If you would like to escape from the heat of León (some say it’s one of the hottest cities in Nicaragua and spend a day in tranquility on the beach, then Las Peñitas would be the place for you. This gorgeous beach stretches for about 4 km. There are not many tourists who have found this quiet and nice place, so during the week you’ll literally have the beach to yourself. Almost all the houses are lined along the beach and every morning you’ll see the fishermen bring their catch in small open boats. But the atmosphere changes on weekends and holidays, when a great number of Nicaraguan tourists visit the coast, which brings some vibrancy to the otherwise deserted beach. Las Peñitas is a famous surfing beach with great swells and you will certainly feel the power of the ocean when going for a swim. As for the safety, best places to swim are next to the rock formation at hostel Playa Roca and inside the shallow bay next to Reserva Natural Juan Venado. You can walk all the way to the Nature Reserve, or go horseback riding along the beach. It can be especially magical at sunset.
If you get thirsty or hungry, there are several bars and restaurants along the beach that offer cold drinks, snacks and fresh fish, with the beautiful view of the ocean. And on weekends you can buy beer, soft drinks and home made snacks from beach vendors.
Isla Juan Venado is an 18 km long narrow island along the coast south of Las Peñitas. At some places it is only 300 metres wide. There is a curvy waterway lined with mangrove forest between the island and coast. At some places the mangrove have been destroyed by a tropical storm. On the side facing the sea there are long sandy beaches. In the reserve there are lots of birds and crabs and even crocodiles. Turtles come hear to lay their eggs.
You can take a boat trip to Reserva Natural Isla Juan Venado. I was thinking of taking a kayak tour, but was asked by someone staying at Oasis if I wanted to share a boat with them. The boat tour was arranged through the rangers office (MARENA) in Las Peñitas. We decided to leave early as there are more birds early in the morning and the sun is not so strong. We were at the office at 6am and paid for the tour, 200 cordobas each (we were five people) and the entrance fee to the reserve, which was 50 cordobas (July 2009).
A boy arrived and the man at the office asked him if it was his father who was driving the boat. It was. Then he asked the boy who the guide was and the boy said no one. When we had made the arrangements there was supposed to be a guide too on the tour, but it was fine for us without. The boy and his brother came along and they were good guides too.
You can arrange for longer tours, but we had decided to take a three hour tour. We went along the mangrove lined waterway and then stopped to walk to the other side of the island. Walking across the island we saw lots of colourful crabs running away as soon as we came near. On the ocean side of the island we met a man who had picked turtle eggs. We thought that was prohibited but were told that it was not until the 1st of August that it was illegal to pick the eggs.
Las Peñitas is on the Pacific Coast so you will see beautiful sunsets here. For me who don’t see those colourful skies very often it looks spectacular. There are a few places on the beach in Las Peñitas from where you can enjoy the sunset with a drink in your hand. You can also arrange to go horse riding on the beach around sunset.