NICARAGUA TRAVEL


Information about traveling to Nicaragua and Isla de Ometepe 

SURVIVAL RUN TRAIL RUNS VOLUNTEER

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Where IS FUEGO Y AGUA NICARAGUA? 

All FUEGO Y AGUA NICARAGUA events start and finish on the beach on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua. Isla de Ometepe is a freshwater island on Lake Nicaragua located in the southwest region of Nicaragua. Moon Guides has excellent printable maps of Ometepe and Nicaragua Here

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Traveling in Nicaragua is Safe and Easy

If anyone’s up for a vacation adventure with an epic race up and around some amazing volcanoes please look into this gem in Central America. You won’t be disappointed...I know I’m not! I can’t wait to take that ferry back to the island and play on the “Jungle Gym” once again.
— Inov-8 Athlete Yassine Diboun

Travel in Nicaragua is generally inexpensive. Of course, the prices will vary significantly depending on the type of travel you enjoy. The currency in Nicaragua is called the Cordoba (C$).  Check the exchange rate before traveling. Nicaragua is very visitor friendly and has been featured on Conde Nast Traveler and many other magazines as a top travel destination. Nicaraguans are some of the nicest people around and are always willing to help visitors to their beautiful country. 

If you are interested in traveling to FUEGO Y AGUA NICARAGUA, it would be beneficial for you to join our Facebook Group. It is a great way to meet other runners and glean information from experienced travelers. 

The information below is by no means a comprehensive list of options. We do not provide reservations, transport or any other travel assistance, but we are happy to answer any general questions or point you in the right direction. 


Get all of your Nicaragua information and reserve your travel on vianica.com! 

ViaNica.com can customize your trip to fit perfectly with your Race! ViaNica can book your flights to/from Ometepe, book ferries, book rental car, book hotels/lodging and more! On top of all that, ViaNica is constantly working with environmentally sustainable projects in Nicaragua, so they are great people to work with!  


Our Recommended Travel Partners

While you are always free to choose from several options in travel and lodging, we recommend you check out the following travel services. These are all based on positive experiences and personal recommendations. We rent race vehicles from Easy Rent a Car, our staff stays in Hotel Villa Paraiso, and we book travel with ViaNica.com! 


STAY IN A JUNGLE PARADISE NEAR THE SURVIVAL RUN START/FINISH WITH HOTEL VILLA PARAISO!

Our SURVIVAL RUN Start/Finish location and on its own private beach, Finca San Juan de la Isla is the heart of the action during SURVIVAL RUN! Finca San Juan de la Isla has a selection of multi and single room cabins as well as a few standard rooms. Some rooms have AC, others are more basic. There is tent and hammock camping available as well as a communal kitchen and a nice restaurant. Finca San Juan will fill up fast before race day, so make your reservation ASAP!


stay in a jungle paradise near the TRAIL RUNS start/Finish with Hotel Villa Paraiso!

Our 25KM, 50KM, 100KM TRAIL RUNS Start/Finish location and located directly on the sand beaches of Santo Domingo, Hotel Villa Paraiso is a cozy gem and the heart of the action during race day. Villa Paraiso has a selection of multi and single room cabins as well as a few standard rooms. They have a pool, restaurant and air conditioner in the rooms. They fill up fast before race day, so make your reservation now!

Stay in cozy Managua Hills Bed & Breakfast before heading to Isla de Ometepe or leaving Nicaragua after the race!

Managua Hills B&B is a favorite for FUEGO Y AGUA folk! Many runners meet here and head to the island together before the race, or have a nice dinner at nearby Ola Verde Natural Restaurant before flying out post race. Managua Hills has several room options, from bunk rooms to large private rooms with AC. They offer a nice discount for FUEGO Y AGUA NICARAGUA participants as well. Located just 20 minutes from Managua Airport, they offer a shuttle that holds up to 5 people to/from the airport for only $15 USD! 

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Eat the most excellent food on Ometepe and enjoy a Relaxing farm B&B stay with Campestre!

