Bainbridge Ometepe Sister Islands

Building Friendships since 1986

Our Islands

Sisters, but not twins

Isla de Ometepe is about twice as big as Bainbridge Island and has about twice as many people. We share some characteristics and are very different in other ways.

Concepcion at sunset

Concepción, Ometepe's active volcano, at sunset

Isla de Ometepe

  • longitude 11° 0′ 24″ N
  • latitude 85° 0′ 30″ W.
  • 276 square kilometers/~100 square miles
  • population ~42,000

The Island of Ometepe is located in Nicaragua, Central America, in a large lake called Lake Nicaragua, or Cocibolca. Ometepe is the largest island in a freshwater lake in the world and is formed from two volcanoes joined at the base by a narrow isthmus. The taller of the two volcanoes, Concepción, is active, with periodic eruptions of smoke and ash. Maderas, the other mountain, has lain dormant for perhaps 10,000 years and is covered by a dense, tropical cloud forest. The island’s name, Ometepe, means “two peaks.” It derives from the Nahuatl/Aztec words “ome,” which means two and “tepelth,” hills.


A petroglyph in El Corozal

Ometepe is said to have been a site of great importance to the ancients, who carved great stone statues and left behind literally thousands of petroglyphs cut into the island’s volcanic stones. Most of the island’s 42,000 residents are farmers. Transportation and communication facilities are limited. The economy is based on livestock, agriculture, and tourism. Plantains, sesame seeds, fruit, cattle and coffee are key agricultural products. The island has 40 elementary schools and nine high schools.

egret in water

Egrets are among the many species that draw bird-watchers to Ometepe.

Parade for

La Purisma, a devotion to the virgin Mary, fills Altagracia's streets in December.

Bainbridge Island

  • longitude 47°39’19” N
  • latitude 122°32’6″ W
  • 72 square kilometers/27.8 square miles
  • population ~23,000

Bainbridge Island is located in Puget Sound, in the western part of Washington State. The island was formed by glacial action and has an intricate coastline. Historical evidence suggests there were at least three indigenous villages on the island. George Vancouver explored the shoreline in 1792, a time when people of the Suquamish tribe hunted, fished and camped on the island. In 1841, a U.S. Navy surveyor, Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, named the island after Commodore William Bainbridge. The Suquamish tribe ceded the island to the U.S. government as part of the Treaty of Point Elliott, signed by Chief Sealth (Seattle) in 1855.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the island was home to the West Coast’s largest boatbuilding center. Many new immigrants helped build tall ships made of wood. The cultural fabric of the island was challenged during World War II, when citizens of Japanese descent were uprooted and moved to inland internment camps. The Bainbridge Review, published by Walt and Milly Woodward, was one of few newspapers to editorialize against the internment. After the war, many of these island residents returned to lands cared for by friends.

Today the island has a population of about 23,000 and a rich cultural history influenced by Native American, Filipino, Japanese, Hawaiian, Scandinavian and other traditions. The island is recognized for its arts community and has talented musicians, painters, sculptors, glass artists, photographers and writers. The island has three public elementary schools, two public middle schools, two high schools, and several private schools.