One of Nicaragua’s most precious hidden gems is located right in the heart of Ometepe Island. Ojo de Agua, the “Eye of Water,” is a magical oasis tucked within the trees of Tilgüe. Sourced by an underground volcanic spring, the natural pool is a refreshing hideaway after exploring the ancient island.
At Ojo de Agua, you can wade in the translucent water, rope-swing into the deep end, and walk the slack line across the pool. Ready to relax? Sip coconut cocktails poolside, rest under a cabana, and soak in the lush natural scenery. All this and more awaits travelers who add this tiny Ometepe paradise to their list.
Get your Ojo de Agua adventure started by discovering what it is, where to find it, what to do, and all the extra details you need to plan your visit:
What is Ojo de Agua?
Ojo de Agua is a natural pool filled by a spring that flows from the base of Volcán Concepción. The water is crystal clear and packed with vital minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sulfur thanks to its volcanic origins. It can reduce muscle pain, stress, and even allergies!
In fact, the people of Ometepe believe that taking a dip in Ojo de Agua is so rejuvenating that it acts as an elixir of youth. They call it “La Fuente de la Juventud,” or the “Fountain of Youth.”
The healing waters of Ojo de Agua are constantly flowing, making the pool safe for swimming. The temperature is a consistently cool 75-79°F (or 24-26°C). Shaded by tropical trees, the sparkling spring dances in dappled sunlight. With monkeys and magpies in the branches above, the Ometepe wildlife makes Ojo de Agua feel almost other-worldly.
There are technically two places to swim at Ojo de Agua: an upper pool and a lower pool. They sit right next to each other, giving you the option to swim in whichever one you’d like. The lower pool is longer at 40m/130ft, and 2m/6/5ft deep. It’s great for swimming laps if there aren’t too many swimmers that day.
HN Hint: Use caution when you step into the Ojo de Agua upper pool–the depth is inconsistent and it’s possible to slip when the stone steps drop out from under you in the water.
Where is Ojo de Agua?
To find the “Fountain of Youth,” you’ll need to wander between volcanoes Concepción and Maderas.
Ojo de Agua lies just within the isthmus of Isla de Ometepe. It’s located in Altagracia, near Playa Santo Domingo.
Here is what is looks like on a map:
The Ometepe oasis is easily accessible from either side of the island, thanks to its relatively central location. You can find the precise coordinates for Ojo de Agua on Google Maps.
What to Do at Ojo de Agua
There’s plenty to do at Reserva Natural Ojo de Agua, but the pool has two main activities: the Tarzan swing and the slackline.
Kids–and adults–are constantly climbing up to the tall platform and swinging off the rope into the deep end, or walking the slackline across the water. Both games make the pool day a fun event for families visiting Nicaragua.
HN Hint: The handle is slippery on the Tarzan swing, so hold on tight or you’ll do a backflop!
There’s also a hidden nature trail just off the parking lot for exploring Ometepe’s lush nature. The full loop through the banana plantation takes about half an hour, but it might take longer if you stop at the lookout point (or mirador) to admire Volcán Concepción.
For more laidback visitors, there are lots of ways to enjoy your time at the natural reserve. Cool off from the hot Nicaraguan sun by resting on the floating swings in the shallow end, or chill poolside under a cabana with a cold drink. You can also shop for handmade souvenirs from local artisans, or grab a snack–like Nicaraguan tostones–from the bar.
Whatever your speed, Ojo de Agua has something for everyone to do.
Ojo de Agua Amenities
Ojo de Agua was once completely enclosed by trees, making the natural spring a true hidden gem in the Ometepe jungle. But for better or worse, today the site is built out with a restaurant and convenient facilities. Now, plenty of services are provided for guests’ ultimate comfort.
You can enjoy the following amenities at Ojo de Agua:
- Parking lot
- Changing rooms
- Snack bar
- Poolside service
- Souvenir shops
The food is relatively expensive at Ojo de Agua, and you can easily find better elsewhere on the island. You are permitted to bring your own snacks, which may be something to consider for budget-conscious visitors.
The drinks are all fair game! Try the “coco loco” rum cocktail–it’s served in a real coconut and costs just $3.
When to Visit Ojo de Agua
Ojo de Agua is open from 7:30AM to 5:00PM all week, all year. The entrance fee recently increased to $10 for foreigners. This is quite high for Nicaragua. However, you do get a $5 voucher included which is redeemable on food and drinks, so you get half the value back.
HN Hint: If possible, avoid holidays and weekends to limit crowds. The secret is out, and the natural pool has grown more popular since its expansion in recent years. Chairs fill up fast on days off.
