Tag Archives: Nicaragua

Six Outstanding Things To Do On Ometepe

Ometepe Nicaragua, Things To Do On Ometepe

Ometepe is Nicaragua’s figure of ‘eight’ shaped island. Surrounded by the Lake Nicaragua and home to two of Nicaragua’s volcanoes, there so many outstanding things to do on Ometepe, so it’s clear to see why so many backpackers make their way to the island from San Jorge port near Rivas. Click here for a map of the island.

Hike A Volcano

Ometepe is home to two dormant volcanoes – Conception, the bigger one, and Maderas. Conception is best reached from the Moyogalpa side of the island, where as Maderas guided hikes are cheaper from the south of the island (Balgüe / Merida area). Conception last erupted in 2012 and Maderas, over 3000 years ago, making it dormant. Conception is a hot hike, take lots of suntan lotion, Maderas is mainly under rainforest, but very muddy! It can get a bit chilly so bring a jumper however; I still managed to get burnt during the lunch stop. Guided tours may start at Finca Magdalena and end at the El Porvenir farm, lasting around seven hours. It is common to spot white-faced monkeys, howler monkeys, and sometimes even snakes!

Maderas Volcano, Ometepe Nicaragua, Things To Do On Ometepe

  • Get there: Guided tours do offer transport / self-guided start at Finca Magdalen
  • How much? Anywhere from $10 – $85 (I know! They know ‘money’ here in Ometepe!)
  • Tip: For Maderas, book guide in Balgüe / Merida to save money on ‘transport costs’
  • Self Guided? Is definitely possible for Maderas but you may blink and miss the summit or take the wrong path, missing out on some of the viewpoints. Be careful around previous landslides
  • Like volcanoes? Check out What is Guatemala Know For

Rent a Bike on Ometepe

Ometepe is actually pretty large and the limited transport system makes it difficult to move around. Backpackers are held hostage to their area of choice unless they hire a bicycle, scooter, or motorbike. All three are cheaper to hire in Moyogalpa, for example, the daily price for motorbike hire in Moyogalpa is $20 compared to $35 in Balgüe / Merida. With the wind in your hair and the gravel under your tyres, biking really is a liberating way to see Ometepe’s wonders. Be warned, the island is hot and hilly so bikes without engines are for the fittest of the pack!

Motorbike, Conception Volcano, Ometepe Nicaragua, Things To Do On Ometepe

  • Get there: Moyogalpa, or organise through accommodation
  • How much? Bikes from $5 – Motorbikes up to $35 per day

Ojo de Agua

This watering hole is perfect for swimming. Ojo de Agua (Eye of the Water) is well maintained and offers rum in coconuts, as well as glistening turquoise waters. The brave amongst us can tackle the Tarzan swing!

  • Get there: Ojo de Agua is situated in the middle of the island
  • How much? 80 cordobas / £1.98

Follow The Gringo Bricked Road

Ometepe has had a fair bit of cash injected into the island and this is evident from the RUTA (European Union) symbol splashed on uniforms and displayed on shop walls. There is a neatly bricked road which runs from the port town, Moyogalpa (where you get off the boat) through to Balgüe where many of the popular accommodation hot spots can be found.

This paved road discontinues on the road to Merida; this is where the hiring of a motorbike would be advised, as the road is very bumpy. There are lots of cafes, restaurants, finca farms, and even a beach (Santo Domingo) along the way. Rancho Merdia seemed liked a really chilled out spot, we had a drink there. We were told the best sunsets are viewed from this area of the island.

  • Get there: Hop off the boat, explore Moyogalpa, hop on the bus to Balgüe or Merida, or hire a bike

Kayaking Rio Istián / Istián River

Warning: this is a seasonal activity. Do not waste your money in dry season (February to March) as there is no water in Rio Istián. Wet season promises bird watching and caiman spotting while you kayak through the swamp water right of Conception. In dry season you can expect a very choppy fight against the water (think training for Skookumcuck Narrows, Canada) to the arrival of a dry water bed then a walk around what should be Rio Istián.

    • Get there: There are two companies on the waterfront just before you reach Merdia
    • How much: $20-25 per person for a guided tour
    • Duration: Three hours

Ometepe video time!

