Tag Archives: southern Nicaragua

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua – Adventures by Scooter

Lake Cocibolca (also known as Lake Nicaragua) is the 19th largest lake in the world taking up about 7% of the country’s land mass.

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Easily visible from the lake’s western shore, the largest island on the lake, Isla de Ometepe, is home to two volcanic cones, Concepción and Maderas. It’s these two volcanoes that bring much of the tourism to the island.

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There are several ways to get around this 31km long island: by bus, bicycle, scooter, dirt bike or quad bike. While the bus doesn’t go very often, the bicycles can be rough on the hills, the dirt bike requires a prior riding history and the quad bikes were expensive, my friend from the hostel and I chose the scooters.

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After picking up the scooters we decided to ride to the end of every paved road on the island before going to any of the attractions. It’s exhilarating riding down hills at a top speed of 90km/h with the wind flowing madly past, then screaming to halt at the many speed humps across the island, some taking us by surprise as they were unpainted. With the threat of having to pay for any damages, including scratches, we were overly careful.

As we rounded the island we stopped to take in the view of Volcán Maderas still covered in clouds.

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It took only 90 minutes to ride all of the paved roads. The first of the island’s attractions was windblown Santo Domingo Beach with a kite surfer and a cloud drowned Volcán Concepción in the background.

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Next we stopped for a swim at Ojo de Agua – Eye of Water, a natural spring pool on the flat area between the two volcanoes. While the water wasn’t as warm as expected, it wasn’t too cold either. Great for a swim on a warm day!

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As we rode, the clouds cleared completely from the volcanos for the first time in 2 months. Volcán Maderas which last erupted more than 3000 years ago…

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And Volcán Concepción, erupting last in 1986…

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On the way back to town we stopped at the Conservation Park ‘Charco Verde’, and climbed a hill to get a view of Laguna Charco Verde, the largest lake on the island on the lake.

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Then as we walked around the laguna we came across a family of monkeys high in the trees…

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Lastly, we found our way to Punta Jesus Maria for a relaxing beer at the end of a great day.

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After an hour at the beachside, we drove back to town, dropped off the bikes and headed to the hostel for another beer.

There were more places on the island we could have visited, but most were inaccessible to our scooters. These included other beaches, a waterfall, and several other towns. But even though we missed them, we still had a full day and enjoyed the experience.

Next, we climb the cone of Volcán Concepción.

The World Wanderer

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San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua – Impressions

Thirty kilometres north of the Costa Rican border on the Pacific Coast is the beach town of San Juan del Sur (San Juan of the South). The town is known to tourists as San Juan del Surf because of its proximity to several good surf beaches.

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The oddity of the name is apparent when you realise that San Juan del Norte (San Juan of the North) – situated on the Caribbean Sea, is actually further south.

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For over 130 years San Juan del Sur was a little backwater town in southern Nicaragua, then in 1992 a tsunami destroyed a large portion of the town. Its recovery was helped greatly by the ‘gringo’ invasion, with many migrants arriving from the US, Britain and Canada. Scattered throughout the surrounding hills are many mansions and resorts…

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At the northern end of the cove is the statue of Jesus de la Misericordia – Christ of Mercy.

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It’s one of 17 giant statues of Christ throughout the world. The most famous being Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. La Paz, Bolivia has the tallest at 34m, while San Juan del Sur’s Jesus de la Misericordia is the 9th tallest at 26 metres tall.

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Climbing the hill to the statue is fairly easy, a cobbled road weaves it’s way to the top. While it’s steep at points, it’s not too strenuous and gives great views of the cove and township.

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Beyond surfing and swimming, the nightlife is the other main focus of the town as there are many beachfront restaurants and bars. As a large portion of the tourists visiting are in their 20’s, there are plenty of party hostels with raucous parties raging on until the wee hours most nights. But don’t let that put off the older traveller…

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Overall, the beach town of San Juan del Sur is a great way to spend a couple of days, the surf town vibe is relaxing and fun.

Next, I head to Isla Ometepe, an island made up of twin volcanos in on Lake Nicaragua.

The World Wanderer