Perhaps one of the more well known touristy spots, San Juan del Sur is a beach town in Southern Nicaragua (with Costa Rica bordering South). As with any tourist destination, the streets are full of souvenir shops, hotels, and restaurants. Yet what was unique are the kinds of places in town! So here’s the story:
Today I and my colleagues catch another weekend break from class and had the opportunity to go to San Juan. Everyone split into groups of two or more and left at different times. While some left at the early morning, me and a few others left late morning. I think the early birds played it smart leaving early, both to avoid lots of traffic and have a longer day at San Juan. Though some of us left later, getting transportation wasn’t difficult but was a hassle.
We took a bus and two cabs to arrive at San Juan. None of the rides were booked, so all we had were street smarts and Spanish speaking skills. First, we had to negotiate a cab driver to take us from Managua to the Roberto Huembes market. For four people, we thought 30 cordobas each would suffice (1 cord=0.30 US dollars). A few turned down the offer, but finally, someone accepted. (cab drivers like to charge tourists more of course). Next was a 2-hour bus ride to Rivas, with a few bus stops en route. We rode a chicken bus, which got packed fast. The ride cost 70 centavos, but for some odd reason, some passengers from Huembes were charged a little more to go to Rivas. Last, we rode another taxi to San Juan with everything going smoothly. Overall, the whole trip was 3 hours.
Arriving in San Juan, we were greeted by jewelers and vendors. So, we stopped here and there to examine our options. Everyone seemed fascinated by something. Some of the jewelry I have seen even caught my eye, such as bracelets with Nicaraguan currency attached. I was tempted to get something, but then I thought it wouldn’t be wise to buy just after arriving.
Something else that I found striking was how much Italian influence was in the town. Browsing further, we came across many pasta places, pizzerias, and a gelateria. I thought I was in little Italy or something.
After some exploration, we headed to El Coco Azul (blue coconut), the hostel we were staying in. I was able to book a two bedroom yesterday, which was pretty convenient. The lobby is a pretty blue and white with a mini garden in the center. The staff is also friendly. The place was mostly empty, perhaps because we came during a least touristy season. After settling for a bit, we headed out for lunch.
For lunch, we went to an eatery right on the beach to eat and chat. I had me a delicious fish sandwich ( I took a picture of it half-eaten. I was starving!) Suddenly, a strange man from the beach approached us and tried flirt with us. At the middle of our chatting, he interrupted immediately by sharing his social media account and proving his identity. He then proceeded to offer us places to hang out and such. We were instantly fed up with it and told him to leave. He did thankfully although it took a couple of times. We watched him a bit after the strange encounter. He met up with a few guys who seemed like tourists, then went off to the beach again. Very shady stuff!!
Once we had our lunch, it was time to take a swim. But rather than dipping into the Pacific Ocean, we chose to go to a pool. It was overcast and windy outside anyways, not perfect beach weather. So we headed to Central San Juan (sorry this is the best link I could find) and we had it all to ourselves.
During the evening, we spent some time viewing the sunset. Despite how pretty it looks, it was still overcast.
For dinner tonight, we stuck with pizza, because why not? We went to the Pizzeria la Terrazza right on the boardwalk. I had a veggie pizza, which was so delicious!
At night (around 9 or 10), we then went to Henry’s Iguana Beach Bar & Restaurant, definitely the place to be for nightlife. It’s two floors high and plays some pop and hip hop music. We got second-floor seats and a good view of the beach. I ordered a crepe with ice cream, which was also delicious. We socialized for at least an hour or two. By then, the place was packed!! When trying to leave, we had to squeeze through just to move around! We returned to the hostel at that point and called it a night. Though while most of us stayed, a couple of colleagues decided to go back and make the most of the night.
We only went to San Juan for 2 days, so there is likely a lot we missed. Have you or someone you know been to San Juan? If so, which parts and how was the experience like? Feel free to share your experience in the comments below!