Discover San Juan del Sur Beach Nicaragua

| by Jason | 12 Comments » | Central America, Nicaragua

The Beach Cove in San Juan del Sur

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua was on our list of must see beaches since we heard about it from other backpackers while traveling in El Salvador.  “This is where you go to surf,” they exclaimed.  From Grenada, we boarded a local bus to Rivas.  At the Rivas bus terminal, which is located in the market, we searched for a bus to San Juan del Sur.  In no time, we were on our way to the coastal town on the Pacific Ocean, in southwest Nicaragua.

Streets of San Juan del Sur

San Juan del Sur’s most popular hostel is Casa Oro, which is on the corner of the main street and the street that leads down towards the water.  It’s currently under construction, but still a hot spot for those seeking dorms.  As we exited Casa Oro Hostel, a women on the street asked us if we needed a place to stay.  We replied, “Si,” and she offered us a private room with bathroom around the corner for $20 USD a night.  Sounded perfect to us.  Rebecca’s Inn was clean and comfortable, but lacked a social environment.

Bars and Restuarants on the Beach of San Juan del Sur

After settling in, we quickly went out for a walk around town.  The town is well developed with lots of hostels, hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars and surfing shops.  Many tourist shops around town offer shuttle rides to the surrounding beaches for surfing.  San Juan del Sur isn’t a beach for surfing, but rather your base town for day excursions.  The beach is flanked on both sides by mountains and bars and restaurants line the water’s edge, creating a picturesque night life.  It’s still low season around here and the night life was lacking during our stay.

Gradually, our expenses have been increasing, and shockingly, Nicaragua has been the most expensive country for us so far.  It was surprising to us considering it’s also the second poorest country in the Americas; Haiti being the first.  Nicaragua, typically includes a 15% tax on everything in its tourist cities.  San Juan del Sur, was no exception, and we struggled to find dinner for under $10 USD.

A Surfer Fixing His Board

We walked back to Casa Oro Hostel to book our surfing lessons for the next morning.  A surf board costs $7 to rent and the lessons were $25 each including transportation to Playa de Madera.  The morning drive to the beach was approximately 45 minutes on a muddy dirt filled road.  We arrived to Tres Hermanos Hostel which resides on the small isolated beach.  The beach itself was rather dirty, lined with piles of drift wood, seaweed and washed up trash.  Unfortunately, it makes the beach much less welcoming even though it is so remote.

Transportation Shuttle to Surrounding Beaches

The waves break in three stages, providing all sorts of options for surfers of differing skills.  As beginners, we stayed close to the shore, in whitewater waves only.  Initially, Aracely and I both thought surfing was going to be extremely challenging.  I figured it to be similar to snowboarding, which is very difficult to learn. Luckily, surfing is not that challenging.  More specifically, its not as challenging to get up on the board and balance yourself.  It will become much more challenging as we venture out into bigger waves, but Aracely and I aren’t anywhere near that stage yet.  Fredo, our surf instructor spent 2-3 hours with Aracely, Miguel and I.  The first hour was on the beach, learning where to lie on the board and finding out if we stood regular or goofy.  I always look goofy, but in regards to surfing, I am regular and Aracely is goofy.  Once we got into the water, in only 15 minutes Aracely was up on the board, surfing her way to shore.  She even impressed the teacher.  After we all got the hang of things, we each attempted to surf on our own for the remainder of the day.  At 4:00pm our ride back to San Juan del Sur arrived and we all jumped back in the Land Rover.

After returning to our hostel, Aracely and I realized our ribs hurt and our knees burned.  Seems as if I rubbed the hairs off my knees a bit getting in the standing position.  It was a still a great time, and we can now officially say, “We surf!”

Canopy Tour in San Juan del Sur

There are several beaches you can visit near San Juan del Sur for surfing.  If you are looking for something else, try renting a quad or bike on the beach, charter a fishing boat or go searching for turtles.  We booked a canopy tour on zip lines the next day.  We had amazing views of the forest canopy and the coastline all for $30 a person, a fraction of what you will pay in Costa Rica.

Each evening we hung out at Barrio Cafe and continued to watch the World Series baseball games.  Other places we enjoyed a drink or some food were Big Wave Dave’s, Iguana’s Beach Club and El Gato Negro Bookstore Cafe.
Click here to see more PHOTOS of San Juan del Sur

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Tags: beaches, Central America, Nicaragua, san juan del sur nicaragua, surfing lessons, surfing shops

Written by Jason

Co-founder of TwoBackpackers.com. Jason has been traveling, writing, taking photos and creating adventure videos since 2009, when he departed on his first year long travel backpacking journey. Jason is a full-time blogger and social marketing guru trying to find the way. Visit my website

12 Responses to “Discover San Juan del Sur Beach Nicaragua”

  1. Shannon OD says:

    Big props to Aracely for getting up on the surf board that quickly!! I took lessons in Australia and I struggled a bit :-) lol, I was def not up w/in 15 mins! Looks like fun, and good to know that the zip-lining in Nicaragua is cheaper than CR!

    • Jason says:

      She was better than myself and the other guy that was with us! The canopy tour in San Juan del Sur was $30USD compared to Costa Rica’s $50-65 costs. The lines in Monteverde are extremely long, but we still had fun at Da’Flying Frog in San Juan del Sur and saved some money.

  2. carolel evinger says:

    Matt and I are finally on board. I am on facebook and will join there as well wonderful site.

  3. Brendan Kane says:

    Yo. Looks like you 2 are having a great time down there. I was in San Juan del Sur at about this time last year. Nice place. We went to see the olive ridley turtles laying their eggs one night. Amazing. Have fun!

  4. Lin says:

    Looks like tons of fun! We were there many months back and loved it. Awesome pics!

  5. Stephen says:

    Did you guys or anybody else have problems getting with safety…either around town or at the beaches. We got robbed on the rocks in San Juan del Sur. Here’s the story on my blog: http://gomadnomad.com/2009/12/16/getting-robbed-at-knife-point/

    And also, yes I was surprised at the high prices in Nicaragua. I went there specifically because I read it was the cheapest country in Central America. That 15% tax really pissed me off as well.
    .-= Stephen´s last blog ..Interview with an International Nomad =-.

    • Jason says:

      Stephen, we didn’t have any issues with safety while we were there, however we did visit during the low season and it was completely dead at the bars and on the beach. We have come to the realization that thefts can occur anywhere and usually unexpectantly; we just hope that it doesn’t happen to us. If it does, I am sure it will put a bad taste in our mouth about the place where it occured, but we will try to look past it. Thefts occur in most cities around the entire world, even NYC, but we will never stop visiting our favorite city.

      • Stephen says:

        Jason, I’ve traveled through and lived in about 45 countries over the past 15 years (including New York City), and have NEVER been robbed. But had never been to Latin America until November 2009. Not even one week into the trip I was robbed twice, once at knife-point. It’s hard for me not to consider Central America especially dangerous.
        .-= Stephen´s last blog ..Ukraine Slide Show =-.

  6. Nikki says:

    hi jason. what form of transportation did you guys take to get to costa rica from san juan del sur?

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