Cafe Campestre is hands down the best restaurant on Isla de Ometepe! Locally sourced organic food from their Finca, try the coconut curry, or the ceviche! The owner, Ben Slow, is an excellent cook, permaculture farmer and ultramarathon runner (Ben placed second in SURVIVAL RUN NICARAGUA in 2014!) Located in Balgue, just 10 minutes from the race start/finish, Campestre also provides Bed & Breakfast accommodations on their farm with Casa del Bosque. If you are interested, reserve right away, their rooms go fast!


Air Transportation - International or Domestic

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International Arrivals 

  1. Fly into Managua International Airport (MGA). Managua, the capitol of Nicaragua, has a very nice airport and great service through most major airlines. It is only 2.5 hours via taxi/auto from the San Jorge ferry to Ometepe, or you can take the air transportation to Ometepe listed below. *Taxis to hotels are available at airport
  2. Fly into San Jose International Airport (SJC) or Liberia International Airport (LIR) in Costa Rica. This requires bus/car travel to get to Nicaragua and a border crossing at Peñas Blancas, or you can take the air transportation to Ometepe listed below. 
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Flights to Ometepe

Isla de Ometepe now has a small airport, serviced by La Costeña Airlines in Nicaragua and NatureAir in Costa Rica. Below are the options:

  1. To/From San Jose or Liberia, Costa Rica - NatureAir has flights available for charter for groups of up to 18 people, but is not currently running a regular schedule. Please contact VIANICA.COM for more information and to book a charter. 
  2. To/From Managua - La Costeña Airlines has flights twice a week for Isla de Ometepe. You can check their site or you can contact ViaNica.com to book. 

Managua Lodging on Arrival & Departure

If you fly into Managua International Airport, you will most likely arrive in Managua at night. You will also most likely spend a night in Managua before you leave. In addition to our recommended Travel Partner Managua Hills B&B, there are many options for lodging in Managua. VIANICA.com can book something for you or you can search a site like Booking.com. Staying near the airport is ideal if you are flying early or arriving late. 

Rental Vehicles in Managua or Isla de Ometepe

If you want to rent a vehicle, there are many options in the Managua airport. 

Motorcycle and bicycle rentals are also available on the island, you can ask your hotel, they generally can set that up with short notice. 


Buses, Taxis & Shuttles in Nicaragua

Figuring out transportation is essential for your trip. If you are arriving in Managua, you will need to get to San Jorge Port to take the ferry to Ometepe (2.5 hours). If you are arriving on Ometepe, you will need to take transport to your hotel/lodging near the race start/finish in Playa Santo Domingo. If you are not getting a rental car, then a taxi, shuttle or bus is your next option. 

  • Without any Spanish experience, taking a bus in Nicaragua is a completely unique and colorful experience that requires an adventurous spirit. There are no comprehensive schedules we can post here, but this is definitely your cheapest option. There are bus stops everywhere, and the main bus terminal in Managua is Mercado Huembes. 
  • Taxis in Nicaragua are everywhere, they are a bit more expensive on Isla de Ometepe, but still affordable and nowhere near the prices in Europe, Australia or the USA. The general rule of thumb is to take a taxi through your hotel or from the ferry landing or airport. 
  • Shuttles (private transport) in Nicaragua can be arranged through VIANICA.com A shuttle will hold anywhere from 5-20 people (depending on what you need). You can even book a shuttle to go on to the island with you then return you to Managua after the race (a good idea for larger groups). 

Ferry to/from Isla de Ometepe

Unless you are flying in/out of Ometepe, a 1.5 hour ferry ride is the only way to get on/off the island. All ferries depart for Isla de Ometepe from the Port of San Jorge on the mainland to the island town of Moyogalpa or the small island port of San Jose del Sur. Both are great options to get on the island and get you about 20-40 minutes from the Playa Santo Domingo race start/finish area. Moyogalpa is a larger town and great for getting supplies, but it is about 20 minutes further from Santo Domingo. Remember that ferries are on Nicaragua time, which means there are occasional delays and schedule changes. Always allow plenty of time in your travel schedule for making race start times and flight departures! 

*If you are bringing a vehicle on/off the island, you will have to contact the ferries to reserve a spot, or if you book with Easy Rent A Car and travel with VIANICA.com, you can have this scheduled for you. 


