101 Things to do in San Juan del Sur (and counting)

101 Things to do in San Juan del Sur (and counting)


With miles of diverse coastline, abundant wildlife, rugged hills, warm weather and vibrant local communities, the San Juan del Sur region has the power to exhilarate, soothe and inspire.

At San Juan Live we’re excited to bring you the best this beautiful area has to offer. At last count we’ve gathered together 101 things to do in and around San Juan del Sur. Whether it’s sun, adventure, nature or culture you seek, you’ll find something to tempt you.

Exclusive Subscriber Bonus: Don’t forget to grab our Free Coupon Book so that you can save on the best places to eat, drink, get active & have fun in San Juan del Sur.

We also want to hear from you. Tell us about your favorite experiences via twitter, facebook, the contact form or in the comments box below and we’ll add to the list and credit your suggestion.

1. Share the joy of reading by volunteering at the Biblioteca Móvil (Mobile Library). For nearly a decade the library has brought books and reading materials into remote communities around San Juan del Sur. Here’s more on volunteering at the library and how the project serves as a gateway to education.
Skim through the trees with Da Flying Frog Canopy Tour. With 16 cables covering 1.5 miles (2.5 km), this zip lining adventure could be just the adrenaline fix you need. The views over San Juan del Sur from the jumping off point are spectacular.

2. Gorge on ice-cream at SuperFrutto. This delightful gelateria serves up dozens of smooth, creamy flavors made daily on the premises. Yes, a little scoop of Italy has landed in San Juan del Sur. (Here are 6 more mouthwatering delights)

3. Saddle up, dress like cowboys, get professionally photographed and ride to a deserted beach with Rancho Chilamate horseback tours. You’re almost guaranteed to see monkeys on your way (which covers activity #40 below). There’s no better way to capture the authentic essence of Nicaragua’s countryside than a ride through the nature reserve at Las Fincas to the untouched beaches of Escamequita. And if that isn’t enough to convince you to ride you’ll be pleased to know that a portion of the ride revenue goes back to the local community.

4. Sip on a perfect latte at Playa Maderas while you check out San Juan del Sur’s most consistent and popular break. Sometimes in return for a great surf break you accept you’ll need to sacrifice some home comforts, like good specialty coffee drink options. Not here.

5. Walk across San Juan del Sur’s version of the Golden Gate Bridge on the north end of the bay. We trust the foundation of the bridge is sturdy, despite its tendency to sway in sections. This walking bridge provides walking access over the river between town and the neighborhood of La Talenguera therefore it could easily be combined with a…

6. …hike to the Jesus statue perched high on San Juan del Sur’s northern headland. Once you reach the top pause for a prayer in the statue’s chapel or enjoy a leisurely mediation on the beautiful geography of the area. It is safe to say, there is no better vantage point in town.

7. Partake in the full Howler experience: take a popper shot, eat garlic fries and swing on the adult swing. In our book that’s a complete night out.

8. Marvel (it’s the only verb, really) at turtles nesting on a beach on a midnight tour to La Flor Widlife refugee. If you’re lucky you may even catch sight of the endangered leatherback turtle. Then ….
…around 50 days later come back to watch the newly hatched turtles make a dash to the sea.
baby turtle

9. Mountain bike your way through the rugged hills of San Juan del Sur’s hinterland following the trails of the annual Howler mountain bike race. It’s Nicaragua’s version of the Tour de France.

10.Gaze in wonder at the spirals and abstract patterns of a petroglyff that could be 1,500 years old. It’s just outside town in the Palermo neighborhood. If it’s the rainy season, head a little upstream to a small waterfall.

11. Partake of a “macua” served in a chilled oversized glass at Buen Gusto on San Juan del Sur’s malecón. Invented in Nicaragua, the drink is a heady concoction of guava, lime juice, orange juice and “Extra Light” Flor de Caña rum. You have not truly experienced a “macua” until you’ve had Rosi’s version at Buen Gusto. We recommend it with an order of “Tostones y queso”.

12.Toast your happiness staring down at a sunset from Pelican Eyes Hotel and Resort. For that fabulous San Juan del Sur light, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Stay all day in a hammock at Playa Hermosa. It’s the perfect spot for blissed out total relaxation. But don’t tell your friends. We’d like it to stay the same.
Want to learn the local lingo? Enroll in an immersion program with Spanish Ya. At Spanish Ya you will learn more than proper Spanish grammar and vocabulary, you get to know about Nicaraguan history, local holiday celebrations, cuisine and culture.

13. Make a splash at the Villas de Palermo swimming pool during their 2 for 1 drink happy hours every weekday. There’s ample waterside lounging, a poolside bar and restaurant and the added benefit of gorgeous ocean views.

