Top 5 Things to do in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

by | Feb 11, 2016 | Central America, Nicaragua, Videos | 48 comments

(Last Updated On: July 31, 2019)

Nicaragua… Not the first country that comes to mind when booking a vacation. After reading this post, you will be exposed to all the beautiful sites and adventures that San Juan Del Sur (SJDS), Nicaragua has to offer. Nicaragua is an up and coming vacation destination. Currently, more known to the backpacking world, but this has been slowly changing as more and more investors are starting to build and develop down there. I am talking more specifically about San Juan Del Sur, the quiet surf/fishing city on the Pacific Ocean. But this hidden gem is slowly becoming a place to be: with amazing weather, great surfing, beautiful views, delicious food, and the best part of it all is it’s SUPER CHEAP! For example: you can get a juicy lobster tail dinner with a few cocktails and walk out of there spending under $20. We spent a full week in San Juan Del Sur and made the most of every day. Here are our top 5 things to do in San Juan Del Sur.

 things to do in San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua Fittwotravel.com San Juan Sunset

Take a Catamaran Cruise with Nica Sail and Surf

Who doesn’t enjoy riding around on the ocean in a boat, enjoying cocktails, food, and partying on a secluded beach? Take a ride on San Juan Del Sur booze cruise! We rented out a party catamaran for our group, luckily there were 20 of us so it made the price really reasonable. 70 dollars per person for a 5-6 hour adventure.

san juan del sur catamaran group

$70 included all the drinks you want and all the ceviche you can eat. If you don’t know what ceviche is then you are missing out. It’s okay because I had no clue what it was before this trip. We just happened to have the best ceviche chef in the world on our boat (in our opinion). Ceviche is a popular dish in some coastal regions of Latin America. Just imagine fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices such as lemon or lime, and spiced perfectly. Yes my mouth is watering as I write this. Besides the food and booze, we cruised to Playa Blanca, which is a little north of SJDS. Its a private secluded beach that can only be reached by boat. We had to swim to shore, and that was an adventure in itself. But it was amazing to be on a secluded beach free from crowds After an hour or so on the beach, we cruised back to dock, and as you travel back you are front and center for an amazing sunset on the ocean. There is nothing better than watching a sunset in the middle of the ocean. And if you are lucky like we were you will see some dolphins riding along side the boat. The crew and host of the catamaran was awesome, so friendly and takes care of your every need.
san juan del sur catamaran sunset

Zip Line through San Juan Del Sur with the Flying Frog

We have never been zip lining before this trip, so we have nothing to compare this too, but believe us when we say that SJDS has some of the best zip lines in the WORLD! We went to flying frog canopy and had the best time. We wish we had more footage to show you but unfortunately the GoPro that we recorded our adventures on, was lost to a gnarly wave later in this trip during our surfing outing (Insert ‘Sad Face Emoji’). But we do have a few pictures and videos we were able to salvage. On a brighter note, the Flying frog canopy has some of the best views in Nicaragua. It contains 17 zip lines and over 2.5 kilometers of line overlooking the San Juan Bay! They drive you to the top of a mountain and then there is only one way down. So if you are terrified of heights, its a good time to get over your fear. The first couple of zips are short and low to the ground, but then they progressively get longer and higher! With the longest one being close to 400 meters long and who knows how high. Certain times through out the day you can spot some monkeys in the trees. The views are spectacular and it is more than worth the $30 dollars. And that $30 includes pick up and drop off from wherever you are staying. Yet again, the staff and crew is extremely friendly and professional. Allocate roughly 2 hours out of your day for this adventure, door to door. We were pleasantly surprised with the zip line, its definitely one of the best things to do in San Juan Del Sur.

