<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=766060260189124&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Relax In San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Posted by Emily Cummings on 11/16/18 10:11 AM

ILP adventure

You’ll never want to leave this chill, relaxed fishing village after you visit.

Have your Nicaragua vacation plans booked yet? ILP volunteers have the right idea by spending a day or two in Juan Del Sur! Tucked on the south west coast of Nicaragua, this fishing village-turned paradise is a little picturesque spot nestled in a “c” curve cove of the Pacific ocean. You’ll find a range of big surf beaches and relaxing  stretches of sand to catch some sun, along with colorful waterfront homesteads. 



Interested in seeing more of Nicaragua?
Read this Central America Destination Guide.



Volunteers in Nicaragua are living in Granada (another spot you’ll love), teaching English part time during the week, with weekends and vacation days to explore Central America. Luckily, San Jun Del Sur is easily  close enough for a weekend getaway. 

Planning A Trip To San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua:

  • Our Favorite Things To Do 
  • Places To Stay 
  • A Tip Or Two 
  • Getting To San Juan Del Sur

Our Favorite Things To Do 

The is the ultimate laid back beach vacation, a nice way to spend weekend after a week of teaching and exploring the city you call home as an ILP volunteer, Granada. You’ll find your typical beachy things to do, along with a couple of activities to keep you coming back for more. 

The Beaches 

You have the pick of the litter when it comes to beaches in San Juan Del Sur. Some are better for those looking for a relaxing day on a secluded beach, while some are best for swimming, and more than others are ideal for anyone looking to surf. Here’s our breakdown of a couple different kinds of beaches — 

Playa Hermosa 

Hire out some hammocks or grab a massage on this beach. There are also huts advertising surfing lessons if you’d rather spend your time in the waves rather than on the sand. Or,  if you’re in the mood for a horse back ride on the beach you can make that happen.

You’ll need to grab a shuttle to this beach from San Juan Del Sur, but the $10 charge includes the $3 entrance fee you’ll need to pay to enter the beach. Taxis will also take you (plan on a 30 minute ride). Hostels can help you get a shuttle to the beach if you don’t want to take a taxi from where you’re staying. 

volunteer in nicaragua

Playa Maderas 

Probably the city’s most popular beach and definitely one for surfers. You can easily catch a taxi from where you’re staying (they will all know Playa Maderas) for a few dollars — no shuttles take you here. Playa Maderas is a good beach for a few reasons: there are gentle waves that last until you’re about waist deep for swimmers, or you can head out further and catch the bigger waves for surfing.

You’ll find a dozen plus shops and restaurants advertising rentals, along with a pocket of tide pools where you can admire crabs and starfish up close. 

Playa Marsella 

This is a swimming and relaxing beach, with small waves and a chill vibe. Taxis will know the spot, making it easy to get to. Nearby there are a couple of restaurants and hotels if you’re looking to grab lunch on the beach. 

Pro Tip: Overall, you can find surf board rentals anywhere from $10 - $35, more for a board and lessons at most beaches. 

ILP Nicaragua - surfing

Hang Out with Turtles! 

One of the main reasons to relax in San Juan Del Sur is to come see the sea turtles — each year thousands of little turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean, and you can be a part of that. You'll need to go with a tour, so we have all the details about seeing turtles in Nicaragua right here. 

Water Taxi to Playa Madera

Line up in front of Hotel Estrella before 10:00 AM to book your tickets on a water taxi (tickets are around $8 USD). You’ll take a 30 minute boat trip across the waves to Playa Madera, a tranquil beach of golden sand, gorgeous waters, colorful bungalows and a relaxed vibe. Surfing also puts this place on the map, so plan on spending a couple of hours in the waves yourself (you’ll find board rentals all over) or watching the pros.

Stay just long enough to catch your water taxi back to San Juan Del Sur, which departs around 4:00 PM (But double check with the Hostel Estrella!).

ILP Nicaragua

Have A Zen Yoga Session

You can find a few yoga studies around San Just Del Sur, but there is something to be said about visiting the first yoga studio in the area. You’ll get a view of the canary-yellow church and the coastal town from the windows in the two-story studio, plus there’s no need to have a reservation. You can have a drop in lesson which includes a cup of tea and a yoga mat for $10. Head to Zen Yoga Nicaragua, and take a peek at their yoga schedule here. 

Fav Photography Spots 

This coastal, sleepy town is charming, with more than a few lookout spots: 

The Christ Statue

Cristo de La Misericordia, a giant statue of Christ is a landmark you can spot from a couple of beaches. It’s a 25+ minute hike uphill to the statue or you can hire a taxi to take you all the way up for a few dollars. Plan on paying $2 USD for your entry fee which includes a tour around a small museum. The views from the top are stunning and an absolute don’t miss spot. 

As you can see by the picture below ... it can get pretty windy up there! 

