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The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

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THE INSIDER GUIDE TO SAN JUAN DEL SUR Brooke Rundle and Claudia Gonella
 San Juan Live (www.sanjuandelsur.org)
 Edition 01, August 2014, San Juan del Sur

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Credits Cover image by Lauren Stocker Cover and Interview page designs by Kas Wilkojc

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Photo Credits Images by page number: Justin Courter pages 16, 21, 33 Lauren Stocker pages 36, 103, 111, 120 David Kalani pages 31, 32 Justin Lyon page 67 Heather van Doorninck and Out of the Blue Photography pages 133, 145 DanCesar.com pages 19, 20, 24, 25 Steve Brandy pages 90, 117 Wendy Alexander Jacobson pages 14,105 Fred Goldfarb page 122 Carlos Mora page 26 Elisha MacKay page 65

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Disclaimer Although the authors and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at the time of publication, the authors and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.

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Copyright All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

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Copyright Š 2014 by San Juan Live Edition: 01, Published: August 2014 Coupons Valid Until: August 2015 Publisher: San Juan Live (www.sanjuandelsur.org)

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! ! ! ! ! ! Giving Back !

For every book sold on www.sanjuandelsur.org the publishers will make a $1 donation to Comunidad Connect, a non-profit striving to protect the environment, educate youth and generate future employment for local people in San Juan del Sur.

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CONTENTS FEATURES How to have a remarkable travel experience in San Juan del Sur (page 7) 6 ways to experience San Juan del Sur (page 14) The shopaholics: Things you shouldn’t return home without (page 37) Learn the top 5 mistakes that otherwise smart travelers make in San Juan del Sur You’ll definitely want to avoid #4 (page 84) Romance secrets: 6 experiences that will blow your date’s mind… and yours (page 87) Time to tick your boxes: 101 things to do in San Juan del Sur (page 149)

! PLANNING YOUR TRIP !

How to travel (page 44) When to go (page 44) Getting to San Juan del Sur (page 49) Getting around the San Juan del Sur region (page 55) Culture and fitting in (page 60) Shopping (page 67) Health and safety (page 74)

Communication (page 76) Travelers with disabilities (page 76) Traveling with kids (page 78) Bringing your pet to Nicaragua (page 78) Books, newspapers, magazines and websites (page 79) Packing list (page 81) Buying property (page 82)



INTERVIEWS Jean Brugger: In love with Nicaragua since 1995 (page 19) Giovanni Martinez Sirias: Local artist we love (page 24) Gaby Sobalvarro: Get to know Gaby (page 31) Magaly Rodríguez: The personal story behind the quality service at Iskra Travel (page 53) Yajaira Jimenez: Reflections from the riverside (page 62) Gloria Sanchez: Dedicated to her grocery store since 1992 (page 72)

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MAPS, SELECTED TABLES AND INFOGRAPHICS Historic walking tour (page 28) Major dates in the history of Nicaragua & San Juan del Sur (page 39) Holidays and public events (page 45) Best times to visit (page 48) Taxi prices (page 52) Map showing turnoffs to roads heading north and south (page 55) Beaches and neighborhoods north of San Juan del Sur (page 56) Beaches and neighborhoods south of San Juan del Sur (page 57) Map of municipal market (page 67) Shopping price guide (page 69) Unusual fruits of Nicaragua (page 70) Hotels and restaurants that are accessible (page 77) Surf descriptions (page 89) Help save our turtles (page 144) Neighborhood maps: Downtown (page 98), Barrio La Planta (page 104), “Southern Hills” to Remanso (page 107), Las Delicias (page 109), Palermo & La Cuesta (page 113), La Talanguera, Pacific Marlin & Nacascolo (page 118), Marsella & Maderas (page 127), Escamequita (page 137), El Coco & La Flor (page 141) and Ostional (page 146).

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NEIGHBORHOODS AND BEACHES Downtown (page 90) Barrio La Planta (page 103) “Southern Hills” to Remanso (page 105) Las Delicias (page 108) Palermo (page 111) La Cuesta (page 115) La Talanguera (page 117) Pacific Marlin (page 120)

Nacascolo (page 122) Marsella (page 125) Maderas (page 128) Escamequita (page 133) El Coco & La Flor (page 140) Ostional (page 145)

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HELPFUL INFORMATION How to use this guide (page 9) Coupons (page 158) Directory (page 159)


The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

HOW TO HAVE A REMARKABLE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE IN SAN JUAN DEL SUR Anyone can get on a plane and travel to a foreign country. But what we all want to know is how to do it well. We want a remarkable travel experience – one that is worthy of being remarked on. We want the kind of travel that renews our awe for the world. We want to wade into new dimensions and be surprised by unexpected delights. We want stories, adventure and joy along the way. We can't tell you how to travel well for every destination, but we can for San Juan del Sur. For over 10 years we’ve been living and working here and over that time we’ve learned the intricacies of the place up close and in person. Plus we’ve come to understand the experiences that only San Juan del Sur can deliver. So we created a guide that’s laser focused on the San Juan del Sur region of Nicaragua. Our aim is simple: to prepare you for a remarkable travel experience.

