Where to Stay in Ometepe (and why this matters)
Ometepe is an amazing place to visit, but in order to enjoy your time the most, it is important to stay in the right place (the island is much bigger than it looks!) In this blog, I explain all the best places to stay on Ometepe and why!
In Nicaragua, there is a massive lake in the middle of the country, and in that lake, there is an island made from two volcanoes – this island is called Ometepe.
It truly is something which is hard to imagine, and once I saw it with my own eyes I was shocked at its beauty. The best thing about Ometepe is the unique landscape. This is why choosing where to stay in Ometepe is so important.
So many people stay in the main town of Moyogalpa just for convenience. These people miss the beautiful nature, incredible sunsets, and the unique community cultures of Ometepe.
This blog is my advice on how to get the most out of a visit to this beautiful island simply by picking the best place to stay.
Which area should I stay on Ometepe Island?
If you have been browsing on Hostelworld or Booking.com you would have noticed that accommodation options are spread out over the entire island.
It is important to know that although the island looks small on a map, it is actually very large and takes a long time to get around. It is important to choose the area wisely so you get the most out of your trip and don’t spend all of your time getting around.
With so many options how do you know which area is best in terms of where to stay in Ometepe?
To me, it depends on what you are looking for but basically, there are a couple of options: either stay in the main town of Moyogalpa, stay in the central village of Balgue, or get out into nature and stay elsewhere. Below are the different options described in-depth.
Moyogalpa is where you will arrive by ferry (there is one other ferry port but the boats are much less frequent.) The benefit of staying here is that you will be walking distance to accommodation, restaurants, and shops from the ferry port. The downside is that there is no real view of the volcanos and isn’t too different from most mainland town in Nicaragua.
The town seems a bit rundown and every person you walk past is trying to sell you something. It is just another tourist town really and doesn’t have anything in particular to offer. In Moyogalpa, you will need to hire transport whenever you want to go and actually visit any of the attractions.
Although it isn’t the most beautiful, Moyogalpa is the most convenient and budget-friendly place to stay. If could be a good base for exploring the rest of the island.
Accommodation recommendations in Moyogalpa
- Hostel Life is Good (low budget)- $10 USD for a dorm bed. This hotel offers a terrace that has mountain views and is only around the corner from stores and shops. Bicycles or motorbikes can be rented directly from the hostel.
- Hotel Cara Moreno (mid-range budget)- $25 USD for a double private room. This hotel is only 200m from the town centre and offers WiFi throughout the property. Breakfast is also included!
- Hotel Museo El Ceibo – $70 USD for a double room with air conditioning and breakfast included. 7km from the town centre this hotel offers luxury close to town but far enough to enjoy nature. There is a swimming pool on the property.
Balgue is a small village with only about three restaurants, two hostels, one eco-lodge, and a couple of small tiendas (tiny convenience stores.) Balgue is surrounded by nature but still accessible with a paved road and has everything you could need (Café Campestre in Balgue has great food for reasonable prices.) It is a good option if you want to get out of the main town but still have some amenities around.
Dan and I stayed in Balgue. In Balgue, we were still able to rent a motorbike for one day to explore the whole island. And on the other days, we could enjoy the village and go on nature walks around the area.
Getting around from Balgue
Balgue is about 40 minutes driving from Moyogalpa but it is also very central in terms of exploring the island. It is 20 minutes to the natural springs “Ojo de Agua”, 30 minutes to Merida or the kayaking locations, 40 minutes to “Salto San Ramon” waterfall, and walking distance to the chocolate factory “El Pital Chocolate Paradise”.
In Balgue you can rent a motorbike (or scooter or ATV) from Hospedaje Asi Es Mi Tierra. With a motorbike, it is possible to get to all of the attractions I mentioned in one day.
Accommodation recommendations in Balgue
- Hostal El Guis Ometepe (low budget)- $15 USD per night for a room. Located right in Balgue village this cosy guesthouse is centrally located with some shops and restaurants nearby. Many rooms have a mountain view!
- Casa Conception (mid-range budget) – $55 USD for a private room and bathroom. This friendly small guesthouse is welcoming and boasts incredible views. Kitchen facilities are available as well as WiFi and a gorgeous patio.
