The big news is that the southern loop between Moyogalpa and Altagracia, the island's two major towns, has been paved. All other roads remain atrocious. Remember when asking for directions that most locals really do consider a 3km, uphill hike in shadeless 45°C weather 'right over there.'
Bus service is solid, but schedules change frequently, and fewer buses run on Sunday. There are two routes between Moyogalpa and Altagracia: the scenic northern loop, via San Marcos, which is shorter but takes much longer; and the paved southern route, with speedy, hourly bus service. All buses from Moyogalpa to the Maderas side of the island stop in Altagracia about one hour later, then head down the isthmus past Playa Santo Domingo.
At Santa Cruz, buses go right (south) to Mérida and San Ramón, and left (east) to Balgüe, perhaps continuing to La Palma. Buses do not serve the southeastern portion of the island, between San Ramón and La Palma, at all.
Altagracia south to Moyogalpa US$0.75, one hour, 5:30am to 6:45pm, every hour
Balgüe to Altagracia US$1.10, one hour, 5am (Moyogalpa), 7am, 5:45am, 6:20am, 10am, 11:15am, 1:15pm (Moyogalpa) and 5pm
Mérida to Altagracia US$1, 1½ hours, 4am (Moyogalpa), 8:45am (Moyogalpa), 3pm (Moyogalpa) and 5pm
Moyogalpa south to Altagracia US$0.75, one hour, 5:30am to 6:45pm, every hour
Moyogalpa to Balgüe US$1.10, two hours, 10:30am and 3:45pm
Moyogalpa to La Flor & San Marcos US$0.30 and US$0.40, 30 minutes, 8am, 10:30am, 12:45pm and 4:45pm, 11 daily; buses continue to Altagracia
Moyogalpa to Mérida US$1.25, 2½ hours, 8:30am and 4:45pm
Moyogalpa to San Ramón US$1.10, 2½ hours, 8:30am
San Ramón to Altagracia US$1, 2½ hours, 1pm and 2pm
There were no rental-car places on the island at press time, although that's almost certain to change. Contact Hotel Ometepetl(569 4276; www.hotelesenometepe.com) to get the latest. You can rent motorcycles (US$4 per hour) at Hotel Castillo(552 8744) in Altagracia, and motos (small all-terrain vehicles; for US$5 per hour) from Exploring Ometepe(647 5179, 873 7714; www.exploringometepe.com) in Moyogalpa.
If you have your own car, consider leaving it in the inexpensive guarded parking lot by the San Jorge ferry terminal, particularly if you don't have 4WD. Ferries can transport your car; make reservations well in advance.
Taxis are rare and expensive, and they're all minivans with 4WD. They meet all buses and ferries, but otherwise you should have your hotel make arrangements with a driver at least a few hours in advance. From Moyogalpa, expect to pay at least US$15 to Altagracia, US$20 to Playa Santo Domingo, and US$40 to either Balgüe or Mérida. There are lots of excellent drivers, including Sergio Rodríguez(832 3220) at Los Ranchitos in Moyogalpa.