It’s best to visit Ojo de Agua earlier in the day to make the most of your entrance fee and claim a good seat. But you’ll usually be able to find a spot at any hour on weekdays.
How to Get to Ojo de Agua from Ometepe Island
The nice thing about traveling on Ometepe Island is that there is really only one main road. Follow it, and it will take you all around the island–including to Ojo de Agua.
Here is how to get to Ojo de Agua from the Concepción side and from the Maderas side:
From the Concepción Volcano side:
Ometepe Island has two main ferry ports: Moyogalpa and San José. Moyogalpa is more popular and sees most of the foot traffic, but San José is closer to the Maderas Volcano side. You follow the same route from both to find this hidden oasis.
From Moyogalpa, head in the direction of San José and loop all the way around until you reach a turning point at El Quino. Turn right almost 180 degrees and follow that road until you see the sign for Ojo de Agua.
Start keeping an eye out for the El Quino turn when you pass the Buena Onda pizza restaurant. There will be some signage visible at the intersection denoting tourist attractions ahead.
HN Hint: Technically, the distance is shorter if you head in the opposite direction (toward San Marcos to Altagracia). But that side of the island has been under major development, and it’s a rough, rocky road that’s best avoided. You’re better off taking the long route on a smooth, paved highway.
From the Maderas Volcano side:
The side of the island that houses Maderas Volcano is also where you can find the tranquil townships of Balgüe and Mérida. This half of Ometepe is a major attraction for travelers looking to immerse themselves in the island’s bountiful nature and peaceful solitude.
If you’re staying at one of the several notable hotels on the Maderas side of Isla de Ometepe, you can easily reach Ojo de Agua by jumping back on the main road and heading toward Santo Domingo. You’ll follow the isthmus that bridges the two volcanoes until you’re just about back to the El Quino turn. Look for the entrance sign to the natural reserve once you’ve passed through Santo Domingo.
Remember: When it comes to getting around Nicaragua, you can always ask for help! Nicaraguans are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, and are often willing to go out of their way to point you in the right direction.
Story time: I once had an Ometepe gas station attendant hop on his personal motorcycle to escort me to an ATM when I asked him for directions. Was this the smartest move for a solo female traveler, as I was at the time? Absolutely not. But he didn’t ask for a thing in return, and I doubt I would have found it without him! This is just one of many similar experiences I’ve had in the country. It’s one of the reasons Luis and I consider Nicaragua to be a very safe place to travel.
Modes of Transportation on Ometepe Island
There are several ways to get around Ometepe Island, but the best is by renting a motorcycle or ATV (in Nicaragua, it’s often referred to as a “quad”). You can rent one at many different agencies when you arrive and disembark from the ferry. Expect to spend around $20 a day for a moto, or about $65 a day for a quad.
There are pros and cons to each, but generally speaking, pick whichever one feels most comfortable for you and accommodates your bag. Motorcycles are by far the most popular mode of transportation on Ometepe Island. But consider the activities you have planned–more adventurous excursions might require the four-wheeled vehicle. Keep in mind that gas can get pricey on the island, so budget-conscious travelers may prefer the more economical motorcycle.
You can also hop on the public bus to get around the main circuit, but it’s quite slow and inconsistent. The buses are scheduled to run every half an hour from Monday to Friday, and cost roughly 25 cordobas, or less than a dollar. (Just don’t hold your breath: it’s not unusual for buses to be few and far between on Ometepe Island.) From Moyogalpa, hop on a bus headed toward Altagracia and ask the driver to stop at the entrance to Ojo de Agua near Santo Domingo.
If you have the means, it’s typically worth waiting for a tuk tuk or taxi instead. Expect to pay around $25 for a taxi directly from Moyogalpa to Ojo de Agua.
HN Hint: One of the many great things about Nicaragua travel is that you can almost always work out a deal. We’ve known bold negotiators to make an arrangement with a tuk tuk driver to be their private ride around Ometepe for the day. It may be worth trying your luck that way before you rent a vehicle, but don’t count on it!
If you visit Ometepe Island, Ojo de Agua deserves a spot on your itinerary. It’s a refreshing oasis for any traveler, with lots to do for active kids and shady seating for endless relaxation.
While the pricing is a bit higher than most attractions in Nicaragua, it’s fair when you consider the novelty of it.
Can’t make it to Ometepe Island, but still want to dive into healing volcanic waters? Find your way to Apoyo Lagoon, the mineral-rich ancient crater lake that makes for a rejuvenating day trip in Nicaragua.
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