Those seeking paradise on Earth will find it in the gorgeous and friendly coastal town of Port San Juan del Sur in the Rivas department in southwest Nicaragua. A fishing town where many boats and cruise ships stop as they enter Nicaragua from the south, San Juan del Sur is a popular destination for both local visitors and tourists from far-off lands.
If you've been longing to get sand in your toes, surf in sparkling Pacific waters, sample local cuisine, or wander through expansive nature preserves populated by nearly 800 varieties of local birds, you can't go wrong booking one of our vacation rentals in beautiful San Juan del Sur!
Located about 80 miles south of Managua and 30 miles north of the Costa Rican border, San Juan del Sur straddles the Escondido River connecting the Pacific and Caribbean coasts.
Journeys to and from town can be accomplished via car, taxi, or bus. Travelers flying in and out of Managua can journey safely along the Masaya and Pan-American highways.
While taxis are commonplace (and you won't travel far without local drivers asking if you are in need of their services), the best way to experience all that San Juan del Sur has to offer is to walk and take it all in at your leisure. One of the most striking things about the town is the varied palette of bright colors on display with homes, businesses, and even churches painted in bright, bold colors.
The San Juan del Sur market is located right in the heart of town, where visitors can shop for locally-sourced fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat alongside a number of food stalls serving cheap and delicious eats ranging from quick, tasty breakfasts to traditional Nicaraguan lunch fare including their own take on black beans and rice, known as "gallo pinto."
There are also quite a few waterfront restaurants and bars worth visiting including El Timon for Central American cuisine, Restaurante y Pizzeria La Terraza for excellent pizza, and Henry's Iguana Beach Bar & Restaurant for American-style food and drinks.
Over the past few years, as tourism has risen throughout the region, higher-end shops have begun to spring up throughout town offering surf gear, clothing, and souvenirs. There are also a number of local merchants hawking unique, handcrafted Nicaraguan wares including jewelry, leather goods, and art.
A trip to Port San Juan del Sur isn't complete without a few visits to its many beautiful beaches. While it might be easy to stroll out to the water on Playa San Juan del Sur, the locals will typically suggest you head to a few of the other beaches up and down the neighboring coast, most of which are accessible via low-cost shuttles advertised throughout town.
Considered by many to be one of the best beaches in the area, Playa Maderas, just five miles north, is a surfers' paradise offering some of the best breaks in the entire country. It also offers unique rock formations and superb swimming with shallows stretching far out into the water. Maderas, unlike some of the more remote beaches in the area, is also home to three restaurants at the sand's edge, so there's no need to worry about packing a lunch.
A little closer to town (four miles) is the sister beach to Maderas known as Playa Marsella. While Maderas is a prime destination for surfers, Marsella offers more of a relaxed vibe where you can easily stretch out and soak up the sun to the sound of the waves lapping against the shore. As there is little in the way of surf at Marsella, it is an ideal beach for swimming. Like Maderas, there are places to eat close by.
There are many other outdoor activities and places of interest throughout the area. Climb the Mirador del Cristo de la Misericordia, one of the tallest statues of Jesus in the world, offering spectacular views from one of the highest points on the bay. Race across the treetops dangling from a zip line through Da' Flying Frog Canopy Tours. And for a truly memorable experience, head down to La Flor Beach Natural Reserve to see sea turtles nesting along the shore and numerous varieties of exotic birds in the surrounding trees.
Explore the town, patronize the local shops, sample the local cuisine, play on the beaches, and then end your days watching the sun set from the comfort of one our local vacation rentals in the Port of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.
Photo Credit: Céline Colin via Flickr