San Ramón Waterfall

San Ramón Waterfall, or Cascada San Ramón, is located at the southern slope of Maderas volcano. The access point is at the Biological Station and involves a 3km hike, 2km of this can be accessed by wheels, but the final 1km is a trickier path so must be done on foot.

  • Get there: Entrance at the Biological Station, passed Merida
  • How much: 40 cordobas / 99p

»»» Read more: don’t miss Nicaragua’s answer to paradise

Managua to Ometepe

The bus from Managua Huembes terminal (southbound) to Rivas should cost you $2.50 / £1.75 maximum. We were ripped off at charged $15/ £10 along with the other backpackers on the bus. This was our own fault for allowing the bus guys to pull us on the moving bus. Two girls were also charged $5 / £3.50 per backpack on top of this ridiculous charge. On the way back we paid much less!

The bus stops in Rivas on the side of the road, there will be taxis waiting. Do not pay more than $1 per person. This taxi takes you to San Jorge port (approximately 15 minutes).

San Jorge Port Managua to Riva Bus, Ometepe Nicaragua, Things To Do On Ometepe

San Jorge Boat to Ometepe

There are two types of boats from San Jorge port. The ferry is larger and far more comfortable than the smaller boat, which is called a lancha. Life jackets were available on both boats. Both boats port at Moyogalpa. Backpacks can get wet if riding the lancha on the top deck so bring a bin bag or similar. Older blog posts say you can pay for the ticket on the ferry, this was not the case, we did however pay on the lancha (on the way back). Both boats were approx. 70 cordobas / £1.74 each and take about 1 hour. The companies that run these boats follow strict weather guidelines.

San Jorge Port, Ometepe Nicaragua, Things To Do On Ometepe

Ometepe Accommodation

There is plenty of choice of accommodation all over the island. The best advice we were given was stay one night in Moyogalpa to suss out the weather on the island and ask around for tips from travellers who are leaving. Our first night was spent at Hotelito y Restaurante Aly, which was way cheaper than the competitors.

Like it? Pin it!

6 Outstanding Things To Do On Ometepe, Nicaragua

Have you been to Ometepe?
Any questions, fire them below as always!

Easy Estelí and Self Guided Somoto

uided Somoto Canyon Nicaragua via Flickr Tobias Eder

Estelí is a small town found in the north of Nicaragua. It’s similar to Santa Marta in Colombia in the sense that it is used as a springboard for the discovery of other places including Somoto Canyon National Monument, which can be explored with as part of a tour, or how we roll: self-guided Somoto!


There isn’t much to Estelí, similar to León (although different because there is lots to do in León – check out our post on things to do in León), it’s just a real-life town. people go to work, hang out in the central square using the free WiFi (!), and the church bell tells you when to wake up (or an air raid siren in Estelí’s case!) Do expect to see men in cowboy hats and boots, very cool!

Rico Restaurants in Estelí

There are a few over-priced gringo restaurants in Estelí. We spent a couple of afternoons in Luz y Luna Cafe, using the Wi-Fi. For dinner, we mostly opted for Nicaraguan fare (meat, rice, beans, tortilla, 80 cordobas / £2) or street food which was similar with the addition of papas, fried potatoes with meat and veg inside (same price). Churros filled with dulce de leche were awesome too!

Self Guided Somoto I Esteli Nicaragua Food_

Somoto Canyon National Monument

The main reason that travellers head to the north is to hike Somoto Canyon, and rightly so, it was beautiful. Large overpowering rocks with blue waters, your voice echoes, definitely a feeling of inferiority to nature is captured there!

Self Guided Somoto Nicaragua

Please excuse the quality – taken from action cam!
Here is the action:

Somoto Canyon Guided Tours

There are many guided tours around Somoto Canyon for varying abilities. The shorter four-hour tour takes you through the canyon withthe opportunity to swim and some companies even organise tubing but the tranquilo kind, no rapids!

The longer tour takes six hours and offers a variety of hiking, canyoning, swimming, jumping off rocks, and a boat trip.

The companies appear to provide waterproof bags – this is essential!

Self Guided Somoto Hike

After being ripped off in Ometepe, we opted to attempt a self-guided Somoto hike. It wasn’t massively successful in the sense that we didn’t see the whole canyon but we did hike, canyon, swim, and jump off some rocks so a good day out!

