather.
the map of Ometepe

How to get there

You can get here by air, in our 5 days in the island we never heard the sound of an airplane. Interestingly, the plane runway crosses the road.
plane to Ometepe

That is why the most common way to get to Ometepe is to take a ferry from the port of Rivas. The timetable of ferries:
The timetable of ferries

The timetable of ferries

The port is located seven kilometers from the city center. We paid 40 cordobas (1.5 dollars) to get here from the bus station by taxi. We had reached Rivas from Costa Rica.

It was a difficult day, we spent the night on the bus, then there was a border, then another bus, and, as a result, we reached the port exhausted and inattentive. It was possible to buy tickets for different ships at the port, and we chose the cheapest one. We regretted twice. Firstly, it turned out that our boat was very small and moreover it was leaking. The possible pleasant ride seemed a little different when the boat pitched on waves and we observed the poor sailor pumping water all the way with the help of such weird equipment.

The second surprise was the presence of two ports at the island. Of course, we bought tickets to the wrong pier – San Jose del Sur, not Moyogalpa. BE CAREFUL with the final destination! We realized our mistake only upon the arrival. We expected our hostel employees to provide transfer for us, but nobody was waiting for us in the port. The distance between ports is 11 kilometers, and additionally, when we found the opportunity to call to the hostel, we found out that their car (on the photo) had broken down.

Transportation inside Ometepe

Everybody around assured us that we can only get to Moyogalpa by taxi for $20.
Transportation inside Ometepe

We refused and decided to have some food in an authentic eatery. Cooking took very long time, and the cooked chicken had blood in it. However, we found out that there was a bus scheduled for 5-30 PM on the main road. We came in advance and this was not in vain: the chicken buss came earlier. Slowly, with stops, we reached Moyogalpa.
Transportation inside Ometepe

There we booked a scooter for the next day. There are many offers, but not all of them look equally good. There is an option with scooter delivery, so you should not worry about it.
To summarize, you don’t necessarily need the expensive taxi. You can travel around the island by bus. However, it is rare and unpredictable. Moreover, buses go only along the main road around Concepcion volcano. It means that the bus line covers only half of the island.
chicken buss

To be flexible and get anywhere in the island, you need to rent a scooter or a motorbike. Prices are about 12-20 dollars per day. However, be careful what and where you choosing.

Where to stay on Ometepe

We stayed at Hostel Finca Monserrath, which is near Moyogalpa. Walking distance from the port is 25 minutes, and it is even less from the town. Because of all our adventures, we reached the place in the darkness and observed many fireflies on our way. We got the best room and a free dinner as an apology for not having been picked up in the port.
Where to stay on Ometepe

The owner and her children were generally cute: the boy taught Nastya how to cut passion fruit and make juice of it; the girl also helped and was very friendly. Later we extended the rent with better price. The hostel has a terrace, and there is always cold beer in the fridge. We really liked the stay there.
Where to stay on Ometepe

The hostel “Life is good”, which is a bit closer to Moyogalpa, also looked as a decent place. We had a talk with its owner from Slovakia.
In general, the accommodation options in Ometepe are located along the entire coast of the island, but since the biggest town is Moyogalpa, we would recommend staying there. In addition, if you find yourself in the same situation as we did, as we tell below, it is better to be closer to the port.
Where to stay on Ometepe

Weather on Ometepe

We would have never thought that such a lake as Nicaragua and especially such a narrow line of water may have storms. Because of them, we could not get out of the island for three days. It was some kind of craziness and we could write a huge separate story about it, but share the short version.
On the first day, the weather was bad, but a ferry from the mainland gave us hope. Unfortunately, the wind continued to blow harder. At 12 AM all ferries were canceled. After the first unsuccessful attempt, we returned to our hostel, where due to bad weather the electricity was cut off.
Weather on Ometepe

On the second day, we decided to take the morning ferry at 6-30. We woke up at 5 AM. When we reached the port, we were around 50th in a line. It seemed to us that we would fit in. We were so naive! Before the departure time, the queue began to broaden. Here and there, people jumped in and immediately “tails” joined them. It was not possible to keep the line. Local somehow slipped on a ferry without tickets. Tickets were sold out when we were very close the ticket office. After some time the personnel from the ship told thr cashier that there were 10 more tickets left, but one person bought six tickets at time and we found ourselves first in line, but without tickets. We decided not to leave the spot and stayed there for about 3 hours, defending it, until we heard that all other ferries were canceled due to the weather conditions.
delays on Ometepe

In the evening of the same day, we went to the port to find out how things were going with the ferry. There we found people preparing for an overnight stay near the ticket office. Nastya was smart and charming, persuading a local woman to buy tickets for us. We left the money and promised to be there at 4 AM.
Next day we woke up at 3 AM. Sleepy white people, like zombies from a horror movie, crawled out of the hotels with their suitcases and backpacks. When we arrived to the harbor, there were already about 50 people in line. Our new friend was also there, but the crowd did not let us move. She gave us a signal that she had recognized us. All people were mad. There was a fight even for a stupid list of names that did not mean anything (we put our names on it the day before, but the ship left without us). The friendly German couple we had met a day before (yes, we all recognized each other) were rude and fighting with locals who wanted to squeeze in. All attempts to keep the ring were destroyed by vehicles loading to the ship. They cut the line, which instantly expanded. And the chaos began. We believed in our trump card, but still were nervous. Finally, our friend gave us a signal that everything was fine, and soon we received the treasured tickets.
Ometepe island

On the ship, the atmosphere was opposite: everyone was happy and congratulated each other; all resentments were behind. This way we got out of the island at the third attempt only and continued our travel in Nicaragua.

In the next story we tell you how we spent time there and what interesting things are available at the island.

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