Some of the island’s tourist attractions are hard to find or even a bit dangerous – take that active volcano, for example. Sometimes it’s just worth hiring a guide.
Cycling is a fun way to get around and mountain bikes can be rented in Moyogalpa, Altagracia, Playa Santo Domingo and at many lodgings.
The island’s two volcanoes can be ascended from Moyogalpa or Altagracia for Volcán Concepción, and Fincas Magdelena, El Porvenir and Hacienda Mérida for Volcán Maderas. Guided ascents of Concepción cost around US$40 per person; Maderas is less expensive. The uphill slog to Cascada San Ramoń, more a walk than a hike, makes for an excellent half-day trip.
Relatively less challenging hikes abound, including to the halfway point up Maderas on the Finca Magdalena trail, and El Floral, a five- to seven-hour round-trip to a viewpoint about 1000m up Concepción (around US$30 per person).
Horseback riding is another popular local transportation choice here. Any tour operator or hotel can set you up with a ride. Prices are generally US$5 to US$7 per hour, with guides US$10 to US$20 per group. Hari's Horses offers the most challenging day rides.
Kayaking is also big on the island, with Isla del Congo, Isla de Quiste and the Río Istiam being the most popular destinations. Most hotels near these places rent kayaks.
When the wind whips up the waves along Playa Santo Domingo, it's easy to see why the location is so popular with kitesurfers. Sun Kite School on Playa Santa Cruz offers instruction.
Swimming off Ometepe’s beaches is excellent. Keep in mind that Lago de Nicaragua rises dramatically in the rainy season (and, if the rains are particularly heavy, the couple of months afterwards), shrinking the beaches to thin strands. By the end of the dry season in April, however, some 20m of gray volcanic sand may stretch out to the water.
The most popular beaches are Playa Santo Domingo, Playa Balcón and the other beaches around Charco Verde and Punta Jesús María. If you’re just looking for a dip, the mineral-rich rock pools at Ojo de Agua make a fine day trip.
Volunteering options abound – check around at the hostels. A growing number of farms on the island have signed up to the Fincas Verdes agro-tourism program (ask around locally if www.fincasverdes.com is still down), offering farmstays, horseback-riding expeditions and tours of farm facilities explaining traditional, often organic, farming techniques.