There are numerous opportunities on the Oasis of Peace to get involved in community projects, learn about sustainable agriculture, and support everyday Nicaraguans with your tourism dollars.
From long-standing solidarity partnerships to sustainable agriculture work and research projects, Ometepe  awaits those looking for something a little different.
There are a handful of community-based tourism projects, mostly in or around Moyogalpa , in which local residents provide accommodations and services to visitors.
At Comunidad Indígina Urbaite–Las Pilas (tel. 505/2569-4180, ask for Ulises Hernández) tourists can enjoy the flora and fauna of the island, live with local farmers and fishermen, and go on guided walking or fishing tours. More private lodging arrangements are available for $4 per person. To get to this community, take the bus from Moyogalpa to Urbaite and walk 15 minutes to Las Pilas.
In Moyogalpa Escuela Hotel Teosintal (tel. 505/2569-4105, tecuilturismo [at] intelnett [dot] com, contact Migdalia Tórrez, $10 pp) aims to provide an additional source of income for the local producers and improve customer service and tourism services on the island. The theory is reinforced by the students’ interaction with hotel guests. The hotel can arrange tours around the island or up to the volcanoes. The project, operating since 2005, can connect you with a network of agricultural cooperatives, many of which specialize in the production of sesame seeds for export. Escuela Hotel is located just north of the ENITEL office in Moyogalpa.
Moyogalpa  is also home to Pueblo Hotel (tel. 505/2617-1405, contact Danelia López Ponce), a network of 25 women from various communities on Ometepe  who produce organic fertilizer, conduct workshops on domestic violence, and host tourists in their homes. The goals of the program are to increase intercultural exchange (or intercambio), promote local culture, and share ecological knowledge and experience. The cost of a stay in one of the houses is $12 per person, which includes three meals per day and a complete immersion experience. Aside from traditional tourism activities offered elsewhere on the island, the Pueblo Hotel members can teach you traditional fishing techniques, take you to one of the local botanical gardens, and explain the incredible medicinal value of the Ometepe flora.
Experience authentic Nicaraguan living and invest in community tourism by spending a night with one of the Puesta del Sol (tel. 505/8619-0219, www.puestadelsol.org ) families in the village of La Paloma, a few kilometers south of Moyogalpa. For $15 a night, you get three home-cooked meals, filtered water, and stories of campesino living to tell the folks back home. All bedrooms have a fan and access to toilets — don’t worry, you won’t be forced to use the latrine — but you’ll share common spaces with dogs, chickens, and curious children. Basic Spanish would make your stay more enjoyable as the families involved don’t speak much English.
As you research your volunteering opportunities on Ometepe , start helping by buying a bag of organic, shade-grown, fair trade certified Café Oro de Ometepe — coffee sold by the Bainbridge–Ometepe Sisters Island Association (www.bosia.org ); the beans are grown at Finca Magdalena  and profits are sent back to Nicaragua in the form of development projects around the town of Balgüe .
To learn everything there is to know about organic agriculture, permaculture, and horticulture, spend a week (or four) at Finca Bona Fide (about 300 meters past Finca Magdalena, tel. 505/8616-4566, www.projectbonafide.com ). Chris and Michael run a beautiful farm, have 18-day organic agriculture workshops (free for locals), have a nutritional kitchen in Balgüe, where they feed 70 kids breakfast every morning, and offer farm work internships and volunteer opportunities. Enjoy rustic lodging and three meals a day for $5–8 depending on how long you stay. The view from the communal tree shower hidden in the bushes is alone worth the work.
Similar agricultural work arrangements can be made at La Finca Ecologica El Zopilote (tel. 505/8419-0246, www.ometepezopilote.com ), where volunteers are expected to stay for at least a week and receive a 20 percent discount on lodging, but have to cook for themselves.
Be sure to check out the Fincas Verdes network (www.fincasverdes.com ) to get a lowdown on the various agricultural and conservation ventures being offered on the island.