Ometepe is a captivating island located in the vast waters of Lake Nicaragua, Central America’s largest lake. Known for its striking twin volcanoes, Concepción and Maderas, Ometepe is not only a natural wonder but also a place steeped in history and rich in biodiversity. The island’s unique shape, formed by the two volcanoes joined by a narrow isthmus, makes it a standout destination for travellers seeking adventure, nature, and tranquillity.

omotepe farm

Ometepe measures approximately 276 square kilometers (106 square miles), making it the largest island in Lake Nicaragua and one of the largest freshwater islands in the world.

Volcán Concepción, which is an active volcanoe, rises to about 1,610 meters (5,282 feet), offering challenging hikes and breathtaking views. Volcán Maderas, now dormant, reaches 1,394 meters (4,573 feet) and is crowned by a misty cloud forest and a serene crater lake at its summit.

Ometepe Island is a unique destination that offers a blend of natural beauty, adventure, and cultural richness. Its twin volcanoes, lush landscapes, and the serene waters of Lake Nicaragua make it a place of unparalleled beauty and tranquility. For those seeking to connect with nature, delve into history, or embark on an adventure, Ometepe promises an unforgettable experience.

Biodiversity and Conservation

The island’s diverse ecosystems range from dry tropical forests to humid cloud forests, supporting a rich array of flora and fauna. Ometepe is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, highlighting its global importance for conservation. The island is home to howler monkeys, capuchin monkeys, a variety of bird species, and unique plant life. Its environmental significance is matched by efforts to promote sustainable development and eco-tourism.


The two main villages on Omotepe är Altagracia (roughly 4,000 inhabitants) on the northeastern side of the island and Moyogalpa (roughly 3,000 inhabitants) in the northwest.


Ometepe’s history is as fascinating as its natural landscape. The island has been inhabited since pre-Columbian times, as evidenced by petroglyphs, statues, and ceramics found throughout the area. These archaeological treasures, along with the legends and traditions of the indigenous peoples, add a layer of mystique to the island. The name “Ometepe” itself derives from the Nahuatl words “ome” (two) and “tepetl” (mountain), reflecting its twin peaks.

omotepe history

The earliest known inhabitants of Ometepe spoke Macro-Chibchan languages. They created petroglyphs and stone idols on the northern slopes of the Maderas volcanoe, from at least 300 BCE.

Several centuries later, Chorotega and Nicarao peoples were living on Ometepe, and they added their own petroglyphs, and carved statues from basalt rock.

After European contact, Spaniards founded the city Granada along the shore of Lake Nicaragua, and before long, pirates also found their way to the lake via the San Juan River from the Carribbean. Ometepe was attacked repeatedly by priates during this era which prompted the inhabitants to move to higher elevations.

Activities and Attractions

Hiking and adventure: For the adventurous, hiking the volcanoes provides an unforgettable experience. While Concepción offers a more strenuous climb, Maderas presents a slightly easier trek, both rewarding hikers with panoramic views and encounters with the island’s unique biodiversity.

Kayaking and swimming: The clear waters of Lake Nicaragua invite visitors to kayak around the island’s shores or swim in its tranquil bays. The mineral springs, such as Ojo de Agua, provide natural swimming pools surrounded by lush vegetation.

Cultural experiences: Ometepe’s small communities and towns, such as Moyogalpa and Altagracia, offer a glimpse into local life. Visitors can explore the island’s culture through its cuisine, handicrafts, and festivals. The Museo Ometepe showcases the island’s archaeological and historical heritage.

Eco-tourism: Many lodges and activities on Ometepe are geared towards eco-tourism, offering sustainable ways to explore and enjoy the island’s natural and cultural beauty. From organic farms to eco-lodges, Ometepe is a model for responsible travel.

Participate in Fuego y Agua

Fuego y Agua is a set of foot races taking place on Omotepe.

There are four different options:

  • 25 km
  • 50 km ultramarathon
  • 100 km ultramarathon. It is a single-loop encompassing most of the island. You will ascend and descend both volcanoes. Running will take place on various surfaces, including singletrack, dirt road and sand.
  • Application Only 70 km obstacle course

The 100 km course changes every year and is a surprise to the participants. The 25 km and 50 km courses are parts of the 100 km course.

Examples of what you might encounter during the race are jungle, dry tropical forrest, cloud forest, beach, villages, coffee bushes, banana plantations, and cocoa plantations.

Fuego and Agua uses and promotes local guides, locally owned hotels, local food preparation, and other local businesses to give the local economy a boost. Trophies and prizes are locally crafted.

Everyone is encouraged to participate in the annual Isla Limpia Pre-Race Trash Pickup.

A part of each race entry payment is used to fund Calzado Kids Run, a race for children living on Ometepe. Every kid who participante in the kid’s race receive a pair of running shoes.

Getting There

Access to Ometepe is primarily by ferry from the mainland, with services departing from San Jorge, near the city of Rivas, to Moyogalpa and San José del Sur on the island. The journey offers stunning views of the volcanoes as one approaches the island.