I have a confession to make. Chris and I aren’t the most adventurous people. We can be lazy. That’s why when we decided to visit the island of Ometepe, I didn’t plan any volcano hikes or long kayak rides. We would go to a remote hotel and just… enjoy life.
So if you’re in need of some down time during your trip to Nicaragua, slowing down on Ometepe is probably the easiest. Just follow these steps!
- Book a few nights at the Hacienda Merida hotel
- Enjoy the 1h ride to the hotel
- Check in
- Find a hammock to lay in
This was pretty much our schedule for the two days that we were there.
How to Get to Ometepe
Because this is an ultimate guide and I want you to be able to relax, I’ll explain the whole process to get to Ometepe and to the hotel itself.
First, you need to get a ride to San Jorge, which is the port where you’ll take the ferry. We were leaving from San Juan Del Sur and the taxi ride cost us $20. You can also take a mix of buses + taxis to get there, but we don’t enjoy dealing with local buses, so we just put a bit more money on a taxi.
Once you arrive at the port, buy the ticket for your ferry and cross the gate. You’ll have to write down your name, nationality, and age on a sheet of paper. Why? I’m not sure… But they want it, so just give it to them.
Now that you’re in the port find your boat and get on it!
The ride to Ometepe takes around an hour, so you want to make sure you pick the right boat: you want the big ferries. There are little wooden boats that leave in between the car ferries, but they look very shady and unsafe. Considering how much wind there is on the Nicaragua lake, I’d double check the schedule to make sure you’re there in time for the ferries. You can find the ferry schedule here.
There are also two cities you can arrive in: Moyogalpa and San José del Sur. If you arrive at Moyogalpa, you can easily find a taxi to take you to your next destination. It’s not as easy in San José del Sur, but you can do it too, even though locals might tell you you can’t.
How to get to the Hacienda Merida Hotel
From the port cities, the easiest way to get to the hotel is by taxi. You can book it with them, or find one when you arrive. The one-hour ride shouldn’t cost you more than $35. You can also take a bus, but they don’t run very frequently, take double the time and are probably very crowded. If you’re into that kind of thing, though, go ahead!
But the taxi ride around the island is actually quite enjoyable, as you get to see the two volcanos quite well! So make sure you get a window seat (in case you’re in a shuttle van) and relax!
What to do at the Hacienda Merida Hotel
Once you get to the hotel, you’ll realize why I recommended it in the first place. It’s in nature, surrounded by lots of trees right on the lake and they even have a school with kids chanting once, doce, trece in Spanish. It’s the perfect setting to relax, with a bunch of hammocks hanging around the property. Just pick one and enjoy your day!
I also recommend going for a swim in the lake or chilling on the dock. The sunset is pretty amazing there, so you’ll want to pick a good spot to enjoy it!
You can also rent a kayak and explore the surrounding islands. We waited until the wind calmed down a bit to rent one and it was almost okay. Except for the part where we tipped because of the strong wind and waves and tipped two times more because we just had so much water in our kayak. We did manage to see the monkeys on the Monkey Island, but I would suggest staying in the bay in front of the hotel if you don’t have very strong arms that can paddle hard against the wind.
The last thing I recommend is to get a massage at sunset! It’s so peaceful around the hotel and for only $25 for an hour, the massage itself is pretty cheap.
Oh, and don’t miss the coconut ice cream! It’s massive and delicious 🙂 Worth the $2.
What to do around Ometepe
You’ll want to leave the hotels a few times during your trip I bet, especially if you want some food. The Hacienda Merida hotel has great breakfasts, but they are a bit expensive. If you’re not sick of gallo pinto, eggs and bread yet, walk up the road in front of the hotel and on a hill five to seven minutes away, you’ll see a small hut with four tables called Buena Vista Restaurante. They make huuuge breakfasts for 70 córdobas ($2.50), and you can get a fresh juice for an extra 20 ($0.70). You can also eat lunch or dinner there; they serve a bunch of meats with rice and beans and a salad or tacos for 90 córdobas ($3.20). Believe me; it’s worth it!
If you like fish, there’s also a place right outside the hotel that serves some good one. They don’t have the best pork or chicken, though, you’ll want to go to Buena Vista for that!
Also, note that these restaurants are usually on island time and save a good hour and a half dedicated to ordering and eating. It takes them a while to bring your food out. If you’re in a rush, stay away from these places and eat at the hotel.
The only other reason we left the hotel was to go to Ojo de Agua, which is two man-made pool built where a natural spring used to run. The water is fresh and clear, and there’s even a Tarzan swing! They also sell a bunch of coconuts there, if you feel like relaxing even more. We had a taxi take us there and back (+ waiting two hours) for $40, but you can get it for cheaper if you find the right taxi driver.
There are a lot more things you can do on Ometepe, but if you just want to relax and slow down, I would recommend doing only those. There’s plenty of time for things like reading in a hammock, floating in the lake and just walking around the island!