Las Penitas is a small coastal village located on the Nicaraguan Pacific Coast, just west of Leon. Together with nearby Poneloya*, Las Penitas has always been a favoured hang-out for Nicaraguans wishing to exchange the dusty city life for some fun and relaxing time on the beach.
During the weekends, Nicaraguan families arrive en masse with the buses from Leon and the surrounding countryside but during the weekdays you will have the beach pretty much to your self. Las Penitas is an ideal vacation spot for anyone who can’t make up their mind – do I want pristine, uncrowned beaches á la Robinson Crusoe or do I want hectic party life, reggaeton music and beach volley tournaments? In Las Penitas, your weeks will be filled with both.
Las Penitas is famous for offering excellent surf opportunities virtually year round. Surfing boards can be rented locally, but it is also possible to bring your own along with you on the chickenbus from Leon. For the novice surfer, signing up for at least a few surfing lessons is recommended because the waves are truly powerful and there is an undertow to watch out for.
Unlike many other great surf spots around the world Las Penitas has no crowding and you never have to wait your turn or compete with others for space – there’s plenty of ocean of everyone! For more info, visit the surfing page.
For swimming, the locals tend to prefer the estuary located at the southern end of the village. This bay is especially popular among families with small children who can’t handle the large waves of the Pacific Ocean. In Poneloya, there is a similar but somewhat deeper estuary to be found at the northernmost end of the main street. The exact water dept in these estuaries varies greatly depending on the tide and can be anything from knee-deep to over two meters (6 feet).
Las Penitas is a great base camp for anyone interested in exploring what the Nicaraguan Pacific Coast has to offer since it is located close to attractions such as the Juan Venado Nature Reserve and not that far from active volcanoes like the Cerro Negro and Telíca. The nature reserve is home to crocodiles, caimans and iguanas and the bird enthusiast can encounter over 100 species of birds while boating or kayaking in the mangrove forest. The Juan Venado island is also an important nesting site for Olive Ridley sea turtles that arrive in large lunar-coordinated groups, so called arribadas, to lay their eggs from August to December each year.
* Las Penitas and Poneloya are two villages that have merged together and Las Penitas seamlessly ends where Poneloya starts. Nowadays, they more like two parts of the same beach town than separate villages.