Nestled between two volcanoes rising from the 110 mile long by 36 miles wide Lake Nicaragua is the unspoiled and magical Isla de Ometepe.
Reached by ferry, the almost perfect cone of the active Volcano Concepcion is 5280 feet above the lake and Maderas is 4572 feet. The lava flows created an isthmus between them where we stayed at a delightful beachfront hotel on Playa Santo Domingo with you guessed it…the best conditions for kiteboarding! Jay was all smiles enjoying spectacular views of both volcanoes while dancing on the waves. He has kited in exotic destinations around the world and yet this was pretty special.
The lake drains into the Caribbean via the Rio San Juan but is only 20km from the Pacific. It is known for a variety of aquatic species including the rare 9 or 10 foot long freshwater bull sharks which were slaughtered at the rate of 20,000 per year for foreign markets during the Samoza years. No, Jay didn’t run into any while kiting!
The island is populated by small coastal settlements where people live simply by fishing and farming crops in the rich volcanic soil. Parts of the island are still covered in primary forest where howler monkeys, green parrots and gorgeous blue-tailed birds are seen everywhere. The slopes of the volcanoes include four ecological zones as one gains elevation- the dry forest, the combination dry and rain forest, the rain forest and the cloud forest which typically shelters the top of the cones from sight.
The island is famous for pre Columbian ancient stone statues and petroglyphs depicting humans, animals, birds and geometric shapes. Early Indians considered the island as their promised land. Concepcion was considered the brother of the moon and Maderas the sacred place of the sun. Eighteen month calendars with 20 days each for a total of 360 days were found on some rocks. The oldest carvings date back to 1000 BC. Void of crowds and an overly commercial feeling, we could just walk through the forest independently and view some of these antiquities!
We spent five gloriously peaceful days kiting, hiking, biking and just plain relaxing on this beautiful island.