These Sunset Spots 

They are stellar here, especially if you catch the sun going down behind the waves. The Christ statue hike boasts the most spectacular views of the surrounding town, but you want to be off the mountain on the sand for the best views of the sunset. A good spot is the San Juan Del Sur beach. 

You’ll see signs, but just as a head’s up, it’s not the best idea to be out wandering at night. Like any other tourist town, theft and petty crime tends to be more popular at night (and here, around the beaches) so be sure to snag your picture of the sunset and head to your hostel’s pool before bed instead of hanging around after dark. 

The Art Warehouse

Tour the murals at The Art Warehouse, a gallery of local artists where you can hang out at the coffee shop or purchase a unique take-home. There are also classes you can take like soap making and painting classes. Message them about classes on Facebook. 

The Colorful Town Square 

You’ll find pops of banana yellow, creamy turquoise, vibrant pinks and stunning blues all over, so best to grab your camera whenever you’re walking around. Get bursts of color on the Main Town Square in particular. The yellow church is also picture perfect for a colorful Instagram feed.

ILP Nicaragua
 

Places To Stay 

Like most popular beach towns, you’ll find a mix of hostels, fancy resorts, and AirBnBs to check out. These are just a couple of recommendations.

Hola Ola 

Grab a shuttle to the center of town, or make the 10 minute walk along the beach from the Hola Ola hostel. Travelers who stay here love hanging out at the pool and paying a few dollars to eat dinner (family style) with a group of travelers all over the world.  Dorm rooms are $7 - $10 + 

Hostel Esperenza 

Enjoy a free local breakfast at the Hostel Esperenza before you hang out on the beachfront hammocks. The hostel boasts a helpful staff that can help you rent out bicycles for the day, or feel free to head out right to the beach (it’s right across the way). It’s a pretty unbeatable location with good rates ($10 in a dorm), not to mention the close access to the beach. 

Hush Maderas

A 15 minute drive away from San Juan Del Sur gets you to Hush Maderas, a slice of paradise, where travelers can hag out in the pool that overlooks the coast, yet still remains tucked away in the trees. Get a 4 person dorm for $25 a night. 

Peek the picture from Hostelworld of this place — looks dream!

ILP Nicaragua

A Tip Or Two

There’s a surprisingly present Jewish population in this Nicaraguan town, so spotting a falafel stand isn’t too out of place among the eateries boasting ceviche and tacos. The Taco Stop is a fav place to get tacos if you need them (which you do, by the way) and Simon Says is a popular place to grab smoothies. 

This is an ideal weekend spot, especially if you have the budget to take a taxi down, and get there early on a Saturday morning. There’s enough to keep you busy for a day, then you can sleep overnight Saturday night, and hit the beach one more time or schedule in a yoga lesson before leaving and getting back to Granada for the night.

 ILP Nicaragua

How To Get To San Juan Del Sur 

From Granada 

This popular location is where our ILP volunteers live, making it easy to visit other spots in Nicaragua if you know a bit about traveling by bus in Nicaragua. 

From Granada, you have a couple of options: you can either take a private car, a taxi, or a bus to San Juan Del Sur. If you’re a fan of taking a bus, you can catch a bus from Granada to Rivas, then follow the directions below to get to from Rivas to San Juan Del Sur. 

Chicken buses leave for Rivas from this station a few times a day, at 5:50 AM, 6:30 AM, 8:05 AM, 9:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:40 PM, 1:10 PM and 3:10 PM  (no 3:10 on Thursdays and Sundays). The ride is just over $1 USD, but takes about 2.5 hours, plus the 1 hour drive from Rivas to San Juan Del Sur. The whole journey shouldn’t cost more than $3 USD, but will take around 4 hours. If you’re on a tight budget and have the time, taking a bus to Rivas, then a bus from Rivas to San Juan Del Sur is your best bet.

Taking a private shuttle or a taxi will be more expensive, but a lot quicker. The drive from Granada to San Juan Del Sur is about 1.5 hours. A taxi to Rivas is about $60 - $80 USD, which isn’t too terrible if you’re splitting it with your ILP group.

From Rivas 

Most buses are coming from Rivas, with several daily buses making the trek from Rivas to San Juan Del Sur. Check this website for more accurate listings, but buses pretty much leave every 30-45 minutes starting from 5:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The buses are cheap (only about $1, or $30 cordobas). The bus ride takes just about an hour to arrive to San Juan Del Sur. 

ILP Adventure - Nicaragua

Dying to get more out of Nicaragua?

This country is an untapped gem, a place travelers who really know adventure and off-the-beaten track experiences know all about, but are totally off the radar for most people.

Discover Nicaragua

Topics: Central America

Exploring The World For Nearly 30 Years

Hi! We are ILP, a non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We share our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

ILP Semester Abroad

Popular Posts

Weekly Post Updates