Self Guided Somoto Canyon Fail

After entering the park, do not continue down the path, take a right at the houses (down a garden path almost), an easy mistake to make! We hiked along a path then began climbing on rocks to avoid the water for as long as possible, this took over an hour. After one fall (me), one lost hat (Craig, he managed to retrieve it!) we couldn’t escape the water any longer. Stupidly Craig had his mobile phone, so we had to do a few manoeuvres to ensure it didn’t touch the water (thrown to me in the water, from Craig on a rock / bag on top of head whilst wading), this was a challenge.

After some swimming and watching a tour group do some jumps, we lunched and headed back which took under an hour.

»»» Like swimming? don’t miss Nicaragua’s answer to paradise

Estelí to Somoto Buses

There are frequent buses which run from Estelí to Somoto however there is no specific time. There is definitely a 07:30 express bus which most tourists use (75 cordobas / £1.88) each from the Cotran Norte bus station on the Pan – American Highway. The journey took 1.5 hours. From Somoto we took an overpriced taxi to Somoto Canyon (150 cordobas / £3.76) for about 15 minutes. The driver dropped us off at a tour company who tried to sell us a tour, we politely rejected and headed for the entrance. A ranger then tried to sell us more tours, again we rejected and set off on our way.

The way back was a bit of a disaster. After waiting twenty minutes in basking sun, we hailed a taxi for 15 cordobas / 38p, then our chicken bus broke down. Option one: hang out by the side of the road with the other 30+ passengers and hope not to die in the heat. Option 2: walk back to bus start ion and wait on next bus, probably around a forty minute walk. Thankfully we hailed a taxi and caught next bus (journey around 2.5 hours).

Where We Stayed

Warning! Excitement levels high! Hot water in the shower for the first time in six weeks, all thanks to Hostal Los Altos. This very European feeling, beautifully decorated hotel offers escapism in Nicaragua. The compact room had air con, a TV, and clothes storage.

Los Altos I Self Guided Somoto I Esteli Nicaragua_

A choice of breakfast was included and dished up in the outside dinning room, a lovely way to start the day.

Self Guided Somoto I Esteli Los Altos Nicaragua

The family run hotel staff are a delight and helped us with advice on bus times and availability of ATMs via email (there are ATMs in Estelí!)

Facebook: Hotel Los Altos, Estelí
Contact: +505 8858 1662
Cost: Approx. £54

Estelí is an easy town to spend a few nights in, using it as a gateway to nature’s fincas and Somoto Canyon.

Esteli & Somoto Canyon Nicaragua

Have you been to Nicaragua’s north?

Any questions?

Feature image by Tobias Eder via Flickr CC 2.0
Thank you to Hostal Los Altos for the two nights stay, an honest review as always

How Much Does Nicaragua Cost?

Nicaragua, the land of lakes and volcanoes, is the seventh country of our (Gemma and Craig) 17-month career break to the travel the Americas and Europe. This is our first time in Central America and what a treat the ‘new Costa Rica’ has been. We’ve made a home in the beach town of Las Peñitas, hiked up an active volcano and boarded down in the León, swam in Somoto Canyon, scootered around the lush island of Ometepe, and hit the gym in the European feeling city of Granada. Here’s our backpacking in Nicaragua budget (which is month twelve of our backpacking trip). This guide will include a breakdown of the daily essentials – accommodation in Nicaragua, transport, food, trips, socialising, as well as what we spent on luxuries (NOI – USD – GBP).

»»» Going to Nicaragua? Check out our massive travel guide here

Accommodation in Nicaragua

Accommodation in Nicaragua is very varied and manageable for travellers on different types of budgets. Every city and most towns have high end to budget hotels, backpacking hostels, and guesthouses.

We spent most of our time in local run guesthouses as they are quiet and offer private rooms with fans and bathrooms for cheap ($15). The island of Ometepe is awash with accommodation which is slightly more pricey than other areas of the country. July’s Restaurant and Maria (Moyogalpa side of the island) was $15 walk-in fee.

Bizarrely many hostels and guesthouses advertise via Airbnb as well as the usual Hostelworld and Booking.com. We reviewed two hostels during our time in Nicaragua (Hostal Monte Cristi in Managua and La Gordita in León). Before we backpacked around Nicaragua, we lived and volunteered at the beach hotel in the photograph below. This was organised through Workaway.info. Your Nicaragua backpacking budget can be kept under control or there is luxury for those who want to splurge.

