In order to escape the intense heat of León, we decided to take a day trip out to the Poneloya beach with the Big Foot shuttle ($4 return) that leaves every day from the hostel at 11am. The shuttle (truck) takes about 25 minutes or so to get out to the beach and drops you off right by the beach where there are lots of restaurants and bars. From there, you can get a little motorboat (20 cordobas each way) to bring you over to Isla Los Brasiles, an island just off the coast where we had heard there was a cool lodge right on the beachfront.
We arrived at the island after a very short boat ride and on the other side there was a horse drawn carriage (of sorts!) waiting to take us right to the Surfing Turtle Lodge. This is provided for free and organised by the lodge but tips are welcome! The lodge is a really cool place to hang out and it was relatively quiet the days we were there, which was nice. It was my very first time to see the Pacific Ocean which I was very excited about! Unfortunately the currents were insanely rough so you can only really go in a little bit into the water depending on how bad the waves are at the time.
The Surfing Turtle is an eco-friendly hostel and the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of León, you really do feel like you’re off the grid! They have surfing lessons, you can hire surf boards or body boards, there’s a volleyball tournament at 4pm every day as well as a nice restaurant (they do really good ceviche and burgers) and swing bar where you can chill and take in the views of the ocean. We liked it so much there that we decided to come back the next day and stay for the night! As it was Semana Santa, prices for the dorm room had been slightly increased (from the usual $12 to $15), so it was a bit of a splurge but I think it was well worth it. The night we stayed there were only four of us in the dorm room (that can accommodate about 12 or so), and there were just a few other guests staying in the tents and cabins on the beach.
The guys Aldo (a Peruvian who owns the lodge with a group of friends) and Marco (a Brazilian who is currently managing the lodge) were so nice and really made us feel welcome. We had great fun that evening after a hard day on the beach (!) playing drinking games, dancing and celebrating the birthday of Emily (an English girl who was on staying at the lodge). We played a drinking game called ‘Chanco Va’ (which I think means ‘Pig Go’) where all of us were given three cards and the aim of the game is to get three of a kind. It’s a lightning fast game where everyone has to pass one of their cards constantly to the right until they get three of the same card, all the while everyone says ‘Chanco Va’ on each turn. Once you get three of a kind you slam your hand down in the centre of the table and the last person to place their hand in the centre has to do a truth/dare/tell a joke (!?) and gets one of the letters of ‘Chanco’ written on their arm. The first person to get the full word written on their arm loses and does the ultimate dare! Thankfully for us, there was a slightly inebriated German girl playing whose reflexes were not too sharp so she bore the brunt of most of the truth and dares!
The next day we relaxed on hammocks after breakfast and hung out some more with Aldo and Marco before making our way down the beach to get to the boat. The Big Foot shuttle picked us up at about 6pm from Poneloya beach and we arrived back to León later that the night. I had kept my bags at Via Via the day before (as I didn’t want to cart everything to the beach for just one night), and they were all so nice and welcomed me back like I was a member of the family when I got there later that evening!
The following day I decided to move on to Granada, my next stop in Nicaragua. Instead of taking the tourist shuttle (which was about $15), I had read that its very easy to get to Granada with public transport so I took a taxi from the hostel to the bus station (20 cordobas), and jumped on a shuttle bus from here to UCA Managua (54 cordobas) where I could get on a public bus directly to Granada (24 cordobas). This way I saved a good bit of money and it took about 3 hours in total, which isn’t that much more than it would have taken if I had gotten the more expensive direct tourist shuttle. Every little helps! 🙂