TWO KEYS FOR REMARKABLE TRAVEL Running though the guide are two themes that keep coming up whenever we try to define what constitutes remarkable travel in San Juan del Sur: The first theme is “Insider Knowledge” Being an insider, or having access to information from in-the-know insiders, is powerful stuff when it comes to travel. And it’s especially important in places like San Juan del Sur that are still relatively undeveloped for tourism. Here traditional guidebooks only focus on the most popular tourist spots, skim the surface of the kind of experiences that are available and have little insight on the best angle from which to interact with the place. In the pages that follow, we delve deep into the neighborhoods and beaches of the San Juan del Sur region. We cover the smaller towns and off-the-beaten-track places that provide unfiltered access to what life is like here. We showcase a San Juan del Sur for every personality – whether its adventure, deep cultural immersion, or simple relaxation that you seek. The second theme is “Connection to People” A people-to-people connection is the hallmark of great travel. Often it’s the connections we make and the stories we hear that become our most precious travel experiences – ones that we’ll likely remember long after the trip is over.

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Throughout the guidebook you’ll find interviews with resident business owners. They’ve told us the stories behind their businesses, what they love about San Juan del Sur and shared their aspirations for the future. We hope this insight into their lives will encourage you to use their services. We say that not only because spending locally helps strengthen the local economy and community, but because it will also get you a more intimate experience. Our interviewees have different insights, perspectives and experiences, but they all share one thing in common: they love San Juan del Sur. Who better to deliver a quality service or product and what better way to break down the distance between the way you see a place and the lives of its local residents? Insider Knowledge and Connection - these are the cornerstones of how to travel well in San Juan del Sur, using everything we’ve learned over the years. Ready?

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OUR MAPS INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING SYMBOLS

HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE The guide combines:

Hotels & Hostels

✓ planning sections to help you have a smooth trip,

Restaurants & Bars

✓ suggestions on different ways to experience San Juan del Sur to help you build the perfect itinerary,

Other Businesses

✓ insider tips to plug you deeper into the region and the lives of its people, and

Cellphone Office

✓ detailed guides and maps to neighborhoods not covered in your typical guidebook to help you discover off the beaten track experiences.

Health Center Post Office ATM Church Gas Station

At the end of the guide we’ve included a comprehensive Directory of hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Unless specified, all telephone numbers are Nicaraguan. If calling from overseas begin with +505. In Nicaragua landline numbers typically start with a 2 and cellphones with an 8. We have noted in the Directory the hotels and restaurants that are wheelchair accessible. In the body of the guide whenever we mention one of the businesses listed in the Directory we have made it bold. You can refer to the Directory for contact details and directions.

For accommodations, plan to spend approximately $150 - $250 for the top end, $75 $125 for mid range and $10 - $50 for budget. Please take this as general guidance as prices are seasonal and do change. Also some hotels offer rooms at different prices to accommodate varied budgets. In each neighborhood we have suggested places to stay and eat. We’ve chosen them because they best connect you with the character of each neighborhood. Some will have a special atmosphere, some a great view and others an exceptional service. Please send your own nominations to contact@sanjuandelsur.org. On page 158 we have a page of coupons generously offered by local businesses. These are valid for 1 year after the publication date of this guide. Just pull up the coupon on your phone or tablet and show it to the business to receive your discount.

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Feedback, Suggestions, Quibbles? We will be publishing this guidebook periodically therefore we want to hear your tips, stories, suggestions and disagreements so that we can improve our content. Have we missed a great restaurant? Is there a hotel you think people should know about? Has one of the businesses we cover closed down or lowered its standards? Have we got any of our facts wrong? Do you have any insights or experiences that others would benefit from? Please contact us by email at contact@sanjuandelsur.org. We’re ready to hear what you have to say. Get Connected Whether you are thinking about relocating or just passing through, we make it simple to get the latest information on the best San Juan del Sur has to offer. ✓ Follow us on Social Media - Access up to date information on local events, fundraisers, travel deals and more by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or Pinterest. And be sure to ask us your travel questions and share photos from your trip. ✓ Subscribe to San Juan Live - Learn all about San Juan del Sur by subscribing to sanjuandelsur.org. You’ll get updates in your inbox, totally free. ✓ Contact us - Looking for an answer you can’t find anywhere on the internet, send us a email and we’ll answer it for you. ✓ Take an Insider Tour - All you need to do is choose how to spend your time. Then, delegate all the travel planning to us.