[irp posts=”1330″ name=”Flying In the Sky: Da’ Flying Frog Zip-line Tour”]

Hike to the Jesus statue Cristo de la Misericordia

If you are a sucker for amazing views, then you must visit the “Cristo De La Misericordia” (Jesus of Mercy). It is one of the 10 largest Jesus statues in the world, and the the largest statue of Christ in Central America. You can get up there with a quick hike, we would love to tell you how long the hike is, but we took the easy route and arranged for a taxi. But we have good reason for that as my parents and their friends were with us and would not have been able to make that hike especially in that 95 degree heat. The cab ride up is less than 10 minutes, and they drop you off at the bottom of the steps to the entrance, which are no more than 100 steps. Although the steps are steep!

stairs nicaragua jesus statue

It is roughly a $15 cab ride round trip, so if you don’t mind spending the money it’s worth it. If you plan on hiking it, go early when it’s still cooler. When you approach the steps, you must be prepared to pay a hefty entrance fee of $2. As you get to the top, the view from the top is indescribable. The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” perfectly fit this scenery. We spent roughly 45-60 mins up there taking some pictures and video, but most of the time was spent taking in the beauty that SJDS has to offer. You can watch the sunset from up there, which we hear is amazing but did not have the pleasure of witnessing ourselves. The statue is a must visit and well worth your time.

If you’re planning on spending more time in Central America, check out this guide to Central America 

jesus statue san juan del sur

Surf Nicaragua with Arena Caliente Surf Camp

SJDS has a big surfing community. And we were lucky enough to partake in some killer waves. Playa Maderas and Playa Hermosa are two famous beaches known for surfing. The couple days leading up to our surf day it was extremely windy in SJDS, and high winds in turn created big waves! It was my first time, and Tarah’s second, as her first time was in Hawaii when she was about 8. Needless to say, because we were beginners, we were expecting to learn on small 3-4 foot waves. Boy were we in for a surprise! We went to Remanso beach where all the locals go to surf, and we were going up against 7-9 foot waves. Our instructors from ‘Arena Caliente Surf Club’ were amazing. They did a great job of teaching us exactly what we needed to do. Tarah was a natural and stood up on a wave on her very first try and continued with the success throughout most of her lesson. Myself on the other hand took several attempts before I actually stood up. It’s a whole lot harder than it looks! We were in the water for roughly an hour before our lesson came to an abrupt end. As I told you before, the waves were 7-9 feet high and coming in forcefully. We had our GoPro mounted on our head with the head strap and the wave was so strong it forced the GoPro off, and it was forever lost with that strong current. This is a WARNING to all GoPro users to be cautious when surfing. We could have been more careful and put a flotation device on it, but weren’t really thinking, and assumed the head strap was secure enough. Sadly we lost all the footage from surfing which would have been awesome to share, but the instructors did take a few photos. From the beginner surfer to the more experienced, San Juan Del Sur is a great place to learn to surf.

[irp posts=”1337″ name=”How To Surf Like a Local”]

Experience Sunday Funday Nicaragua

If you need to liven up your time in Nicaragua, this is the pool crawl to end all pool crawls. This is currently the biggest pool party in Central America. If you aren’t familiar with what a pool crawl is, its as simple as it sounds, its a wild pool party thats starts at one venue and moves to the next. It starts roughly around 2pm in the afternoon, and as one party ends, you are provided with free shuttle to the next… Sunday Funday Nicaragua is the real deal! Even if you don’t feel like partying, you need to add this to your list of things to do in San Juan Del Sur, as the pool crawl has put Nicaragua on the backpacking map.

This pool crawl was started in April 2013, in a collective effort from the owners of the Naked Tiger Hostel and Pacha Mama Hostel. They went on to form an event company called Naked Mama who owns and operates this outrageously fun event. Tickets go on sale the day of the party, and will run you $30. Which is a really reasonable price considering you get a “Sunday Funday” tank top and shuttle transportation to each location. You cant walk the streets of SJDS without seeing someone wearing one of these tank tops on a daily basis. The party generally attracts 200-300 party animals on a slow day, and upwards of 700-800 on a busy day! Be prepared for a big line at Pacha Mama Hostel on the morning of, when they open up ticket sales. You are guaranteed a ticket and half off the price of the ticket if you are staying at Pacha Mama or Naked Tiger.

sunday funday pool crawl san juan del sur naked tiger

This event has completely shaped how travelers plan their trips to SJDS. Travelers used to leave SJDS on Sundays, leaving it a ghost town. Now they plan their whole trips to make sure they can partake in the festivities. If you are a looking for a party and you are traveling though Central America, chances are you are going to make the Sunday Funday Pool Crawl. We were lucky enough to participate in this crazy event and had an amazing time. We are close friends with one of the founders of this event and the original owner of the Naked Tiger so we were able to experience this event in a different view. It was awesome to see what one of my friends has built.

