Ometepe Island is formed by two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua, in the Republic of Nicaragua. The island’s name derives from the Nahuatl words one (two) and tepetl (mountain), meaning two mountains.
It is the largest island in Lake Nicaragua, as well as the largest volcanic island inside a freshwater lake in the world, a true marvel of geology.
Ometepe Island Concepción
The two volcanoes are Concepción and Maderas. Concepción is a symmetrical cone and is still active. It rose in the early Holocene Epoch and, through continual eruptions, now reaches an altitude of 5,282 ft. (1,610 m), making Ometepe Island also the world’s highest lake island.
Concepción has the most nearly perfect volcano cone form in all of Central America. Although it went through a long quiet period, on December 8, 1880, Concepcion erupted yet again. The eruption was extensive, and the volcano remained active for a whole year.
More eruptions followed in 1883, 1889, 1902, 1907, and 1924. In 2005, an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter Scale occurred as a result of increased pressure within the volcano. Cracks appeared on roads throughout the island and the government advised people to leave the island. A recent eruption was in 2010.
Ometepe Island Maderas
The southeast half of the island consists of Volcan Maderas which is either extinct or dormant, has the crater lake and supports a diverse rainforest environment. Maderas also arose in the Holocene Epoch and rises 4,573 ft. (1,394 m) above sea level.
On April 15, 1930, a local farmer discovered a large lagoon formed in Maderas’ crater. Coffee and tobacco plantations cover most of it, while the remainder is rainforest. Much of this part of the island is also now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
The volcanic ash has made the soil of this island extremely fertile, which allows for continuous planting without fallowing.
The volcanoes are visible from everywhere on the island, and life on Ometepe revolves closely around them.