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WELCOME TO SAN JUAN DEL SUR Travel offers a chance to discover and recover – a way to do things you like doing, in new places and in new ways. It’s also about contributing to the place you visit and appreciating what it has to offer you. The fun in San Juan del Sur starts with the choices. Are you after a roller coaster of an adventure to set your heart pounding? A week of cultural immersion off the beaten track? Or simply the chance to relax, enjoy the sun and reconnect with friends and family somewhere beautiful? The landscape San Juan del Sur is not only a town famous for its bay framed sunsets; it’s also the name for a region 416 km² in size (160 sq miles) with 60 km (37.2 miles) of infinitely varied coastline stretching from Playa Blanca on its northern edge to to the southern border with Costa Rica. The town itself is located two thirds of the way up the coast. We say the region has 60 km of coastline, but that’s only if we measure in a straight line. Follow along the jagged twists and turns, travel around the craggy headlands into the curved beaches and it adds up to a whole lot more. This is a land of massive ocean views, an astonishing marine life and Nicaragua’s most beautiful beaches. Some of the beaches are deeply carved, with steep backdrops and capped on either end by rocky points. Others are just long stretches of sand SAN JUAN DEL SUR REGION dotted with palm trees, the views to the ocean broken occasionally by a tiny islet. Some are golden; others white and a few have a volcanic grey sand. Some beaches, especially those that are hard to reach, are almost completely deserted. Others are backed by real estate developments, and some offer a place to stay. For the most part - and as soon as you get out of Downtown San Juan del Sur - you won’t find salesmen, discos or heaving crowds taking over the sand. There could be a tumbledown shack serving cold drinks and snacks. Or maybe nothing at all. Just the sun, sand and sea. Away from the ocean you’ll discover a wild interior dotted with rough trails and SAN JUAN LIVE

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sleepy villages where the locals hang onto their old traditions. Tropical dry forests cover the rumpled hills as they rise and fall in all directions, slashed here and there by rivers that swell to torrents in the green season. Life here feels secluded, picturesque and blessedly untouched by time. An important history The importance of San Juan del Sur goes beyond geography and natural beauty; this slender isthmus of land formed an important part of Nicaragua’s history. First established as a port by Spanish conquistadores in the 16th century, it found a firm place on the map in the mid 1800’s when tens of thousands of U.S. prospectors passed through the town on their way to California during the Gold Rush. The would-be gold diggers started on the Caribbean side, traveled up Rio San Juan, across Lake Nicaragua and then overland to San Juan del Sur where they boarded steamships bound for California. Mark Twain traveled this same route from east to west in 1866. A new wave The latest waves of foreigners are here not for gold, but for tourism, retirement and real estate. Wonder around the center of town and you’ll bump into groups of backpackers attracted by the party scene and low prices; nomadic surfers drawn by the un-crowded breaks and warm waters; property hunters salivating over the least expensive Pacific coast property in Central America and silver haired retirees living the tropical lifestyle. You may even see a large cruise ship idling in the bay. But despite its slow transformation from sleepy fishing town to surfing hot spot and lifestyle destination, the region retains a languorously laid back feel. In fact, the easygoing vibe and complete lack of pretension are the greatest attractions of this part of the world – even if they come with a few rough edges. Yes, this is Nicaragua Let’s guess. You’ve probably heard about Nicaragua for all the “wrong” reasons: economic difficulties, instability and of course the decade long Contra War of the 1980s. Happily, things have changed for the better. The civil war has been replaced by political stability. Economic growth indicators are beating regional averages. Foreign investment is on the rise. Still no visit to Nicaragua would be complete without at least one discussion of the infamous Sandinista struggle against the Contras. Though it’s been over 25 years since the guerrillas set down their arms, the revolution continues to inspire passionate debate and influences the view people have of the country. The positive side to the lingering negative perceptions is that it has preserved the country from mass tourism. The downside to the low level of development is that you will bump over potholed roads, come face to face with poverty and be interrupted by the occasional power outage.

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But also expect to smile at the friendliness of the people, be startled at the beauty of the landscape, marvel at rich biodiversity and be confounded by the meaning of El Güegüense, Nicaragua’s oldest known play and cultural reference point (see box page 60). It’s true; Nicaragua is best suited to the curious and those who can channel the easygoing, unhurried parts of their travel personality. With this in mind we encourage you to ditch your preconceived notions, peel back the onion day-by-day and form your own impression of this misunderstood corner of the world. Here are 6 ideas to get your travel buds tingling.

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6 WAYS TO EXPERIENCE SAN JUAN DEL SURThe Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

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INDULGE IN A SENSE OF ADVENTURE

There are 3 things you can count on in San Juan del Sur: reliable sunshine, a warm ocean and a stunning natural environment. This means that your adventure experience, almost by definition, will involve some sort of outdoor activity. And though San Juan del Sur is emerging as a surfing hub, many other sports and outdoor activities lure visitors to town. There's much to discover along the coast, in the rugged interior and endless opportunities to ratchet up your adrenaline. Here are some of the top options to tempt you: Zip Through the Trees, Tarzan Style Skim through the trees on a Canopy Tour with Da Flying Frog (page 112). As you step out of the truck at the top of the hill there’s a spectacular view of San Juan del Sur’s storybook horseshoe bay. It’s worth pausing here to take it all in and snap a photo. Then, get ready for your adrenaline rush as you swoop along 16 cables connecting 17 platforms. If you want to take things up another notch, try repelling down the face of a 45 meter waterfall on the Aracne Rappelling Tour. Take a Horseback Ride and See the World Others Miss Saddle up, dress like cowboys and take a guided horseback ride to a deserted beach with Rancho Chilamate Horseback Adventures (page 133) You’re almost guaranteed SAN JUAN LIVE

