This Tip is provided by our Australia Explorer, Kim Chappel
San Juan Del Sur, it sure is the tourist hub of the Southern Nicaraguan beaches! Despite its beauty, don’t be fooled, the prices here don’t vary much from its expensive neighbour, Costa Rica.
My Top Tips:
1. Don’t arrive on a Friday afternoon without booking accommodation (unless you’re happy to wander aimlessly door to door until you find somewhere vacant) as everyone comes for the famous Sunday Funday and the majority of good hostels are full. We stayed in a private room at Hospedaje Don Wilfredo, and while not a party hostel in the slightest, it was the same price if not cheaper than a dorm room in a party hostel.
2. If you’re on a tight budget, the cheapest meal we found was a burger stand by the beach, $2.50 USD and fills you up! So, grab a few beers from the mini mart (half the price of happy hour at the bars) and take yourself and your friends to the beach for sunset. You save money and won’t be disappointed by the sun’s vibrant displays of color. Note: the burger stands are located roughly 50m north of Iguana Bar and don’t open till 7-7:30pm.
3. Keep an afternoon free to make the 1.4km walk to the statue of Jesus on top of the mountain. Despite the 70 degree incline you have to walk up and the copious amount of sweat that comes with it, the view from the top is second to none! Note: They shut the doors to the statue at 5pm and it costs $2 USD for foreigners to enter. We got there at 4.30pm and that was plenty of time to take in the view and the welcoming breeze. A must see while in San Juan Del Sur!
4. There are plenty of surf shops that hire boards and surf lessons and also sell surfboards if they have an over abundance. It’s always a good idea to buy expensive things in groups, so if you are a solo traveller looking to buy a board, maybe try and find other travelers doing the same so you have a better chance of bartering the price down. Also, because most places do rent out boards, they are reluctant to let go of their fins. It’s a good idea to try and negotiate for these to be included or bring your own from home, same for a fin key and leg rope/leash for all you surfers out there.
5. The beach at San Juan Del Sur is a lake so not the best for surfing. Therefore, you will need to go to the beaches either north or south of San Juan. The easiest way is with a car or motorbike if you have one (mopeds won’t make the journey through the dirt roads and hills). If you are not fortunate enough to have your own transport, don’t fear, almost every surf shop/hostel has organised shuttles. We found that Casa Oro was the most popular and therefore the most reliable as many others required a minimum number of people before they leave and so may not leave at all. We spent all of our time at Maderas which was a $5 USD return trip. They have a schedule up in the reception for bus times.
Follow Kim’s personal blog here.
Photo Credit: Author’s Own