Learn about the Pacific Coast Beach 20 minutes from Leon – Las Penitas and Ponyloya
Editor’s note: This article was updated for accuracy September 14, 2017.
How to get to Las Penitas/Ponyloya beach?
In Leon, we are extremely fortunate that the beaches of Las Penitas/Ponyloya are just a 20 minute car ride. (Or 40 minutes by bus.) Las Penitas is a long, uninterrupted beach with dark volcanic sand, and some serious waves. On the East end of the beach, there is a mangrove forest and estuary along with a concentration of surfing schools, restaurant/bars, B and B’s and hotels, and some great local seafood joints that attract many tourists and locals alike. Most people arrive by bus from the Sutiaba Market. It is very reliable, and only costs C$14 Cordobas or less than $.50 cents. The first bus leaves the Sutiaba market at 5:00am, and the last bus leaves Las Penitas at 6:30pm from the turn-around by the restaurant/hotel Barca de Oro. (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 West is Poneloya, and to the East 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.) You can also hire a taxi for $C 300 Cordobas or about 10 US dollars as well.
What to do at Las Penitas/Ponyloya beach?
Surfing is always a popular activity in Las Penitas, but not so much in Ponyloya. You can rent a board from one of several surf schools in LP starting at $10.00/day, or $20.00/day with a lesson. Please note that there are several rocky outcrops, and during high tide they may be hidden under a few feet 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 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 even opportunities for volunteering, and taking Yoga classes.
Official Las Penitas/Ponyloya Website with listings of a variety of different hotels, restaurants, and activities to do there.
There are over 50 different businesses in Las Penitas alone serving tourists and locals including restaurants and bars, hotels/hostels/B &B’s, pulperia’s (Nicaraguan convenient stores) all with their own eclectic vibe. There are people who move to Las Penitas from all over the world, (especially Europe and North America), who set up shop and bring their own flavor and style to the beach. You can find Tapas, Nicaraguan BBQ, Poutine, Asian fusion, pizza and burgers and even Gelato (coming soon!). You can also find live entertainment and DJ’s at many nighttime venues. And, there are always local spots serving up the catch of the day, and HUGE bowls of seafood soup – a popular Las Penitas/Ponyloya tradition.
Worried you can’t afford a beach budget? Read this related article comparing the cost of living between Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the USA.
Where to stay in Las Penitas/Ponyloya beach?
There are new hotels and bars popping up every year in both Las Penitas and Ponyloya. When we first came here, there were only a handful of hotels and hostels. Now there are even more options including upscale hotels with air conditioning and hot water.
The location of this beach has caused an explosion in popularity with foreign tourists. Don’t be the one that misses out on the best kept secret of Leon, Nicaragua: Las Penitas and Ponyloya!