Accommodation in Nicaragua- Budget Month 12

Ahhh, Las Peñitas!

  • Accommodation in Nicaragua Total: 4710 Cordobas / $162.32 / £132.50 for 2


I never want to see tacos again, oh wait, we’re in Texas now, more tacos! Street food is also very popular in Nicaragua. This may consist of meat (pork or chicken mostly) on the grill, rice, and a cabbage based salad. I ate three ‘papas’ in one day in Estelí (North Nicaragua), which are deep fat fried potatoes with meat and vegetables in the middle!

Two of the guesthouses we stayed in had kitchens, one of which was very well equipped. The other was pretty basic and busy but I did manage to cook in a couple of nights in Granada as well as going to gym. It was refreshing to do ‘real life’ activities like cooking (which I normally despise) and fitness (which I miss).

The sweet demon in my life in Nicaragua was Churros. Churros are sweet deep fat fried pastry often filled with something sugary like chocolate spread. Really not helpful considering we were about to get married in Austin the next month! I avoided bread and chose (really decent) salads in Granada, which was our last week in Nicaragua before South By Southwest music festival and then the elopement.

Food, Backpacking in Nicaragua- Budget Month 12

So many tacos!

  • Food in Nicaragua Total: 18,300 cordobas / $630.65 / £514.79 for 2

Socialising in Nicaragua

Local beer in cheap in Nicaragua, Craig continued to drink a beer a day at £1.50 for a litre bottle of Toña until he fell sick in Granada (bacterial infection).

I had a couple of glasses of red throughout the month, not the cheapest option! We were not won over by the party scene in any of Nicaragua’s cities but I’m interested to hear from any other backpackers who did fiesta! Most of the socialising went on in guesthouses and hostels from what we could see or was reserved for San Juan Del Sur in the south (surfing and Sunday Funday), which isn’t our scene.

  • Socialising Total: 4950 cordobas / $170.59/ £139.25

Nicaragua’s Top Trips

Although the party scene was pretty poor for us in Nicaragua, the adventure activities are plentiful! This is the land of lakes and volcanoes remember so if you are into hiking, kayaking, swimming, surfing, canyoning, and you have a need for speed then this Central American city is for you.

Most of our outdoors activities took place on Ometepe. We hired a scooter to move between the different areas of the deceivingly large island, hiked the volcano, Maderas ($25 each), tried to kayak Rio Istián ($20 each, waste of money – see here), and swam in a natural watering hole. Bliss!

We walked through Somoto Canyon and swam in the water, I didn’t do many dives as we attempted (a fail!) to do a self – guided tour to offset the money wasted attempting to kayak over a dried up swamp! 

» Fancy hiking in Nicaragua? Check out our hiking packing list

In León, we took a Revolutionary Tour which was interesting, and of course, hiked up Cerro Negro and boarded down it at 55 MPH. Boom! It was thrilling.

Volcano Boarding Cerro Negro| Backpacking in NicaraguaEat my dust! Yup, that’s me (Gemma)! 

  • Trips in Nicaragua Total: 4050 cordobas / $139.57 / £113.93 for 2

Transport in Nicaragua

Favourite mode of transport over the past month? Motorbike ($20 per day on)! Craig drove us around the gringo bricked road as well as the bumpy local ‘roads’ of Ometepe. The freedom was liberating, I imagine it’s tough being confined to the infrequent bus timetables on the island.

The cheapest way to get between the cities and towns of Nicaragua is by chicken bus. Annoyingly, we got ripped off on the bus from Managua to Rivas, which should have been $2.50 but they charged us $15.

We were on a moving bus so had little way to get out of it, always agree a price before you get on the bus! The microbuses are a set price so there is little room for victimisation.

A ferry was required to get to Ometepe, we took the local lancha on the way back to San Jorge Port which instantly made everyone look sick!

Ometepe Ferry | Backpacking in NicaraguaThis is a ferry, not a lancha!

  • Nicaragua Transport Total: 2040 cordobas / $70.30 / £57.38 for 2


The only luxuries we’ve splurged on this month was our tattoos in León which came to $120 for the both of us. It took around eight hours so excellent value for money.

I had also been attending yoga on a Wednesday at 200 cordobas / $6.89 and bought a weekly gym pass in Granada ($15).

