If you want to step back and enjoy a much simpler way of life on a stress-free and picturesque island, look no further than Ometepe. An infinity-shaped island formed by two twin cone-shaped volcanoes, Ometepe is abundant with eco-diversity: majestic volcanoes, lush rainforests, crystal clear natural springs, exotic wildlife, charming beaches, and more. It’s an early to bed, early to rise kind of place, one where roosters sound the alarms at 5am and livestock are an integral part of daily work.
If you’re heading to Isla de Ometepe, here are some things you can do:
1. Visit a chocolate factory.
El Pital is a little chocolate factory and juice bar set on the water with an absolutely magical atmosphere. They have music, slacklines, hammocks, silks, and paddleboards for you to entertain yourself with in addition to their luscious chocolate desserts and fresh-squeezed juice. They’re still building it up and will eventually have an entire village complete with camping, tree houses, classes, and more, but already this place just radiates positive and happy vibes.
2. Hike a volcano.
Whether you choose Maderas or Concepción, know that both hikes are extremely difficult, as they are very steep and long. We heeded these warnings too lightly and definitely weren’t laughing later when we were sore for days! We opted for the shorter Maderas, which stands at 1,394 meters and took us 3.5 hours each way, slipping and sliding (and occasionally sinking) in the mud. The top is all cloud forest, so there’s not a great view, just a marshy crater lake. Many people do enjoy crossing this off their list, but for me personally, it was far from my favorite hike. Perhaps Concepción would’ve been the way to go.
3. Hike to a waterfall.
If I could go back to Ometepe again, I’d definitely choose to hike to San Ramon Waterfall instead of up an entire volcano. At only 4km each way, it’s shorter and a lot less steep than the volcano hikes, plus it rewards you with a beautiful view at the end that’s not shrouded in clouds.
4. Go horseback riding.
You can choose between the jungle, the beach, or both, but any of these options will have you trotting through a beautiful and serene location. We opted for the beach, and for only $12 had a 2-hour ride through paradise with fabulous views of the volcanoes looming in the background.
5. Swim in a volcanic spring.
No visit to Ometepe is complete without a visit to Ojo de Agua, the crystal clear oasis of natural volcanic spring water. It’s gotten a little touristy, so try to avoid weekends and holidays if you can, but the meager $3 entrance fee is well worth it even just to dip in the refreshing water and cool off from the island’s hot and humid weather.
6. Kayak or paddleboard.
Rent a paddleboard and paddle around the beaches, or better yet, do a kayak tour of Rio Istián, the marshy river that flows through the isthmus between Ometepe’s twin volcanoes. Kayaking through Rio Istián, you’ll see plenty of exotic birds, plants, and maybe even some caimans (small crocodiles) if you look hard enough.
7. Rent a bike or motorbike.
The island of Ometepe is bigger than most people realize. Though you can hop on a local bus for under a dollar, they’re very infrequent and slow (can take 4+ hours to go around the island), so the best way to get around is on two wheels. We rented push bikes for $3.50/day, but you can also get motorbikes for around $20-25. The best part about renting a bike or motorbike is that you can hop on and off wherever you’d like and explore at your own pace!
8. Relax in an infinity pool.
No worries if your accommodation doesn’t have a pool… You can just buy a drink from one of the nice hotels and use theirs! Notable pools on the island include Totoco Eco-Lodge and La Omaja.
9. Explore the jungle.
No need for a map on this one. Simply find a path going away from the lake, and just go! You’ll wander through the lushest and greenest of jungles, and you’ll see interesting wildlife like the blue and white urraca birds hopping up and down on branches and the unbelievably loud howler monkeys swinging through the trees.
10. Hammock time.
Hammock time is a legitimate activity no matter where you are in Nicaragua. There’s something about the slow pace of life that makes you want to chill out with a good book or be lazy and just enjoy the sounds of nature. There’s nothing wrong with doing nothing at all!
As always, keep on livin’ pura vida! ✌