Good Resources for Isla de Ometepe Information

  1. VIANICA.COM - The #1 Nicaragua travel website! (Spanish & English Spoken) 
  2. The Lonely Planet - recently updated
  3. The Rough Guide - recently updated
  4. www.ometepenicaragua.com - great ferry schedule and other info.
  5. Wikitravel - the Ometepe expat community has worked hard on this site for Ometepe. You'll find lots of information there too.
  6. TripAdvisor - lots of information and hotel listings there.

Getting Around the Island

Part of the roads on Ometepe are paved, but much of it remains unpaved. Some of the road to Volcan Maderas is unpaved and it requires more time to get to this side of the island.

  • Motorcycles and bicycles are available for rent all over the island. Cars are a bit harder to find, but are available by asking around.
  • Taxis and shuttles are available for hire (prices are generally higher than the mainland).
  • Buses travel to most locations around the island (public transportation is limited on Sundays). Bus Schedules
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Lodging on Isla de Ometepe

Isla de Ometepe is not a massive island, but it takes a bit of time to get around as you are competing with cows, pigs, horses, bikes and other pedestrians on the road. If you do not have a rental vehicle, you do want to stay as near the town of Santo Domingo as possible, which is the race start/finish. Most of the main road around Ometepe is paved, but there are still a few rough areas that take time to get in/out of, like Merida. Taxis and other transportation can be arranged with your hotel to get you to/from the race. 

Below is a list of accommodation on Isla de Ometepe near the race venue, it is by no means comprehensive. We are not offering any opinion on the accommodations offered, for that please look elsewhere. Please find contact information for the hotels in the links above. 

Here is a guide to price:

  • $ = cheap/economic
  • $$ = mid range
  • $$$ = top end
  • $ prices are from $2 through to $20-ish
  • $$ prices are from $20 through $50-ish
  • $$$ prices are $50 and up

Prices are based on shared occupancy (except for hammock), are approximate and should be used as a rough guide. Please research these recommendations yourself online, via a guidebook or direct with the place of stay or visit VIANICA.com for spot on information. We are not making reservations so please don't ask us to handle this for you. However, we are very happy to try and answer questions and provide information.

ZONING THE ACCOMMODATION WITH THE START/FINISH LINE 

  • "Zone A" is within 0km - 2km of the start/finish.
  • "Zone B" will be 2km to 5km from the start/finish.
  • "Zone C" will be 5km to 10km from the start/finish.
  • "Zone D" is everything outside of that. 10-20km from start/finish.

Zone A - Playa Santa Domingo

Santa Domingo is the main beach on Ometepe. Between here and Balgue (Zone B) is the greatest number of places to stay. Santa Domingo also has a number of restaurants and local eateries (comedores) but is the highest priced area because of its popularity, though it does offer a number of services and is closer to the towns of Altagracia and Moyogalpa, which have the islands only banking facilities and are where the best shops are, making Santa Domingo an altogether very convenient place to stay.

  • $ - $$$ - Hotel Villa Paraiso  (START/FINISH HOTEL!)
  • $ - $$ - Hospedaje Buena Vista
  • $ - $$ - Hotel Finca Santa Domingo
  • $$ - $$$ - Hotel Costa Azul
  • $$$ - Hotel Xalli

Zone B - Santa cruz to balgue

Santa Cruz is very popular and approximately 3km from Santa Domingo which you can walk to along the beach. Balgue is 2km further on making it approx 5km from the start/finish. Between Balgue and Santa Cruz is Madroñal, good for backpackers. However, a number of the accommodations are set back from the road making the total distance greater and meaning a significant walk to facilities. This area has the greatest number of eateries and Balgue has the most facilities on this side of the island.

Zone C

Mostly within the sleepy town of Altagracia. Frequent buses move between Balgue and Altagracia with Santa Domingo being in the middle, so transport is relatively easy though buses dont run into the evening. Altagracia has a cash point. Remember this small factoid.

