San Juan del Sur is, uh….. well, it’s an interesting town. I hesitate when saying that because it’s not a typical Nicaraguan town, so it’s not like I want to suggest that everyone go check it out… BUT, nevertheless, it is a good stop if you’ve been traveling for awhile and need a bit of a break from rice and beans, and only one type of a “blah” beer at the bars… It’s also a place where people go to surf, but I wouldn’t suggest that either (keep reading)!
So the town itself is pretty cool (especially if you need travel-break) – there are cute little shops, amazing breakfast places, cafes, and an amazing brewery. I practically lived at the breakfast place and the brewery – If I wasn’t at the hostel, then I was at either one of those places – pretty east to find me!
Specific Places to Check Out
Simon Says » The most amazing breakfast cafe ever! If this place was back home, I would go pretty much every day. Simon Says is a garden cafe, with upcycled furniture and decor (I’m a sucker for pallet furniture), and a wall of board games. Aside from all that fun, the menu is amazing! In the morning, you can choose from omelettes, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, french toast, and a wide array of other breakfast goodies. Here’s the best part: all breakfast come with coffee, fresh made juice (that they make, in house, every morning), bread, and a small breakfast bar of fruits and cheeses. Oh, I lied. That was the second best part. HERE’S the best part: Breakfast is $5. Yes. WHAT? Yes. All of that for $5.
Dale Pues » Another great option for food – any time of the day! I really like this place for lunch or dinner because they have yummy pasta and burgers. Meals are about $8, so a little more expensive.
Chicken Place » So I should have asked what the official name of this place is, but my mouth was always stuffed with chicken… sorry – so I’ll describe this place best I can and you NEED to find it because it’s the best chicken I’ve ever eaten. Even my “vegetarian” travel-mate ate the chicken every night because it was that good. OK, so there’s a fork in the road near Dale Pues – take the road to the right and about 2 blocks up, you’ll see a woman cooking chicken on a BBQ in the street. I believe woman (and her family) lives in the building in the back, but she opens the front up, brings the BBQ out and just started cooking chicken around sundown. Definitely try to find this place some time around 6pm-midnight. If you go earlier, it won’t look like anything at all – no sign, no entrance, nothing.
The Art Warehouse » A really amazing space where you can get creative, and enjoy a smoothie bowl and espresso! The Art Warehouse is a big studio space where you can check out some local artwork, or work on your own art project. Also, there are classes every so often. When I was there, the class later that night was how to take old clothes and turn them into trendy new pieces. The Art Warehouse provided everything needed: sewing machines, scissors, beads, lace, elastic, etc. I didn’t go because (1) I was off getting into other shenanigans, and (2) I could have practically taught that class (because I do this all the time and actually did it that very day with a dress I bought)… But I did see the clothes that were created and they were super cute and I think that class was only $10! Definitely check out this place!
San Juan del Sur Cervecería » This is THE BEST bar in the entire town – hands down. It’s a brewery, actually, and all the beer is extraordinary! I lived here. Actually, I have a really amazing story about this place – gourmet food, incredible beer, and amazing hospitality!
Panaderia » The bakery in town with yummy bread, cinnamon rolls, chocolate cake, brownies, and much more!
Pachamama » This place throws crazy parties. It’s actually a hostel, which a lot of people don’t even know because it’s more like a club… until midnight and then they kick everyone out so that people can sleep and then the party moves elsewhere (probably to LIT – a bar around the corner that stands from “Lost in Translation,” but everyone just calls it “LIT”).
Where to Stay
Hostel Esperanza » This is the cheapest place to stay in town. It’s cute, safe (a locked gate at night with a night guard who will let you in), and includes breakfast. It’s $9 per person per night OR if you’re a couple who wants to share a double bed, then you can talk them into $8 per person per night.
A lot of people come here to take surf lessons. The beach that the town is on is not good for surfing, but you can take shuttles to nearby beaches that are really great for surfing.
Surfboard Rental = ~$10
Roundtrip Shuttle = ~$7
Surfboard Rental + Roundtrip Shuttle + Lesson = ~$30
Most people take the shuttle from Oro Hostel – the times are posted out front. There are other shuttles in town, but they usually don’t have a set schedule – just whenever they fill up…
Playa Maderas (North)
Playa el Remanzzo (South)
Playa Hermosa (South)
So my experience was…. well, it was an experience! That’s for sure! Here’s what happened!
Hike to the Statue
If you’re in town, and walk to the beach, and then look to the right and upward, you’ll notice a huge statue up on the hill. If you’re feeling up to it, you can actually walk there in about 45 minutes.
How to get there: Walk on the beach towards the statue as far as you can. You’ll come to a small river that you can cross by taking your shoes off and crossing (which I did going there, but I honestly think it’s raw sewage that the entire village dumps all their waste into that leads into the ocean… Yeah, I did that) OR if you look to the right, you’ll see a boat and a rope that a local boy will use to take you across (for about $0.30)… Do that!
Note: Walking on the road takes you very out of the way, so this beach walk and the boat crossing is the fastest and easiest.
Once you’re across, make your way off the beach and onto the main road on the other side. Then, just follow signs for the Jesus Statue.
Entrance fee: ~$2
Best time to go: Start walking at around 4pm or 4:30pm so you can catch the sunset!
Let’s Hear It!
Let me know what you think! If you’ve been here, I want to hear your suggestions! San Juan del Sur seems to be fast changing, so new suggestions are always welcome!
Questions? Let me know and I’ll try to help!