After almost melting into oblivion in Granada from the heat, Sam and I were on the fence wether we wanted to visit Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua. We kept going back and forth, and finally decided to let fate choose for us. We agreed we would drive to the ferry terminal (not even knowing the times it left) and see if there was a ferry we could get on in the next few hours. If the ferry did not work out, we were heading to the beach. As we drove up to the ferry at 9:45am, we were told that there was a ferry at 10:00am with space for us. I guess we were going to Ometepe!
I was not sure what we were going to be doing on Ometepe, or even where we would camp, so we just decided to drive around until we found a spot. Ometepe is the largest island in the fresh water Lake Nicaragua, but it is still fairly small. The island is formed by two large volcanoes, Concepcion (the still active smoking volcano in the ferry picture above) and dormant Maderas.
As we started circumventing the island we saw a long beach, Playa Santa Domingo. Playa Santa Cruz was at the end of the mile long stretch and was flat and remote in parts so we decided we wanted to try and camp on it. We drove the XP down onto the beach, found an isolated place and popped up the top. Since Ometepe is such a sleepy, lightly populated island, we felt super safe and no one said anything about our pirate camp spot. In fact, we met lots of locals fishing on the lake and riding by on horses. We would offer them a beer or a cold coke as they passed by and chatted, and in exchange we were given fruit the next day and invited for beers and fish soup at their house.
We had a super strong breeze on the beach, so strong that it kept us blissfully cool and it blew the bugs away. I have read this beach can be fairly miserable when there is no wind with swarming gnats, so we got lucky and had perfect weather.
On one of the days we visited we went for a hike to see the petroglyphs on the island that date back to 1000 BC. We found out quickly that as soon as you left the windy beach, the heat was out of control. We hiked for two hours and became dangerously overheated, exhausted and cranky. We decided hiking felt like unnecessary torture and that all we wanted to do was go back to our windy beach and drink icy beers, so that is what we did.
The time we spent in Ometepe was really relaxing. We did not do much, and honestly on this trip, we don’t have as much down time as people think we do, so long lazy days helped recharge our battery. There are organic farms on the islands, volcano hikes and waterfalls, but we were happy to spend our days on our little stretch of beach, swimming with the horses and watching the sunset over volcanoes.