The San Ramon Waterfall (Cascada San Ramon) is a brilliant natural attraction on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua. Hiking to the San Ramon Falls involves following an adventurous trail through jungle-like surroundings. The path eventually leads to a small pool at the base of the magnificent waterfall. One thing though – the San Ramon Waterfall isn’t so special in the dry season. So, to avoid a mere trickle, head to the waterfall in the wet season.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about hiking the San Ramon Waterfall on Ometepe in Nicaragua. We’ll start by talking about the awesome waterfall hike. Then, we’ll look at how to get to Ometepe, visiting the San Ramon Waterfall independently and with a tour company.
We hope you enjoy this guide. Other than trekking to the San Ramon Waterfall, you should also do the Charco Verde, Maderas Volcano and Concepcion Volcano hikes whilst you’re in Ometepe, Nicaragua. Whilst you’re at it, have a read of The 16 Best Hikes in Nicaragua and Hiking Ometepe: 4 Excellent Trails Not To Miss.
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San Ramon Waterfall
The San Ramon Waterfall, referred to by the locals as Cascada San Ramon, is about 50 metres high. Sure, it’s no Niagara Falls. But, it’s one of the best waterfalls in Nicaragua. Plus, it’s the only notable waterfall in Ometepe to chase. During the wet season, the waterfall plummets to its base more powerfully and spectacularly. At its best, the width of the waterfall can increase to 10 metres. There’s also an array of falls that surround the main waterfall. These other San Ramon falls are also at their best during the wet season.
Personally, Beck and I visited during the dry season. Because, well, that’s just when we were in Nicaragua! We were told by the locals that Cascada San Ramon wasn’t worth visiting during the dry season. Our friendly host at our hotel even compared the waterfall (in the dry season) to cat piss! But, Beck and I still visited. After all, we love hiking, and we were still keen on exploring the San Ramon Waterfall trail. In fact, it turned out to be a great trail for speed hiking. So, despite a dried waterfall, we still really enjoyed the experience.
What’s speed hiking? It’s having a great workout whilst enjoying nature. Find out more about speed hiking here.
So, if you’re only interested in an Instagrammable waterfall shot, then don’t visit during the dry season. But, if you enjoy hiking and exploring nature, we can still vouch for your hike to San Ramon Waterfall that time of year.
San Ramon Waterfall Hike Preview
- Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 9.85 km
- Time: 2.5–4 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 515m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: San Ramon
- Map: Wikiloc
San Ramon Waterfall Hike
Your hike begins on the outskirts of the small town of San Ramon. The trailhead is actually located next to a biological field station. It’s owned by a large finca that uses the generated water to irrigate their plantations. From there, you’ll follow a wide road for about 300 metres. You’ll then reach a building with signage, directing you to turn left to reach Cascada San Ramon. In fact, the entire trail is well sign-posted. The 4WD accessible path begins to steeply ascend and wind its way up the southern slope of Maderas Volcano. On a clear day, you should get a glimpse of the volcano in the distance.
As you gain elevation on the San Ramon Waterfall hike, you’ll have outstanding views of Lake Nicaragua, which surrounds Ometepe Island.
About halfway up the trail, you’ll pass a hydro-electric plant, which uses the water pressure to create electricity! It’s around this time that the track transitions from a wide, exposed and rocky trail, to a narrow, canopy-covered and leaf-littered trail. Technically, it’s not jungle. It’s actually tropical forest. But, the trail very much has jungle vibes.
Arriving at a Junction
As the trail leads you deeper into the forest, you’ll notice large and leaking water pipes running along the damp trail. It’s at this time that you’ll arrive at a junction. Turn right to continue to the base of San Ramon Waterfall. We assume you’d turn left at the junction to get to the top of the waterfall. But, we’ve heard this trail is closed. By turning right, you’ll enter a magnificent riverbed filled with large rocks.
Soon enough, you’ll reach the stunning San Ramon Waterfall. The swimming pool is quite small and shallow. So, don’t expect exceptional wild swimming here. But, it’s worth popping your hiking boots off for a wee paddle. Once you’ve had a snack and enjoyed the series of falls, simply retrace your steps to complete the hike.
San Ramon Waterfall Hike Recap
The San Ramon Waterfall, popularly called Cascada San Ramon, on Ometepe, is possibly the best waterfall to chase in Nicaragua. Of course, the waterfall is better seen during the wet season. If you visit during the dry season, expect more of a spray than a waterfall. Nevertheless, we can recommend visiting any time of year. Even in the dry season. That’s because the San Ramon Waterfall hike is fun and enjoyable, even without a powerful waterfall to greet you at the trail’s end.
How to Get to Ometepe
To visit San Ramon Waterfall, you’ll need to get to Ometepe Island from mainland Nicaragua by ferry. Thankfully, getting to Ometepe is easy. Most tourists will visit from San Juan del Sur, Granada or Managua. From these locations, you’ll need to get a chicken bus to Rivas.
Once you arrive at Rivas, head to the port of San Jorge, which is a 15 minute drive away. From Rivas, you can either wait for a bus (approx. $0.50USD) or you can catch a taxi (approx. $2–3USD). A taxi is usually an easier and quicker option.
At the San Jorge Ferry Terminal, you’ll find numerous ticket booths. Essentially, different ferry companies operate the route. They all charge around the same price – $2USD (50 cordobas) and offer the same service. Basically, just buy a ticket for whichever ferry is leaving next!
