Backpackers Guide to Isla De Ometepe – Nicaragua

Isla De Ometepe Nicaragua

Isla De Ometepe is an island on Lake Nicaragua. The Island of Ometepe is made up of two volcanoes, Concepción and Maderas, which are joined by a low isthmus to form one island in the shape of an hourglass. The volcanos are popular for hiking and bird watching. Isla De Ometepe is still reasonably undeveloped so don’t expect too many luxuries, instead prepare for a true Nicaraguan experience. This backpackers guide covers things to do in Isla De Ometepe, the best hostels and other helpful travel tips. 

Things to do on Isla De Ometepe

Hike to San Ramon Waterfall

San Ramon waterfall is located on the southern side of Maderas Volcano. Backpackers like to hire bikes and ride to the trailhead, which is easily accessible from Hacienda Merida. From the trailhead it is a 3km hike that takes about 1.5 hours (one way). 

Backackers Guide to Isla De Ometepe Nicaragua

Kayak to Monkey Island

Off the coast of Hacienda Merida is an island that is home to many monkeys. Backpackers can hire a kayak and paddle 30 minutes out to monkey island.

Backackers Guide to Isla De Ometepe Nicaragua

Relax on Santa Domingo Beach

One of the most beautiful beaches on the island is Santa Domingo. Here you can relax on the sand, drink fresh coconuts and cool down in Nicaragua Lake.

Ojo De Agua

This is a MUST do on Isla De Ometepe. These mineral water swimming holes are a great place to relax and cool down after hiking (or any adventure). 

Ojo De Agua is located on the road between the two volcanoes, roughly 2 km after Santo Domingo. Entry costs around $5 US per person. There are lockers on site for your valuables and basic changing facilities.

Isla De Ometepe Nicaragua

Hike Volcano Maderas or Volcano Concepcion

Both hikes are extremely strenuous and may not be worth it in poor weather. I hiked Maderas in the rain and didn’t see anything, but was glad I made it to the top. In good weather the views from the top are incredible. A guide is essential for the hikes as they are not well marked. 

Explore the island by bike

One of the best ways to explore Isla De Ometepe is by motorbike. Public transport is very unreliable on the island, so a bike will allow you to see everything you want to see, at your own pace!

Horse back riding

Another way to explore the island is by horseback. The horse riding tour even take you along the beach, creating a unique experience. 

 Kayak Istian River

This is a backpackers favourite. Kayaking down Istian River will allow you to explore the small estuary that leads from Lake Nicaragua through part of the isthmus connecting Ometepe’s two volcanoes, all while learning about the wildlife that inhabits it.

Recommended length of stay on Isla De Ometepe

I recommend staying on Isla De Ometepe for 3 nights.

Hostels on Isla De Ometepe

I highly recommend Hacienda Merida, located on Maderas Volcano and along the waterfront. This hostel offers cheap accommodation in a picture perfect location with great tour services and helpful staff. Hacienda Merida is the perfect place to base your self for San Ramon Waterfall, Monkey Island and the Maderas volcano hike. Check out the view…

Backackers Guide to Isla De Ometepe Nicaragua

An other popular hostel is Little Morgan’s, located in Santa Cruz on Madras Volcano. 

Santa Domingo beach is another popular place to stay on Isla de Ometepe but the price of accommodation is higher than other locations on the island.

Search for hostels on Isla De Ometepe

Getting to and around Isla De Ometepe

If you are coming to Isla De Ometepe from overseas, you would fly into Managua Airport. From Managua, you would take a bus to Rivas, then a bus to San Jorge where you will catch the Isla De Ometepe ferry.

If you are coming from Costa Rica, you will do the same thing, taking the bus to Rivas, then a bus to San Jorge and catching the Isla De Ometepe ferry.

Once on Isla de Ometepe, you can catch buses for $1-2 but they don’t come often so you might have to wait. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or hire a motorbike. 

Currency in Isla de Ometepe 

Nicaraguan Cordoba and US Dollars are accepted in Nicaragua.

Travel Insurance for  Isla de Ometepe 

Travel insurance is a necessity when backpacking to  Isla de Ometepe.  I recommend World Nomads.  If you are still unsure if you should buy travel insurance or not, read this. 

Safety in  Isla de Ometepe 

You should always be exercising safety precautions in  Isla de Ometepe:

  • Avoid flashing your valuables
  • Keep an eye on your belongings at all times
  • Lock your belongings in the hotel safe
  • Remain aware of your surrounding
  • Avoid unknown streets at night
  • Don’t drink too much

See more tips for keeping safe when travelling. 

Language in Nicaragua

The official language in Nicaragua is Spanish. Limited locals will speak English.

Vaccinations for Nicaragua

Check the Travel Doctor website to find out what vaccinations you need when backpacking to Nicaragua. If you have any further questions regarding vaccinations required for Nicaragua, I recommend consulting a doctor.

Overseas Travel Checklist 

You might also like

Backpackers Guide to Granada

Backpackers Guide to San Juan Del Sur

10 places to add to your Central America bucket list

Backpackers Guide to Lake Apoyo

The best of Nicaragua

More from Central America here. 

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 Isla De Ometepe Nicaragua

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