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to see monkeys as you pass through the rich nature reserve on your way to the beach. There’s no better way to experience the authentic essence of Nicaragua’s countryside. Marvel at Nesting Turtles Marvel (it’s the only verb, really) at thousands of Olive Ridley turtles crawling onto the sand to lay their eggs on a midnight tour to La Flor Wildlife Refuge (page 141). If you’re lucky you may even catch sight of the endangered Leatherback turtle. The season starts in July and ends in January. Explore the Rugged Interior Get ready to get dirty on an ATV. The guides at Beach Fun Rentals will help you explore the jagged geography of the area. You can drop in on remote beaches, race through the jungle or visit a nearby fishing village. There are no marked trails so it is recommended to take a guide. Fish to Your Heart’s Content The in-shore fishing around San Juan del Sur is world-class. Year round the waters team with roosterfish, mackerel, bonito, tuna, jack, snook and grouper. Off-shore fishing for billfish, yellowfin, wahoo and dorado is best between April and September. On most fishing trips, the crew will clean, fillet and freeze your selected catch to take home for eating. Fishing trips with San Juan del Sur Surf and Sport typically range from 4 to 8 hours. Get Fearless on a Skateboard Drop into one of San Juan del Sur’s first skate parks at Surf Ranch action sports resort in Las Delicias (page 108). Fully equipped with skateboard rentals, fun ledges, rails, quarter pipe section all right next to a swim up bar and 30 foot climbing wall. The park is sure to get your heart pumping. Sail to a Hidden Cove There’s no better way to experience San Juan del Sur’s stunning coastline than from the ocean. You could take a motorized boat, hike the high cliffs or stroll along the beaches, but that can’t compare with the intimate connection with the ocean that you get under sail. Sailing charters with Nica Sail n' Surf visit Playa Blanca (page 131) regularly on full day and half-day trips. Another anchorage is Playa Brasilito (page 143). Both make for an outstanding day on the ocean. Sailing to one of these stunning beaches could be the highlight of your vacation. You’ll feel relaxed and recharged. And if you happen upon a breaching whale or a pod of dolphins your trip will turn into an adrenaline filled event.

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IMMERSE YOURSELF AND GIVE BACK

Are you picturing an experience where you immerse yourself deeply into Nicaraguan culture, see things from a new angle and give something back to the local community? If this is you, why not get off the tourist trail and volunteer with a local organization while you’re in town? With the highest poverty rate in Central America and an estimated 47 percent of the population living on less than 3 dollars a day, local non-profits and community organizations are in need of your support. To get you started, here’s a list of organizations in San Juan del Sur that work with volunteers. They all have strong backgrounds for service and community development but you may not get the best results if you simply show up whenever the mood takes you. Get in contact well before your trip to see how you can best serve and bring the donations they specifically have a need for. Fundación A. Jean Brugger Serving San Juan del Sur since its inception in 1999, the Fundación A. Jean Brugger is one of the longest standing and most well respected non-profits in the region. Jean Brugger, the dedicated founder, is committed to improving the educational opportunities in San Juan del Sur, see our interview with her on (page 19). To date, the foundation has delivered over 3,000 school uniforms to children in need, provided over 70 high school and university scholarships and graduated 25 university students. Additionally the foundation provides distance learning and teacher training programs.

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Comunidad Connect Funded by donations and supported by volunteers, Comunidad Connect strives to protect the environment, educate youth and generate future employment for local people. Since its foundation in 2006, it is impossible to quantify the positive impact the organization has had in San Juan del Sur. Take a stroll through town and you will see its footprints in the recycling bins thoughtfully placed along the beach and in the recycled art products sold in local hotels, produced by cooperatives it supports.

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Biblioteca Publica San Juan del Sur's Biblioteca Publica is a free public library open to everyone. The library has over 12,000 books, primarily in Spanish, for students to borrow, browse and return. The library also hosts free classes covering topics such as public health, English, literacy and crafts for children. Three days a week the mobile library sends staff and volunteers to distribute books to far fetched schools throughout the region.

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Barrio Planta Project The Barrio Planta Project provides free access to English lessons taught by native speakers, in addition to classes in art, music and culture, communication skills training, technology and job-skills advancement. Students come all the way from Rivas to Remanso to attend classes in what is gaining recognition as the most advanced continuing education program in San Juan del Sur. No student is left behind. No subject is neglected. No charge to students.

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Casa Llanta Fund The Casa Llanta Fund is committed to education and sustainable community development. It founded the Condimentos del Carizal women's jam co-op (page 133) and Manos Unidas, a co-operative which makes and sells flowers and reusable bags which can be purchased at Alcazar Hotel or by contacting the directors of the program on the Casa Llanta Fund website. The fund provides English classes for students of all ages and university scholarships to young adults in the community of El Carizal. The fund is also the non-profit founding partner of Pitaya Fest, San Juan del Sur’s annual music and sustainability festival.

