Ometepe Island has a vibrant nature that can best be experienced on the slopes of one of its two volcanoes, where hikers can pass from tropical dry forest to cloud forest and view numerous endangered species of flora and fauna. Other attractions are based on remaining low land forest, inland fresh water and coastal wildlife.
The base of the mountain is covered in tropical dry forest, however above 1,200 meters the eastern slope enjoys superior humidity and orchids and bromeliads are more common. The cone is home to howler monkeys and White tailed deer which share this semi-sulfurous environment, with numerous birds and reptiles. Closer to the summit gases emitted from the interior of the crater are more prominent making the upper reaches of the mountain a harsh landscape, ample evidence of the earth’s inner fury.
This is the premier ecological attraction on the island with some of the finest forest on Nicaragua’s Pacific and great lakes area, with great diversity and endemic species. Though the upper part of the summit climb is a mud bath, the middle sections are great for nature lovers with howler and white-faced monkeys, numerous species of birds and reptiles and old growth forest. Instead of racing to the top, ecotourists should bring a naturalist guide to really enjoy this gem.
Although degraded by the owners who have deforested lands above the body of water to seed cattle pasture, this tranquil coastal lagoon is still worth a visit. Home to the island’s most legendary ghost and a fresh water Atlantis, Charco Verde or Green Lagoon attracts some beautiful wading birds and mangrove trees that hide turtles and boas; while forest around the lagoon is home to many fruit trees and howler monkeys.
Ojo De Agua
The most robust fresh water spring on the island is also a favorite swimming hole for visitors and locals alike. Though significantly altered from its natural state, this shady spot is great for cooling off in pristine subterranean waters that rise to the surface here. Located just inland from Santo Domingo Beach, the spring has a cover charge and feeds one of the few rivers on the island, known as Rio Buen Suceso.
San Ramón Cascade
The biggest cascade on the island is a one hour hike from the private farm that sits at its trail head. Though damaged by farming pressures on its water output, this is a big attraction for many visitors looking for shorter mountain hikes than the summit trail and it affords a glimpse at some beautiful flora and lake views. On clear days Costa Rica’s northwestern Volcanoes are visible from the upper trail head.
La Peña Inculta Trail
A pleasant, if rocky, 1.5 km hike through the best preserved lowland forest on Ometepe. The Peña trail cuts through volcanic rock fields trapped in tropical dry forest and is home to some of the islands oldest trees. This forest is home to thousands of nesting parakeets and parrots like the endangered Yellow-napped Amazon Parrot, while howler and white-faced monkeys are also prevalent.
One of the best bird watching sites on the island, this river that cuts into then isthmus that connects the islands’ two great volcanoes in accessible from Mérida. Many choose to explore the river in kayak or row boat rented from locales. Views of Concepción are impressive and birding and wildlife watching are rewarding.