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San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua

San Juan Del Sur in Nicaragua is no longer a secret.


San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

Hayden Llewellyn
San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua is the quintessential Nicaraguan fishing town: low-key and unhurried, yet sparkling with life.

See photos of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.

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Once upon a time, San Juan del Sur was a locals-only hideaway. It didn’t take long for intrepid travelers to seek out the paradisaical, crescent-shaped bay. Now, San Juan is a joyful merging of cultures—still uncrowded and drop-dead gorgeous, yet with enough American appetizers and air conditioners to make most foreigners happy.

San Juan del Sur’s small-town lifestyle is centered around the sea. In fact, the majority of San Juan’s residents make their living from it, fishing or managing dive and snorkel tours in and beyond the picturesque bay. International travelers also find San Juan’s waters superlative for surfing, fishing, and other water sports, and its neighboring beaches ideal for embracing the Nicaraguan beachfront mantra: Relaxation, with a capital R.

What to Do:

If you’re looking for bustling nightclubs and exclusive resorts, stay in Cancun. San Juan del Sur’s attractions and amenities are much more modest—which, in many ways, is a good thing. Even San Juan Del Sur's famous four-star hotel, Piedras y Olas (Pelican Eyes) Resort, is a loyal and generous member of the San Juan Del Sur community.

As mentioned, the Pacific ocean is rife with possibilities, from Scuba diving to deep-sea fishing to surfing (especially at Playa Maderas, twenty minutes away). Adventuresome travelers can rent horse or a bike and explore the coastline. Or they can journey by foot, hiking among San Juan’s volcanic hilltops and enjoying the remarkable views, spanning all the way to Costa Rica!

But the best part of a San Juan vacation is embracing the village’s carefree Pacific lifestyle. Sway in a hammock to reggae beats and work on your tan. Buy your dinner fresh-caught from the fishing boats -- or if you’re blessed with the necessary skills, catch it yourself! Stop by La Flor beach, where sea turtles waddle ashore to lay their eggs in late autumn.

Want to stay a little longer? Eighteen kilometers south of San Juan del Sur, Parque Maritimo El Coco Resort at Playa el Coco (near La Flor) offers a great selection of beach vacation rentals. When to Go:

San Juan del Sur holds a fiesta to commemorate its patron saint, San Juan (who else?), on June 22nd. Easter week, or Semana Santa, is another time of exuberant celebration. San Juan’s climate is warm and pleasant all year around, though rain showers are more frequent late in the year.

Getting There and Around:

From Managua, a cab to San Juan del Sur should cost about $50 US. If you’re on a budget, catch a public bus to Rivas. From there, you can catch another bus to San Juan del Sur. Buses also head to Rivas from the Costa Rican border at Penas Blancas. Or if the timing is right, you can catch an air-conditioned express buses from Managua direct to San Juan—they leave each day at 4pm.

Once you’ve arrived, the best choice of transportation is your feet.

Where to Stay The Piedras y Olas (Pelican Eyes) Hotel & Resort is worth a splurge -- just take a look at our Pelican Eyes Hotel photo gallery. The hotel's proceeds go the the Jean Brugger Foundation, building futures for San Juan Del Sur's children and wildlife. Tips and Practicalities:

San Juan Del Sur's leading Scuba dive shop is Scuba Shack, with two locations: at the cove, and at the Piedras y Olas (Pelican Eyes) Resort.

Nicaragua is often called the new Costa Rica for a reason. Check out Beach Front Realty or REMAX Nicaragua for real estate opportunities on Nicaragua’s Pacific and Caribbean beaches.

Fun Fact:

If you stroll up to the lighthouse south of San Juan’s bay, you’ll find the ruins of William Walker’s fort. Walker was an American soldier who reigned as Nicaragua’s president from 1856-1857, but was executed by the Honduran government in 1860.

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