Las Penitas and Poneloya are located roughly 20 kilometers (12.5 imperial miles) from Leon, the second largest city in Nicaragua. A new road funded by the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation was completed in 2009, making it easy to get from Leon to the entrance of Las Penitas and Poneloya within 15 minutes by car.
Getting to Las Penitas by bus from Leon
The bus leaves from the Sutiava Market, also known as “El Mercandito”, located in the Sutiava neighborhood in the western part of Leon City.
Normally, the first bus will leave around 4:30 AM in the morning and the last one around 6 PM in the evening. Between these hours, expect one bus to leave every full hour. There time table is certainly not carved in stone, so you need to be quite flexible.
Please be aware that the bus tends to fill up long before its departure, so you may spend 15 minutes or more in a hot bus guarding your seat. Since the bus is leaving from a market, juice bags, cookies, fruits, etc can be purchased to make the waiting more bearable.
The bus from Leon to Las Penitas only costs 12 Cordobas per person and is thus a very cheap way of getting to the beach. You don’t pay as you enter the bus; a conductor will come and ask for payment once the bus has started. If you only have big bills, you may not get your change until he has passed through the bus collecting more money, but you will get your change eventually.
Since the bus will stop to pick up passengers along the way, the journey can take anything from 30 minutes or 45 minutes or more.
Where’s my stop?
Once you have passed Farmacia Botica on your right hand side, the road will fork. The road to the left goes to Las Penitas, while proceeding straight ahead will take you to Poneloya. The bus will continue straight ahead all the way to Poneloya Bay make a u-turn and go back all the way to the fork. It will then enter Las Penitas, go all the way to Las Penitas Bay and stop in front of the hostel Barca del Oro. It will then either make or u-turn or go through some dirt roads. Once it’s back on the main road, it will head for the fork, before returning back to Leon.
There are a few semi-fixed stops along the way in Poneloya and Las Penitas, but if you have a specific place where you want to get off (e.g. a hostel) it is best to tell the conductor to make sure that the bus will stop nearby.
Getting to Las Pentias by taxi from Leon
There are no fixed taxi stops in Leon. Simply hail a cab on the street. If you arrive by bus from another part of Nicaragua, you will have no trouble finding a taxi since they tend to congregate around the bus terminal.
Expect a taxi ride from Leon to Las Penitas to cost you about 250 Cordobas from Leon. A somewhat higher price might be required during evenings and busy days. If the driver wants too much, simply say no and wait for the next taxi to come along. There are plenty of cabs available in Leon, so there is no need to overpay unless there are special circumstances, e.g. late at night during a busy holiday when it’s raining cats and dogs.
Always negotiate the fee in advance. If you are several people traveling together to Las Penitas, make it clear that the price you agree on with the taxi driver is for the entire car, not per person. (Within Leon city, the normal thing to do is to pay taxi rides per person, so this can cause a bit of confusion.)
A taxi ride from Leon to Las Penitas will normally take about 15 minutes.
Driving or biking to Las Penitas from Leon
Rubén Darío is major street within Leon that will take you to the Suitava neighborhood if you drive westward. When you pass the Texaco Station on your right hand side, you know that you’re going in the right direction. Proceed past the Sutiava Market (“El Mercandito”) and then just keep going on the same road for about 15 minutes. You will leave Leon behind and drive through farmland. Eventually, you will be able to see the ocean. When the road finally forks, go left and you will enter Las Penitas. (Continuing straight ahead instead will take you to Poneloya.)
I’m in Managua, how do I get to Leon?
Taking the Express bus (“El Interlocal”) from Managua to Leon
Express buses from Managua to Leon leave from the UCA bus station and from the Mercado Israel. The UCA bus station is located on the other side of the road from UCA (Universidad Centroamericana).
A lot of different buses leave from these bus stations, but it is easy to find the right ones because the buses heading for Leon has the name Leon painted on them.
4 AM – 9 PM from UC
4 AM – 8 PM from Mercado Israel
These buses to not have a fixed schedule. Instead, they leave as soon as all (or nearly all) seats are full.
The price is around 45 Cordoba / 2 USD per person. (Sometimes an air conditioned bus will charge you a few more Cordobas.)
If you have a lot of luggage and want to keep it next to you, you can pay an additional 45 Cordoba to get the seat next to you for your luggage.
You do not pay in advance or as you get on the bus. Instead, money will be collected as the bus starts rolling. It is not unusual for the bus to make a stop at a gas station in or near Managua and collect the money there so the bus can fill up on gas.
The journey takes approximately 1.5 hours.
Where’s my stop?
As you approach Leon, it is not unusual for the express bus to make a stop at a gas station in the outskirts of Leon. If you want to go directly to Las Penitas by taxi, you can get off here and negotiate a price with one of the taxi drivers. If you want to take the “chicken bus” from Leon to Las Penitas, stay on the express bus and do not get off until it reaches the bus terminal in Leon.
At the bus terminal in Leon, take a taxi to El Mercandito the Sutiava if you want to catch the bus to Las Penitas. For your own peace of mind, it can be a good idea to negotiate a price in advance. The standard fair is 20 Cordoba per person, a bit more if you have a lot of luggage. Don’t be surprised if the taxi driver stops to pick up new passengers on your drive to El Mercandito; it is common practice in Leon since you pay per person, not per car. If you want the car to yourself, negotiate this in advance and be prepared to pay a somewhat higher price for the trip.
It is not unusual for the taxi driver to offer to take you all the way to Las Penitas instead of dropping your off at El Mercandito. If you wish to accept his offer, always negotiate the price before you accept. Roughly 250 Cordobas (10 USD) is normal for the trip from Leon to Las Penitas, but if it’s late in the evening (after the last bus…..) or during a busy holiday you may have to pay a bit more. The same goes for people traveling with a lot of luggage.
Taking the Chicken Bus from Managua to Leon
If you wish to save some money, you can catch the “chicken bus” from Managua to Leon instead of going with one of the small interlocales.
You can catch the chicken bus from Mercado Israel.
The bus leaves approximately every 40 minutes. The first bus leaves around 5:10 AM, while the last bus leaves around 7:30 PM. (Special time tables can apply on holidays.)
About 20 Cordoba / 1 USD.
Expect the journey to take around 2 hours and 15 minutes.