Here’s a list of things to to while visiting Ometepe in Nicaragua.
1. Walk past the cabbies when you get off the ferry.
You can do this pretty much anywhere in the world, and you’ll save a few bucks. That first guy, the friendly one who’s making you a deal? He’s not. I always forget this. Luckily I travel with people like Bethany or Maya who aren’t as easily walked over as I am. So, keep going. The price will go down.
2. Wait for your food.
“First they wouldn’t give us our food. Then they wouldn’t give us our check.” – Tourists from Rhode Island talking about dining in Nicaragua. Be prepared to wait for your pan-fried meat, plantains, slaw and rice. You’re not in Manhattan. You don’t have a train, bus or show to catch. A sunset, maybe. But Ometepe’s an island. Chances are, you’ll see one from your table.
3. Go on a Guided Hike.
Want to see the top of Concepción? That’s going to be an eight-hour excursion; skip breakfast and leave at dawn. Want to see the crater in the top of Maderas? Same thing. Enjoy the sights, early riser. Want to wake up without an alarm clock, eat an amazing breakfast and only hike for four hours? Tell your hostel/hotel/farm that you’re only kind of hikers and you may get this guy, who will stop for every plantain plantation, donkey and horse you want to capture on camera.
4. Go to Ojo De Agua.
A swimming hole made of a natural spring somewhere between the two volcanoes, this place is part tourist trap, part local water park. When you pay to go in, you’ll feel uneasy about being a tourist, but no worries. Fifty percent of the folks swimming aren’t gringos; you’re going somewhere the locals go! There’s a rope swing. Try it if you’re not too afraid to leave your stuff unguarded. (I am, which is why I don’t enjoy anything. Ever.)
5. Take No Fewer Than 30 Pictures of the Island.
Despite the fact that Nicaragua is relatively inexpensive to travel to (for now), it’s best to desperately photograph Ometepe from the ferry on both the ride to and from the mainland. You may never see it again, and you’re taking a photo that is pretty much guaranteed to get you heralded as a postcard photographer on Facebook upon your return. If you ever get around to posting the best six or eight versions of the scenario. Don’t be afraid to shove others out of the way for the perfect shot.