Learn how to get to the beach from Leon, what to do when you get there, and the best places to eat and sleep.
In Leon, we are extremely fortunate that the beach, or la playa, of Las Penitas is just a 20 minute car ride (or 40 minutes by bus) away. Las Penitas is a long, uninterrupted beach with dark volcanic sand, and some serious waves. On the south end of the beach, there is a concentration of surfing schools, restaurant/bars, B and B’s and hotels, and some great local seafood joints. Most people arrive by bus from the Sutiava Market. It is very reliable, and only costs C$12 Cordobas or $.50 cents. The first bus leaves Sutiava at 5:00am, and the last bus leaves Las Penitas at 6:30pm from the turn-around by the Lazy Turtle. (Please note that there are two beaches outside of Leon: Poneloya and Las Penitas. The bus will first go to Poneloya, turn around at the estuary, and then head to Las Penitas. There is basically a “T” in the road on the way to the beaches. To the North is Poneloya, and to the South is Las Penitas. On the Las Penitas side, the bus will also turn around at their estuary, and then head back through Las Penitas and then to Leon.)
Surfing is always a popular activity in Las Penitas. You can rent a board from one of several surf schools starting at $10.00/day, and $20.00 with a lesson. Please note that there are several rocky outcrops, and during high tide they may be hidden under a few inches of water. In general, most people surf behind Playa Roca, or Hostal Oasis. There are also sporadic surfing competitions throughout the year, giving some street cred to the strength of the waves in Las Penitas. If surfing isn’t your gig, then check out the Mangrove river boat tour of Juan Venado Nature Reserve. You can have it arranged at most hotels usually with 24 hours notice, and the price goes down with the more people going. During the months of September-December you may have the opportunity to see Sea Turtles laying eggs, and baby turtles hatching.
There are also many great places to grab some food and drinks. Cold drinks in hand, and fresh seafood on the table, people just like yourself are exchanging stories and experiences about Nicaragua, and abroad. People from all over the world come here and adapt quickly to the Las Penitas way of life.
If you so choose, you can also rent room and dorms from venues right on the beach. At times, there are also hammocks to rent, and you can sleep right off the beach. The road to Las Penitas is quite long, and it is peppered with hotels and hostels along the way. The best thing to do is get off at Hotel Suyapa, and find a place to stay. All the bus drivers know where Suyapa is, as it is the most popular place on the beach, and many locals come here on Sunday to have breakfast and lunch with their family. Sol y Mar Bed and Breakfast is 1/2 block east from Suyapa, and comes highly recommended. The Lazy Turtle is a little further down around the corner, and they have a great restaurant and bar. There are also a dozen or so local places that serve up local seafood, likely caught that day by someone in the family. These places have really good food, and really good prices.
So there you have it, Las Penitas in a nutshell. Before you know it, you will be trying figuring out how you can live here forever!