Las Penitas (Las Peñitas) is a beach village located within easy reach of Leon, the second largest city in Nicaragua. Right next to Las Penitas, following the same stretch of beach, is Poneloya. The two villages are very similar, but Las Penitas is a bit more geared towards backpackers and other foreign visitors.
The main attraction in both Las Penitas and Poneloya is of course the long, sandy beach with its powerful waves. If the waves are a bit too strong for you, both Las Penitas and Poneloya have estuaries where you can swim in more tranquil waters. Several restaurants and bars are conveniently located right next to the estuaries, making it easy to grab a few beers, sip rum drinks or order a plate of fresh fish and sea food.
The estuary in Las Penitas is a part of the Isla Juan Venado Nature Reserve, an important nesting ground for sea turtles. Tours can be arranged with most of the hostels in Las Penitas and the owner of the internet café next to the estuary also offer boat trips into the wetland.
If you wish to learn how to surf or rent surf boards, there is a surfing shack right on the beach in Las Penitas. From the estuary, simply walk along the beach towards Poneloya and you will soon stumble upon it. If you reach the big cliffs (at Hostel Playa Roca) you have gone to far.
Every Sunday, the beaches of Las Penitas and Poneloya are filled with Nicaraguans who come by bus or car to enjoy the sea. During the rest of the week, you can expect to have large stretches of beach pretty much to your self. Notable exceptions are Christmas and Easter Week when Nicaraguan and foreigners alike flock to the beach to party and celebrate.