ISLA OMETEPE, Nicaragua
LIST OF VIDEOS - http://youtube.com/results?search_query=ometepe&oq=ometepe&gs_l=youtube-reduced.3...7467.7467.0.77188.8.131.52.0.0.0.0.0..0.0...0.0...1ac.
FACEBOOK PAGES: http://Facebook.com/pages/Isla-de-Ometepe/157213467624689 (has some GREAT pictures!!)
Isla Ometepe is my new FAVORITE PLACE to go on my 90 day Visa Runs from Costa Rica!! I've never lived so far from water than where I do in Costa Rica so I've found if I take the 7am TransNica bus (this one goes the new highway which cuts down some time), I can get in early enough to take a boat over to Isla Ometepe, stay the night and catch an early boat back, run over to Rivas to the MEGA MEGA MEGA CHEAP pharmacy if needed and catch an early bus back to Costa Rica (depending on if I have to get back)
WHERE IS OMETEPE?
Ometepe is an island in the middle of Lake Cocibalca/Nicaragua. It's the largest island in the world within a FRESH WATER lake.
GETTING TO/FROM OMETEPE
First you get to get to Nicaragua. If you're coming from Costa Rica check out my info (soon being merged) at:
CAR FERRY BOAT TO OMETEPE (Empresa Turistica "Milton Arcia" - 2-569-4284 (or 4289): $3 each way (you can pay it on the boat), 620-cordobas for a car (not poz if that is each way or round trip as that's about $32) plus you pay for each person as well. The boat ride is about 1 hour each way.
DEPARTS SAN JORGE for Ometepe/Moyogalpa: 7:45am, 10:30am, 2:30pm and 5:45pm.
RETURNS FROM OMETEPE/Moyogalpa for San Jorge: 6am, 9am, 12:30pm and 4pm
BRINGING A CAR: Reservations are required (at least HIGHLY suggested - at least in Peak Season – Christmas-Easter/Samana Sante and June-Aug. and Nicaraguan Holidays – especially Mothers Day)
There are a few boats that bring you to Ometepe from San Jorge:
SAN JORGE – MOYOGALPA
7am - ?
7:45am - Ferry Ometepe
9am - Karen Maria - High Season?
10:30am - Ferry Ometepe
11am - Estrella del Sur
12:30pm - Santa Martha - High Season?
1:30pm - Karen Maria - High Season?
2:30pm - Ferry Ometepe
3:30pm - Estrella del Sur?
4pm - Che Guevara
5pm - Santa Martha - High Season?
5:45pm - Ferry Ometepe
MOYOGALPA - SAN JORGE
5:30am - Karen Maria
6am - Ferry Ometepe
6:30am - Santa Martha
7am - Estrella del Sur
9am - Ferry Ometepe
11am - Ferry Che Guevara
11:30am - Karen Maria
12:30pm - Ferry Ometepe
1pm - Estrella del Sur
3pm - Santa Martha
4pm - Ferry Ometepe
5:30pm - Ferry Che Guevara
FYI - Missed the boat in San Jorge or need to catch an EARLY one? Need a place to stay in SAN JORGE - where you’d get the ferry to go to Ometepe? Check out MY FAV place to stay there - HOTEL HAMACAS & tell Caralia that Vicki Connected you!!
Rooms with fan start at $27/1, $32/2. Air-conditioning - $37/1, $42/2. More info on Hamacas at - http://SarongGoddess.com/Travel/Nicaragua-Misc -
This boat leaves only 2 times a week and is not as reliable as the boats from San Jorge and will take you to the north side of the island to Altagracia.
Granada - Altagracia - Mon. and Thurs. 2pm
Altagracia - Granada - Wed. and Sat. 12:30pm (I saw am but don’t think that’s correct)
COST: Upper Deck - 50-c/$2.80ish, Lower Deck - 25-c $1.40ish.
DURATION: 4 hours.
San Carlos - Altagracia - Tues. and Fri. 3pm
Altagracia - San Carlos - Mon. and Thurs. 7:30pm
DURATION: 9 hours.
COST: Upper Deck - 190-c, Lower Deck - 80-c
NOTE: If it’s too windy - boats will NOT go so plan accordingly if you are on a time crunch.
