Travel Guide to the Ometepe Island with detailed Maps, Hotels and Tourist Information

Merida and San Ramon

Merida, the biggest settlement on the southern side of volcano Maderas, is a calm, rural community where most people subside on fishing and farming on small family lots. The village is spread out and backed by the densely forested volcano Maderas, whose upper part is often shrouded in fog. The eastern and southern slopes of the volcano are more humid than the other sides and show a transition from moist lowland forest to cloud forest. It is the most biologically diverse area of that size in Nicaragua with several endemic plants and a rich wildlife.

Pictures of Merida and San Ramon

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    Merida with view to the Monkeys Island

    Merida and San Ramon
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    A fruit stall by the lake

    Merida and San Ramon
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    Many roads in Merida are lined with alleys of tall mango trees

    Merida and San Ramon
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    Children playing soccer in Merida

    Merida and San Ramon
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    Cabbage backed by the volcano Maderas

    Merida and San Ramon
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    Many locals still use dugout kanus for fishing

    Merida and San Ramon
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    Kayaking with view to the Concepcion volcano

    Kayak tour in Merida
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    You find many lonesome beaches between Merida and San Ramon

    Merida and San Ramon
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    The cloud forest of the Maderas

    Merida and San Ramon
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    The terminal bus stop in San Ramon

    Merida and San Ramon
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    Sunset scenery

    Merida and San Ramon


Hotels in Merida range from rustic beachside dorms and cabinas to beach resorts and hillside eco-hotels. One of the oldest tourist establishments is Hacienda Merida, which was the most important farm of the Somoza clan before the revolution, and was later converted into a hotel.

One of the favorite activities in Merida is a kayak trip to the Rio Istián, a fascinating aquatic habitat on the isthmus of Ometepe. Another popular day trip is the hike from the Biological Station to the San Ramon waterfall in the forest of volcano Maderas. Tours to the waterfall are also offered on horseback from Merida.
To climb up to the Maderas volcano and its crater lagoon it takes around 8 hours from Merida. Along the trail you have some great viewpoints across the island and Lake Nicaragua.
You can also rent bicycles to drive to the beach of Santo Domingo and further to the Ojo de Agua. Or take the other direction along the shore to San Ramon. Various sites with petroglyphs are found in the area. In Tichana, 2 km after San Ramon are carved stones half submerged in the lake, a bit farther, in Corazal you find ancient cave paintings. In Merida you can visit the petroglyph site of Hamilton Silva Monge, a specialist of the history and archeology of Ometepe.

Merida is reached on a 10 km road from Playa Santa Domingo. The formerly bone-racking trip has greatly improved: half of it is paved and the rest is on a smooth gravel road that goes until Tichana. From San Ramon to Balgue it's a 14 km ride with bicycle or on a motorcycle. Parts of this track are steep and very rocky.
The bus doesn't go farther than San Ramon and there is usually only one bus per day, on Sunday there is no service at all. Leaving Merida the bus departs at 8:30 am and from Moyogalpa at 14:40 pm. The ride takes 3 hours and the buses are usually very crowded.