El Velero and El Tránsito Beaches
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Local surf information (there are several world-class waves in the region) is fiercely guarded by those in the know. Beaches south of Puerto Sandino have enormous potential for tourism, and a few surf tour providers operate out of nice homes along the coast.
One of those is Surf Tours Nicaragua (tel. 505/8440-4123, nicanicolas [at] gmail [dot] com, www.surftoursnicaragua.com), offering all kinds of activity-based, all-inclusive packages.
They also run the Nicaragua Eco-Hotel in El Transito (Carretera Vieja a Leon-Managua, Km. 44, tel. 505/8387-9394, info [at] NicaraguaEcoHotel [dot] com, www.NicaraguaEcoHotel.com, $80).
South from León, the gorgeous two-kilometer stretch of white-sand beach known as El Velero (The Sailboat) has tremendous tourist potential but instead is simply occupied by summer homes for wealthy Leóneses. Buses for Puerto Sandino and El Velero leave from the station at León.
The limited options for travelers are not cheap and have fallen into total disrepair, an ignoble end to one of Herty Lewites’s more ambitious tourism projects in the 1980s. It’s better to visit for the day.
A quiet fishing community 60 kilometers from Managua along the old highway to León, El Tránsito was devastated by the tidal wave of December 1992. The Spanish helped them recover and built what is now the new town on the hills above the old one, which was at the shoreline.
The swimming here can be a bit tricky, as there’s a strong undertow that will pull you north along the cove, but walk south along the shoreline to see the rock formations and popular swimming holes behind them. These rocks run parallel to the shoreline and buttress the full blow of waves. Splash around in one of them at high tide, when the waves strike the rocks and rush up and over in an exhilarating saltwater shower.
Ten minutes’ walk north along the shoreline takes you to the wreckage of El Balneario, an old abandoned vacation spot. Enjoy cheap, cold beer and fresh fish on the south end of the village. Buses leave Managua every afternoon from Mercado Israel Lewites at 11:15 a.m., 12:40 p.m., and 2 p.m. Buses leave El Tránsito every day at 5 a.m., 6 a.m., and 7 a.m.
© Randall Wood & Joshua Berman from Moon Nicaragua, 4th Edition