Las Penitas, Nicaragua Bomalu Hotel Hammocks

A Local’s Guide to Las Peñitas

Managua’s too dodgy, San Juan Del Sur’s too party, Granada’s too expensive, Leon’s too hot! Common gripes we’ve heard from fellow travellers in Nicaragua. Do not stress! We have your private paradise covered, it’s nestled away in a short but sweaty bus ride from Leon – welcome to Las Peñitas!

Craig and I spent five weeks living in this paradise for free! By free I mean we offered our skills in exchange for our keep and one meal so I can say with confidence that here is a local’s guide to Nicaragua’s best kept secret! Whether you are here for a day trip or taking a break from the backpacking trail, Las Peñitas has lots to offer.

Las Penitas, Nicaragua Sunset

Las Peñitas Beach

Las Peñitas is a playa, approximately 5 km of sand with lots of beach front cafes and bars for you to enjoy the views of the lapping waves and incredible sunsets. The Marina is the best spot to catch the sunrise and the rocks, where the surfers in Nicaragua hangout, is the hotspot for the sunset.

Las Penitas, Nicaragua Beach

Las Peñitas Sea

Many surfers in Nicaragua head to Las Peñitas for a tranquilo surfing trip. The quality of the waves vary from day to day. Think you’re a good surfer? Watch out, the local kids will put your skills to shame! They are extremely talented.

The waves of Las Peñitas are wild. They make for a fun afternoon jumping in them, over them, and through them. Hold on to your bikini bottoms ladies, one swipe and the sea has claimed them!

Surf board rental: $6 half day / $10 full day / Lesson: $20

Horse Riding in Paradise

There are many four legged friends in Las Peñitas, the street dogs are plentiful and like most Nicaraguan towns, pretty well looked after. The larger of the four legged animal kingdom, horses, are available for rent. With a guide, horse riders will trot along the sandy shores with the wind in the hair.

Horse Riding: $14 approx.

Mangrove Trip

Fancy seeing cute turtles? This is often possible through a trip to the mangroves of Reserva Natural Isla Juan Venado!

Mangrove Trip: $12.50 (short) $25 (long) approx.

Marina and Fishing

Las Peñitas has a beautiful marina where you can watching the fishermen set up their boats at sunset and return with the catch of the day late morning. Travellers are also invited to take a fishing trip with the local fishermen!

Fishing: $40 per hour / three hours (1 – 4 people)

Las Penitas, Nicaragua Marina

Restaurants in Las Peñitas

So much choice to meet every budget! Our favourites:

Budget: Carmen’s Restaurant, which is actually Carmen’s house with tables and chair set up next to her sleeping husband in the hammock and the friendly parrot! Fish selected from the fridge or meat, rice, and salad for 80 ($2.82) – 100 cordobas.

Healthy: Simple Beach Lodge have two kick ass chefs, Carla and Melba, who rustle up healthy wraps, baguettes (90 / $3.18 – 120 cordobas), a popular and pretty cheese board, as well as fruit smoothies. Breakfast (90 cordobas) of pancakes, eggs, fruit, or chocobanana (dessert for dismaying!) is available from 07:30.

Nice environment: Bomalu is the perfect escape from the midday sun. Salad, sandwiches, and some specials including paella are available but the main attraction are the hammocks!

Burgers: Canadian run, The Lazy Turtle, offers a variety of burgers including a Canadian special (approx. 200 / $7.06 -300 cordobas)

Quebec: Yes, you read that right. Canada’s favourite hangover meal, poutine (85 cordobas), can be found in the sleepy beach town of Las Peñitas! Chips, cheese, and gravy which leaves you feel satisfied yet a little dirty inside can be found at Mono Loco!

Pizza: Keeping it Canadian, a very nice Canadian couple run Dulce Mareas which offers pizzas (approx. 100 / $3.53 – 200 cordobas) and specials throughout the week. They have a fancy coffee machine too. The brownie and ice cream is not to be missed.

Marina View: Barca de Oro aka ‘the French restaurant’ has strong WiFi as well as an incredible BBQ every Saturday. Nice view of the marina too.

Plus many more waiting for you discover them! Be wary of ‘Nicatime’ some restaurants have a ‘relaxed’ concept of time!

Las Penitas, Nicaragua Bomalu

Stop! Hammock time, Bomalu, Las Peñitas

Partying in Las Peñitas

Las Peñitas is more paradise than party but you won’t go without choice in regards to bars at the playa.

Simple Beach Lodge, grab a Toñya (30/60 cordobas) and watch the sun lower then smash into lots of colours, smothering the sky.

Coco Surf , this simple beach hut bar is in stills so you can enjoy the sunset from up high and daiquiris are only 60 cordobas / $2.12, half the price of  the popular Playa Roca!

El Pirate, another great sunset and cocktail stop. Try the mojito. Popular with locals and expats on a Saturday night.

