Whether you’re heading from San Juan del Sur to Ometepe, or travelling from Ometepe to San Juan del Sur, this is the easiest trip in Nicaragua.
The most painful part of your trip will be transferring and getting a taxi in Rivas, but we’ll show you to do it.
San Juan del Sur to Ometepe Nutshell
San Juan to Ometepe: San Juan del Sur to Rivas chicken bus; taxi to San Jorge pier; ferry to Moyogalpa.
Ometepe to San Juan del Sur: Moyogalpa to San Jorge Ferry; taxi to Rivas; chicken bus or taxi to San Juan del Sur. Easy
Time: 2 hours. Cost: $2
Ometepe to San Juan del Sur
The ferry leaves Ometepe Island from Moyogalpa, which is where most visitors prefer to stay.
Ferries to the mainland at San Jorge leave roughly every 30 minutes (check out the ferry schedule below).
You can buy your tickets in town, or walk 5 minutes to the pier to get them cheapest.
We recommend booking the ferry when you’re ready to leave. No need to book in advance.
Ometepe Ferry Price
Most ‘lanchas’ cost 35 Cordobas
The Estrella – 45 Cordobas
Milton Arcia – 70 Cordobas
Che Guevara Ferry – 50 Cordobas
Lanchas aka small boats are the cheapest but we recommend the ferry Che Guevara.
San Jorge to Rivas
After getting off the ferry, make your way past the taxi drivers telling you there’s no such thing as a bus to Rivas, and follow the locals to the bus to Rivas behind the ferry office.
The chicken bus to Rivas costs about 30 Cordobas (<$1 USD) and will drop you at Rivas bus terminal where you can transfer to a chicken bus to San Juan del Sur.
Taxi from San Jorge to Rivas
As we had travelled from Granada to Ometepe and not found the chicken bus in Rivas, we were skeptical it existed.
So when a couple of Swedish backpackers asked us to share a taxi to Rivas with them, we agreed.
Having caught the taxi from Rivas to San Jorge, we knew the going rate was $3 for the whole car.
After some negotiation, we secured the deal for $4. As we left we saw the chicken bus leaving with ‘Rivas’ plastered across the front.
Then the taxi dropped us on the main road, some distance from Rivas bus terminal …
Rivas to San Juan del Sur
Changing chicken buses in Rivas is easy. You’re already in the right terminal – just look for the bus marked ‘San Juan del Sur’.
Just jump on and take your seat. Eventually, probably after you take off, a collector will come around to take your fare of about 30 Cordobas (< $1 USD).
In San Juan the bus will drop you near the Mercato which is central and you can easily walk to anywhere in town.
Ometepe Island to San Juan del Sur taxi
If you’re pressed for time, or don’t like the idea of catching a chicken bus, then you can catch a taxi from San Jorge pier to San Juan del Sur.
There is no shuttle service from Ometepe to San Juan and you’ll obviously have to catch the ferry across by yourself first.
If you’re a tourist, expect to pay upwards of $30 USD for a taxi from San Jorge to San Juan del Sur (40 minutes drive).
Budget more if you don’t feel like negotiating.
San Juan del Sur to Ometepe Island
From San Juan del Sur you can catch the chicken bus from Avenida Mercado (click for Google Maps location).
Buses leave every 30 minutes to 1 hour. The timetable is ‘flexible’ based on our experience but only costs about 15 Cordobas ($0.50 USD).
Hop on the bus and find yourself a seat. As the bus is driving someone will come around to collect the fare.
If you don’t want to risk sitting around for a while, you can catch a taxi directly from San Juan del Sur to Playa San Jorge for about $30 USD (less if you can speak Spanish like a local).
Rivas to San Jorge
At Rivas bus terminal, where your bus from San Juan del Sur will drop you, there is a bus to San Jorge.
We’ve been to Rivas bus terminal 5 – 6 times but never seen the bus. But we know it exists because we’ve seen it returning from San Jorge to Rivas.
If you have time to spare and want to try to catch the bus to San Jorge pier, walk outside Rivas terminal to near the Farmacia.
If you’re lucky, and you aren’t seduced by the offers or persuaded no bus exists by local taxi drivers, you might catch the bus from Rivas to Playa San Jorge here.
Otherwise, you’ll need to take a taxi to San Jorge ferry terminal. There’s no Uber in Nicaragua so it’s time to barter.
A taxi should cost you no more than $3USD for the entire cab however, this will require negotiation.
San Jorge to Ometepe Ferry Timetable
Whether you arrive in San Jorge by chicken bus or taxi, you’ll easily find the ticket office to purchase ferry tickets to Isla de Ometepe.
Ferries run roughly every 30 minutes from 7am to 5pm daily. No need to book in advance. We recommend the Ferries over a Lancha (small boat).
Ferry tickets range from about 35 Cordobas to 70 Cordobas ($1 – $2.5 USD).
Hour | Embarkation
7:00am Ferry Che Guevara
7:45am Ferry Milton Arcia
9:00am Lancha Karen Maria
9:30am Ferry Rey del Coci (to San Jose)
10:00am Lancha Mozorola (to San Jose)
10:30am Ferry Milton Arcia
11:00am Lancha Estrella del S. (Not running Sundays)
12:30am Lancha Santa M.
1:30pm Lancha Karen Maria
2:30pm Ferry Milton Arcia
3:30pm Lancha Estrella del S. (Not running Sundays)
4:00pm Ferry Che Guevara
4:40pm Lancha Mozorola (to San Jose)
5:00pm Lancha Santa M.
5:00pm Ferry Rey del Coci (to San Jose)
5:45pm Ferry Milton Arcia
For more information about what to do, and where to stay to get the best breakfast in Central America, don’t miss our guide to Isla de Ometepe including how to hike volcanoes, swim in crystal blue lagoons and hang out with monkeys.
Ometepe to San Jorge Ferry Timetable
Hour | Embarkation
6:00am Ferry Milton Arcia
7:00am Lancha Estrella del S. (Not running Sundays)
9:00am Ferry Milton Arcia
11:00am Ferry Che Guevara
12:30am Ferry Milton Arcia
1:00pm Lancha Estrella del S. (Not running Sundays)
4:00pm Ferry Milton Arcia
5:30pm Ferry Che Guevara
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Got a question about getting from Ometepe to San Juan del Sur or back? Let us know in the comments below!