The island of Ometepe is the largest island at 275 square kilometers, in a fresh water lake in the world. From the first glimpse of the island across the shore, it’s hard not to be immediately impressed with the magnificence of the two volcanoes that created the island.
Ometepe is shaped like a barbell with one volcano on each side with the two sections brought together by a small isthmus in the center. On the north side of the island sits Volcan Conception known as one of the most symmetrically shaped volcanoes in Central America. To climb this big boy you’ll have to commit at least a 12 hour day to reach the top. While I didn’t even think about attempting the climb I’m told the views from the top are utterly amazing.
The south end of the island holds Volcan Maderas with its base providing lovely terrain for the many villages dotted around its edges. This volcano is a slightly easier climb, requiring about 8 hours (5 hours up and 3 hours down) but the hike near the top gets extremely muddy. The top quarter of the volcano is immersed in a cloud forest keeping the ground moist throughout the year. So if you want to attempt this hike, be prepared to get dirty.
Aside from its dominant volcanic attractions, Ometepe offers a lot more. Black sand beaches, kayaking, windsurfing, kiteboarding, waterfalls, and natural springs are only some of the activities you can enjoy on this unique island. The island is also rich in history. It seemed like almost every restaurant, bar, or hotel had authentic artifacts found on the island on display. From petroglyphs to cooking utensils, the array and abundance of artifacts is truly impressive.
Flips of the Trip to Ometepe
I learned to ride a motorcycle!
Me and my new friend Manual spent a day riding around the island seeing the sights and teaching me to drive. I definitely need a lot of practice shifting gears but I really enjoyed it. I can see why so many travelers motorcycle across countries. Maybe one day I will too….
There’s a great hike to a hidden waterfall
On the Volcan Maderas side of the island there is a waterfull hidden in the lush jungle of the volcano. It takes about an hour to hike up through the forest traversing creek beds and cleared trails. Once at the top there’s a beautiful waterfall that is plenty cold to refresh you after the humid hike.
You can’t help communing with nature and all her animals on Ometepe
Ometepe is full of wild life, much of which is not afraid to interact with the people sharing the island. I originally thought that my hostel had a pet Capuchin Monkey as a cute little one would run through a few times a day. I later learned that this little guy is truly wild but has learned to visit to get some food.
The blue birds are also spectacular here. During any meal and throughout most afternoons you’ll be entertained by these birds fluttering around. I will say the first time they joined me for a meal I was a bit scared there was going to be a reenactment from the birds movie as a group fluttered all around me waiting for me to give them some of my fish and rice.
Ometepe has some really gorgeous sunsets
I’ve found the sunsets all across Nicaragua to be gorgeous and Ometepe is no exception. Its even a place where you can watch the sunrise on one side then drive across to watch the sunset on the other side.
A small but interesting museum – La Ceiba Museum
The El Ceibo Museum on the Volcan Conception side of the island is a small but thorough collection of Pre-Columbian artificats found around the island. There’s also a section that illustrates the history of Nicaraguan money from the earliest use of nuts through the mega inflation periods, and to current day.
I even found an artifact that looked like it was taken straight out of an episode of Ancient Aliens. My guide even said the museum is popular with alien researchers.