From surfing aficionados to nightlife seekers, San Juan del Sur has been a beach mecca for tourists around the world. This quaint, bohemian town flows with surf shops, Victorian houses, and great food. Its crown jewel: a towering statue of Christ atop a hill overlooking the beautiful bay.
Quickly swept by the town’s charming personality (and low prices), tourists are unable to resist establishing themselves permanently—bringing with them a boom in local business and diverse, vibrant people. All in all, San Juan del Sur is an experience you cannot miss when visiting Nicaragua and we’ll help you out by recommending these three activities:
MIRADOR DEL CRISTO DE LA MISERICORDIA
Wherever you are in San Juan del Sur, the Christ is in sight. At 24 meters on one of the highest points of the bay, the statue has been an iconic landmark of San Juan del Sur since it was erected in 2009. In fact, it is one of the largest Jesus statues in the world. The real treat, however, is when you reach the statue’s overlook and San Juan del Sur is entirely laid out in front of your eyes. This breathtaking view is easily reached both by hiking your way to the top (if you’re feeling energetic) or driving to a small parking area that leads you to the last few steps. The foreign tourist fee is only $2 USD—a good thing to know in case the guard feels like charging the tourist “chele” a little extra. Once you see the view, the $2 will seem like the best bargain in comparison.
You cannot go to San Juan del Sur without getting on a board. As soon as you walk around the town, surf shops will be just around every corner. Unless you are feeling in the mood to paddle board at San Juan del Sur Bay, these surf shops will take care of your transportation to the nearby beaches better suited for surfing. Among these include, but are not limited to, Playa Maderas and Playa Majagual, which are at a 5-minute walk from each other and a 15-minute drive from San Juan del Sur.
San Juan del Sur has become a hot spot for international surfing competitions, given its beautiful beaches and quality surfing. With a wide range of waves for all levels of surfers, it is safe to say it is a sport that can be enjoyed at any age. To top it off, each beach is equipped with great surfing schools that charge around $10 USD per day for board rental and $25 USD per hour for lessons. Not a bad way to spend the day.
“El pueblo,” or the town, is the heart of all activity in San Juan del Sur. It is bursting with restaurants, shops, hotels, artisans, and good vibes. A daytime stroll is not complete without a stop at the main church and plaza or a break at the local gelato shop, Superfrutto Gelateria, while admiring the handmade bracelets you bought from a street side vendor. Victoriano Hotel, a historical house (dating back to 1902) turned hotel, is a staple at San Juan del Sur with its classical Victorian architecture and beachfront location.
Food and drinks are a rather big deal at the town. From traditional Nicaraguan to international food, the town never falls short of restaurant options. El Timón, a local favorite, is the oldest establishment in the area and serves some of the best seafood. With the bay at plain sight, dinner at sunset is sure to be unforgettable.
Nighttime only increases the activity around town. With a never-ending array of bars by the waterfront, the town becomes infused with Latin music and tropical drinks. Iguana Beach Bar is one of the most popular bars and, with tourists outnumbering locals, not knowing Spanish is never a limitation for a good time.