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  • Writer's pictureDave Jackson

How to get from Ometepe to San Juan del Sur

The route between Ometepe and San Juan del Sur is a well-trodden one. Unfortunately, unless you plan to splash out on a taxi to take you from San Jorge to San Juan del Sur it will involve a trip to Rivas bus station. If you are 4 people travelling, or you can buddy up with others, it may be worth taking a taxi as it will cost about C$750 ($20/£16) for the car and will save you much stress at Rivas bus station.


Read on for a step-by-step guide and know how to get from Ometepe to San Juan del Sur and not get ripped off at Rivas bus station.


**This blog was written based on our experience travelling in June 2023, therefore the prices and schedules were correct as of that time.**

San Juan del Sur surfing at sunset
San Juan del Sur surfing at sunset

**This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. We may be eligible for a small amount of commission, it won't cost you any more, it will just help fund this amazing blog!**


Traversing Ometepe by bus to Moyogalpa


Unless you are staying in Moyogalpa the night before your journey your first step will be taking the infrequent bus around Ometepe.


One popular place to stay on the island is Balgue, buses from there to Moyogalpa are only direct twice a day 5:30 am and 1:30 pm. Note with the bus timetable below that if neither of those times work with your itinerary you can change bus in Altagracia or Santa Domingo. The direct journey from Balgue to Moyogalpa takes 1.5-2 hours by bus. Changing will add time and additional cost to your journey.


Also, it is worth noting, as with the rest of Nicaragua, it’s not a good idea to travel on a Sunday as buses are pretty much non-existent!


A bus around the island will cost C$40 (£0.85/$1.10)

Moyogalpa

San Jose

Altagracia

S. Domingo

Balgue

Merida

San Ramon

NA

NA

4:30

5:00

5:30

NA

NA

NA

NA

7:30

8:00

NA

9:00

NA

8:20

8:55

9:30

10:00

10:30

NA

NA

9:30

10:00

10:30

11:00

NA

15:30

16:00

10:15

10:45

11:30

12:00

12:30

NA

NA

NA

NA

13:30

14:00

14:30

NA

NA

NA

NA

14:00

14:30

NA

15:30

16:00

14:40

15:00

116:00

16:30

NA

17:30

NA

15:45

16:05

16:30

17:00

17:30

NA

NA

16:40

17:00

17:30

18:00

NA

19:00

NA

San Ramon

Merida

Balgue

S. Domingo

Altagracia

San Jose

Moyogalpa

NA

NA

NA

4:45

5:15

5:40

6:00

NA

4:00

NA

5:00

5:30

5:55

6:20

NA

NA

5:30

5:55

6:15

6:40

7:00

5:15

5:45

NA

6:15

6:45

NA

NA

NA

NA

8:00

8:30

9:00

NA

NA

NA

8:30

NA

9:15

10:30

11:00

11:30

9:45

10:15

NA

11:15

11:45

NA

NA

NA

NA

13:30

14:00

14:30

15:00

15:30

NA

NA

14:00

14:30

15:00

NA

NA

15:00

15:30

NA

16:30

17:00

17:30

18:00

NA

NA

16:30

17:00

17:30

NA

NA

Ferry from Ometepe to San Jorge


For the majority of the day there is scheduled to be a ferry or lancha every 30 minutes to an hour between 5:30 am and 5:30 pm (Sundays less frequent). So unless you are unlucky like us on the way over to Ometepe and your ferry is out of order, you won’t have much of a wait. The ferry cost is C$50 (£1.05/$1.30) and lanchas are charged at C$35/C$45 depending on the company.

The crossing between Ometepe and the mainland takes roughly an hour.


Note: The crossing is unlikely to be really rough but Lake Nicaragua is the largest lake in Central America. If the water does look rough when you arrive and you suffer from motion sickness it may be worth waiting for a ferry if the lancha is the next boat to depart.


If you do get motion sickness and you haven’t left home yet, Becca swears by these anti-sickness bands. She isn’t sure if it’s simply a placebo but she says they definitely make a difference!


San Jorge to Rivas bus station


From this point onwards expect to have to double and triple-check what people are telling you. Many taxi drivers will offer to take you the whole way to San Juan del Sur, as mentioned above, if you are feeling flush or can round up a group of you, the taxi should cost about $20 USD. For those budget backpackers like us, read on. A taxi from the port at San Jorge to Rivas bus terminal should cost about C$36 (£0.80/$1) as long as the car is full. If you are a solo traveller, expect to pay C$100 (£2.15/$2.70). The journey to the bus station takes about 10 minutes.


Rivas to San Juan del Sur


Rivas bus station is many people's worst place in Nicaragua, expect to be lied to and expect a fair bit of shouting. You will need to double/triple-check everything. As long as you have your backpacker ‘spidey senses’ in gear you should have no problem. A popular lie at the bus station is “the next bus isn’t for 2 hours”. It’s best to ignore this and walk around the bus station yourself. If you can’t see a bus with San Juan del Sur written on the front for yourself;


Check one: Ask a local that is waiting (not one that approaches you), they will tell you where to stand.

Check two: Once you get there ask someone else waiting if you are in the right place.

Check three: Before you board ask the driver the price and make sure that he (he may sound sexist but we’ve never seen a woman driving the bus in Nicaragua) is going to San Juan del Sur.


Once you are sure, jump on and the ayudente will come around for payment during your journey.


Tip: Ask a local the price as there is a good chance you will get overcharged. You won’t necessarily get the local price but if the ayudente tries to charge double the amount, respond with the price it should be and it will likely end somewhere in the middle.


The price the locals were paying for this journey was C$25 per person. We were charged C$50 per person and I couldn’t do much about it as I had no change. The journey takes around 45 minutes.


Tip: Make sure to take change with you and only hand over the correct amount, trying to re-barter your fare whilst they have your money is very difficult!


Summary of our journey from Ometepe to San Juan del Sur


This is only a short simple journey but I chose to write it up because we were overcharged and it is renowned for being stressful. I hope it helps someone else. If you take this journey please add a comment to the bottom of this page to let us and others know how you got on.


Happy travels!

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