San Juan del Sur on Nicaragua’s southern Pacific coast is more than the sum of its parts.
This once lazy beach surf town has grown to become a major tourist hub. Lots of college age kids come here for basically one reason: Sunday Funday.
What is Sunday Funday?
Sunday Funday is a debaucherous party that happens every Sunday in San Juan del Sur Nicaragua. Inspired it seems by fraternity, you have to get your 35$ tickets(drinks NOT included!) on Sunday morning. One 22-year old New Zealander explained to me, “You have to line up at 9am. They let the girls buy tickets first. Which means there is going to be way more girls than guys.” Sunday Funday in San Juan del Sur is a pool crawl, where participants are bused to three different hostels: The Pelican Eyes Hostel, The Naked Tiger and Pacha Mama.
So basically it is an all day frat party. Definitely not for me.
Don’t let this scare you off. San Juan del Sur has so much more to offer.
San Juan Del Sur Sunsets
For a long time I have had a bit of a dream to be able to just chill out on a beach and enjoy the view. In San Juan del Sur this is certainly more than possible. The is a very nice beach right in town and the surrounding areas offer Playa Hermosa and Playa Maderas.
You could also check out Playa Remanso, a small beautiful bay just 15 minutes south of the center of San Juan. On a clear day at Playa Remanso you can see the mountains of Costa Rica which are less than fifteen miles away. Here you’ll find two small beach bar restaurants. Both offer ample seating in the shade, fresh fruit smoothies, cold beers and simple food like fish tacos and chicken nachos.
There are many other beaches to choose from and all are just a short drive from town. There are shuttles to the main beaches which are offered by the many hostels and surf shops.
The wind is almost always present here. I am finding that out. It blows and gusts but it is not bothering me in the least. Not yet anyway. This wind is what makes the surfing here so good. Please note that I am told that the water is quite a bit colder than people think it would be for this part of the world. Hostels and surf shops alike can set you up with a board and lessons. Maybe just a day or book a week at a surf resort.
Check Out The Jesus Statue
This colossal statue silhouetted against the sky is perched high atop the cliff overlooking the town.
Erected in 2009, it’s quickly become an iconic landmark and geographical reference point for the town. At 24 meters (77.8 feet), it’s one of the 10 largest Jesus statues in the world. You can walk there but it will take you a while and it is hot. And windy. Did I mention the wind?
You will see some of the most impressive real estate in the area of the statue as well and the view of the town is breathtaking.
Places to Stay in San Juan del Sur
When it comes to places to stay in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua you have a variety of choices. There are the bigger backpacker hostels such as Casa Oro located right in the center of town. A walk in any direction and you will find dozens of hotels, hostels, guesthouses and private rooms for rent. A few minutes outside of town offers more hostels and condos for rent. Some are on the low end budget wise while of course others are considered very high end.
Right now as I am writing this I am staying at Hostal Tadeo in town. It is good. A very ample free breakfast. A TINY little pool that is not for swimming but it is nice just to cool off if you want. And it is clean. My dorm bed is costing me 10$ USD per night. I think this represents very good value.
I am booked at Hola Ola Hostel in a few days. It is just a few minutes out of town. It is billed as a chill hostel and does have a pool but the dorm beds are 15$ USD which is on the upper end of what I want to pay for a dorm bed. We shall see how it goes.
This is all subjective. What I like or do not like in accommodations may be the complete opposite of what you are looking for. I am 46 years old so a 20-24 year old probably has different criteria when it comes to picking a hostel or a hotel. You have lots of choices in San Juan del Sur.
Places to Eat San Juan del Sur
Like all tourist towns you are spoiled for choices when it comes to eating options in San Juan del Sur. There are the more upscale beach restaurants which still provide decent value. I mean beer is 1$ USD during happy hour and probably are 1.50$ regular price. There are the ususal small street vendors and taco shops and comedors(a very small “restaurant”- very good value!). I love wandering around and seeing where the locals are eating. That is where I will stop to grab a bite.
Why Do I Love San Juan del Sur?
This is a tourist town. There is also a growing expat community drawn here by the low cost of living. This may be a turn off for a lot of people. So far for me I am in love with the vibe here. There is just something about a place that you are drawn to. Maybe it’s the ocean. Maybe it’s the people. Maybe it is something in the air. I don’t know exactly. Why question it?
I am working on learning about myself and what makes me who I am. San Juan del Sur is proving to be the perfect setting to allow this process to happen.
I think that you should put San Juan del Sur on Your travel list and check it out. You can bail after a couple of days if it isn’t your place. Or, like me, you may just end up extending your stay.
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“Change the Code. Change Your Life.”