White Dragon Tattoo Colonial Leon, Nicaragua

The most permanent souvenir – White Devil tattoos, Leòn

  • Total: 4517 cordoboas / $155.67 / £127.07 for 2

Overall total
$1329| $332 per week | $47 per day (for 2)

If you are heading to Nicaragua don’t forget to check out our extensive backpacking guide which will help you plan out a route, duration of stay, and provide more details on food, where to stay in Nicaragua, transport, and culture. Just click the image.

Backpacking in Nicaragua

Pin for later

How much does backpacking in Nicaragua cost?

Over to you, how much does it cost to backpack in Nicaragua?
Any questions – fire away in the comments below.

Things to do in Las Peñitas: León’s Beach Getaway

Las Penitas, Nicaragua Bomalu Hotel Hammocks

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

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 from León 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 beachfront 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.

Locals take over one side of the beach during the weekends and then leave for the city on Sundays. They tend to stay in the sheltered hammocks, away from tourist accommodation options. It is a real shame but you can expect a lot of trash left on the beach post weekends. Why not do a bit of a beach clean?

There is a small shop (pulperia) which sells candy, laundry powder and fruit until it sells out on the main road just before the beach.

Las Penitas, Nicaragua Beach

Las Peñitas Surf

Many surfers in Nicaragua head to Las Peñitas for a tranquilo surfing trip. The quality of the waves varies 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!

  • Surfboard 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 watch 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

Volcano Boarding in Nicaragua

The number one thing to do in Nicaragua is volcano boarding. This is when you hike up an active volcano and sledge down it. It’s thrilling and it happens close to Las Peñitas. Most visitors stay in the city of León and take a day trip to Cerro Negro volcano from there but if you would prefer to set up the seaside you can still take the bus into the city and catch a day tour like this one here.

Restaurants in Las Peñitas

So much choice to meet every budget!

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 kick-ass chefs 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 desayuno) 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)

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.

Ambience: Sua Grill & Chill serves food, cocktails and live music on a Saturday night. Bliss!

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 Las Peñitas.

  • Simple Beach Lodge, grab a Toñya (30/60 cordobas) and watch the sun lower then smash into lots of shades, 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!
  • Big Foot Hostel buses in city guests during the day to chill out by their seafront hostel and bar. Good tunes, nice backpackers.

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 Las Peñitas
  • 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 to Las Peñitas should cost USD $10. Agree on this beforehand and make sure that it is for two people (or how many is in your group) and not just one. Find out the process in full here.

Las Peñitas Accommodation

There are hotels in Las Peñitas as well as hostels and private rentals. Many of the hotels also serve food so holidaymakers can pop in for meals without being paid guest or swing by for a swift drink (and use of WiFi!) I would highly recommend staying or dining at a hotel with hammocks. You really can’t beat swinging an afternoon away reading a book before the sun sets.

Las Peñitas hotels

  • Barca de Oro is located by the bus turning circle on the marina. It has private rooms and dorm beds, serves food – the weekly BBQ is popular.

»»» Private rooms for under $30, click here for rates and availability



  • Simple Beach Lodge is Playa Roca’s quieter neighbour. This clean and neat boutique hotel is one of the best-rated hotels in Las Peñitas on Booking.com.

»»» Private rooms for under $35, click here for rates and availability

Las Peñitas hostels

Mano a Mano is an eco-hostel made from recycled materials which is very in keeping with the Las Peñitas vibe.  The hostel offers four dorms, two for eight people or one for five, which is great for group travel. Rooms have fans and beds have much-needed mosquito nets. You can charge your devices in the lockers.

There is a communal kitchen with a fridge (do your shopping before you leave León). Cocktails are also served onsite.

»»» Dorms for under $15. Check availability and book here

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.

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!

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

Like it? Pin it!

Las Penitas, Nicaragua

Have you been to Las Peñitas?

Brave Enough to go Volcano Boarding in Leon?

Volcano Boarding Leon Nicaragua Cerro Negro

You’ve arrived in Nicaragua and let’s face it, there is one thing that you want to do – volcano boarding in León! Here is the lowdown and tips to help make the most of your rapid, heart racing, ride.

Fancy hiking up an active volcano?

Cerro Negro Nicaragua Volcano Boarding in Leon

What about boarding down one?

Volcano Boarding in Leon I Cerro Negro Nicaragua

Well you can, welcome to volcano boarding in León,
Nicaragua style!

