Las Penitas Beach

Las Penitas is a typical beach and fishing town; almost all the houses are lined up along the beach and every morning you will see the fishermen bring in their catch in small, open boats.

The village is one those hidden little gems where you can watch the sun set on a perfectly empty beach, without having to give up modern life comforts such as ice cold beer and chocolate ice-cream.

The official starting point of the Las Penitas beach is the prominent cross-adorned rock formation located at the border to Poneloya, and the beach then proceeds all the way to the Juan Venado Natural Reserve. The soft volanic sand sports the off-white and greyish shades typical for the Nicaraguan west-coast and if you’re lucky you will find conch shells and sand dollars washed up by the waves.

Las Penitas is a famous surfing beach with great swells and you will certainly feel the awe-inspiring power of the ocean when going for a swim here. One of the best places to swim is next to the rock formation at hostel Playa Roca where the cliffs act as a pier; decreasing the impact of the waves and making the undertow less powerful.

If you travel with small children or aren’t particularly fond of large swells, follow main street until it makes it left turn. You have now reached the bay where the water of the Juan Venado estuary meets the open ocean. The dept of this little bay varies with the tide but there are always kid-friendly areas where the water is no more than knee-high.

During the weekends, Nicaraguans from all over flock on the beaches of Las Penitas to swim, picnic and engage in beach activities like volleyball tournaments and sandcastle building. Foreign volunteers and other personal stationed across the country, such as peace corps and aid workers, also frequently come here to let their hair down and enjoy some much needed relaxation on their days off.

There is no road or boardwalk next to the beach in Las Penitas; its inner limits instead being determined by the gardens of private residences of which a handful has been converted into hotels, hostels and restaurants. Owning beach property all the way down to the waters edge is no longer legal in Nicaragua (unless you happen to purchase a property older than the public beach law) so the entire beach is open for public use and there is not a single fence or wall restricting your stroll or horseback ride from Poneloya to the bay and the natural reserve.

Beach activities

Horseback riding

Several hostels arrange horseback riding along the beach. Why not fulfil that old dream of galloping into the sunset on your trusty steed? Horses are also available for those who wish to explore Las Penitas and its surrounding countryside on horseback.

Surfing and body boarding

Las Penitas is an excellent beach for surfing and body boarding year round. Several hotels and hostels offer boards for rent, and there is also a surfing school located right on the beach. Visit the surfing Las Penitas page for more info.


The waves regularly bring up beautiful trinkets like conch snails, sea dollars and sea glass from the deep and since the beach is so deserted during weekdays they often go unnoticed. There are also rumours about gold doubloons being washed up on the beach after particularly stormy nights, and as they say here – cuando el río suena, agua llev.