Today, I’ve got a secret to share about my favorite island on Earth, a perfect jewel set in Southern Nicaragua’s vast Lake Nicaragua. 

Ometepe Island (or Isla de Ometepe in Spanish) is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to and it tends to leave a deep impression on most people who journey there. Let me paint a picture for you: Volcanoes, Fireflies, Jungle, Cacao, and an opportunity to challenge yourself in the midst of the Nicaraguan jungle. 

No joke…

I  came across this island, fresh into my first solo backpacking trip and was mesmerized by the sheer abundance I found … Fireflies flitting upon the evening wind, freshwater sharks patrolling the clear lake bed, birds of every color welcoming the first warm rays of dawn. But it is not just the beautiful views, adventure activities, friendly communities and ancient culture that draws people from all over the world to visit Ometepe, it’s also a spiritual hub and it is here that many people come on journeys of self reflection and growth.

So to help you best experience everything this island has to offer, I’ve put together this 3-day Ometepe Island itinerary that focuses on the must-sees and those often-overlooked hidden gems.

Let’s get into it!

ometepe island volcano
Ah, my favorite place in the world.
Photo: @amandaadraper

A Little Bit About this 3-Day Ometepe Itinerary

Every travel experience is unique.

Some people prefer adventures, or guided tours while others enjoy the thrill of journeying the off-beat path or being one of very few travelers in a country like Pakistan. Personally, I like to travel with growth, meaning, and a spiritual component in mind. I really get a lot out of a soul-searching adventure. Backpacking Ometepe is perfect for travelers looking to learn more about themselves. There is something truly powerful and poignant about this island that carries a hidden magic.

A whisper, to remember who you are and why you came to earth. A gentle smile from the trees, happy to see that you came. An invitation to challenge yourself, from the ancient and wise volcanoes that have stood like watchful sentinels over this land for eons.

Even if you aren’t into all the juju, la Isla de Ometepe has a lot to offer to the adventurous traveler or somebody looking to find a welcoming community.

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    3-Day Ometepe Itinerary Overview

    Where To Stay in Ometepe

    There are a few good options for where to stay in Ometepe. Abuela’s casita is where the locals hang and there are some great eco-lodge options in Nicaragua.  Due to the island’s relatively small size, you’ll probably be in a pretty good location and not too far away from anything no matter where you choose to base yourself.

    Each part of the island has something unique, like a local volcanic spring or trees populated by raucous monkeys. Your pick on where to stay won’t make or break your trip so this is an occasion where you don’t need to massively over plan.

    map of ometepe island, nicaragua
    Where to first?
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    Although Moyogalpa is one of the main places people tend to stay out of convenience, I don’t recommend it for the offbeat traveler. This is where the main ferry port is, and most likely where you will arrive when you get to Ometepe. This is a good place to get transportation for your Ometepe adventures and eat some good local food but not to stay (way too crowded).

    Balgue is where the hip young crowd tends to hang out (including me). This part of La Isla is remote and full of naked hippies. MY PEOPLE. In all seriousness, this is the place to be. Lots of activities, eco-lodges, and opportunities to meet new people.

    Altagracia is the place where you’ll find Ojos de agua (watering holes). This part of the island is beautiful… Really. I loved the drive through the local villages stopping to dip into the flowing streams. Nature lovers will LOVE this area. 

    If you’re looking for a spot on the island to be in silence and just enjoy the incredible scenery, Meridais where you want to be. This part of the island is known for the local villages and very relaxed atmosphere. Do be aware, that the roads in this part of town are really underdeveloped, so please be careful driving mopeds, it’s easy to take a nasty tumble (I’m speaking from personal experience, more on that later).

    Ometepe can also be divided into two sections: One is closest to Concepcion Volcano and the other is known as the Maderas side. Each part has so much to offer, and so many cute posadas to stay at. Below I’ve covered some of my favorite places to stay in Ometepe…  

    Best place to stay on Ometepe – El Pital, Chocolate Paradise

    El Pital

    In two words, “Chocolate Paradise” perfectly describes my experience at El Pital. As a chocolate farm eco-lodge, El Pital offers a serene retreat where mornings begin with breathtaking views of the Concepción volcano, days are filled with refreshing swims in the lake, and evenings unwind on the yoga deck. The tranquil surroundings ensure you depart with a sense of zen. Accommodations at El Pital range from private bungalows to shared dormitory options, catering to many different preferences.

