Things to do on Ometepe Island (in One Day)
April 19, 2018
Things to do on Ometepe Island in one day!
Ometepe is one of Nicaragua‘s most talked about destinations. In recent times, the island has exploded with tourists and with good reason – it’s beautiful! We understand that time can be limited while traveling so it’s important to plan well to experience the most. For that reason, we wrote this blog narrowing down the best things to do on Ometepe in one day.
As we sailed across Lake Nicaragua towards Isla de Ometepe I was in awe. Before me, was an island made of not one, but two volcanoes! Those volcanoes pierced through the surrounding clouds leaving only their bodies to see. The surrounding landscape was painted green and exploded with thick rainforest. The calm trip across the lake had me ready to jump out of my seat and explore.
With so much excitement, I was motivated to get the most out of my 3 nights on the island. Unfortunately for me and many other travelers, time can be somewhat tight. Many travelers only spend around 2-3 nights on Ometepe and this leaves little time to explore.
I knew my time on Isla de Ometepe would be amazing but I was worried about just how much I would actually get to see. However, what I found was that on Ometepe you can accomplish a lot in just one day – you just need to have a plan! From dusk till dawn I was busy but in the end, it was totally worth it!
Below is my guide to the best day, doing all the best things to do on Ometepe in one day!
Getting around on Ometepe
Although the island is small, it isn’t that small that you could walk or bike around it. With public transport unreliable and infrequent the best way to see all the things to do on Ometepe is on motorbike or scooter. Out of the two, a motorbike is definitely better as the roads to the south of the island are terrible!
In fact, what I found was that most places did not want to rent out scooters to those heading to the south part of the island. This included San Ramon Waterfall, that in my opinion, is the best of the things to do on Ometepe. So it’s best you just upgrade to the motorbike!
For those not comfortable on either you can rent a bike as well as a driver for the day on the island. Just ask your hostel or anyone at the docks!
Renting a motorbike/scooter
To rent a motorbike for the day (12 hours) we paid $25 USD and we got a really good bike in nearly new condition. It was also more powerful than other peoples which helped us up the hills (so spending the little extra went a long way!) Other people we met paid $20 USD and were left with old bikes that could break down at any point.
A scooter will set you back around $15-$20 per 24 hours.
These prices are not cheap for budget backpackers so this is another reason why doing as much of the things to do in Ometepe in only one day is handy!
All motorbikes and scooters can be rented throughout the island and prices are negotiable! A license was required to book the bike and international licenses are fine. It is also important to make sure your bike is insured and registered. If not you can be fined by the police on the island. This is easy to check as there should be a card on or in the bike/scooter seat!
Where to stay
Balgue is in our opinion the best place to stay in Ometepe. Although it is only a very small town its central location to all the amazing sites makes it the top spot! Balgue is located on the east side of Maderas Volcano (check the map below for clarity)
There are many more places to stay in Ometepe and things can get confusing so we wrote a full post on where to stay on Ometepe – and why this matters here. In this post, we explain why picking the right place is very important to your stay and a few reasons why we recommend Balgue as the top spot! We also give a few other options and include timed distances from these towns!
Things to do on Ometepe in just one day
In order, this is how we spent our first day in Ometepe and a great way to spend yours!
Rent your bike – 8:00am
We had organized to rent a bike first thing in the morning at 8 am with our hotel. With this you usually get 12 hours, however, we negotiated 15 hours at no extra cost. This gave us plenty of time to explore and also catch an amazing sunset! Another option would be to rent the bike for 24 hours.
We rented our bike from a hostel in Balgue called Hospedaje Asi Es Mi Tierra.
A great money saving tip is to bring lunch with you for the day. For us, this included some fruit, muesli bars, and tuna.
La Ojo de Agua – 9:00 – 11.00am (2hrs)
Heading off from Balgue it only takes 15-20 minutes to reach La Ojo de Agua. If you are staying in Moyogalpa this could take 45+ minutes.
