Exploring in and Around San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Alright lets really get down to our trip to Nicaragua shall we?

San Juan del Sur is often described as a “surf town”. It’s proximity to the Costa Rican border makes it a popular destination for both surfers, and people looking for a quick get away on their Visa run. Located about 1km from Lake Nicaragua, San Juan del Sur is home to a gorgeous 3km horseshoe shaped beach with fun beach side restaurants dotted along its shore.

The beach of San Juan del Sur

The beach of San Juan del Sur

The town itself has everything you need for a good time. Lots of bars, coffee shops, tour companies, souvenir shops and hostels. There is a great market in the centre of town where vendors sell all sorts of fruits and vegetables. The only thing that San Juan del Sur is missing, is the surf. There is actually no surf in San Juan..none at all.

San Juan del Sur tends to be the epicentre for those who are interested in surfing, as it has the most amenities.But the closest surf beach, Playa Maderas, is about 9km away.

Colleen and I on the shuttle

Colleen and I on the shuttle

There are tons of shuttles, vans and taxis that you can catch that will take you to and from San Juan to Playa Maderas. The cheapest option is by far the shuttle that leaves every few hours from Casa Oro. This tourista cattle car is 3 bucks for one way or 5 bucks for a round trip. Certainly beats the 15 dollars that the cabs will charge you!

I don’t blame the poor cab drivers for charging so much though, the road to Maderas is pretty brutal. Pot holes, tight squeezes, low hanging branches and extremely steep hills can make it seem more like a faulty ride in Disneyland then a commute to the beach.

Busy surf in Playa Maderas

Busy surf in Playa Maderas

Once you get to Playa Maderas, you will be greeted by a small but dedicated surfer community. There are a couple of hostels, restaurants and board rental shops on the beach, but other then that, it is pretty remote. You can certainly find a place to get a beer, bed, meal or coffee, but there are no grocery stores or other amenities nearby.

During our stay, the beach at Playa Maderas was always really busy. We aren’t sure whether it is always like that, or if it was because the other surf beaches nearby were really flat. Either way, with so many people trying to catch waves in a very small space, I opted to partake in a little beach side coffee time instead of attempting to surf. Although we left Shaun’s board back in Costa Rica, he did rent a board and go out one afternoon, but with the amount of people in the water and the lack of decent waves, he didn’t last long.

If you are an avid surfer, and are wanting to catch some decent waves, I suggest doing your research. There are tons of nearby beaches that have great waves, alot of which are relatively undiscovered. Playa Maderas is certainly the easiest surf beach to get to from San Juan, so I think that may be another  reason it attracts so many people.

A much less busy Playa Marsella

A much less busy Playa Marsella

If crowds and surf aren’t your thing, there is another beach option. In between San Juan and Maderas is another little beach called Playa Marsella. The lack of surf makes it far less busy then Maderas, but it is perfect for swimming or lounging in the sun. It also boasts several little hotels as well as one beach side bar. There is also a great authentic Nica restaurant on the road to Marsella.

We spent 9 days in Nicaragua, 4 in San Juan del Sur and 5 just outside Playa Marsella. There is lots more to come about our adventures there,  but I figured this was the perfect post to get everyone up to speed of the area I’ll be talking about for the next couple days.

What are you experiences with surfing? Ever tried it?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

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One thought on “Exploring in and Around San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

  1. Love following your Nica info. We are heading to San Juan del Sur in August and were there a year ago. Maderas was big big big surf when we were there. Pretty populated beach with strong currents, but it was fun. Lots of people catching the white wash while it was really fun to watch the more advanced surfers hit the real wave once it hit over head. We also surfed Remanso, don’t know how the roads were, we boated in and entered from behind the break. Again, pretty good sized break, although we heard surf was way up when we were there. Loved it! Can’t wait to get back.

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