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Newton - San Juan del Sur Sister City Project The Newton - San Juan del Sur Sister City Project has been working in San Juan for over 25 years in the fields of health, education and green building. The project specializes in providing clean water systems, smoke-free cook stoves and buildings with minimal carbon footprints to families in need. They also provide secondary education opportunities for those left out of the public high school system.

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Free High School for Adults The Free High School for Adults is a grassroots non-profit welcoming all adult students who are not able to enroll in regular schools: “Women with children, anyone over eighteen, people who work all week, and those who live far from daily high schools.� Since 2002 the organization has graduated over 600 students. Its mission statement is as impressive as its track record in empowering women and men for life.

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E.A.R.T.H Fund Since its formation in 2007 the E.A.R.T.H Fund has built 79 latrines, constructed 2 schools, installed 275 eco ovens, distributed 620 water filters, dug 3 wells, and conducted hygiene training clinics in 8 rural communities. The fund also provides salaries for 21 school teachers and continues the ongoing maintenance and training needed to support the water filters that have been distributed to ensure clean drinking water.

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LISTEN TO LIVE MUSIC

If you come across an article describing San Juan del Sur as a sleepy little fishing village, take that as a sign that the information you are reading is a little out of date. (You’ll have to go to more remote locations to find that kind of vibe - see our neighborhood guide on page 89). That’s because ever since the backpacker crowd discovered San Juan del Sur a few years ago a party-all-night atmosphere has developed around the popular pub and pool crawl known as “Sunday Funday". If that's your thing, dive right in! But, you can also avoid it. Enjoy the nightlife by gathering on the beach to take in a magnificent sunset, enjoying a happy hour special and listening to live music. Yes, San Juan del Sur has a musical soul, but to feel it you have to be in the right spot at the right time. Here's your guide on where to go and when.

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Monday What better way to recover from the weekend than with a cocktail while listening to live music on the beach? It just so happens that El Timón delivers exactly that. At “Take it Easy Monday” you’ll find discounted cocktails and $2.00 appetizers from 5:30 to 9pm accompanied by mellow melodies from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s by Bryan and Oscar. In the mood for dancing? La Carreta turns into a smokin’ swing party with “Los Gatos del Swing” on Monday nights. It also offers hearty German food and beer if your palette is looking for something different. The tables are taken by 8pm so either make a reservation or arrive early to get seating. Tuesday Every Tuesday it’s Open Mic at PachaMama. At this hot spot for parties you can grab a harmonica or a guitar and take the stage. It’s always a surprise depending on who happens to be passing through. On any given week you could hear the flamenco guitar of Spaniards or drum beats from Chilean travelers - all with a Nica flavor of course. Instruments are provided. Music and happy hour specials start at 9pm. Wednesday Every Wednesday at Pelican Eyes there’s live salsa performed by Antologia, folkloric dancing and 2x1 specials on national drinks starting at 7pm. It’s hard to find a more beautiful place to celebrate Nicaraguan culture and tradition. Wednesday night is Blue’s night at Big Wave Daves. What better way to get over the mid-week hump than listening to the timeless sound of blues at one of the most beloved ex-pat bars in town. The music starts at 8pm. Thursday Every Thursday the beach front stage at El Timón plays host to a cultural evening showcasing San Juan del Sur’s best salsa and folkloric dancers. At “Noches de Verbana” rhythmic salsa and Caribbean beats abound. If you want to hear the sounds of Nicaragua, listen to the music behind the dancing. The music starts at 7:30pm and reservations are recommended for large groups as this is one popular show. Later in the evening Los Bandidos Perdidos take to the stage at the Black Whale. They’re on from 10pm to 1am. The power trio of James, Hugo and Chu deliver a healthy blend of reggae rock every Thursday and Saturday night. Friday Soulful tunes with original sound, Pantalones Calientes is the best funk band in town. James, Oscar and Lino are sure to get you jumping at PachaMamas every other Friday night from 9pm to midnight. Come ready to party because Pacha’s drink specials bring heat.

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Saturday At sunset on Saturday there’s no better place to be than on the beachfront at Jugoso. Every week a different band takes the stage, but the vibe is constantly groovy. The music is free, the beers are cold and the seafood paella is delicious and affordably priced. The music starts when the sun sets - 5:30 more or less. This is also the best spot to catch Flamenco music if “La Pirata” is on stage. If you’re not ready for bed when the music fades at Jugoso, stroll north along the beach to the Black Whale to keep the vibe rolling. If you missed Los Bandidos Perdidos on Thursday, you can catch them here on Saturday nights. This power trio of reggae rock is the perfect climax to the weekend. Sunday Every Sunday night at Big Wave Dave’s Giovanni and James play an eclectic mix of originals and covers spanning a range of genres. Their talent is endless and James’ harmonica burns hotter than the San Juan sunshine in mid-May. Cruise over around 8 and you’ll find music to lift your spirits.