    Best Budget Homestay on Ometepe – Ananda Guesthouse

    Ananda Guesthouse

    This guesthouse is a luxurious gem! With stunning views and delicious free breakfast, I have no doubt you’ll love your stay. There are so many activities nearby, including volcano hikes, coffee tours, and options to rent scooters, motorcycles, and ATVs. Plus, it’s just a 10-minute walk to the village of Balgüe, where you’ll find restaurants and small convenience stores.

    Best Hostel on Ometepe – El Zopilote

    El Zopilote

    El Zopilote is perfect for solo travelers visiting Ometepe, offering a special stay with a range of free daily events such as sunset yoga and tours of the permaculture farm. Be sure not to miss out on the lively Friday pizza night. Accommodations at El Zopilote are diverse, ranging from dorm rooms and private rooms to a campsite and budget-friendly hammocks available for under $5. The hostel life here is amazing!

    How to Get to Ometepe

    You know what they say: the best places are the hardest to get to….Welcome to Ometepe. You’ll start your day by venturing to the ferry port (about an hour from San Juan del Sur) which is a GREAT excuse to have a pit stop for the night in a cute surf town with great vibes.

    As far as backpacking Central America goes, spending some time in San Juan del Sur is a must! The ferry is less than $ 5 USD roundtrip and it takes about 45 minutes to get there.

    Fun fact – the lake surrounding Ometepe (Lake Nicaragua) is the biggest lake in Central America! Cool, right?

    ferry port
    Ready to go?
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    Here are a few ways to the ferry port:

    1. Take a local Chicken bus. 
    2. Take a Taxi. 
    3. Stick out your thumb and hitchhike!! 

    When I visited Ometepe I took every opportunity I could to hitchhike, I even caught an hour-long ride on a motorcycle on my way out (my proudest moment hitchhiking as a woman to date).

    The port is hard to miss, you’ll know it once you’re there. Chances are you’ll see other people backpacking Central America taking on Ometepe too. The port is easy to navigate too, and the locals help tourists navigate the area super well.

    Before you get on to the ferry make sure to get a local dish or stock up on some tasty snacks, my favorites were gallo pinto and tostones. The ferry schedule is pretty straightforward, the ferries start to take off at 7 am through 5 pm.

    Ometepe Itinerary Day 1: Cacao tours, and Sunset Yoga

    Alright friends, we’re finally here, let’s dive into day 1 of what to see and do in Ometepe… 

    Step 1.  Rent a scooter  

    This is by far the easiest way to get around on the island.

    Step 2. Play it safe!

    Make sure you are geared up before you ride said scooter… Seriously guys be safe, and always wear a helmet, many adventurous souls have taken a tumble in Ometepe, myself included!

    Step 3. Hit the road road and EXPLORE.

    The cool thing about the island is that you can literally see all of it in just a few hours. One road circulates the whole island so it’s easy to get around!

    Start the day off at El Pital

    El Pital is an eco-community, built on the pillars of yoga, veganism, cacao, and friendship. People come here to soak in some of THE BEST chocolate on the island. They do walking tours throughout the farm, where you get a full rundown and even get a taste of fresh cacao off the tree! After the tour, you can join a yoga class with a view of the Concepción volcano or you can tune in to the infamous cacao ceremonies.

    chocolate bar from ometepe island
    The best chocolate EVER.
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    If you haven’t done a cacao ceremony before, here is what you can expect. Music, prayer, and lots of chocolate. It is a chance to come together with a group of people, set intentions, and get into a meditation led by love.

