Ometepe Island

An island made of twin volcanoes - one dormant and one active- protruding from a fresh-water lake; covered in lush tropical rain-forest.

Sounds like a dream destination, doesn’t it?

Ometepe proves dreams can come true.

Volcano Conception, Isla Ometepe, view from Selvista by Travis Parkinson

Ometepe island was nominated as one of the official wonders of the world recently. Seeing it, you’ll understand why. This island is a hidden gem, tucked between the Caribbean and the pacific coasts in the largest-lake in Central America.

It’s economy is based in agriculture (plantains, coffee and watermelons in particular), livestock and tourism. It is often described as one of the best places in Central America and certainly one of the best islands in this part of the world.

photo of Maderas Crater Lagoon by Roland Lopez

It’s name stems from the Náhuatl words* meaning two (Ome) peaks (tepetl). The Náhuatl tribe (Aztecs) ‘discovered’ the island after being displaced from Tenochtitlan (now known as Mexico City).

*Other words in use in the English language that originate from this language include avocado, chayote (aka vegetable pear), chili, chocolate and tomato.


There is a lot of myth and legend surrounding the formation of the island. One famous Romeo and Juliete-esque story goes that the area was once a valley of the Gods, known as Valle de Caopolca.

A warrior named Nagrando from the tribe fell in love with a princess, Ometepetl, daughter of a rival tribesman. The father learned of their secret, forbidden affair and vowed to kill the young warrior.

The star-crossed lovers tried to run and hide in the forests, but decided that the only way their love could survive and they could be together was to commit suicide. They died in each other’s arms.

As Ometepetl died rains flooded the valley of the gods, forming what is now known as Lake Cocibolca. Her breasts grew into the twin volcanoes that we know today as Conception and Maderas. Nagrando’s phallus became Isla Zapatera, another large island on the western shorline of Lake Cocibolca. How romantic!


See this video below from our guests. That favorite guesthouse they mention is us at Selvista!

Take their advice and rent a quad or motorbike rather than scooter if heading to the waterfall!

Exploring Ometepe Island Nicaragua and hiking San Ramon Waterfall (Cascada San Ramon). We stayed in a town called Balgue in a beautiful guesthouse (my favorite one so far) in the middle of the jungle and in the base of Maderas Volcano with a beautiful view of Concepcion volcano. Enjoy the video!

Read more about Ometepe here

The above video was kindly made by two of our guests here, Mike and Emily, in March 2019 and features the views from their porch here at Selvista, a Conception hike with our favorite guide, Junior and a tour on the Rio Istian with Caballitos del Mar.