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TURN BACK THE CLOCK

It is easy to become memorized by the beautiful beaches and get caught up in the happy hour scene, but San Juan del Sur has an impressive history that is worth uncovering. For centuries its deeply inset bay has provided a protective anchorage for Nazca and Mayan ships. Later, in the 16th Century the town was a vital fishing and trading port to the Spanish conquistadores. Then it became a point of transit for gold prospectors traveling to California during the Gold Rush of the late 1800’s. Another wave of foreigners arrived in early 1990’s to work with the Central and South American Telegraph that laid a submarine system of cables running through San Juan del Sur. Each wave left behind a historical, cultural and social footprint that’s still visible today. On page 28 we’ve mapped out a walking route that will take you past some of San Juan del Sur’s most historic buildings. But for the history to really come alive, we suggest you tour with a guide from the Tourism Information Office. You’ll get a unique take on the buildings, a deeper insight into events that have shaped the town and perhaps hear a personal story or two from people who experienced Nicaragua’s history first hand. The guides are enthusiastic, knowledgeable and English-speaking. Plus they’re certified by INTUR (Nicaragua’s tourism board), so you’re in good hands. Start at the San Juan Bautista Church (Iglesia San Juan Bautista) on the main town square (1). Look for the statues of San Juan Bautista, the patron saint of San Juan del Sur and Virgen del Carmen, the patron saint of fishermen. There’s also a monument to

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Laviana Gaspar García, the Spanish-born priest known to his parishioners as the “guerrilla priest” for his dedication to the revolutionary struggle to overthrow Somoza. On the north west of the square stands a building with a large mural of General Augusto C. Sandino painted on its facade (2). Currently home to the Tourism Information Office the building, which dates back to 1912, previously served as city hall, jail and courthouse (all at the same time). In 1942 Costa Rican President Calderon Guardia took refuge here after being ousted by a coup. The Sandino mural was originally painted in 1979. Its slogan “Jamas Nos Vencerán”, or “We will never be defeated”, is dedicated to the unsung heroes of the revolution. Walk towards the beach on Avenida Real passing La Posada Azul on your right (3). This restored colonial home is now a hotel and gift shop. Note the entryway plaque dedication to the Chomorro family, who previously owned the building. The green unassuming building on the other side of the road functioned as city hall from 1972 to 1977 at the time when Doña Towers Virginia Kelly was elected as mayor - the first female in San Juan del Sur, and perhaps the region. The house was confiscated after the Sandinista revolution (4). Once you reach the beachfront road, take a left stopping at the building that houses the Barrio La Planta Project adjacent to the Comunidad Connect sports park (5). Built 150 years ago, the building was the site of the North American consulate during the gold rush, later used by the cable company to test broken cables, and during the Somoza period as a holiday home for the family - at which time a pool, bar and tennis court were built. After Somoza’s fall, the property was taken over and is now managed by the APC (Association for the Promotion of Culture). Continue along the beachfront road until you arrive at the Hotel Victoriano (6). This beautiful mansion was built between 1882 and 1884 by British immigrant William Cross, using materials imported from England. At the time Cross managed the cable company. In 1936 the property was bought by the Somoza family and became, yet another, weekend home for the family. It is thought that the poet Ruben Darío stayed in the house in 1884, as did Mark Twain, a few years earlier. Standing next door is the Palacio de Comunicación, built in 1942 during the Somoza administration (7). Look closely at the sign above the door and you’ll see that the word “Somoza” has been removed. Retrace your steps, heading north along the bay until you reach Estrella Hotel on your right (8). This was the first hotel in town when the port was established in 1929 and the train route opened. Across the road is Estación Hotel, located exactly where the train station used to be until it closed in 1954 (9). The lobby features a collection of photos of the town in the early 1900’s and is well worth a visit.

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! HISTORIC WALKING TOUR

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Recharge and Get your Healthy On

Every so often, it’s good to stop what you are doing and remember what’s important. Yes, we’re talking about your health. So if things have been a bit frenetic and you need to recharge, we've got you covered. One of the notable trends in the last few years is the growing number of spas and health related businesses opening in the region. If you're a health nut or just want some plain downtime, check out some of these options on tap in San Juan del Sur. Zen Yoga: All Levels, Every Day Zen Yoga is the first and only real yoga studio in San Juan del Sur with consistent instructors and regular class schedules. No matter the day of the week they’ll be a quality yoga class available. Located just one block west of the church square and surrounded by beautiful nursery gardens, Zen Yoga’s two-story outdoor studio captures the sea breezes and provides an oasis of calm. Styles and levels of classes vary daily and there are several different instructors to choose from, so it’s worth trying more than one class. As mats are available within the studio, all you need is motivation and an open mind. Most classes are taught in English, but there are a few offered in Spanish. Tea and chilled water are provided for students after class in the Zen Den. If you need more than yoga ask about Reiki, Shiatsu and Thai Yoga Massage options. Every third Wednesday Zen offers their speciality Vinyasa Vino - a dynamic vinyasa flow class with live guitar followed by sharing wine and chocolate. SAN JUAN LIVE

