Exploring Isla De Ometepe

Isla de Ometepe is renowned for being one of the most beautiful places in Nicaragua. That's hard to dispute but we didn't love it like we thought we would. With 2 volcanos, climbing them is pretty much the main attraction, but having done Pacaya in Guatemala and the volcano boarding a few days earlier we weren't all that keen. In addition, some friends had done an 8 hour hike up Conception and not been able to see anything when they got to the top. It also didn't start well. There isn't a lot of information about Ometepe accommodation online, and by all accounts backpackers tend to stay in remote places scattered around the island. But we thought why not just stay in the town where the boat gets in, where surely competition and prices are going to be lowest? Our great idea was scuppered when we managed to get the only boat of the day which doesn't arrive at the main town of Moyogalpa. Instead it arrived at a dock in the middle of nowhere. Having no plans of anywhere to go, we had little choice but to get a taxi to where we should have arrived in the first place. Luckily we met a couple of German girls who wanted to do the same thing.We quickly found a fairly grotty hotel, which after checking a few others appeared to be as good as it gets in Moyogalpa, and tried to decide what to do. With no interest in climbing a volcano, and virtually no public transport to explore the island, we were a bit stuck. Until we realised everywhere rented out scooters. If you know us, getting around on 2 wheels is just about our favourite thing in the world to do, so it was a no brainer.
Sadly it was $20 a day when Asia is about $7 but it was still our best option. We set out early to find our first stop – Ojos De Agua (Eye of Water), a swimming hole. It’s man made with beautifully clear water filtered from a natural source. It was quite crowded and we struggled to find somewhere to sit, but the water was lovely and refreshing.
Afterwards we continued cruising round the island. At every turn there were epic views of the volcanos. We also stopped at a few beaches, including one where we saw a man bring his horse for a drink. We were shocked until we remembered it was a lake and not the sea! Eventually we made it to the town of Balque on the Southwest Coast for lunch. We’d planned this in because the amazing Cafe Campestre is located here. Owned by a Brit, the restaurant grows all its own vegetables and has great fresh juices, homemade beer etc. It specialises in curries, and we both had a delicious one. After lunch we turned around (since the road turns into a dirt track and with a small wheeled scooter it would only be a matter of time until we came off) and headed back to the Volcan Conception part of the island to stop at Charco Verde, a nature reserve. There are various trails in the reserve but we did a fairly short one as we only had an hour and a half until the scooter had to be returned.