- Totoco Eco-lodge (high-range budget – $100 USD for a private cabin. The eco-friendly lodge is located up on a hill giving it some of the best views on the entire island. There is an onsite restaurant and the business makes a lot of efforts towards helping the local village!
We stayed at Totoco Eco-Lodge and I couldn’t recommend it more. It was located about one kilometer up a hill from the main road in Balgue, accessible by foot but also surrounded by nature. Totoco is very environmentally friendly and they actually have various programs to help the local communities.
The best part though, the amazing view! From our balcony, we watched the most incredible sunset every single night. It is more expensive than a hostel, but worth every penny and still really affordable for the value offered. We spent one entire day just enjoying our surroundings in nature and then cooling off in the infinity pool. This is where to stay in Ometepe, the best choice hands down!
Remote Places to Stay in Ometepe
If you really want to relax and enjoy some peace and quiet then you will have to go remote – which isn’t very hard to do in Ometepe! Much of the island is connected with gravel roads and hotels and hostels can be found in isolated locations surrounded by jungle!
If you do plan on spending a couple of nights in a remote area, make sure you have transport or bring anything you need with you as shops can be far away. Also, bring plenty of cash as ATM’s are only found in Moyogalpa.
Accommodation Recommendations in the remote areas of Ometepe
- El Zopilote (low budget) – $15 USD for a double room. This unique hostel is located on a farm. It is one of the most popular places to stay on Ometepe! It located on the jungle slopes of the volcano Maderas and not too far from Santa Cruz or Balgue.
- Hacienda Merida (mid-range budget) – $32 USD for a double room. This guesthouse is located in the area of Merida which is remote and close to both San Ramon waterfall and places to kayak. A beautiful beachfront property!
- Cabanas el Paraiso (high-range budget) -$100 USD for double rooms with air conditioning. While located on the beach in a relaxing area, this hotel isn’t too far from Moyogalpa or other restaurants. Rooms are equipped with microwaves, TV’s, and amazing views!
Getting Around the Island
It is important to note that although Ometepe looks small on a map, it takes hours to get around the island in a vehicle.
Choosing where to stay in Ometepe is important so you don’t spend all of your time in a car.
There are five options for getting around the island:
- By Taxi – This is only for those with a high budget as taxis are overpriced on Ometepe. I wouldn’t recommend using taxis as it will be expensive. However, there are plenty of them and they are more comfortable than other modes of transportation.
- By Shuttle – There are some minivans which do certain routes around the island for about $5-$10 per person. Shuttles are a good option for once you arrive at Ometepe to get to your accommodation. There aren’t many though so I wouldn’t rely on shuttles for daily transport to tourist spots.
- By Motorbike – The cheapest and best mode of transport for exploring the island, but not great for arriving with luggage. Expect to pay between $20-$30 USD for 24 hours rental of a motorbike. Some people will try and rent you a scooter, keep in mind scooters will only get you to a select few locations of the island. This is due to bad road conditions and steep hills.
- Push Bike – Many blogs I have read said to rent a push/peddle bike to get around. Unless you are going to one specific place close to where you are staying, I don’t recommend this. The roads are rough and hills are frequent. I can’t imagine a push bike will be of much use on this massive island.
- Local Chicken Bus – Chicken buses are frequent on the island but not to all areas. The schedule seems to change depending on who you talk to and when. These buses also take forever. I would only recommend taking a chicken bus if you have time to spare and can communicate well in Spanish. Otherwise, you may end up on the wrong route and in the middle of nowhere.
My best advice would be to barter with a shuttle/mini-van driver upon your arrival to get to your accommodation. Then, rent a motorbike from near your accommodation for a day to explore the island.
I know that when I was researching my trip to the island, deciding where to stay in Ometepe was the hardest part. I really hope this post helps you and my recommendations are useful.
If you have been to Ometepe before I would love to hear from you. Tell me where you stayed and what you thought below in the comments.
Where to go next
If you are still travelling Nicaragua after Ometepe there are some other great places to check out:
- Granada – see lava at the Masaya Volcano and explore this gorgeous colonial town
- San Juan del Sur – catch some waves and sunshine in this relaxed town
- Leon – the only place in the world where you can sandboard down an active volcano
- Monteverde – jump across the border to Costa Rica and cool down in a gorgeous cloud forest
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July 10, 2020