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El Gimnasio: Get Fit and Stay Strong El Gimnasio San Juan del Sur, or simply ‘the gym’, was converted from a warehouse. There are other gyms in town but this is the largest and maintains the widest range of exercise equipment, including stack machines, free weights, dumbbells, exercise mats, pull up bars, ladders, fitness balls and bands. There is no air conditioning, which means the afternoon hours can get uncomfortably hot, even if you are accustomed to the climate. Between the hours of 6am - 12pm, the gym is less crowded. Swim: Ocean or pool, take your pick If ocean swimming is what you are after, the endless stretches of sandy beaches dotting Nicaragua’s Pacific coastline offer lots of options. Fortunately for swimmers, surfers do not go to beaches without waves making Playa Marsella one of the most peaceful spots to take to the water. Another option is San Juan del Sur bay. The headlands on either side do a good job holding back the waves. You’ll only need to dodge the bobbing boats. As always with ocean swimming, exercise caution, check the conditions and never enter the ocean alone. (The neighborhood section on page 89 has more details.) If a lap pool is more your style, you can’t beat the view from La Cascada at Pelican Eyes. If you are not staying at the hotel, you can use the pool facilities for an entrance fee of $20 per day (you can pay the flat fee or consume that amount at the restaurant). The lap pool has a waterfall at the end of pool for which it’s named that spills over an infinity edge into an equally beautiful pool below. It’s an inspiring place to swim, relax and recharge. Stand Up Paddle Boards: Walk on water Want to enjoy San Juan del Sur’s stunning coastline but prefer to stay above the water? Try renting a stand up paddle board (SUP) from San Juan Surf. Get up close to the anchored fishing boats, yachts and cruise ships, explore the caves and wave to local fisherman scattered around the cliff line. If the tide is right, you might even be able to catch a small wave or two in the bay. SUP rentals are $15 per hour. All proceeds from SUP rentals are directed towards supporting the local surfers association. Get a Massage: Learn to Relax from the Local Experts There’s little debate that the health benefits of massage extend beyond relaxation. It seems we can add muscle pain alleviation, reduced postural stress, as well as an immunity boost to the list. While there are no shortage of massage options in town, Gaby's Spa and Massage Studio has the longest history of delivering a quality service. Step off the street and into Gaby’s air-conditioned studio, take in the sweet smell of floral incense and rest your ears on the gentle music. Choose your style and let Gaby and her staff welcome you to your vacation. Prices are $15 for 30 minutes, $30 for 60 minutes, and $45 for 90 minutes. SAN JUAN LIVE

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Eat and Drink Your Way Through San Juan Del Sur

Many travelers leave San Juan del Sur with the impression that all restaurants offer the same menu of rice and bean dishes, but this is not true. Dig a little deeper and you‘ll uncover a variety of flavorful dishes and drink options. Your eating day could start in the municipal market with a traditional Nicaraguan breakfast. For lunch perhaps enjoy some seafood right on the sand. Then, indulge in a ‘cultural platter’ from one of San Juan del Sur’s classic thatch roofed restaurants for dinner. Sunset is best enjoyed sipping on a cold bottle of Toña beer or indulging in Nicaragua’s signature drink – a Macuá. Or do as the locals do and order a bottle of Flor de Caña rum, a bucket of ice, a bottle of Coke and a dish of limes. Here’s a selection of appetizers, entrées and cocktails you shouldn’t leave without trying.

APPETIZERS OR “BOCADILLOS” Tostones con Queso Translates to grilled plantains with fried cheese. This simple classic is Nicaragua’s “chips and guacamole” replacement. Available at almost any Nicaraguan restaurant, it seems to taste best when your toes are in the sand. The final touch; add a splash of “salsa picante” to dial things up on the spice front. SAN JUAN LIVE

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Maybe it’s the setting or maybe it’s the feeling of a day spent in nearly untouched tropical paradise, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a place that serves better tostones con queso than the beach front restaurant at Playa Hermosa Beach Hotel. Seafood Ceviche If you like fresh fish, this is your staple. The combination of fresh raw seafood (shrimp, octopus and fish) marinated in lime juice is widely available. We recommend you order the catch of the day. Yes we know that the real ceviche is in Peru but Nicaragua does it well. And as ceviche is low in both fat and sugar, it’s great for those looking for a healthy option. El Timón plays host to the annual ceviche festival and includes it as a special in many weekly events. Another highlight is having someone prepare ceviche right on your boat with a fish that’s just been pulled from the water.

