If you're looking for things to do on Ometepe, you may have heard of Monkey Island. It's not really a tourist attraction. It's actually discouraged by some... and I'm here to tell you how I found out why at first hand.
I almost died on Monkey Island.
It was my last day on Isla Ometepe...
...an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua made up of two towering volcanos. I had already hiked up to la Cascada de San Ramon, played fútbol on the beach with the locals, trekked to the top of Volcan Concepcion, partied it up at Little Morgan's Hostel, and explored the island from the back of a motorbike. I had only planned on staying on the island for a couple of days before moving on to San Juan Del Sur and then to Playa Grande, Costa Rica where I had a job lined up. But alas, nothing ever seems to go as planned. I had just injured my leg volcano boarding in Leon, and this island was my sanctuary. In hind sight, I probably should have taken it a little easier, but Ometepe was just so captivating and there was so much to do!
The island was so amazing that I ended up staying a lot longer than originally intended. Upon my arrival to Little Morgans, (a hostel I would highly recommend if you love a good time) I heard in passing about some people going to a "monkey island." I thought that sounded awesome, but didn't get a chance to talk to them before they left. When a friend I had made and I asked about getting to Monkey Island (Isla de los Monos), the volunteer at the hostel pointed us in the right direction on the map, but said he'd never been there himself. We thought that was strange since he's been on Ometepe for years. We also thought it was strange that the hostel didn't offer any kind of tour to the island like many of the other Ometepe attractions. We soon found out why...
Stock up on bananas • Rent a kayak
We headed to a little corner store near where the bus picked up and bought some bananas to feed the monkeys and some food to feed to street dogs while we were waiting. We hopped on a bus that took us around the southern part of the island where the roads weren't paved anymore and told the driver to just let us out near la Isla de los Monos. We found a small hotel of the same name and found out we could rent a kayak to take out to the small island. We were warned by the people renting out kayaks to not go in the jungle on the island, as the monkey can sometimes become aggressive. We sort of brushed these comments aside and sailed off toward the island where I would frolic and cuddle with the sweet little monkeys inhabiting it.
When killer monkeys attack
We unfortunately picked a rather windy day to make our voyage, and our kayak crashed onto the rocks bordering the island. Our boat was jammed in between a couple of big rocks, and there really wasn't any beach to pull our kayak up on to, so we cleared out and grabbed our bananas. As soon as I stepped out of the boat, I saw a perfectly cleaned skeleton of some kind of small animal. Maybe it was another monkey? I was so freaked out I didn't even think to get a picture of it. I didn't have time to, because the monkeys started to arrive. First one, then another, and another. Soon there were over 5 monkeys approaching. We began tossing them bits of bananas, and they ate them happily.. at first. They came so close we could even hand the 'nanners to them! When I handed my last banana, my monkey got PISSED as all hell. It started screeching at me and even ran up and hit my foot. Soon we were surrounded by angry killer monkeys that wanted more bananas or blood. We both scrambled back to the kayak, realizing we should've saved our last bananas to throw into the jungle so we could make our escape.
With all those monkey barring their razor sharp little teeth and screaming at the top of their lungs, I must say I was not very helpful in making our grand exit. I flung myself onto my stomach, half in the kayak, half flapping in the water, while my somehow super calm friend pushed our boat free from the rocks and grabbed our paddles. Fighting the wind trying to crash us back toward the crazy monkeys, we made our way back to the main island, hearts pounding, half thinking I might need to change my underwear.
The locals could tell we'd been taken for a ride, and could only laugh. They were very nice though and offered to drive us back to our hostel on the back of their motorbikes for a very reasonable price. Even though I thought I was going to die from those rocky roads, we lived to see another day.