Unquestionably one of Nicaragua's natural wonders, this double volcano-island offers visitors a wealth of spectacular natural beauty. It's a place that evokes a sense of wonder and magic, and has been mythologized from time immemorial.
The evidence is scant, but experts relieve that Ometepe's first inhabitants were native Nahuas who migrated from Mexico around 4,000 years ago. The area has rich volcanic soil that allowed the settlers to thrive since the land can support continuous planting without the need to let fields lie fallow. Successive waves of migration left Ometepe with a diverse archaeological record, best exemplified by the numerous petroglyphs found around the island. The twin volcanoes featured heavily in pre-Columbian mythology, and were a place of great spiritual importante for the region's early inhabitants.
The Spanish annexed the island around the end of the 16th century, but its inhabitants had more contact with the Dutch, English and French privateers who used Ometepe as a base for their attacks. The island's isolation meant that it was spared from most of Nicaragua's 20th-century upheavals, though locals experienced periodic scares from the rumbling Volcan Concepci√≥n.
Today the island supports a population of around 35,000. Many people still live off the land, though tourism is playing an increasingly important role in the local economy.
Geographically, the island has an hourglass shape, with a low isthmus connecting the two volcanoes. Volcan Concepci√≥n, the taller of the two, is one of the most perfectly shaped cones in Central America. First appearing during the Holocene Epoch, Concepci√≥n lay dormant for a long period before literally exploding back to life 1880. The volcano remains active and, although you can hire guides to take you up the sides, Concepci√≥n is far too dangerous to summit.
Its sister, Volcan Maderas, is dormant and has a gorgeous lagoon within its crater. The area around this volcano is home to several farms that cultivate coffee and tobacco on the volcanic soil. Many of the farms also serve as hotels: Finca Magdalena and Hacienda Merinda are the most popular.
For the visitor, Ometepe offers an amazing range of activities: biking, kayaking and hikes up the volcanoes, to name a few.. And if you just want to relax, the beaches of Playa Santo Domingo are a perfect place to work on your tan. Either way, Isla Ometepe is one of Nicaragua's premiere attractions. Don't miss it.
Neighborhoods in Isla de Ometepe: Merida, Isla de Ometepe Neighborhoods, Altagracia, Playa Santo Domingo, Moyogalpa,
Other places nearby Isla de Ometepe: Around San Juan del Sur, San Jorge, Rivas, El Astillero, Playa Santo Domingo, Moyogalpa, Las Salinas y Playa Popoyo, Tola, Playa Pie de Gigante and Altagracia.