There are a few ways to get around Ometepe:
Walking (I BELIEVE to walk around the island takes about ___ hours)
Bus (of course takes longer but it’s cheap. Limited service on Sunday. Not overly frequent)
Rent a Bike
Rent a Motorcycle
HITCH HIKE!!! Yes - I said Hitch Hike!! I had JUST missed the bus by 2 minutes and I needed to make the boat and there were no taxi's in site so I just stuck out my hand and a nice gentleman in a truck with his family in it pulled over and gave me a ride into town!! (I gave him the equivalent of $1 as a Thank you)
Rent a Car
Taxi - EXPENSIVE (about $20 to get from the Ferry Port to Santo Domingo)
Moto Taxi - BEST and reasonably priced (can be ½ the price of a taxi & LOTS more FUN!!! MY FAV driver is Anderson at 8-441-8957 • KingPlayOnes@yahoo.es (not sure if he'll remember me but tell him Vicki - the Big Red haired gal from Costa Rica Connected you!!! He speaks some English & is a sweetie [& cutie!!])
From one end to the other (Moyogalpa to Altagracia) is 24km - only about 30-40 minutes driving, BUT ____ hours by walking/hiking.
WHAT TO DO:
Hire a Guide - Ugo - http://OmetepeGuides.com • 8-827-7714 • UgoOmetepe@yahoo.com - Full Day - $20/pp. ½ Day - $15 - drive around the island - or hike up to Volcano Concepsion. Norman, Louis and Martin also speak English.
HOTTEST TIME OF THE YEAR:
Around Mid-May - between around 10am to 2-3pm.
BANKING and ATM MACHINES ON THE ISLAND
When I was on Isla Ometepe on my Visa Run from Costa Rica in May '12 there were 3 banks - all 3 located on the main street up from the port about 3-5 blocks. Below I put them in order from the port.
NOTE that ONLY the bank that was furthest from the port accepted my MasterCard Debit card which I'm pretty positive was the BAC.
Banco Lafise BanCentro (ATM had a GREAT FREEZING Air-Conditioned room!!! ATM 24/7. Bank Hours: Monday-Friday 8am-4:30pm. Saturday 8am-noon.
Banco ProCredit (I think this ATM was also air-conditioned!!!!). Bank Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm. Saturday 8:30am-noon.
BAC/Credimatico (note at least in Costa Rica, BAC atms charge $3 for each withdraw vs most other banks $1.50. I also think this ATM was NOT air-conditioned). Bank Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm. Saturday 8:30am-noon.
PLACES TO STAY (by area)
(Herve Flores shared some of this with me - he’s from Ometepe)
MOYOGALPA (closest to the port)
When you first arrive onto Ometepe you're in the small port town of Moyogalpa which is the largest “city” on the island with a few little hotels/B&B’s/hostels, restaurants, etc. It's directly in front of you is Concepcion Volcano.
Closest Hotel to port, NICE owners, WiFi (does work in some rooms but there are LOTS of chairs outside the rooms/in common spaces it worked good from), clean. Only drawbacks to me was it has a strong chemical cleaning solution smells (SOOOO TYPICAL throughout Latin America - hey - but means it was clean!!), no hot water (typical), mold smell (but I did ok with it and I am allergic to mold. This is also VERY typical - especially from June to January or so), tv is not cable to no clear channels - especially in English.
RATES: $25-fan, $30-w/AC breakfast included
If they are full the hotel across the street with the beautiful garden is owned by a English speaking Nica.
AMERICAN HOTEL and CAFE
(8-645-7193 / 8-650-4069 / http://AmericanCafeAndHotel.com / http://youtube.com/watch?v=mTlpXeQ-SZ0 / http://Escapethatcube.com/2011/01/04/the-american-cafe-hotel-on-isla-ometepe-nicaragua / SimoneSantelli14@gmail.com)
It's close to ferry docks. Rooms are the largest in Moyogalpa, clean, in back so quieter than most, airy (I’ve heard mixed on how hot it gets in the rooms. Josh said he had 3 fans), 5 rooms, NO Wifi, 1 room with A/C with D only + $10, nice LARGE ULTRA CLEAN rooms (VERY white though) and NICE HOT WATER. 2 blocks from the port. People RAVE about Simone cooking (being Italian she specializes in Italiano) and she makes REALLY TASTY desserts especially CHOCOLATE CAKE, key lime pie, mango pie and great banana smoothies and other food [MANY said it was the BEST on the island]). RESTAURANT HOURS: Daily - 7am-4pm
RATES: $20/1, $30/2 - $35/2 people if 2 beds. 1 room with 3 D/D/D - $45.
