SAN JUAN DEL SUR
Things to Do
Go Surfing or Visit the Beach: There's many beaches within 30 minutes of San Juan that are great to test your skills on.
Playa Maderas: About 20 minutes outside town with a couple of restaurants, and a killer sunset on the hill to your left (when you're facing the ocean).
Playa Remanso: If you're a shoebie wanting to surf this great for beginners, but definitely not a sunbathing beach -- the shore consists mainly of rocks.
Playa Hermosa: A long, sandy, gorgeous beach with multiple beach breaks. It's filled with hammocks, tables, and other shade structures to hang out at.
Gaby's Spa: Visit here to relax and get a massage, facial, mani/pedi, etc.
Pelican Eyes Resort: Tell the gate guard you're going to the restaurant and walk up the stairs (there's a lot) to hang out at one of the three pools. Recommend going all the way to the top pool for sunset. Ideal spot to grab drinks and enjoy the view.
Yoga at Zen Yoga: They have a variety of classes for 10 USD.
TreeCasa for Yoga: Your best bet to stretch and have a chill hangout day. For 15 USD they'll shuttle you to a resort about 15 minutes outside of town, and your fee-credit goes toward food and drinks! There are multiple pools and multi-level tree decks with ocean and jungle views.
Jesus Statue: Iconic. It's located on the top of a hill over looking San Juan. You can hike or drive up to it.
Places to Eat
Simpleton's Fish and Chips: Self explanatory -- but fresh, cheap fish and chips.
El Mercado: A market located in the middle of town where you can graze for a light, affordable breakfast or lunch.
La Lancha: Arguably the best seafood in town! Well-attended and a popular dinner spot.
Asados Juanita: A local hole-in-the-wall joint where they grill meat on the street outside and serve it with gallo pinto and plantains at a good price.
Places to Drink
Many of the beach restaurants have happy hour for 1 USD beers. Wander around and find your favorite.
Sunday Funday: This is a big backpackers party that’s on, you guessed it, Sunday. Tickets are 30 USD and include a t-shirt and shuttle between a few hostels for pool parties. Note: drinks aren't included in that cost, and this might be a better activity during dry season when the hostels are more full.
Places to Stay
There's lots of AirBnBs with great views and beach front property.
We recommend staying in the Kiss AirBnB which was super cute, had great hosts, and is located behind an ice cream shop right in the center of town!
Casa Oro: Has air conditioned rooms and include breakfast. They also have an inexpensive shuttle service to nearby beaches for surfing and relaxing.
Hush Maderas: Located in Playa Maderas about 20 minutes away, this amazing hotel has an infinity pool, lounge chairs, good food, friendly staff, and multiple decks to enjoy the sunset.
Chicken buses are cheap local buses that will get you around. Just know they're crowded and make lots of stops.
Taxis are easy, but make sure to keep small bills and haggle with your driver to get a better deal!
It's easy to rent motorbikes for around 20-30 USD a day.
Charter buses take you long distances from city to city. They're more direct and more comfortable but more money than chicken buses.
Don't be afraid to visit in the rainy season (May - November). While some days might rain consistently, it normally just rains hard for a few hours then stops. This also helps beat the heat and saves you from crowds of tourists!
It's important to research the state of Nicaragua as far as political protests and unrest when visiting. For safety, we recommend actually flying in and out of Liberia, Costa Rica. From there, getting to San Juan Del Sur is easy -- you take a bus to the Liberia bus station, then to the border, where you'll walk across (keep USD cash on you), and finishing by catching a cab to San Juan. There's also a bus, it just takes longer.
Don't exchange money at the border! But, if you do, have a currency exchange app pulled up on your phone. The calculators they use are programmed to spit out the wrong numbers and rip you off.