Ometepe is the largest island in Lake Cocibolca, the largest lake in Central America. Ometepe is formed by two volcanoes, Concepción and Maderas, linked by an isthmus (map here). Idyllic Ometepe is a vacation destination for Nicaraguans and foreigners, yet remains relatively undeveloped. The principal economic activity is plantain agriculture. Volcán Concepción remains active, spewing gases regularly and erupting several times each century. Maderas is inactive, with a lake filling the crater. The ferry ride from San Jorge to Moyogalpa, the principal port of the island, took 90 minutes heading into a fierce wind, with 6 to 8-foot waves. We had left Granada on the 6:30am bus to Rivas, and made good connections, so we arrived at the Hotel Finca Venezia by 10:30am.

We stayed there two nights, enjoying the magnificent Reserva Charco Verde, named for a very large pond (or small lake) within the island Ometepe. We hiked the trails of rhe reserve, taking in the great views and the intriguing birds and animals. We swam in the lake. We rented bikes from El Gordo on the highway, and rode up the hills for as long as we could stand. Then the next morning, we moved on to Santo Domingo Beach and Hotel Villa Paraiso, on the isthmus connecting the two volcanoes. After working hard to photograph the numerous Magpie Jays in the Charco Verde Reserve, we were amused to find the same birds boldly occupying tables in the outdoor restaurant of the Hotel Villa Paraiso.

This beach is on the north side of the island, facing the prevailing winds, and it is windy! We enjoyed walking the beach, and walking to the nearby “Ojo de Agua”, a spring-fed swimming pool recreation spot. Lovely very clear water. On the fourth day of our Ometepe excursion, we rode the island “Chicken Bus” back to Moyogalpa and took the ferry back to San Jorge – a much easier and quicker ride, with the wind to our back. Still it took most of the day to get back home to Granada.