The party starts off at Anamar Hotel/Bar, right on the beach of SJDS. Then after a couple of hours the party shifts up to the Naked Tiger which sets on top of a hill just outside of town. The setting is perfect to keep partying and take in the amazing sunset as the view from the Tiger is a million dollar view. When the sun goes down the party rages on. After a few hours at the Tiger the party moves back down to the beach at Arribas Bar/club. We unfortunately are old farts and didn’t make it past the Tiger so we can’t comment on what the rest of party was like, but we can only imagine it was even crazier than the previous two spots.

Hotel anamar san juan del sur pool

The best way to describe what the Sunday Funday San Juan Del Sur is like is this: it turns a quiet surfer coastal town into the Las Vegas Club scene for one day out of the week, and repeats every week. It is quite the event that you have to take part in if you are in SJDS.

[irp posts=”1222″ name=”The Place You MUST stay in Nicaragua”]

sunday funday pool crawl naked tiger nicaragua

Please judge for yourself in this video:

Where to Stay in San Juan Del Sur

There are lots of hotels and hostels in San Juan del Sur that are in prime location. Prices are very reasonable in Nicaragua, so a hotel on the beach is definitely affordable.

San Juan Del Sur Hotels

Treecasa -A resort immersed in nature, located in the trees. Includes restaurant, bar, pool, tree lounge and yoga deck.

Bahia Del Sol Villas– 5 minutes from the beach, located away from the Main Street, the villas have 3 bedrooms, a full kitchen, laundry, and 2 terraces and beautiful ocean views.

Pelican Eyes Resort and Spa Hotel -Luxury resort with panoramic views, infinity pools, and a spa. Free wifi, restaurant and bar on the property, located on the hill with great views of the San Juan del Sur bay.

San Juan Del Sur Hostels

Hostel Pachamama

Surfing Donkey Hostel

Getting to San Juan Del Sur

San Juan Del Sur is in the south of Nicaragua, close to the border of Costa Rica. Its easiest to get a taxi from the border to San Juan Del Sur. If you are flying into Nicaragua, the nearest airport in Managua

We had an amazing trip to San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua. SJDS has incredible food, friendly locals, and great views. It is on our list of countries that we must revisit sometime, whether we get to the list or not is another story…. 

DID WE CONVINCE YOU TO GO TO SAN JUAN DE SUR NICARAGUA?!?!

san juan del sur sunset

san juan del sur catamaran

catamaran group nicaragua

san juan del sur catamaran sunset horizon

sunset catamaran san juan del sur

view of san juan del surzipline view nicaragua

san juan del sur zipline fittwotravel

jesus statue san juan del sur nicaraguaview from jesus statue nicaraguajesus statue san juan del sur side

san juan del sur naked tiger sunday funday

naked tiger sunday funday pool crawl

Hotel Anamar sunday funday pool crawl Top 5 things to do In San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua, surf, catamaran, zip-line, jesus, sunday funday

 

 

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Tip and Tarah of Fit Two Travel

Tip and Tarah of Fit Two Travel

Tip and Tarah are the founders of Fit Two Travel. Since getting married in 2013, they have traveled to 26 countries and 22 states together. They are true Oregonian natives, and love to explore the outdoors, enjoy the food and drink, and spend time with their 2 dogs. They help others plan their international and local trips.

48 Comments

  1. MariaAbroad

    Wow, beautiful pictures. That boat trip with the Ceviche would be my dream. I love Ceviche and they would definitely take a loss with their All-You-Can-Eat offer, hehe.

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      Haha ya we definitely got our moneys worth with the ceviche and drinks 🙂

      Reply
  2. Varun

    Amazing place and amazing pics 😉

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      Thank you! It is a beautiful place!

      Reply
  3. Rob Taylor

    7-9″ waves are awesome! I love finding a place with worthwhile surf that’s also not going to murder me.

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      We would have settled for 5″ waves since we are both beginners! 🙂 But it was still fun even though a little crazy for us!

      Reply
  4. Bob

    Looks like an amazing place

    Reply
  5. Robyn

    Great pics! The beaches and scenery look so inviting…

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      Thank you! Such a beautiful place!

      Reply
  6. Kirsty Marrins

    What an action-packed holiday! Looks like it was lots of fun and such a beautiful place.

