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Moyogalpa

As the main port of call on the island, Moyogalpa has grown into a prosperous town with a range of tourist friendly services, hotels and restaurants. Altagracia may be closer to Volcán Concepción, but Moyogalpa is where you’ll find a handful of tour operators competing to offer you experienced, bilingual guides.

Moyogalpa, with a solid range of hotels, is a good place to stop for a night, catch your breath and plan out the rest of your Ometepe visit. While you’re doing that, you might want to stop in quaint Parroquia Santa Ana, the bright yellow church at the end of Main Street, or Sala Arqueológica Ometepe, a combination of souvenir store, museum and cyber café (C$20 per hour).

Sala ArqueolĂłgica Ometepe (505-2-569-4225, susita44@hotmail.com, ligiamariagg@hotmail.com, open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily) a private, family run museum with over 300 pre-Columbian artefacts. The collection includes funal urns, giant stone water filters, jewelry and a few Spanish pieces. All of the pottery, stone work and statues were unearthed on the island. The items are not well labled, but if you understand Spanish, ask for a guided tour when you pay the small entry fee.

Three of the best tour operators on the island – Safari Ometepe, Servicios Turisticos Ibesa, Exploring Ometepe – are located right next to the Moyogalpa ferry dock (and send agents to meet debarking tourists). Safari Ometepe (open from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.) offers guided trips to the volcanos, among other options, as well as motorcycle and scooter rentals. The owner speaks excellent English and is a fountain of information about the island. Servicios Turisticos Ibesa (ibesatourservice@yahoo.es, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), has motorcycle and bicycle rentals as well as a range of tours and also posts general tourist information such as bus schedules. Nearby Exploring Ometepe (505-2- 647-5179, ometepeisland@hotmail.com) is another excellent tour center and good information resource. The company is particularly well-known for their bilingual guides and volcano tours.

Moyogalpa has the most hotels of any area on Ometepe, but the American Hotel (505-2-645-7193), in operation for almost two years, takes the crown. Rooms (US$15 to $30) are spotless and well-furnished, like suites. The hotel has hot water, screened rooms, and a cistern – which keeps the hotel immune from Ometepe's periodic shortages. The hotel’s eatery, the American Café, offers tasty breakfast and lunch specials until 4 p.m. The owners are pleasant, welcoming, and full of information about the island.

Close to the port, Hotel Ometepetl (505-2-569-4276, ometepetlng@hotmail.com, rooms from $15 to $25) was once billed as Moyogalpa's finest accomodations. The glory is fading; the high prices have remained. The staff makes an effort, but they can't make up for the fact that peeling paint and water stains make the rooms feel shabby. There is still a nice ambiance, though, with couches in the hallway, a quiet courtyard and a restaurant.

Hotel Escuela Teosintal (505-2-427-8828) has very clean, pleasant rooms arranged around a lovely backyard garden. The rooms (from $10 to $24) are fairly standard, but Teosintal is quite a nice place to stay. The hotel features a common room with television and a cafeteria and also has a tour agency.

In the middle of the price range, both Arenas Negras (505-2-634-6719, single C$150) and Flor de Angel (505-8-853-8953, single $10) have clean, comfortable and reasonably priced rooms. Arenas Negras has a restaurant and offers television equipped rooms for $5 more, while Flor de Angel has its own disco and emerald green lights in the bathrooms.

Across town, Casa Familiar (505-569-4240) has dark halls, but very clean rooms for between $10 and $25. Hospedaje Central (505-2-569-4262), three blocks east and one block south of the port, is Moyogalpa's version of a backpacker hotel and has a pizza-eating deer named Minta. The dormitories (US$3) are dark and abysmal, but Central's the private rooms (C$170 to US$20) are quite nice. The bar is popular on weekends and locals also say good things about the Hospedaje Central restaurant.

Three other Moyogalpa hotels also offer budget accomodations: Hotelito Aly (505-569-4196, hotelitoaly@yahoo.com), has clean bathrooms and $6 rooms, which might make up for the dismal atmosphere; Hotel Bahia (505-8-901-5377, US$5 to $7) has nine very basic rooms with bathrooms that seem unfinished, but also rents motorcycles ($25 per day) and bicycles ($5 per day); Hospidaje Sinai (505-2-569-4215), located on the main highway out of town, has the cheapest rooms (C$60), but the communal toilets lack seats and you’ll have to share the courtyard with the chickens.

When all of the running around, arranging tours and booking hotels, has made you hungry, head to one of Moyogalpa’s tasty restaurants. Half a block south of Hospedaje Central, you’ll find Yogi’s Café and Bar (505-2-403-6961, yogisbar@gmail.com) which was named after the lovable black dog that greets arrivals. Yogi's is a friendly establishment and serves Western style breakfast and lunch. The eatery also has wifi, although the connection is occasionally out of service.

Restaurante Bahia (505-823-5743), at the hotel of the same name, has a range of economically priced soups, pastas and sandwiches, along with comida típica. If you want to go even cheaper, there is a fast-food stand around the corner. Del Timbo al Tambo on Moyogalpa’s main street also serves comida típica and is one of the most popular places for a drink in town. Or you could head to Chido's Pizza for one of the eateries huge, delicious slices.

You might want to finish up the day at Los Ranchitos (505-569-4112, norma1@cablenet.com.ni, www.losranchitos.com.ni), a popular restaurant across from the police station where freshly caught fish is grilled, fried or steamed to a perfection.

If you want to take a dip in the lake, but don’t feel like swimming around the ferry dock (like local boys do), jump on a bus for the 10 minute ride to Punto Jesus María, a small beach with perfect sunset views. In the dry season, you can tackle the 5 km road to Punto Jesus María on foot or by bike, but such a trek becomes much more difficult in the rainy season. Linda Vista, a restaurant on the point, serves large portions of meat, chicken or fish for about C$60. There are picnic tables along the beach, but you might want to bring bug repellent, especially around dusk.

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Other places nearby Moyogalpa: San Jorge, San Juan Del Sur, Around San Juan del Sur, Playa Santo Domingo, Rivas, Playa Pie de Gigante, El Astillero, Altagracia, Isla de Ometepe and Las Salinas y Playa Popoyo.







10 Jun 2009

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