Ometepe Island, Nicaragua

Lake Nicaragua is the only place inthe world where you can find freshwater sharks. This fact alone lets you know that it is a very unique place. Situated in the middle of the lake is the twin volcanic island of Ometepe. It can take some time getting there, but it is definitely worth a visit. 

To get to Ometepe Island, you must first make your way to Rivas in Southern Nicaragua. From there, it is only a short trip to the dock where you will seriously begin to question your sanity. To say that the boats that take people out to the island have seen better days is putting it mildly. They are the most dilapidated boats to have ever hit the water. The entire trip over is spent praying that it either doesn’t sink or catch fire. 

After arriving on the island and kissing the ground, you begin to take in your surroundings. The port town of Moyogalpa is the largest settlement on the island, but is not worth hanging around for too long. Begin your stay on Ometepe by heading over to Playa Santo Domingo. 

There are two ways to get around the island. You can either take a private taxi or you can take a chicken bus. For those that don’t know, chicken buses are old American school buses that have somehow made their way down to Central America. They are by far the cheapest way to get around, but they are ridiculously cramped, overcrowded and unreliable. On the other hand, they can be an opportunity to get in and have a chat with some of the locals. 

Like most of the settlements on Ometepe, Playa Santo Domingo is quite small. It consists of one street with a few restaurants, shops and small hotels. That is it, but the surroundings are stunning. Playa Santo Domingo is one of the only places on the island with sandy beaches. Stepping out onto the beach gives you a beautiful view of the the two volcanoes that make up Ometepe Island. To the left is Volcan Concepcion and to the right is Volcan Maderas. Clouds often hang at the summit so it looks like they are much more active than they actually are. 

Not far from Playa Santa Domingo is a beautiful natural spring called Ojo de Agua, eye of the water. To get there, you have to walk through a farmer’s field and you get the distinct impression that you are doing something foolish. Slowly the jungle envelops you as you head deeper in and just before you are about to give up and turn around, the trees part and you are presented with the most beautiful site.  Crystal clear water, lush tropical forest all around and playful monkeys jumping around in the trees. It would be easy to spend days there lounging in the cool water. 

After you tire of Playa Santo Domingo, head to the town of Merida closer to Volcan Maderas. This settlement is still quite small, but they have a fiesta every now and again that is quite the spectacle to behold. There are food stalls selling traditional Nicaraguan food, music, cold Tona beer and more. 

You could spend months visiting all of the little town that surround the island. They all have something unique to show you. If you make the journey, you will not regret it. 

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