  • $$$ - Finca San Juan de la Isla - SURVIVAL RUN START/FINISH
  • $$ - Hotel Finca El Chipote
  • $ - $$ - Hotel Castillo
  • $ - Hotel Kencho

There is at least one other forgettable hotel in Altagracia. (Finca San Juan de la Isla is actually 3km walking distance from Santa Domingo on the beach, but MUCH further by car. It's a good place to stay).

Zone D (San Jose del Sur & Moyogalpa)

Around and in Moyogalpa are a number of places to stay. Here is a selection of the worthwhile ones. Worth mentioning it is difficult to arrange public transport from here to the start/finish line. Taxis can be quite pricey. Moyogalpa is where the majority of the ferries arrive on island.

Zone D (Merida)

There are also a number of places to stay on the Merida side of the island. While technically much closer to Santa Domingo than Moyogalpa it is on a horrible road poorly supported by buses and expensive to get to by taxi. But there are some good places to stay there. Services are limited this side. If you have your own vehicle (SUV or Truck), this area is much more accessible. 


A Note on Immunizations

Since the recommendations are always changing, we suggest you read the CDC website for recommended immunizations when traveling to Nicaragua. CLICK HERE FOR CDC Site.

Travel with Families

For several years, we have had runners bring their families with young children for an excellent experience! Several aid stations are accessible to family and friends to cheer and support their runners on during the race. These events provide an excellent way for children to learn about working and playing together in cross-cultural environments.


Money & No-Hassle, Easy Ways to Pay

Moyogalpa & Altagracia have several ATM's that accept VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. Withdrawals can be made in USD or Nicaraguan Cordobas. The US dollar (USD$) is widely accepted throughout the island in smaller denominations (make sure the bills are not dirty, stained or mutilated). Visa, MasterCard and American Express are regularly accepted in most establishments. (Always ask if credit cards are accepted before consuming.)

Internet & Cell Coverage is Everywhere

Internet access is available in Nicaragua and on Isla de Ometepe. There are several Internet café’s in Moyogalpa and Altagracia with computers and WI-FI (wireless). Mobile phone providers on the island are Movistar and Claro.

Check with your provider for international rates and roaming information. If you have an unlocked GSM phone, USD$5 will purchase you a local SIM card for a low cost prepaid service with either mobile network. Mobile phones are available to purchase on the island for about USD$25 to USD$40


About Isla de Ometepe

Isla de Ometepe is a volcanic island (approx. 276 km sq) located on Lake Nicaragua (also known as Lago Cocibolca) in the southwestern region of Nicaragua. Two volcanoes form most of the island. Volcan Concepcion (1610 meters) is considered an active volcano but has not had a major eruption since 1957. Concepcion is thought to be the most perfectly formed volcano cone in Central America. Volcan Maderas (1394 meters) has a crater lagoon and is surrounded by cloud forest and thick jungle. Its slopes are dotted with petroglyphs and stone idols.The forests of Ometepe are full of monkeys, tropical birds, rare insects, plants and flowers. Both volcanoes are now protected as national forests. The island is full of legends surrounding the volcanoes and its former inhabitants, the Nahuatl. Ometepe literally means "two hills" in the native Nahuatl language. The fertile volcanic soil makes Ometepe an agricultural phenomenon. Coffee, cacao, beans, rice, tobacco, bananas and many other fruits are plentiful on the island.

The Story of Ometepe

As the story goes, long ago there was no Lake Nicaragua or Isla de Ometepe, only a lush valley of the gods named Valle de Coapolca. Several tribes who were hostile to each other lived around the valley and would visit it often to gather fruit and hunt game. One day, a young warrior named Nagrando met and fell in love with Ometepetl, a beautiful maiden from an enemy tribe. They tried to keep their romance a secret, but eventually Ometepetl’s father learned of the affair and vowed to kill Nagrando. The young lovers fled and hid in the forest, where they decided that the only way they could be together was by committing suicide. The pair slit their wrists and died in each other’s arms. As Ometepetl fell backwards, the sky darkened and rains flooded the valley, forming Lake Nicaragua. Ometepetl’s breasts then grew into the twin peaks of Volcan Concepcion and Volcan Maderas, and Nagrando's body became the nearby Isla Zapatera.