    This is one of my favorite gems on the island. You can buy chocolate milkshakes and swim in the lake while jamming out to tropical music. The playlist is always 10/10…

    Insider Tip:

    • Cost: $10-15
    • Getting there:  located in the Balgue district, you can get here by transportation or foot, depending on how far you are. 
    • How long should you stay:  a few hours (Bring a book and relax)

    In the afternoon: Explore the Ometepe rock carvings

    The ancient history around Ometepe is what makes it so special. Hundreds of years ago thousands of rock carvings were found all over the island describing the legends of Ometepe’s beginnings. You can find them all over the island and it’s a really fantastic way to cast one’s eye back and visualize the hands that may have carved these mysterious and beautiful etchings in the rock!

    Museo Altagracia is one of the museums you can visit to see the rock carvings. You can even book a guide to help you explore them. The information online for booking is quite limited but rest assured when you get to the island, your hostel will be able to help you sort it out.

    a petroglyph on Ometepe island, Nicaragua
    The storytellers of the island.
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    If you don’t get a chance to visit the museum, it is very likely you will find the rock carvings around the island, just keep your eyes peeled…Some of the best places to see petroglyphs are at Hotel Finca Porvenir and at Finca Magdalena.

    After exploring the history of the island, I recommend making your way to Zopilote for sunset. Zopilote is another eco-community full of workshops, permaculture volunteers, and yoga sessions! I say make your way to Zopilote for a sunset yoga session. This side of the island is known for its free expression and wildness.

    Ometepe Itinerary Day 2: For adrenaline junkies

    Let’s get straight into it, you can’t go to Ometepe without summiting a volcano, it is an unwritten rule. 

    Lucky for you, there are two of them to pick from! volcanoes Concepción and Maderas. Both have so much to offer and are very different.

    Located on the north side of the island is Concepción Volcano. This volcano is mighty and active! 

    This trek is for the brave few wanting to take on a challenge. The whole trip takes about 8-12 hours. You can find local guides near the volcano that charge around $30-50 USD to take you to the summit.

    Well worth it in my opinion.

    two girls on horses
    Our trek included some new friends.
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    If you aren’t up for the challenge of Concepción Volcano you can always do the Maderas volcano. Located on the south side of the island, this volcano is much smaller (at 1,610 meters) and takes a total of 6-8 hours to get to the top. You can find a lake at the top of it to cool down at the end of your travels. Although it’s doable without a guide, you can find them at around $20-35 USD.

    Although I’m DEFINITELY an adrenaline junky, I decided to do the trek to Maderas Volcano not on foot, but on a horse! You would be surprised by how easy it is to get a guide and a horse tour up a volcano…

    I literally paid 30 USD for me and my horse Pistola (gun in Spanish) and had SO MUCH fun. My guide took us trotting through fields and off the beaten path of banana trees up the volcano.

    This was by far the highlight of my trip. I left with a few scratches from the jungle, but nothing a good first aid kit couldn’t fix.

    • Cost – It’s free! (unless you take a guide)
    • Getting there – Take any public transport option
    • How long should you stay – The trek is all day.

    Ometepe Itinerary Day 3: A sunrise you’ll never forget

    Let’s Be Real.

    You can’t see all the gems Ometepe has to offer in three days. But if you’re short on time and choose to leave after three days let’s make the last day count. 

    Ometepe is a special place for so many reasons, one of them being the Fireflies that light up the dark sky. I recommend that on your third (and perhaps last) day, you wake up for the sunrise, and head to Playa Santa Cruz to watch the sunrise with a view of both Concepción volcano and Maderas volcano…

    Panoramic views are the best. After a dip in the lake, you will thank Ometepe for the special time on the island. If you are lucky, you’ll be greeted by a sky full of stars and fireflies before the sun makes its appearance.

    girl sitting by a stream in the jungle of Ometepe, Nicaragua
    Pit stop on the way to El Ojo de Agua
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    Stargazing was one of my favorite things I did on Ometepe. I saw SO MANY shooting stars and felt so grateful for my time in Nicaragua through the skyline. 

    After your morning dip, you can stop by a local posada and have the famous Nicaraguan coffee (Be warned though, it’s super addictive!). 

    After your morning cup, head to Ojo de Agua  (A natural spring pool) and soak in crystal clear water with the sounds of nature and views of the jungle. This was by far one of my favorite parts of my trip. On your way to the springs, you will see lots of streams and rivers you can jump into for a soak as well.

