In a country known as the land of lakes and volcanoes, hiking in Ometepe is an exciting prospect. This figure-eight island sits within the massive basin of Lake Nicaragua, with the unmistakable cone shapes of Concepcion and Maderas volcanoes rising up at either end. Despite being an island, Ometepe isn’t short on things to do. But, the hiking is hard to beat. In fact, Ometepe hiking is some of the best in Nicaragua. And we should know, we hiked A LOT in Nicaragua.
In this Ometepe hiking guide, we’ll detail the four best hikes to do on the island. There’s a good mix too! So expect to see a couple of epic Ometepe Volcano hikes, an adventurous waterfall trek and a laid-back, animal-spotting nature trail as you set about exploring Ometepe Island on foot.
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Hiking Ometepe Overview
There are many things to do on Ometepe Island. Of course, most travellers’ Ometepe itinerary will include at least one Ometepe volcano. But, why stop at one when you can do two? And why stop at volcanoes when you can hike to waterfalls? And why stop with waterfalls when you can round the whole thing off with a tranquil hike around a nature reserve?
If you’re looking to see a great deal of what this island has to offer, then these Ometepe hikes are a great place to start.
So, let’s take a look at these Ometepe hiking locations on the map below.
Ometepe Hiking Locations
1. Concepcion Volcano Hike
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 8.65 km
- Time: 7–9 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 1,338m
- Difficulty: Hard
- Trailhead: Los Ramos (NIC-64)
Travel Made Me Do It has personally rated each trail in this guide
Also known as Volcan Concepcion or Concepción Volcano, this active volcano dominates the skyline and is actually Nicaragua’s second-highest volcano, after San Cristobal. As a result, hiking Concepcion Volcano in Ometepe is no easy feat. Most of your hours spent on this hike will be on the steep ascent to its epic crater. But stick with it. On a clear day, the views across the whole of Ometepe are quite spectacular.
If you love hiking Nicaragua volcanoes, then you can’t miss hiking Concepcion Volcano. In fact, it’s easily one of the best volcano hikes in Nicaragua. You’ll need a guide for this one though, it’s compulsory. But, it’s easy enough to arrange a guide or tour once on the island, with a small charge per person.
2. Maderas Volcano Hike
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 14.5 km
- Time: 7–9 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 1,289m
- Difficulty: Hard
- Trailhead: Eco-Lodge El Porvenir
Maderas Volcano in Ometepe couldn’t be more different from its neighbour, Concepcion. Also known as Volcan Maderas and Volcano Maderas, this tough Ometepe volcano hike takes a steep and muddy route up to its cloud-covered crater lake. The obstacle-laden track often involves crawling under or clambering over tree trunks. If you’re after a challenging and adventurous hike, then Maderas Volcano in Nicaragua ticks the box. Dan and I think Maderas is one of the hardest hikes in Nicaragua, up there with Asososca, and is definitely the hardest hiking on Ometepe. On the other hand, it’s probably one of the most popular hikes too, and for good reason. So, come see for yourself.
Read more: Maderas Volcano Hike – The Ultimate Guide
3. San Ramon Waterfall Hike
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 9.85 km
- Time: 2.5–4 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 515m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: San Ramon
The San Ramon Waterfall in Ometepe is a fantastic 50m drop, cascading into a lovely natural pool below. Whether you choose to hike the whole trail or drive halfway along the 4WD-access road, you’ll not be disappointed. Cascading down the southern flank of Maderas Volcano, the waterfall plunges over mossy rocks within a charming rainforest setting.
Bear in mind, though, that San Ramon Waterfall is at its best in the wet season. So, if it’s epic you’re after, you may be wise to plan your visit accordingly.
4. Charco Verde Nature Reserve
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 2.7km
- Time: 1 hour
- Accumulated elevation gain: 39m
- Difficulty: Very easy
- Trailhead: Charco Verde Main Entrance
This beautiful nature trail loops around a small emerald-green lagoon. Its edges are fringed with black sand beaches with serene views across Lake Nicaragua. Ultimately, Charco Verde is a magical place filled with legend and folklore. It’s teeming with wildlife, bright flowers and unusual trees. The only other place we’ve experienced something similar in Nicaragua was in the beautiful Montibelli Nature Reserve. Above all, Charco Verde is possibly the most relaxing hike in Ometepe. So, if you’re after something a little more leisurely, especially after hiking either of the Ometepe Volcanoes, then Charco Verde is an excellent option for you.
Ometepe Hiking Recap
So, as you can see, there’s some really great hiking to be had on Ometepe Island. There’s a great mix of challenging and strenuous trails, with some a little more relaxing. Certainly, I’d say something for everyone. Of course, there are plenty of other things to do in Ometepe, but hiking here offers some of the best ways to see the island.
Of course, if you love hiking on Ometepe, be sure to check out our 16 Best Hikes in Nicaragua guide for more fantastic hiking in this beautiful country.
Other Things to do in Ometepe
If you’re looking for a few other things to do in Ometepe, you can’t go wrong with these alternatives to hiking. Or, should I say, additions to hiking in Ometepe:
- Kayaking Ometepe: kayaking in Ometepe is one of the best ways to enjoy the island. If you’re ready to give your legs a rest after all your Ometepe hiking, then grab a paddle and head on out onto the beautiful Lake Nicaragua. What a great way to survey the two volcanoes you’ve just scaled.
- Ojo de Agua: after a day of hiking in Ometepe, what better way to relax than in the crystal clear waters of Ojo de Agua. These two pools are formed by an underground river that flows from Maderas Volcano. They’re the perfect place to unwind.
- Petroglyphs: did you know Ometepe is home to some amazing examples of early rock art? Many of the petroglyphs can even be found on some of the Ometepe hikes. Some of the best examples can be seen at Hotel Finca Porvenir and Finca Magdalena.
Five Essentials For Ometepe Hiking
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
For a more extensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Or, for a general summary of everything you’d need to pack for a trip, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
Bonus Tips For Ometepe Hiking
- Wet weather warning: hiking on Ometepe volcanoes can be hot and sweaty. But, it can also be a little cloudy, rainy and often misty. So, make sure you’re prepared to get a little wet and, on occasion, muddy.
- Getting around: by far the easiest way to explore Ometepe is to rent a scooter or ATV. Public buses do run, but they can be infrequent and a little unreliable at times.
- Be a morning person: the Ometepe volcano hikes are long and you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time in the day to complete them. Similarly, San Ramon and Charco Verde can get quite crowded, so starting early means beating the crowds.
- Travel guides: we’ve done plenty of hiking in Central America. Check out our other ‘best hikes lists’ in Central America. These include – 20 Epic El Salvador Hiking Trails Not To Miss and 17 of the Best Hikes in Guatemala.