14. Set sail to hidden cove with Nica Sail and Surf and recharge your soul. The stunning coastline and secluded beaches will have you reaching for the camera button.
Every Thursday the beach front stage at El Timon restaurant plays host to a cultural evening of folkloric dance showcasing San Juan del Sur’s best salsa and folk dancers. Before the night is out you’ll find yourself tapping your feet and wanting to…

15.…sign up for a salsa lesson. In Nicaragua an inability to dance salsa is far less frowned upon than an unwillingness to try.
If you’re traveling to Nicaragua, grab this list of 101 things to do http://sanjuandelsur.org/things-to-do-in-san-juan-del-sur/

16.c Take a day trip to Ometepe and marvel at the volcanic peaks of Concepción and Maderas rising like twin spires from lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America.
Slurp on a delicious smoothie at Simon Says. These ice-cold refreshments come in all sorts of delicious combinations. Fruity, nutty, spicy, chocolatey… it’s all here.
Tuck into a good book at Gato Negro. This part breakfast spot, part coffee shop, part bookstore has over 3,500 titles, including a collection of books on Nicaraguan history. But you’ll need to buy before you read.
17.Taste a nacatamal – these delicious parcels of filled masa are wrapped in a plantain leaf, tied with string into oval bundles before being steamed for several hours.
Attend Catholic mass at the church in the main square. Services are held every day at 6 pm and every Sunday at 9.00am with a special service for children at 11.00am.
Pack an indulgent beach picnic and eat it on the beach (Playa Marsella is a good choice). Stock up at La Bodequita for deli delights and directly opposite at Pan de Vida for bread and cake.

18. Surf at Playa Yankee. With lefts, rights and a beach break that acts like a point break: surfers are spoiled for choice here.

19.Head out to trivia night at Republika Bar to put your general knowledge to the test and have some fun. Here’s a question to get you warmed up: Nicaragua has an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records. What’s it for? (If you know the answer, tell us in the comments.)

20.Enjoy a fish taco at Playa Remanso. You can pick one up at the unassuming bar right on the beach. Like the setting it comes simple, pure and delicious.

21. Buy some Carizal jam. Made by a local women’s co-operative these delicious homemade jams are for sale at Pan de Vida Bakery, Gato Negro and the Sanchez Pulperia. Or buy direct from the Carizal community at Dona Nelly’s house across from the Carlos Guzman school.
Carizal Jam Co-op

22. Grab a guitar and sing on stage at open mic night at Pacha Mama on Tuesdays at 9pm (see their facebook page for details). Sometimes it really is the taking part that counts.
23.Enjoy a lobster dinner on the sand at Playa Hermosa. Caught earlier in the day it’s no wonder it tastes so good.

24. If you’re in town for the annual hipica (a horse parade through town) make sure you check it out. Beautiful horses, skillful riders, sombreros, copious amount of beer and upbeat Latin tunes. What’s not to like?

25.Go completely off grid and rent a vacation home in a nature reserve. How about this one?

26.Listen to Los Probrecitos live. After all they’re San Juan’s most “famous” local band. Giovanni and his collection of talented local musicians span all musical genres from classic rock and reggae, to blues and salsa. They play at a different venue in town almost every night. Check out their facebook page for an up to date schedule.

27. Prepare and enjoy a typical Nicaraguan meal in a hands-on cooking class at Villas de Palermo. Choose from Yoltamal, Nacatamal, Indio Viejo, Sopa de Mondongo, Vaho, Chancho con Yuca, Salpicon, Atol, Vigorom, Gallo Pinto and more.

28.Buy a Nicaraguan cigar and see what all the fuss is about. Start at Gato Negro and head half a block inland. You’ll see a white surfboard sign with “Cigars” in bright red letters.

29.Head to the Sports Park (Parque Deportivo) to watch a basketball, soccer or volleyball game. Most league competitions take place at night under the stadium lighting on the south end of the Malecon. Food and drink vendors offer an array of snack options. The DJ is sure to get you to your feet if the game doesn’t. The park is run by Communidad

30.Connect and the minimal entry fee goes to upkeep the sports park. Check out their Facebook page for updates and league schedules.
Nothing spells vacation like a sunset booze cruise with San Juan del Sur Surf and Sport. Enjoy cocktails from the open bar as you stare happily at the sun sinking slowly into the ocean. The diverse coastline, abundant wildlife and good fishing make the perfect playground for a sunset boat trip.
See if you can spot a howler monkey. We’ve seen them in the trees around Palermo, Escamequita and Nacasolo neighborhoods. Listen and look up. You usually hear them before you see them.
Download this must do check list of 101 things to do when traveling in Nicaragua http://sanjuandelsur.org/things-to-do-in-san-juan-del-sur/


Milton Espinoza