From Ometepe to San Carlos by boat
One of the most spectacular regions in Nicaragua definitely is the southeast of the country. The only problem is that this area is very difficult to reach. You can get there by bus from Granada, but then it will take you a full day. Another great way to reach this part of the country is by boat. This boat departs a few times a week from Granada, but it also stops in Altagracia on Isla de Ometepe.
Every week on Mondays and Thursday, around 18:00 h, the cargoboat arrives in the harbour of Altagracia. At the ticketoffice you can buy a -very cheap- ticket for this boat, and 10 hours later you'll arrive in the city San Carlos, at the other side of the Lago de Nicaragua. A ticket for this trip (in First Class) costs 4 dollars. For this money you can a seat on a wooden bench with a thin pillow on it, instead of the solid wooden bench that you can get for only 2,50 dollars in Second Class.
Because the boat travels only in the dark you hardly see anything of the environment, but the trip still is something special. Inside the boat you can try to have a sleep or watch one of the stupid movies they play. But outside on the deck you can enjoy the silence at night, the fresh breeze and the pleasing sound of the water beneath you.
The other way, from San Carlos to Altagracia, the boats depart on Tuesdays and Fridays. Boats from Altagracia to Granada depart on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and boats from Granada to Altagracia leave the harbour on Mondays and Thursday around 14:00.
- Budget Travel
Around the island by mountainbike
A very pleasant way of transportation on Isla de Ometepe is by bicycle. It gives you a perfect possibility to enjoy the fantastic environment. It takes away the problem of a lack of busservices: to a lot of destinations there are no, or limited connections. And it fits completely in the ecological caracter of the island.
We rented a mountainbike at Hotel Central in Altagracia. You really need a bicycle with thick tires and several different gears, because the roads on the island can be pretty rough. From Altagracia we made a trip to the Ojo de Agua near Santo Domingo. On this route of about 10 kilometres we had to climb steep hills, descent very steep hills and cross 30 centimetres deep streams and slippery mud tracks.
Per bicycle we paid 1,50 dollars per hour. They can be picked up the the building right next to the hotel. The quality of the bikes is not too good, but enough for only one day.
WARNING: don't wear white clothes when you go for a cycling-trip, because the roads can be very, very, very muddy...
- Road Trip
Moyagalpa to Altagracia by bus
The best way to get around on Isla de Ometepe is by the busservices that operate on the island. The most frequent one is the connection between the two biggest towns: Altagracia and Moyogalpa. This bus goes every hour and takes about an hour to get there. The trip costs only a few cents.
The trip over the island is a great one. All around you see the unspoiled forest, some small villages here and there, and at your lefthand side there always is the mightly Volcán Conceptión.
Other busconnections are towards the other part of the island: Balgüe, Merida, or to San Marcos at the northside. At these busses only operate several times a day, so ask for the times before you start waiting for a bus!
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
The ferry from San Jorge
The fastest and easiest way to get to Isla de Ometepe is by taking the ferry in the harbour of San Jorge, close to Rivas. To get here, you will have to take a taxi from the busstation in Rivas. The taxi will take you to the harbour in about 10-15 minutes and costs about 2 dollars.
At the harbour of San Jorge boats to Isla de Ometepe departs all day long, every hour. Some of these boats are big enough to carry cars on board, but most of them are a lot smaller and only take passengers, and all kinds of supplies you can think of: vegetables, drinks, but also timber, engines and a lot more. Somewhere in between of all this you have to find a place to sit.
You only need to pay for your place on the boat when you're already on the boat, ready for departing. At ticket for the trip that takes around 45 minutes costs about 2 dollar. From the deck you have a great view of the island, and all the time you see the two volcanoes of "Ome" getting bigger and bigger.
And in the end the boat arrives in the small, colourful harbour of Moyagalpa; the biggest town of the island.
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Ferry from Granada
This is the ferry from Granada which takes about 3.5 hours. When you land be prepared for some high pressure pitches for places to stay, rides etc. Although I enjoyed the trip from Granada (despite the rain) we returned via the ferry from the other side of Ometepe to San Jorge which is only about 45 minutes. There were also a couple of heavy armed soliders boarding as we were getting off with Ak47's? I loved the ride we caught to our hotel. This is definetly a jungle island. Mud, bananas and the odd large sow (pig) enjoying a bath in the middle of the road. If you want to get away from it all , you made it!
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- Budget Travel
The boats leave for Moyogalpa on Ometepe at San Jorge.
We were told that the large car ferry was not going at 10:30 as it was being repaired. We ended up going on a smaller boat but this was a huge mistake, you can read my travelogue on my Nicaragua page for the whole story
Buses around Ometepe
Travel around the island is not for the light-hearted. The buses are crowded, and I mean OVER-crowded. It is hot, and any trip is going to be lengthy. The roads are awful, featuring construction work every kilometer or so, which forces the 1940´s American school bus full of people off onto dirt detours filled with potholes.
It can be fun, but prepare yourself!
hell of a ride!!
It took us almost a day to get there, wa came from San Juan del Sur and took the bus to Rivas, there you have to take another bus to San Jorge...there you have to wait some time untill the ships departs and it's another 2 hours to get on the island!!Then we took a bus for another 4 hours...There are almost no roads on the island and during the exhausting ride some chickens of a local landed on our lap.....
Getting to Finca Magalena (or Isla Ometepe)
The farry from Granada to Isla Ometepe doesn't operate every day all year long so if you can't get to there that way, you'll have to be creative. From Granada, take a bus to Rivas, and from there, a taxi to the harbor at San Jorge to grab a boat to Mayagalpa at the Isla Omotepe. From Mayagalpa, we took another bus to Finca Magdalena (ask to be dropped of at the "finca"). The bus dropped us at the town at Balgue. From there, it was a 30-minute walk to the Finca Magdalena (just follow the signs). We barely made it to the Finca, but in the end it was well worth the walk.
We got a private transfer to San Jorge from Granada for $35 through Oro travel. Once we got to the island we got a van from Moyogalpa to the hotel.