“Nobody owns the world, so feel free to explore it.”
One of my favourite spots in Nicaragua is Isla de Ometepe. To be honest, with the exception of Managua, everywhere in Nicaragua became ‘one of my favourite places’. It was hard not to fall in love with the vibrant charm of a colonial city such as Granada or the impressive volcanic peaks on Ometepe as the boat makes its way over Lago de Nicaragua.
After arriving on Ometepe, my friends and I walked up the main street to the ‘outskirts’ of Moyogalpa towards our hostel, Hospedaje Soma. We instantly fell in love with the place. It was clean, relaxing, spacious, and Javier at the front desk was more than helpful. If we needed anything, he was on it. We opted to spend a bit more and get our own private cabana, situated near the back of the property, surrounded by lush gardens and hammocks. With the help of Javier, we rented scooters and were off to explore the island in no time. The 3 key spots we visited and I’d recommend to everyone are:
Ojo de Agua
We actually came back here twice. Ojo de Agua is a natural spring pool, filled with crystal clear water from an underground river that comes from Maderas volcano. The border of the pool has been encased in cement and there are beach chairs to sit on, bar service, a tight rope across the water, and a jungle swing. After a few of the Coco Locos (coconuts filled with rum!) I had more than enough confidence to walk the tight rope and jump off the jungle swing.
Trails through gardens and a park, that lead you to a black sand beach and a great view of Maderas volcano.
This was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to Nicaragua. Volcan Concepción is an active stratovolcano that forms pretty much half of Isla de Ometepe. The best (and hardest) part of this trip was the hike. Starting at 5am, a local guide picked us up from our hostel and we took a ten minute bus ride outside of Moyogalpa. From here, we started our hike through the jungle to the base of Concepción, then continued up the side of the volcano. The hike takes anywhere between 6 and 10 hours, depending on your group. We had made it about two-thirds of the way up to the crater, before the wind got too strong and we had to stop. The last 400 metres of the volcano, you are climbing on your hands and knees over broken volcanic rock; not the easiest nor the safest in bad conditions. With the strong winds knocking us over at the 2/3 mark and the thick cloud cover, our guide didn’t recommend us to go any further. The views of Lago de Nicaragua and Ometepe were amazing nonetheless.
To see all of these sites or to explore the island, rent a scooter for the day. It is the easiest and most convenient way to get around the island. We didn’t need bike licenses, we could come and go whenever we wanted to, and if a path looked interesting to explore, we did it. There are a few things to be aware of when renting scooters though. First and foremost, don’t drink and drive. We came across a few people who decided to have a few too much and ride, and they had more bandages than clothing, as well as more scarred and scraped skin then fresh skin. Secondly, the owners are very aware of every ding and scratch on their bikes. If you end up running into a fence or falling over, they can tell (even if you can’t!). Lastly, scooters are a must-do on this island and if you can ride a pedal bike, you should be fine on a scooter.
To see a glimpse of my travels in Nicaragua, check out my video.