The largest village on the Isla de Ometepe with a population of around 3,500. Located on the west coast of the island it is here where the ferry docks and leaves to San Jorge. This place obviously is influenced by the tourist industry as there are a few hotels, restaurants, tourist info spots and the what not. What I'm assuming to be the main tourist site here is a model of the island which is near the dock but it has seen better days. For me, this place was mostly a transit point.
This little village on Lago de Nicaragua seems like a quiet place except for the fact it is the port to get to Ometepe Island. Located only a couple of kilometres from the department capital Rivas, it's easy to get to. There is a couple of hotels here and restaurants but most visitors will use it a as gateway to Ometepe. You can also catch buses here to get to other places in Nicaragua, but I would just catch a cab to Rivas and catch buses from there as the ones that leave here leave far less frequently.
Rivas is the capital of this department and is an old colonial city. There are some minor sites here but I only used this place as a transit point. It's easy access to San Jorge where you can catch a ferry to Isla de Ometepe and a place to catch a bus to Managua because Rivas is located right next to the Pan American Highway. For the time I spent here, I found to feel like a safe place.
Isla de Ometepe
Quite simply on of the main reasons to visit this country is this place. Isla de Ometepe is an island in Lago de Nicaragua that has a hour glass shape with a volcano on each side. Volcan Concepcion is in the northwest of the island and the taller one standing at 1,610m. Volcan Madera is on the southeast part of the island and stands at 1,394m. These volcanoes have made the soil very fertile and the island is quite lush and grows tobacco and coffee. But there is more to do than just the volcanoes. Nice beaches, kayaking, waterfalls, archeology, wildlife and of course, exploring on your on time. The population is about 35,000.
I only spent 3 days and 2 nights here. I took the ferry from San Jorge and was about a 2 hour ride to Moyogalpa. Stayed on the isthmus and got around by bike or the local bus the runs around the island (which is quite slow). I felt totally safe on this island besides the bugs.
San Juan Del Sur
San Juan Del Sur is one of the top two destinations to vist in this department. I found it to be a great little beach town and a welcome relief after spending almost a week in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Getting into town took a bit because the road was quite chewed up. The town goes at a slow pace considering it is a fairly big tourist town by Nicaraguan standards. It has a nice large beach and I here the area is pretty good for surfing. Along the beach front, you have all your standard expensive restaurants (expensive for the area, but really, still not bad) as with some cheaper ones in town. There is a range of accomodation, none being too expensive. There are a few banks where I was able to use an ATM and a decent little market, but I didn't spent too much time in it. When I was there, their was nightly power outages, which had a certain charm to them considering the location. If you are in southern Nicaragua, it would be quite a shame to miss this place.
Lago De Nicaragua
When looking at a map of Nicaragua it may seem that the entire southwest portion is missing. That's because Central America's largest lake is located there. Cocibolca by it's native name or Lago De Nicaragua is a giant lake at 8624 km2. Althought it is not entirely located in this department, it probably here that the average tourist will get the most experience of the lake from. With a depth up to 70m there is the selection of fish that make this lake home and even some bull sharks but the later are rare. The lake is home to 400 islands including the biggest island Isla de Ometepe which is one of the most beautiful islands to gaze upon. Evidence still remains of ancient people living on and using the islands which adds a nice touch of history to the region.
Departamento de Rivas Hotels
Playa Maderas, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
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Del Puente las Salinas 7 km hacia el Astillero , Tola, Rivas Nicaragua, El Astillero, 505, Nicaragua
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Playa Ocotal, San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua, 505, NI
Good for: Business
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