San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua
We arrived in San Juan Del Sur from Tamarindo, Costa Rica on Christmas Eve. We opted to use a shuttle service opposed to public buses since crossing the boarder was something new and the shuttle price between 4 people was super reasonable!
Since most of Central America has most Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve we assumed the boarder would be pretty hectic but it ended up going quite smoothly. When you are leaving Costa Rica you pay an exit fee of $8USD, then another $1USD (not sure about that one) and then $12USD entering into Nicaragua. When you leave Costa Rica you have to walk to cross the boarder, which isn’t just like jumping over an imaginary line, the walk is around 5 minutes will all your stuff. They questioned us about our travels, wanted to see exit flights, where we were staying and what we did for a living but all in all it only took about a half hour.
With the shuttle somebody drives you to the boarder and then somebody new picks you up on the other side, so our shuttle was waiting in Nicaragua and took us to our Air BnB in San Juan Sel Sur, which was about a half hour drive from the boarder.
We stayed at a place on Air BnB called Casa Susana, it was a great place with a pool on the North side of the river. It looked out over the ocean and you had a great view of the statue as well.
If you look at a map of SJDS (San Juan Del Sur) you can see that North of the town there is a river that goes into the ocean, as I said we were on that North side which is also very close to the Jesus statue. So, if you are on the North side and want to get into town or you are in town and want to get out to the Jesus statue you have two options. 1. Head alllll the way back out to the highway, this would probably take an hour walking. 2. Walk the beach and have to cross the river. At low tide you can jump the river…well, Wayne and Dad could, Mum and I couldn’t! Or wear flip flops and walk through at pretty much anytime. Or there is a small boat that they pull back and forth on a rope that costs 5 Nicaraguan Cordova, which is pennies. Honestly, not even 20 cents I dont think.
SJDS as a town has started to get the reputation of a party town, which a lot of the locals are quite unwelcome about. Our host at the Air BnB even talked to us about a Sunday Funday event where they go from pool to pool and at the end of one a guy was floating dead in the pool – my goodness!
For some more family fun ideas, hike to the Jesus statue, the hike is about a half hour but pretty elevated. You do also have the option of driving the majority of the way but its good exercise. It gives you a view of the town, plus neighbouring beaches, it’s really beautiful. Entry was $1USD per person.
Although I wasn’t overly thrilled with the beach in SJDS, there’s about 10 beaches super close by that are worth the drive. Personally I much preferred the South Beaches to the North Beachs, the south seems to be more white sand, less people, nice bays, where as the North are big waves, rocky and crowded (probably because that’s where the surfers go). We rented a side by side and toured around, it was a nice to have the freedom to go beach hoping, I would recommend renting something to give you that freedom. Read my previous post about La Flor beach if you’re interested in baby turtles.
Some restaurants we tried out were:
The Surfing Buddha – I had been dieing for sushi and read this place was good but was pretty heavily disappointed. Wouldn’t recommend.
Simpletons Fish and Chips – Run by a couple from Florida, the fish and chips are really good. Huge piece of fish with real tartar sauce, nice light flakey batter. The chips were good, could give a bit more but the dish itself is about $3 so can’t complain.
Pelican Eyes – this place is out of town on the South side, it was a $10 cab ride. From here you have views of the entire city while hanging out in the Infiniti pool, it was great to be there to watch the sun go down. The food is above average for sure and pricey for Nicaraguan standards but still only around $8 for a meal.
From here we are heading to San Jorge to catch a ferry over to Ometepe Island!