Nicaragua is one of my favourite Central American countries. As a nature obsessed human, I was drawn to Nicaragua for its diversity in terrain and landscape. I loved the beaches, volcanoes and lakes. Isla de Ometepe was a place we were going to visit for a few days, however once we arrived, we knew we wanted to settle and enjoy the area for a few weeks.
Isla de Ometepe is an impressive island, formed by two volcanoes. It is situated on Lake Nicaragua and is the largest freshwater volcanic island in the world (a fact I didn’t know when I was visiting). A visit to Isla de Ometepe is part of the typical backpacker route through Central America and it’s also becoming increasingly popular with the ecotourism travellers, due to the island’s biodiversity in wildlife and nature along with the outdoor activities available.
When planning your visit to Isla de Ometepe, be sure to add my favourite ways to explore the island to your itinerary:
I try and plan horse riding into all of my getaways. We did a half day of horse riding, which we booked through our accommodation. Our guide took us riding to San Ramon waterfall. It was a beautiful experience. Our guide was fantastic and the horses were in great condition. It was quite a steep ride and the horses handled it extremely well. There is a restaurant I’d recommend stopping at on the way back, which is at the base of where the trail starts up to the waterfall. One thing I learned about horses (from our local taxi driver) is Nicaraguans don’t name their horses. I’m not sure if this is the same for all animals, including pets, however when it came to their horses, they didn’t give them a name. This was confirmed when we went horse riding and I asked our guide what the names of our horses were and he said they didn’t have names.
There are plenty of places to hike on Isla de Ometepe. For the best views and a great workout, take the challenge and climb up either Volcano Concepcion or Volcano Maderas. We chose to climb Volcano Maderas, as it was the closest to where we were staying and slightly easier. But be warned! Both volcano climbs are extremely arduous, steep and expose you to the elements. The climb up Maderas was extremely slippery and very windy. We were blessed with beautiful views out to Volcano Concepcion, but when we reached the summit, it was completely cloud covered, which is common. There is a lake at the top, which in warmer conditions, you can swim in (but it will still be cold!). Allow at least 8 hours to complete the return climb and I recommend booking in an experience guide, who knows the climb, as it can be hard to find the trail in some parts. And if you are not an experienced hiker or climber, you will definitely need support and guidance trekking up this volcano.
Being on an island surrounded by water, you can do a variety of water activities. We hired canoes from our accommodation and spend many days exploring the area. Canoeing is a great way to get up close to birds, who live in the trees overhanging the water’s edge. One of the visitors at our accommodation was settling in for 3 months and brought their Stand Up Paddle Board with them. If you are able to travel with your board, this is a fantastic way to explore. They were out every day at sunset and I got some beautiful shots of them paddling in front of Volcano Concepcion. Then of course there is swimming, which is a great way to relax and enjoy the surrounds.
Whilst we didn’t do any mountain biking during our stay, you can rent bikes from accommodation operators around the island. There are plenty or roads to explore and get amongst nature and the outdoors. The roads are quite bumpy and are dirt, so expect a sore backside if you are heading out for a big ride and pack a flat tye repair kit as there’s a high chance you may get a flat tyre along the ride.
For the yoga enthusiasts (myself included), I’m sure there are yoga classes somewhere on the island. If you cannot find one, find a sweet patch of grass overlooking one of the many stunning views and do some downward dog on your own. The sunsets are to die for and there’s nothing more magical than yoga at sunset and taking in the day.