The Beach & Adventures
The beaches of Poneloya and Las Peñitas
The beach of Poneloya is only 20 kilometers from León and popular among tourists. In this village you will find vacation homes and seafood restaurants on the beach.
Nearby Las Peñitas is better developed for foreign travelers, and is more popular among beginner surfers, since the waves are a bit mellower and there are many boards for rent.
Located just outside of León is Cerro Negro Volcano, which first appeared in April of 1850 and is the “youngest” volcano in Central America. It is an active volcano and has erupted 23 times in its short history, most recently in 1999.
Volcano boarding has been the most popular activity in recent years, and Cerro Negro has been said to be the only place in the world where volcano boarding is possible.
Adventure seekers can strap on a board or ride a modified sled from the top of Cerro Negro. Experienced riders have been clocked at 50 mph (80 km/h) as they cruise down the rough and rocky 40 degree slope!
There are a few local businesses that offer volcano boarding tours, which include transportation to and from the volcano, bilingual guides, sledding equipment, protective clothing, goggles, and radar gun speed reports.
The entire ride down the volcano only takes a few minutes, but the memories will last a lifetime!
Isla Juan Venado Wildlife Reserve
The 21-kilometer strip of tropical dry forest, mangroves, and inland estuary south of Las Peñitas provides habitat for hundreds of species of migratory birds, as well as crocodiles and other wetland creatures, and is also an important nesting beach for sea turtles.
Many León-based tour operators run trips to Isla Juan Venado, and it is recommended to arrange your trip at least one day in advance, especially if you plan on a sunrise excursion, when you will see the most wildlife (late afternoons are good too).
You can also access the reserve from the rustic community of Salinas Grandes on the south side of the island, where you can rent kayaks and stay in beach front huts, in which case arrangements must be made at least one week in advance.
San Jacinto boiling mud pits
San Jacinto is a little village about 20 kilometers northeast of León. Behind the village lie volcanic mud fields that serve as breathing holes for the nearby Telica Volcano, and that also help to prevent volcanic eruptions.
The boiling mud pits and thermal vents have formed a veritable martian landscape in a field that is not big, but is actually very interesting. The mud fiercely boils in holes which differ in size and color, and sometimes little rocks are thrown out in the air and steam is continuously emitted from the holes.
Many local kids offer to guide you around. This is probably a good idea because there are no clearly set paths that mark where it is safe to walk and the kids know their way around. They will also be keen to sell you indigenous ceramics and handmade figurines, made fresh from the hot volcanic mud.