Nicaragua has several cozy coastal towns on the Pacific coast that are mainly known for (learning to) surf. One of the most famous and close to the border with Costa Rica is San Juan del Sur. It is a small village on a bay, with several cozy and trendy ho(s)tels, bars, restaurants and boutiques. Surfing and going to the beach are the best known activities, but you can do more.
There are many surf schools/surf stores where you can take lessons or rent and buy surfing equipment. A well-known one is Casa Oro, which is also a hotel, which gives surfing lessons in groups of about 5 people for $25 for 2 hours. A more small-scale surf school is Tribu surf. They teach in groups of up to 3 people and a class costs $35. You cannot surf in the bay of San Juan del Sur, but you can at the beaches nearby, such as Playa Hermosa or Playa Maderas or Playa El Remanzo. Where best to surf depends on your surfing level and the waves at the time.
Christo de la Misericordia
Atop the cliff at the edge of San Juan del Sur is a Jesus statue. From that statue you have a nice view of the bay and the coastline of Nicaragua. It is especially beautiful during sunset. You can find the shortest route on Maps.me and then walk from the center to the top in about 45 minutes. The last part is quite steep. The park around it is open daily from 8:00 – 18:00 (although the signs you walk by say until 17:00) and costs 70 Córdoba/€1.75.
To the beach
Around San Juan del Sur you will find several beautiful beaches that can be reached by bus or cab. From the center you can also walk to Playa Nacascolo, 2.5 kilometers. This is a beach on a bay next to San Juan del Sur and quite unknown. Chances are you’ll have the beach almost to yourself. Or visit Playa Hermosa, Playa Maderas or Playa El Remanzo.
Every Sunday, San Juan del Sur is all about Sunday Funday. A party afternoon and evening where you visit several ho(s)tels with swimming pools and where music, drinks and fun prevail. Tickets are available online and at hostels for $30.
How do you get there and back?
San Juan del Sur is located in the south of the country, close to the border of Costa Rica. You arrive in San Juan del Sur from Rivas. There are direct buses to San Juan del Sur, or you have to change at the La Virgen point. This is a fork in the road. There you can stop a bus on the side of the road to San Juan del Sur. To and from La Virgen takes about 30 minutes both times and costs 30 – 50 Córdoba, depending on whether you have luggage or not.
If you want to go from San Juan del Sur to the border of Costa Rica (Peñas Blancas), you go through La Virgen again and change to the bus to the border (la frontera). Think 2x 30 minutes and the same price.
You can very easily travel overland to Nicaragua via Honduras or Costa Rica . But what do you need to do that and how does it actually work? Below is an explanation of how to travel by land into Nicaragua through the various border crossings.