Your journey to the Moyogalpa Ferry Terminal should take around 75 minutes. From the ferry, you’ll enjoy incredible views of Concepcion Volcano.
San Juan del Sur to Ometepe
From San Juan del Sur, there’ll be plenty of buses heading to Rivas. Starting around 5am, buses generally depart every 30–45 minutes. The last bus to Rivas usually leaves around 5pm. The journey time is around 45 minutes and costs roughly $1USD. FYI – the final ferry to Ometepe usually departs at 5:45pm. So, we recommend getting a bus no later than 3:30pm, in case there’s unexpected traffic.
Granada to Ometepe
There’s a bus heading to Rivas from Granada around six or seven times a day. Usually, the buses depart as early as 5:30am. The last bus usually leaves at around 3pm. But, this latest departure time doesn’t run every day. Sometimes the final departure of the day is around 1pm. So, check at the bus station the day before you intend to travel. The drive time is around 2.5 hours and costs roughly $2USD.
Managua to Ometepe
From Mercado Roberto Huembes bus station, you have two options – a regular or express bus. The regular chicken bus leaves roughly every 30 minutes between 5am and 6:30pm. Expect the journey time to be around 2.5 hours. Costs are about $2USD. The express bus is another regular service, which is slightly quicker (2.25 hours). But, it costs a bit more ($2.50USD). Don’t sweat it, either bus should suffice.
As you can see from the interactive map here, the town of San Ramon is located in the southeast part of Ometepe. From San Ramon, the trail heads inland away from Lake Nicaragua, weaving its way through the southern slopes of Maderas Volcano.
Hiking San Ramon Waterfall Independently
It’s possible to hike San Ramon Waterfall independently without a guide. You’ll just need to figure out how to get to the trailhead independently. It’s possible to reach San Ramon by bus. But, the buses are unreliable and very slow. According to the latest timetable, a bus from Moyogalpa, departing at 9:30am, will arrive at San Ramon at 12:30pm. That’s the earliest you can arrive by bus.
To avoid hiking in the midday heat, we don’t recommend getting to San Ramon by bus. Even if the heat doesn’t bother you, assuming you can finish the hike in 2.5 hours (it took us 2.25 hours speed hiking), the last bus departing San Ramon is at 3pm. This arrives at Moyogalpa by 7pm. Sure, getting the bus will only cost a few dollars. But, it’s way too slow and tedious for our liking. Plus, you’re screwed if you miss the last bus!
Your other options are to arrive by taxi, tuk-tuk, rental car, scooter or ATV. From Moyogalpa, hiring roundtrip transportation with a taxi will cost between $60–80USD. We imagine a tuk-tuk will charge slightly less. A cheaper option is to hire a scooter. Expect to pay around $20USD/day. Although, the road from Santa Cruz to San Ramon (final 11km) is unpaved and bumpy. So, a scooter could be a bit sketchy. And, that’s why we don’t recommend hiring a car unless it’s a 4WD. With this in mind, an ATV is a solid option too. You’ll pay around $50USD/day for an ATV on Ometepe Island.
How to Half the Hike
A major benefit of hiring a scooter, ATV or 4WD, is that you can drive halfway up the trail. Once you pay the $3USD entrance fee at the biological station, you can take the 4WD-accessible road. About halfway along the trail, you’ll notice a sign where it forbids progressing further with a vehicle. Given the road is quite bumpy, we noticed many scooters parked well before this point.
San Ramon Waterfall Tour
After organising many great adventures on the mainland of Nicaragua, Fun ‘N’ Sun Travels helped us plan the hike to San Ramon Waterfall. Of course, it’s possible to organise hiking with a tour company based in Ometepe. But, we didn’t hike with any tour companies in Ometepe. So, we can’t recommend any!
Although Fun ‘N’ Sun Travels are based in Leon, they have all the connections to organise your trip to Ometepe, including a visit to the San Ramon Waterfall. In fact, they’ll take care of everything, including roundtrip transportation to and from your accommodation, entrance fee, a local guide and food.
Fun ‘N’ Sun Travels offer the following prices for a San Ramon Waterfall hiking tour on Ometepe in Nicaragua:
- $28USD/person for two people
- $25USD/person for three or for people
- $20USD/person for five to seven people
Considering the costs of getting to San Ramon independently, a San Ramon hiking tour is decent value. To book the Cascada San Ramon hiking tour with Fun ‘N’ Sun Travels, contact them on Whatsapp (+505 8993 3714) or on their office landline (+505 2311 0748). Feel free to check them out on Facebook and Instagram. Otherwise, you can ask your accommodation in Ometepe to help you book a tour.
Five Hiking Essentials
- 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.
Make sure to also pack 2L of water, snacks, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat. Also, pack your swimsuit if you’re keen for a dip.
For a more comprehensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Or, for a summary of everything you’d need for a backpacking trip, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Keep an eye out for wildlife: you might see howler monkeys, bats, snakes, insects and birds.
- Kayaking on Ometepe: this is one of the most popular activities on the island. Cheap kayaking tours can be arranged from El Peru, Playa Los Mangos or Merida.
- Visit other Nicaragua waterfalls: other than Cascada San Ramon on Ometepe, you should explore other waterfalls in Nicaragua. These include Rio Santa Emilia Waterfalls, Salto de la Culebra Waterfall and Salto de La Estanzuela Waterfall.
Are you keen on other hikes in Ometepe? Have a read of our best Ometepe hikes guide. Or, check out our other Central America hiking guides.