Volcano Boarding Companies in Leon

First thing first, you need to choose a reputable company. There are over seven volcano boarding companies in León, choose wisely.

  • Ensure that the company offers quality gear such as a jumpsuit, goggles, gloves, and a board. Be sure to take a bandana to cover your mouth and nose, volcanic dust is effectively small shards of glass! The board itself is like a sledge used for well, sledging in the snow, but this board is going to help you reach speeds of 55mph (if you want it to). I’d expect the chosen company to provide a bag for all of this gear which you can slip your board into the back of, you don’t want to hike carrying it by hand
  • The company should offer transport to and from the volcano, Cerro Negro. We always try to select a native company and an English speaking local guide. Many of the eight companies don’t actually offer an actual guide (instead, sending whoever is volunteering at the hostel), but it’s down to personal choice

Volcano Board, Leon, Equipment Cerro Negro, Nicaragua

  • Small groups would be wise, safety first! The larger the group, the less chance the leader is watching out for your safety. Screw getting burns from that volcano ash!
  • Photographs, do they take photos while you board? They should do!
  • Avoid snowboarding, it is impossible. We watched a guy attempt this and after ten minutes and double-figure falls, we were bored and walked away. We heard the same story from countless other groups. Don’t try and be cool, just enjoy the rush of the volcano boarding!

Volcano Boarding in Leon Cerro Negro Nicaragua

Volcano Boarding Equipment

  • A jumpsuit
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Nifty bag to carry above in
  • A volcano board (which you place through bag while hiking)

Leon to Cerro Negro

After a short ride (one hour) out of the city of León through the farms which produce potatoes, te de jamaica, peanuts, and sugar canes, you will arrive at Cerro Negro. The roads are pretty bumpy, you can make your own way there and hire boards at the entrance apparently but I wouldn’t put a hire car (or your bank balance!) through that punishment.

»»» There’s a special place near León! Don’t miss Nicaragua’s answer to paradise

Hiking Cerro Negro

Next ,you will sign up at the registry office, you can use the toilets and buy some snacks, water, and juice too.

Naturally to board down the volcano you need to get up there so it’s hike time. Make sure you have plenty of water for the easy to medium one hour hike ahead. The views are spectacular, especially the contrasting green vegetation and black ash rocks.

Don’t worry, you are not expected to wear the gear whilst hiking Central America’s youngest volcano!

Cerro Negro, Leon Nicaragua, Volcano Boarding, Hike
During the hike, you’ll get to see the effects of the last eruption in 1999 (1995 before that, 1992 before that, etc). It’s also cool to think that you are in the Ring of Fire!

 Ring of Fire, Cerro Negro, Volcano Boarding in Leon I Nicaragua

Volcano Boarding in León

Then it’s butterflies in the your belly time! Get kitted up and ready for the ride. Your company should inform you of the following to ensure volcano boarding safety

  • Sit at the back of the board with your weight evenly distributed
  • Hold on to the rope with both hands (GoProers, don’t let go = fall!)
  • Need for speed? Lie back, feel your core muscles work to prevent horizontal lying
  • Want to slow down? Sit up straight and dig your heels into the ash rock
  • Going to fall? Fall backwards, away from the board
  • Do expect ash rock, everywhere (in my teeth!)

Volcano Boarding, Leon Nicaragua Cerro Negro
I was going faster than Craig at the beginning…claims he waited behind to get a shot of me on the action cam. Judge for yourself on the video.

Nicaragua Volcano Boarding, Leon Cerro Negro

Then he took over, naturally! Estimated speed 55mph, some companies will test your speed and put you up against each other if that’s your bag!

On the Big Screen!

Volcano Boarding – What to Wear

  • Shorts
  • T-shirt
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking boots / trainers (ones with good soles!)
  • Bandana to cover face
  • Lots of suntan lotion

Volcano Boarding – What to Pack

  • Water, one litre per person
  • A snack
  • Camera

Three weeks later Cerro Negro was closed to volcano boarding in Leon due to the adjacent volcano waking from its 100 year sleep. It apparently ejected rocks and ash 7000ft into the sky! Pretty exciting eh?…but kind of glad we missed it!

Like it? Pin it!

»»» Is Danger your middle name? Click here

»»» Staying in León? Click here


Have you been volcano boarding?

Would you like to?