SAN JUAN DEL SUR | Nicaragua
San Juan del Sur was a funky, colorful, lively, and small beach town in Nicaragua. The beaches are beautiful, but the sunsets are even better! A lot of young travelers plan to visit for a few days and end up staying much longer. It’s a popular and well-known surf spot we were excited about and got comfortable in quickly because it had everything we wanted. Although it’s also known for being a party town, we found a lot of other things we liked! I surfed and Bailey did yoga at Zen Yoga everyday. There were a lot of fun and trendy restaurants, bars, and shops to explore - Nacho Libre had incredible burgers and The Parlour was a favorite restaurant of ours. We frequented those two places. The locals were very friendly, the town had a laid back vibe about it, but unfortunately it’s also one of the most expensive cities in Nicaragua.
The first day of surfing I opted to take a lesson, mainly because I haven’t done it many times and I didn’t know the San Juan del Sur area very well. San Juan’s beach isn’t good for surfing... the nearby Playa Remanso, Playa Hermosa, or Playa Maderas are the best surf spots. I hopped into the pickup truck with my instructor, Osman, and we rode in the Toyota Hillux to Playa Remanso, about ten minutes south of San Juan del Sur. Playa Remanso was beautiful! It’s about a half mile of beach protected on both sides by huge rock walls. There was nothing around except two small huts serving food and drinks, a few other surfers, and about a hundred surfboards tied up. Osman and I hung out in hammocks waiting for the tide to rise and the waves to get bigger. After an hour and a half Osman wasn’t satisfied with the height of the waves and guided me to another beach nearby, mainly surfed by locals. He said it was a thirty-minute walk, but the waves would be bigger. I learned pretty quickly the trek wasn’t going to be easy! We walked barefoot for thirty-minutes in the wind carrying our surfboards on sharp rocks around the walls that protected Playa Remanso. Every time the wind blew the board was like a sail, pushing me in any direction on the rocks. But Playa Tamarindo was definitely worth the rocks and the walk! We were the only people on the beach and had a great time surfing. I caught some waves and got to know Osman. After the first day, I rented a board and took on the waves on my own!
Renting a motorcycle in new cities has unintentionally become a hobby of ours. I think we’ve done it in almost every place so far! They’re cheap to rent, give us freedom, and it’s a great way to see new places and explore the surrounding area. From San Juan del Sur we rode north along the coast and visited Playa Marsella, Playa Maderas, and Playa Majagual. Playa Marsella and Playa Maderas are pretty popular surfing spots, but Playa Majagual felt like our own private beach. Occasionally we were lucky enough to cruise on pavement, but we mostly rode on gravel roads bordered by barbwire fences (we’ve gotten pretty used to bumpy, gravel roads and barbwire). We lost count during the ride how many times we stopped to let cattle or horses cross the road. We always find something new and something we wouldn't have seen if we hadn't rented the bike.
San Juan is home to one of Central America’s most notorious parties, 'Sunday Funday', and on our last day we joined in. For many backpackers it’s a bucket list thing to do while visiting the town, not to mention it was Spring Break season so it was packed! It’s an all day bar/pool crawl spread between four hostels that takes place every Sunday afternoon. $30 gets you your wristband, a tank top, and transportation between the hostels. If you want to let it all hang out, this is the place! It starts at Pachamama Hostel and ends at Arribas Bar. Some had pools, one sat atop a mountain and overlooked the city, and they all had good DJ's! We had an awesome day, met some new friends, danced, and ended the night by ordering two large pizzas to ourselves at a local pizza shop (we called it quits after the third hostel and didn't make it to Arribas).
There’s definitely no time to get bored in San Juan del Sur. We had a great time and found a good balance of exploring, yoga, surfing, partying, eating, and meeting new people. It’s a town we’d love to come back to on a future trip. Hefner’s Out!
Overlooking San Juan del Sur
Christ statue overlooking San Juan del Sur.
Horses along the beach in San Juan.
Enjoying the sunset. Taken with an Iphone.
Sunset in San Juan del Sur.
Another night's sunset.
Venturing to the nearby beaches!
The bike we rented (with helmets!)
Horses on the way to the beaches.
Arriving at Playa Remanso where Ron surfed.
The surf shop.
We walked out onto the rocks for a better view!
Down the street from the beach was a monkey I hung out with while Ron surfed. He lost his tail and isn't able to survive in the wild. Despite the 'RBF' he was very friendly and loved to hold my hand!
Starting Sunday Funday!
Losing in Jenga as the pool party was starting.
Ending Sunday Funday at the Naked Tiger Hostel!