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Getting Around Nicaragua by Boat

As Nicaragua has so much water, in the form of lakes and rivers, it is no surprise that, in many areas of the country, boats are not only a feasible means of transport, but the only real way to get around.

Regular public ferry services operate on Lago de Nicaragua and throughout the Caribbean region. These boats provide a cheap, reliable, interesting and often beautiful way to get to some of the country's more remote areas.

On the lakes, along the Pacific Coast and throughout the Caribbean region, small motor boats called pangas are often available for private hire. These pangas will give you a lot of freedom but are much more expensive than public transpor.

Lake Nicaragua

Lago de Nicaragua has been an important navigable body of water for a long time and “by boat” is the only way to get to the popular tourist destinations of Isla de Ometepe and the Solentiname Islands. Along with the hundreds of pangas that are available for private hire there are currently several cheap ferry services that operate the following regular services on the lake:

Granada to San Carlos via Isla de Ometepe:

This service runs twice a week in each direction (weather permitting). The journey takes 13 hours in total (four hours between Granada and Ometepe and nine hours between Ometepe and San Carlos). The ferry is old and doesn't provide a particularly pleasant ride.

San Jorge to Moyogalpa (on Isla de Ometepe):

This is the quickest and most convenient way to get to the Isla de Ometepe. Regular services throughout the day make the hour-long crossing using either ferries (capable of taking cars) or smaller boats (lanchas). If the weather is good, then this is a very scenic cruise. However, if the lake is rough it can be very unpleasant in a lancha and you might want to wait for the larger, more stable ferry.

San Carlos to the Archipelago de Solentiname:

A boat runs in a loop from San Carlos to the island of of San Fernando, then on to Mancarrón and back to San Carlos on Tuesdays and Fridays. From San Carlos there are also regular services along the Río Frio to Los Chiles in Costa Rica and down the Río San Juan to El Castillo and San Juan del Norte.

Caribbean Region

On this side of the country, as the roads that exist are poor and often impassable, river transport is the most reliable way to get around. Bluefields is the transport hub. From there daily services run to El Rama and Tasbapauni, and twice weekly services go to the Caribbean island of Big Corn.

The best way to explore this region is in a small motor boat. These are readily available for private hire in the towns of Waspám, Bilwi and Bluefields and can be found in many other smaller settlements. Privately hired pangas are much more expensive than public transport but give you complete freedom and allow you to explore areas that would otherwise be impossible to get to.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Nicaragua : Getting Around, Getting Around, Getting Around, Getting Around Nicaragua by Car, Getting Around, Getting Around Nicaragua by Bus, Getting Around Big Corn Island, Getting Around Nicaragua by Taxi, Getting Around and Getting Around Nicaragua Overview.

By Tom Ravenscroft
Initially intending to just pass through Ecuador on his year-long sojourn across the world, Tom Raven Scroft decided to set up camp in Quito as an...
11 Mar 2009

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