OWNERS: Robert and Simone (she's Italian), are REALLY nice! (THANX Josh)
(http://facebook.com/hotel.ometepe.nicaragua / http://HospedaJeSoma.com / http://HospedaJeSoma.com.blogspot.com / http://Facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150796526755764.389956.82267060763 / http://tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g1443289-d1657248-Reviews-Hospedaje_Soma-Moyogalpa_Isla_de_Ometepe.html / HospedaJeSoma@gmail.com)
Outside of town, cabinas, hostel. Spacious rooms some with private bathrooms (NO hot water). After you get off the dock at Moyogalpa it's a 10 minute walk going straight until the church, then turn left (I saw somewhere else you go Right???). Once you make that right you will walk about another 5 mins. Once you hit a dirt road it is not far away, located on the left side of the road. Because it is out of the town a bit it is super quiet. Honor-system fridge with beer, water and munchies. Optional Family-style dinners served at 7pm and I hear the lasagna is great. Beautiful gardens with hammocks. NO A/C. WiFi in rooms!!! Breakfast included.
OWNER: Zkinny (German). Manager - Sven.
RATES: Dorms - $7pp. Private Room - Shared Bath - $22. Private Bath - $29. Cabin - Private Bath - $40. Private Bath and A/C - $50.
Hotelito Aly and Restaurant
(http://HotelitoAly.com / http://tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g1443289-d1784014-Reviews-Hotelito_Y_Restaurante_Aly-Moyogalpa_Isla_de_Ometepe.html / 2-569-4196 / 8-906-6322 / 8-686-0830 / HotelitoAly@yahoo.com)
16 rooms, newer 2nd floor with VOLCANO VIEW from some rooms.
MANAGER - Yazzin “Aly” Avellàn (8-498-5014 / Yazzeau@hotmail.com - tell him Vicki Connected you).
RATES: $7/1 w/Fan, $10/1, TV/bathroom/fan. Quad Room - $50 (holds 4, A/C, TV, Private Bathroom). Family Room (holds 6, A/C, TV, Private Bathroom – tax INCLUDED).
LOCATION: On Calle Principal / Main St. 150 mts. from the port on Left
Hotel Familiar and Los Ranchitos
The corridors of this place are dark and dank, but rooms are clean. Extremely clean. But despite their enthusiasm for sanitation, you can't help but question how they justify charging $10 for the same standard, fan-rooms that are found across town for half the price.
COST: $10-$20/n (hotel and breakfast) - near port.
CORNERHOUSE B&B, Restaurant and Coffee Shop
(2-569-4212 / 8-755-7480 / http://TheCornerHouseOmetepe.com / http://facebook.com/pages/The-Cornerhouse-Ometepe/170727402973616 / http://tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g1443289-d1910824-Reviews-The_Cornerhouse-Moyogalpa_Isla_de_Ometepe.html / http://youtube.com/watch?v=lOCqRdXQw1A)
Double/Full/Matromonial or Queen bed (one room also has a Twin/Individual), fan and private bathroom no hot water. Only drawback - on main street so bring your earplugs. WiFi in common area. Only 4 rooms so no reservations. COOL "CornerShop" has all sorts of locally made products!!! CAFE has healthy home-style food including great sandwiches made with fresh homemade bread, SMOOTHIES, ORGANIC SALADS, VEGETARIAN choices, homemade GRANOLA, special VEGAN PASTRIES!!!! ESPRESSO MACHINE!!! Restaurant open to the public and MANY people seem to RAVE about it!!!
HOURS: Monday-Saturday - 7amj-5pm. (night watchman after 6:30pm).
RATES: $20/1, $30/2, $40/3 INCLUDES full Breakfast (choose from their menu or choose instead to do a takeaway lunch [including a blended smoothie or espresso coffee]).
OWNERS: Gary and Laura (British/Canadian) are socially responsible.
The LANDING HOTEL
(2-569-4113 / http://Facebook.com/TheLandingHotelOmetepeIslandNicaragua / http://TheLandingHotel.com / http://tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g1443289-d1940074-Reviews-The_Landing_Hotel-Moyogalpa_Isla_de_Ometepe.html / info@TheLandingHotel.com / email@example.com)
An eclectic mix of backpacker basics and casual elegance. The restaurant bar is VERY elegant (especially for Nicaragua)!! On the 3rd floor lounge is a big open space that has a bunch of hammocks (you can no longer rent them to sleep) with a view of Concepcion Volcano and the lake. FREE WiFi (one trip it worked in the first room upstairs but it did not my last trip but I think that might have been a Mac/PC configuration thing and they didn't have anyone to fix it so I got the code from another hotel [I paid them for a nights stay] and had to sit out on the balcony in front to get the signal but I at least got it [when I go to these places, I'm on a Visa Run from Costa Rica hence why I'm still working]). The WiFi did not work from the nicer front room but there are chairs on the balcony. Restaurant/bar, smoothies and juices, espresso coffee. I have stayed here in a Private Room and found the bed was comfy and the fan worked good enough for me! No hot water. Not great water pressure. Nice Garden in the back.