Las Penitas, Nicaragua Coco Surf CocktailsCocktails at Coco Surf, Las Peñitas

How to Get to Las Peñitas

In Leon, head to the mercadito (just outside of central Leon) and queue for the chicken bus at the side of the market. The journey takes around thirty minutes and costs 14 cordobas / 49 cents. The bus will take you through Poneloya first of all and then down Las Peñitas. In order of hotels, cafes, and bars mentioned above from the start of Las Peñitas

  • Bomalu
  • Mono Loco
  • Playa Roca
  • Simple Beach Lodge (two surf shops next door)
  • Coco Surf (surf shop)
  • El Pirate
  • Carmen’s Restaurant
  • Dulce Mareas
  • The Lazy Turtle
  • Barca de Oro

A taxi from Leon should cost USD $10. Agree this before hand and make sure that it is for two people (or how many is in your group) and not just one.

Las Peñitas to Leon

Day trippers should begin to leave around 4pm – 5pm, the chicken buses run every 30 – 40 minutes but at no set time, listen out for the horn tooting it’s way along the road. The bus turns and stops outside Barca de Oro at the marina so if you hear it toot as it heads towards the turning point you know you have a couple of minutes to run out to the bus stop on the opposite side of the road (one stop is just past Mono Loco at the VW if it still lives there!)

It’s not uncommon for passing locals to ask if you want a lift, they’ll tell you how much a taxi costs and then barter. We were ripped off and left stranded on the road to Leon when we refused the new amount, a passing taxi soon picked us up for 20 cordobas each!

Starting in Managua? Click here for our guide on how to get to Leon and Las Peñitas!

Best Time to Visit Las Peñitas

Like most of Nicaragua, the dry season is a more appealing time to visit Las Peñitas. Weekends, especially Sundays, are busier as locals from Leon leave the hot city in search of nature’s air con at the beach. There are still stretches of untouched sand on Sundays, so don’t be put off if that is the only day you can visit.

Las Penitas, Nicaragua Sunrise

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Las Penitas, Nicaragua

Have you been to Las Peñitas?

 

Comments 18

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  1. Hi Gemma,

    Ah, we missed it! After our house sit in Granada we hustled off to Buena Vista, Costa Rica for another sit. Before we left I ran into gringos who owned a hotel on the beach. May have been Las Penitas but I can’t recall. Shoot. Will add it to my travel list when we head back toward Granada. I’ve heard about that rough surf. Heads up!

    Thanks for sharing 😉

    Ryan

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  2. Yay! I took your advice and stayed at Bomalu! Also we had a very lovely breakfast at Simple and said hi to everyone for you! Unfortunately, it’s still no luck with the camera 🙁 I really appreciate you and Craig taking the time to help me!

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      Author

      Aw man, I hope you get a resolution soon! So happy to hear that you made it to Las P and managed to get your way with accommodation! Keep in contact and let us know about Edinburgh in August!

  3. Enjoy your articles and are jealous at times as we are sitting in cold and snow country.
    To get a grasp of costs maybe you could mention it in the beginning the conversion rate. If it was in there maybe I missed it.
    Greg & Carole

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      Author

      I do usually do local currency and UK rate but things have been a bit manic travelling and blogging whilst in Austin at SXSW! I will go back in add once the festival is over, thanks for the reminder!

  4. hey guys, have been to Las Penitas and loved it. Can I ask what you were doing there to earn your keep? Do they need more workers?! Currently reading your Somoto tips as sat in Esteli! Blogs great 🙂

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      Author

      Hi Sarah! We worked at Simple Beach Lodge through the Workaway website. We used this site four times while travelling and it isn’t that expensive. Somoto was a lot of fun, very beautiful, don’t take your phone like us!

  5. Great post!! Very helpful to me and the family as we get ready to move to Nicaragua for 5 months!! Maybe a stint by the beach would be better than life in Granada 🙂

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      Depends on your budget Alexa. My friend, Libby, swung by to see us when we were living there and she got the last bed in a dorm as just by chance one guy left early. Swings and roundabouts though, it might be quiet! Pop in to Simple Beach Lodge and say hi for me (Gemma) | 🙂

  6. Thanks! I just wondered if there were places that were a bit cheaper that arent listed on Booking.com etc? Ill say hello for you for sure 🙂

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      Nicaragua seems to go for Airbnb over Booking.com. I’ve just checked Big Foot (which wouldn’t be my first choice as it’s a party hostel + not sure what your scene is, it is far more relaxed than the León Big Foot though) and there are beds available. There are three rooms on Airbnb for other places (I can’t work out who owns them from the site). I’ve messaged CeCe at Simple Beach Lodge to see how busy the area is. I’ll keep you posted if I get a reply.

      1. Thanks so much, i really appreciate your help! I’m not really into the party Hostel vive either…I’ll check out Air b n b. Gracias!

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