Even at 9 am Ometepe can be hot. With a tropical climate that sees a lot of humidity, cooling off at La Ojo de Agua is the perfect first stop. Nestled in the most beautiful setting and surrounded by tropical plants La Ojo de Agua is a natural spring that has been made into a large pool. The water is said to have healing properties and is crystal clear. Arriving at 9 am mean you will miss the crowds and almost have the pools to yourself!
You can hang out and get some sun or swing from the rope swings into the water. There is also a slackline on one side that proves to be really entertaining!
The entrance fee to La Ojo de Agua is $3 USD or 80 Cordobas. Lockers are available onsite as well as a restaurant and snacks.
The road to get to La Ojo de Aqua is almost all paved (except for the last bit.) However, even the unpaved portion is in good shape and a scooter would easily be able to make the drive.
San Ramon Waterfall 11.00am- 3:30pm (4.5hrs)
After spending two hours at La Ojo de Agua it is time to get moving. Our next stop is San Ramon Waterfall. This spectacular waterfall is hard to get to, however, it is totally worth it! At 65m high San Ramon Waterfall is a stunning sight to see and my favorite of the things to do on Ometepe. It is a must visit for any traveler visiting Ometepe!
Heading around to the south end of the island, this journey may take some time (around 30-45 minutes). The terrible roads from the town of Santa Cruz to the waterfall are a hazard so it’s best taken slowly.
As you head around the island you will be met with a large boom gate out the front what seems to be a horse stables property. This is the entrance to San Ramon Waterfall. If you have the app Maps.me downloaded then it is easy to find!
At the gate, you will pay a fee to enter of $2 USD per person and a fee for the motorbike of $2 USD. Then the adventure begins.
The first part of the ride is easy and is paved, however, as you drive further the road gets steeper and turns into an off-road track. If this seems to difficult you can leave your bike at this point (the property is private and is said to be safe) and walk the remainder.
By motorbike, it’s another 20-minute ride to the parking area. If you’re walking this could take an hour or more!
Once you arrive at the carpark its another 30-minute hike through the jungle to the waterfall. This hike is not hard however it does only go upwards. I know that this all sounds like a lot of effort but honestly, this is the best of all of the things to do on Ometepe!
El Pital Chocolate Paradise 4 pm-6 pm (2hrs)
El Pital is a hidden gem on Ometepe and is a really beautiful place to visit. On our busy day, we found this stop essential to refuel after the busy trek to San Ramon Waterfall. Here, you can learn about the chocolate making process or just sip on one of their famous avocado and chocolate smoothies!
With comfy hammocks and some breathtaking views of the volcanos, El Pital is so much more than chocolate! Other things you can do are swim in the lake, paddle board with views of the volcano, and if you choose, stay to watch the sunset!
Enjoy the sunset 6 pm-8 pm (2hrs)
There are many amazing places on the island to enjoy the sunset. El Pital is a great option for those that are a little tired. Another option is to head somewhere nearby like Playa Nuevo, or if you’re feeling up to it, head to Punta Jesus Maria (this place is said to be amazing for sunset!) However, it is located near Moyoglapa and quite a drive from El Pital.
For us, we just enjoyed the sunset from our room at Totoco Lodge located up the side of Madera’s Volcano in Balgue. This lodge is likely out of a backpacker’s budget, however, we really recommend this place if you’re feeling like having a little splurge. Another option is to go up there for a drink at the bar just to enjoy the view of the sunset.
And there you have it! Our one day in Ometepe!
This day was amazing and both Bailey and I had a blast! Aside from all the amazing things to do on Ometepe, it’s also just about being free and riding around with nothing but your camera and smiles! The locals on the island are extremely friendly and if you get a chance make sure you visit a few local shops and have a chat – it’s a great way to practice your Spanish!
I hope you found this guide to things to do in Ometepe helpful!
Heading somewhere else? Check out a few of our other post from Nicaragua:
- San Juan del Sur – a complete guide to the town and the best things to see
- Surfing in Nicaragua – we attended a surf camp in San Juan del Sur
- Granda – go and see lava and enjoy one of the most affordable cities in all of Central America
- Leon – Volcano boarding and exploring a historical city