    The ferry back to the mainland is limited to a few hours a day, so I would recommend going near the port for a chilled morning and a departure around 3 p.m. with an option to stay a bit longer (the last ferry leaves at 5 p.m.) 

    Best Time To Visit Ometepe Island

    Much like the rest of the tropical paradise found in Central America, the seasons here consist of Wet and Dry, yet the climate remains warm.

    The wet time of year runs from May to October and the dry term is from November to April. If you want to visit the waterfalls on Ometepe, I recommend going towards the middle of the rainy season. I’ve been to the island during both seasons and have enjoyed it both times!

    If you go during the rainy season though, enjoy the tropical water that is sure to soak you at some point. Take it as an opportunity to dance in the rain! 

    guy meditating in the rain
    Rainy season blessings
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    How to Get Around Ometepe

    All the seasoned travelers out there know the best way to travel in style;

    drum roll, please…

    Rent a scoopy!

    Or the Nicaragua equivalent of a scoopy whatever that may be. Even an ATV works! 

    I personally really loved how easy it was to get around. Plus in a little under 2 hours, you can do a loop around the WHOLE island! Making pit stops through pristine waterfalls and saying ‘Hi’ to the monkeys. (Careful though from personal experience, I wouldn’t bring bananas!).

    So to tie it all together, here are the best ways to get around the island:

    • Scooter
    • Motorcycle 
    • ATV

    (Car ofc but that’s a bit boring)

    two girls on an ATV exploring Ometepe, Nicaragua with a view of a volcano
    ATV Challenge accepted
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    Getting around is very inexpensive too. You can look to spend around $5-15 a day for a reliable scooter rental or ATV to explore this jungle paradise.

    Once again: Be aware!

    The farm animals don’t really have a designated area in most parts of Ometepe. Often, you’ll see chickens, pigs, cows, and horses crossing the road abruptly..I happen to be a part of the unlucky category of tourists who had an unfortunate crash with one of the animals leaving me battered and bruised. 

    Be safe, travel with insurance, and WATCH OUT FOR THEM ANIMALS. 

    What to Prepare Before Visiting Ometepe 

    Preparation is KEY when visiting remote off-grid islands. Here is what I wish I had known before visiting:

    • Bring a head torch! Street lights are not common at night time, and chances are you will want a good flashlight for late-night adventures.
    • Hiking Boots! I made the mistake of skipping out on quality hiking boots the first time around and missed out on lots of adventures. Especially if you plan on doing volcano treks, your feet will thank you. 
    • A positive attitude. Discomfort isn’t always easy. Sometimes it takes all of our strength to keep on going. Coming to Ometepe, I had no expectations and let the discomfort teach me what it needed to, and I left a  bit wiser ( or at least I like to think I did). 
    • BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE! Believe me when I tell you, this will be so helpful before visiting Ometepe. The jungle has a mind of its own sometimes.
    guy with road rash after crashing moped in jungle
    This dude definitely needed travel insurance.
    Photo: @amandaadraper

    Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance for Ometepe

    This is a must! After my hard fall, I was so thankful to be covered.

    ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.

    They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

    SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!

    Click the button below to learn more about SafetyWing’s setup or read our insider review for the full tasty scoop.

    FAQs on Ometepe Itinerary

    Find out what people want to know when planning their Ometepe itinerary.

    Final Thoughts on Ometepe Island

    This is one of those places you can not miss. Your Central American backpacking trip will not be complete until you see this island. Here is a summary of how my trip went down:

    I arrived with no expectations and ended up blown away. From the Eco lodges to the chocolate farms and cacao ceremonies. I was not expecting so much excitement so soon. As a solo traveler, I even had plenty of opportunities to meet people through workshops, parties, and tours through the volcano. 

    Even if it’s somewhat off the beaten path, you won’t regret adding the hidden gems of la Isla de Ometepe to your Nicaragua itinerary.

    Ometepe thank you for the sweet memories and the even sweeter cacao. 

    girl in lake watching the sunset
    Thank you, Ometepe for leaving me inspired
    Photo: @drew.botcherby

    And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!