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      It was definitely busy! But we had a lot of fun!

      Reply
  7. Amanda Williams

    Wow, it looked like you had quite a time there! Great pics too.

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      We had a great time! It is a beautiful country!

      Reply
  8. Michele Peterson ( A Taste for Travel)

    Looks like you had a blast. San Juan del Sur has long been on my list to visit so you’ve inspired me to go sooner rather than later.

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      It is such a great town! Hopefully you go soon! 🙂

      Reply
  9. IamVagabond

    Amazing Pics.. Never been to San Juan but when I do I will definitely come back to this blog!!

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      Yes, hopefully you can make it soon-it is a great town!

      Reply
  10. Renate

    OMW, this looks amazing! Stunning photos 😀

    Reply
  11. Jessica

    You had me at “all the drinks you want”. 😀

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      hahah right? Thats always a plus! 🙂

      Reply
  12. Voyager

    Indeed a revelation, and stunning photos, must have had a great time.

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      Yes, we did! Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  13. Ami

    Those are some amazing amazing pics…seems like a lot of fun

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      Thank you! We had a great time!

      Reply
  14. Stéphanie Langlet

    It sounds like you really had a great trip there. The zip lining should really be awesome !

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      Yes we had a great time! We would do the zip-lining again!

      Reply
  15. Rosemary

    Great pictures. Love the idea of the boat ride with drinks and ceviche included! Yum!! Never been to Nicaragua before, but it looks like there is lots to do. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      The boat ride was great and the ceviche was amazing! Hopefully you can make it there soon before it gets more well known.

      Reply
  16. Renne Simpson

    Nicaragua is awesome!! I was only there for one day. Did a day trip from Costa Rica, and I would totally go back to explore more. A lot of people don’t think to visit this beautiful country. I will use your post to get ideas on more things to do when I go back.

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      Yes we visited both Costa Rica and Nicaragua in the same trip and we loved both but I think we loved Nicaragua a little more! Its still off the beaten path-but not for long!

      Reply
  17. Allison (funfamily.vacations)

    These all sound like fun. We have never done a pool crawl – but that is right up our alley!

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      It was fun! If you go to the right crowd it can be great-just pace yourself 🙂

      Reply
  18. alexa

    Zip lining would be my first stop! What a great list and overview. Can’t wait to visit one day.

    Reply
    • Fittwotravel

      Yes the zip lining was great! And a great way to see the town. We will definitely do it again!

      Reply
  19. Ajay Sood

    Nature and water sports – a powerful magnet!

    Reply
  20. Arzo Travels

    The pictures look great and the scenery seems to be awesome, should actually consider to put in on my list 🙂

    Reply
  21. Christine K

    Wow, did that look like a lot of fun. I liked how you included some of the economic information so we could get idea as to how much things cost; that is very helpful. You did a really good job of describing the area and what there is to do. Nice post.

    Reply
  22. Roberta

    Great pictures! I really miss summer now haha! I’m glad you had fun and you really wrote it in details, thank you! Have a great day 🙂

    adventurousmiles.com

    Reply
  23. Vicki

    I want to do all of these things!! The Catamaran Sunset cruise looks awesome – as does the zip lining! That’ll be Nicaragua added to my (ever growing ) list then.. Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    Reply
  24. Cassy

    your photos are absolutely stunning !

    Reply
  25. Gina

    That boat party looks super awesome. Alas, that has been a dream of mine to party on a boat properly. I also love ceviche. I really hate touristy areas so I wouldn’t do the pool hop.

    Reply
  26. Tamason Gamble

    This looks like an action packed place to visit.

    Reply
  27. The Bonfire Dream

    Wow, honestly, this looks like such an exciting destination!! Cannot wait!!

    Reply
  28. Taylor

    Catamarans are so fun! And a pool crawl also sounds amazing, I’ve never been on one before but it’s definitely been added to my bucket list.

    Reply
  29. Danielle Des

    Loved your photos and your videos really brought us there – fantastic. Who would’ve figured – I’m considering Nicaragua.

    Reply
  30. Elizabeth @ Compass & Fork

    Love the pictures from the hilltop. I agree with you about the views! The beach looks quite nice as well. You don’t see much about Nicaragua I am sure many people still think it is unsafe.

    Reply

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