RATES/ROOMS: Private Room with full size bed or a bunk bed with double on the bottom and twin on top and private bathroom - $15/1, $20/2. Apartment - $30/2 with private bathroom (+$5 with A/C). Cabina with A/C with an open-air sala, a romantic private dining area, queen bed and private bath - $40/2 (+$5 with A/C)(sometime they'll give 10% off in low season or a longer stay). DORM ROOMS - Really Small with 6 beds and not much ventilation ($6 - +$1 for sheets and +$1 for towel).
Kayaks for Rent.
OWNER: American John Tansey (please make sure to tell him Vicki - the big red-head gringa from Costa Rica told you about his place!!).
LOCATION: 1st hotel on the left of the ferry.
AMERICAN Hotel - Awesome CHOCOLATE CAKE and great banana smoothies.
CHIDO’S PIZZA - Josh said it’s REALLY GOOD and he’s PICKY!!
You must have cena at the "Mar Dulce" about 2 blocks up the hill. Outstanding food, reasonable price, English speaking lady just moved from CR.
2 good breakfast places within 1 and 2 blocks. The 2 block one owner is a Canadian lady and is healthy organic.
SAN JOSE DEL SUR
There is one boat a day that comes to this area. I believe it goes from San Jorge at 3:30pm. I hear from this area you can embark on a 3 hour Walking Tour, or a 1-½ hour Horseback Riding Tour to el Mirador del Diablo
WHERE TO STAY:
I LOVE staying at
CHICO LARGO!!8-473-7210 • 8-886-4069 • ChicoLargo@FincasVerdes.com
What a deal!! I paid $15/n for a sweet little rustic cabin that LITERALLY was at the lakes edge!!! The walls and ceiling were made out of bamboo. The also have CAMPING here for like $7 or so and Cold water showers only. I think I had room #4?? I LOVED their French Toast!!
White sandy beaches and shallow so you can walk WAYYYY out there.
GETTING THERE: It’s WAYYYY on the other side so you can either take a $23 taxi ride - OR - take that electric moto cab for LOTS less - OR - the bus goes from the ferry port to the end near the entrance into SD and you walk about 1/2 km.
PLACES TO STAY:
Villa Paraiso (2-569-4859 / 2-569-4858 / 2-563-4675 / http://VillaParaiso.com.ni / Ometepe@VillaParaiso.com.ni) - BEST on Ometepe (though some rooms are quite rusticy [hence their price])!!! ON the Beach! Restaurant and Bar($5-$14), 25 rooms. RATES: Basic Room - Fan, Private bath with HOT WATER, common terrace with lake view - $29/2. Economy Cabin - A/C, 2 beds, TV, Private Bath (NO hot water), terrace with hammock - $48/2-3. Triple Cabin - 3 beds, tv, private bath with NO hot water, A/C, Terrace with hammock - $59/3-4. Standard Cabin - Cabin with Private Bathroom with HOT WATER, A/C, TV, 2 beds, terrace with hammock - $58/2. Suite - Cabin with A/C, satellite TV, minifridge, Private Bath with HOT WATER, beautiful terrace with hammock and lake view - $73/2. Family Suite - A/C, Fan, satellite TV, 3 beds, Private Bath with HOT WATER, terrace with hammock - $75/4.
The closest nice beach (not a lot of beaches on Ometepe)? 13 km from Moyogalpa near San Jose del Sur with a protected area/natural park – RESERVA NATURAL CHARCO VERDE ECOLOGICAL RESERVE - with a Green Pond/lagoon - Xistleteot (”Place where the Gods Pee”), on 20 hectares, 1km private beaches - Playa Charco Verde and Playa el Bancon. Around the lagoon, the indigenous population practiced rituals such as sacrifices, reincarnations and supplications to the gods. The Charco Verde lagoon is an extinct parasite crater of Concepción Volcano. Its characteristic emerald green color is caused by the abundant algae. There is a 1.7-kilometer easy / moderate path within the reserve. On the one-hour hike, it is almost certain that you will see animals such as howler (congo) monkeys, guatusas (Dasyprocta punctata), armadillos, rabbits, etc. http://VisitaOmetepe.com/charco2.htm / http://VisitaOmetepe.com/maderas2.htm
REALLY NICE - but BADDDDD roads
PLACES TO STAY: Hotel San Ramon - A GOOD place to look for a tour guide to take you up the volcano.
