Gringo In Nicaragua – Lake Managua – Leon – Las Penitas

Today’s trip will take us from Esteli in the Northern Mountains, to Lake Managua, then Leon and finally to Las Penitas on the Pacific Ocean. Currently it is the rainy season in Nicaragua, and also low season for tourist in Nicaragua. From Esteli you will take highway 1 (Pan American Highway) south toward Managua. Once you reach highway 26 it’s a right turn (the only way you can turn). At Malpaisillo you will go left on highway 22. At highway 448 you will go left to Leon Viejo until you reach Lake Managua. After stopping at Lake Managua take the same path back to highway 22. At highway 22 take a left to continue on toward Leon. Take a right at highway 28 (highway 22 ends here). When highway 28 ends at highway 12 take another right. Follow highway 12 into Leon. Once you complete you visit in Leon head out of town on Ruben Dario, which will turn into highway 14. Highway 14 will take you to the ocean. Once there take a left to Las Penitas, if you continue on highway 14 it will take you to Poneloya. We left Esteli around 7 am and returned back around 7 pm.


Lake Managua

Our first stop takes us to Lake Managua to capture a view of the volcanoes Momotombo and Momotombito. The ‘ito’ at the end of Momotombito means little in Spanish. Nicaragua has one of the most impressive volcanic chains in Central America. The original city of Leon was located on the slopes of Volcano Momotombo, until the volcano reduced the city to rubble in 1610. Now it’s called Leon Viejo (Old in Spanish) and is a World Heritage Site. The ruins of Leon Viejo are now a archaeological site.

León Viejo Nicaragua - Gringo In Nicaragua - Lake Managua - Leon - Las Penitas post


Leon is a city full of history, and also full of churches. Below is a photo of the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of Leon. The cathedral is one of the largest in Central America and is also a World Heritage Site. It is located at the central plaza. The cathedral is currently under a major restoration and has been for sometime. In the image below you can see the before and after. The cathedral also contains the tomb of Ruben Dario, a famous poet from Nicaragua.

Cathedral Of Leon Restoration - Gringo In Nicaragua - Lake Managua - Leon - Las Penitas post

Las Penitas

Las Penitas has a wide and sandy beach front with a collection of hotels and restaurants. Surfing is not spectacular (not the largest waves), but it’s easy to get to.

Las Penitas Surfer - Gringo In Nicaragua - Lake Managua - Leon - Las Penitas post


Slideshow with additional images

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Well, all good things must come to a end, and this is the end of our post for Lake Managua, Leon and Las Penitas. Adios!

Stay tuned for the next Gringo In Nicaragua post.