Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Wed June 03 2015

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | June 3, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    Life's A Beach: León, Nicaragua

    Life's A Beach: León, Nicaragua

    I couldn’t help but feel a sense of euphoria as the five of us stood in the ocean as the sunset on our first night at Los Brasiles (all photos by Shannon Wolf)

    On the road again. And this time we managed to cram five backpackers (not including one cab driver), five backpacks, three day bags, four bags of groceries, and a surfboard sticking through the backseat windows and across our laps into a small cab for $3 a person and headed off to Surfing Turtle Lodge, recommended by fellow travelers.

    The weight was so heavy that the car dragged, but we arrived 10 laughable minutes later to a dirt road where we unloaded and reloaded all of our things into a little tugboat that took us to the secluded Isla Los Brasiles. A few minutes later, an old man with an even older horse and buggy greeted us. He loaded our luggage into the buggy and “drove” us 20 minutes through the forest to our destination.

    When we arrived, the sun had just set and we stood with our mouths dropped to the ground in awe. The sky was electric — in shades of purple, pink, yellow, and blue while the ocean was a deep turquoise. My travel companion Matt and I look at each other and I could only mutter, “Is this real?” He laughed, sighed happily and said, “Welcome to heaven.”

    Best Beaches Outside of León:

    MONEY SAVING TIP: Bring enough non-perishable food and drinks with you from Leon — no kitchen or tiendas on either beach, which means prices are inflated and you’ll end up spending a fortune.

    Cheapest Alcohol: Toña (beer) or Flor de Caña (rum)

    Isla Los Brasiles, León, Nicaragua

    Best Accommodation: Surfing Turtle Beach Lodge ($5-$10 a night)

    This hostel has the perfect balance of everything and you’ll want to stay as long as you can.


    • Hostel is on its own island and right on the beach!
    • Dorms or tents with mattresses available (tents are $5-$7.50, dorms are $10)
    • Large lockers in dorms
    • Plenty of hammocks and seating
    • Two bars
    • Stunning sunsets
    • Surfing, horseback riding, yoga, volleyball court, and bonfires every night
    • Friendly staff and owners
    • Decent Wi-Fi
    • Free turtle release if you’re lucky (was a highlight of my trip)
    • Organic farm/Solar-powered energy

    A friend rides horseback at sunset along the beautiful shoreline of Los Brasiles

    MUST DO’S: 

    • Go into the ocean at night and move your hands fast through the water! The ocean will literally light up (The harmless plankton in the water sparkle blue)

    • Have a bonfire and create a music circle with fellow travelers

    • Star gaze: At night the sky is littered with hundreds of stellar objects and shooting stars!

    • FREE Turtle Release: One of the highlights of my time in Leon

    • Do yoga on the lookout over the ocean at sunset.


    • From León, take their shuttle for $3

    • If you want to stay here one week or longer, you can get a discount.

    • Most people want to volunteer here. If you do, speak with the owners in person rather than applying online. (Helpful icebreaker: the owners are from Ontario, Canada!)

    • You can take a cab from here to Bigfoot Beach House for $3 rather than heading back to Leon and backtracking.
    At night, mosquitos are rampant — bring LOTS of bug-spray with a high concentration of DEET.

    Las Penitas, León, Nicaragua

    Best Accommodation: Bigfoot Beach House ($5-$10 a night)

    This hostel is good for a night or two. Bathrooms and dorms are mediocre but you come here for the party.


    • Dorms and tents available (don’t cheap out here — stay in the dorm.)
    • Right on the beach
    • Large lockers in dorm
    • Plenty of showers and washrooms (not the cleanest but not the worst)
    • Comfortable seating and couches
    • BIG parties (and you’ll have some crazy stories)
    • CHEAP drink specials
    • Surfing, beach volleyball court, swimming pool, pool table
    • Fun staff
    • Good Wi-Fi

    Mark, Jess and I made our way along the black sand beach, walking up the stairs along the cliff-face as the waves came crashing in and took in the breathtaking views on our last night in Las Penitas

    MUST DO’S: 

    • Walk along the beach until you encounter a big rock formation adorned with a colossal white cross, and watch the sunset from the top of the cliff.

    • Bigfoot Beach House is notorious for parties so party on!

    • Climb to the stairs to the cliff’s lookout point for sunset!

    No matter how many sunsets I’ve seen, there is something magical about them here. I have been at a loss for words at how beautiful the world is — to the point where all I can do is stand in awe at the beauty that surrounds me.

More Nicaragua


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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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