OJO DE AGUA
A REALLY PRETTY LAGOON is a natural spring of crystalline waters that emanate from the Tilgüe farm, located 100 meters toward the lake from the intersection of the Buen Suceso Bridge. Rustic facilities have been built on the farm, including pools, thatch-roof huts and hiking trails. Tracing the perimeter of the farm, the trails have soft ascents and descents and can be completed in about an hour, walking under a forest canopy inhabited by a family of howler monkeys. Horseback Riding to Ojo de Agua - $8-$10/hr. from hotels in Playa Santo Domingo. HOURS: 7am-6pm. ENTRANCE: $1 (I’ve also seen $2). http://OjoDeAguaOmetepe.com/2009/07/el-ojo-de-agua-finca-tilgue-ometepe.html / http://VisitaOmetepe.com/ojo2.htm
Castillo (2-552-8744 / HotelCastillo@hotmail.com) - First hotel on Ometepe, restaurant. COST: $10/1, $10/2, $10/2 w/fan and private bathroom, $30/2 w/A/C and private bathroom. LOCATION: 1 block South and 1/2 block West of the catholic church
Finca Playa Venecia Hotel
There are NO ATM’s on the island so plan accordingly!!! (this possibly has changed???)
IMPORTANT NOTE: BRING BUG SPRAY (though I hear there’s nice breezes so you may not have any problems)
THINGS TO DO
HIKE THE WATERFALL
The San Ramon Waterfall is located 4 kms from San Ramon and you can continue on to Maderas Volcano from there.
HIKE THE VOLCANOS
MADERAS - the South Volcano. Over 200 petroglyphs have been inventoried here at the foot of Maderas Volcano. BY LAW - you MUST hire a guide to lead you up the volcano!!!!! I hear there’s a lagoon with it’s Cloud Forest! DURATOIN: about 4 hours up and 4 hours down.
Hiking to Chico Largo
Horseback Riding at Finca Playa Venecia Hotel - $5/hour - http://VisitaOmetepe.com/venecia2.htm
Kayaking the Istian River
Punta Jesus Maria - Josh says it’s a GOOD Vista – a little point on the volcano
Archaeological Museum of Ometepe - Located 50 mts West of the Municipal Park in Altagracia - the museum has 4 exposition halls focusing on the island’s environment, ethnology and history. HOURS: 9am-5pm. COST: $1. http://VisitaOmetepe.com/museo2.htm
El Ceibo Numismatic Museum/Tel Aviv Farm - Collection of coins and paper money. Located at Hacienda el Refugio - 10 km from Moyogalpa. HOURS: 8am-5pm. http://VisitaOmetepe.com/museonumi2.htm
La Montaña Mountain Farm - http://VillaParaiso.com.ni/fincafarm.php -
TOURS: COFFEE FIELDS - $10, Duration: 2-1/2 hours, 2 people min.
MADERAS VOLCANO HIKE - $25 (Spanish speaking guide, entrance fee, food and drinking water [English-speaking guide probably more]), Duration: 8 hours.
PETROGLYPHS - Includes a guide who is an expert on petroglyphs (Prof. Hamilton Silva) - $10/ 2 people min.
LOOKOUT - with an incredible view of the isthmus and Concepcion Volcano. $15, minimum two persons, Duration: 4 hours.
AGRO TOUR: $5 includes a local guide with experience on local plants and farming. Duration: 1-1/2 hours.
COFFEE FIELDS and LOOKOUT: combined visit to the lookout in the morning and on the return trip visit the coffee fields or vice versa. Includes guide, drinking water, entrance fees and a taste of coffee.
HOW TO CROSS THE BORDER BETWEEN COSTA RICA and NICARAGUA: http://CRNIBorderCrossing.info - much of these details is at - http://SanJuanDelSurNI.com but will be moving soon
PHOTO and INFORMATION SITES ON OTHER DESTINATIONS AROUND NICARAGUA:
VARIOUS SITES ON NICARAGUA:
CROSSING THE BORDER Between Costa Rica and Nicaragua
(a Step-By-Step Guide to help make your Border Run between Costa Rica and Nicaragua Easier (in transition)
SAN JUAN DEL SUR
MISC. NICARAGUA - GRANADA • SAN JORGE • RIVAS