ENTREES Gallo Pinto Translates to spotted rooster. This is the quintessential Nicaraguan dish of rice and beans. Legend tells us that the name gallo pinto comes from its speckled appearance. It’s generally served as a side dish with every entrée for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you leave San Juan del Sur without having tried gallo pinto, we simply won’t forgive you. Pay a visit to Doña Angelitas comedor in the Municipal Market and taste the authentic flavor of gallo pinto and other forms of Nicaraguan cuisine. Everything on the menu is 50 córdoba (less than $2) and the food is cooked in front of you on a wood burning stove. Carne Asada Translates to grilled meet. Another simple Nicaraguan dish that could inspire you to find a kitchen and try it yourself. It consists of thinly sliced beef marinated in a spice rub and grilled. The trick is ordering the right salsa to accompany it. We recommend either the jalapeño or chimichurri. You’ll find it sold by the street BBQ vendors and in many of the restaurants along the beachfront. El Globo does it right. Enjoy the waves crashing under the beachfront balcony while you indulge in one of Nicaragua’s heartiest recipes. Pescado Entero Translates to whole fish. And that's exactly what it is. If having eyeballs and gills on your dinner plate makes you queazy, this is not the dish for you. But if you love seafood in any shape or form, this may end up being one of your favorite meals. And there’s no better place to get it than San Juan del Sur. The fish is typically served with rice and beans, a side of vegetables, ensalada (salad) and french fries if you’re lucky. If you like

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your fish smothered in tomatoes in a sweet pepper and onion sauce then order it “entometado.” Order it “al ajillo” and it will come with a garlic sauce. Pay a visit to Ines, sit on the balcony that extends out over the sand, order an ice-cold Toña and dig into a pescado entero. It’s more than a meal, it’s an experience. Nacatamal A Nicaraguan style “tamale” and possibly Nicaragua’s most beloved dish often enjoyed on holidays or special events. These delicious parcels of filled masa (a corn based dough) are wrapped in a plantain leaf, tied with string into oval bundles before being steamed for several hours. You’ll normally have the choice of chicken or pork and you can’t really go wrong with either. Just look for signs in front of houses in town that say “Hay Nacatamal”.

COCKTAILS Macuá There are two types of Macuá in Nicaragua. One is a native tropical bird and the other Nicaragua’s national rum drink. Like Magaritas in Mexico and a Mai Tais in Hawaii, nothing says Nicaraguan vacation better than a blended Macuá. Made with white Flor de Caña rum and fruit juice (usually orange and guava juice).

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Nobody in town does a Macuá better than the beach front restaurant Buen Gusto. Served with fresh blended fruit and brought to your table in a giant chilled fish-bowldrinking-glass, they taste healthy and are sure to elevate your spirits.

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Mango Mojito A mojito cocktail is the perfect summer drink. A refreshing hint of mint and lime gives it that thirst-quenching edge that other cocktails lack. Add a fresh blend of mango to a healthy serving of Flor de Caña and you’ve got yourself the taste of endless summer. Mango Mojitos always taste best in Nicaragua.

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If you are bored with regular old rum drinks, make your way to the Howler Bar. Their "Piña Diablo" is guaranteed to spice up your night. If your palette prefers sweet over spicy then the Mango Mojito will satisfy. Undecided? Go with the infamous "Popper Shot", infused rum topped with fresh squeezed pineapple juice. It’s the perfect combination of heat and sweet.

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ARTIFACTS FROM A GREAT TRIP When you cross borders and return home from a vacation the collection of memorabilia you picked up along the way tells the story of your adventure. Some would even go as far as to say that if you don’t return home from San Juan del Sur with at least a few of these items your trip is incomplete. But before we get started on the list here are a few things to consider when deciding on what to buy and where to buy it:

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✓ If you purchase locally made products you’ll be keeping your money in the local economy. ✓ If you buy directly from the craftsperson it will put more money in the hands of the artisan rather than a middleman. ✓ If you seek out products made by social enterprises and co-operatives that have a social mission you’ll be helping local people and supporting the sustainable development of San !36Juan del Sur. SANJUANDELSUR.ORG


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THE SHOPAHOLICS - THINGS YOU SHOULDN’T RETURN HOME WITHOUT Handicrafts from Productos del Pueblo A collection of products created by women and families throughout Nicaragua. Soap, pine baskets, goods woven from plastic bags, jewelry, and ornaments made of Jicaro. You can purchase the products by contacting Mara Jacobson at Comunidad Connect.

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Organic Nica Java coffee from Finca El Petén Shade grown in the rolling green hills of the Apanas Lake region of Nicaragua and distributed in San Juan del Sur. The Fair Trade seal assures that the farmer was paid at least a minimum base price established by the Fair Trade Organization. It is also 100% organic certified by Biolatina. You can find bags for sale at La Nica Orgánica on the road out of town. There’s nothing like a warm cup of java grown down south to bring back the memories of your Nicaraguan vacation. Jam from Condimentos del Carizal Condimentos del Carizal, is a women's co-op producing and selling homemade jam. Seasonal flavors include pitaya, pineapple, tamarind, mixed-fruit and more. 100% of the proceeds go directly to the women’s co-op. You can find the jam for sale at Pan de Vida Bakery, Gato Negro and Rancho Chilamate Horseback Adventures & Eco Guest Ranch. Or buy direct from the Carizal community at Doña Nelly’s house across from the Carlos Guzman school (see page 134).

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Recycled jewelry and purses Newspaper, magazines, plastic bags and candy wrappers. Nothing goes to waste. The jewelry and purses are handmade by local co-ops. Ranging in price from $6 - $15, this is money well spent as the proceeds go directly to the female artisans. You can purchase the jewelry at La Posada Azul gift shop. Look for the blue and white colonial building and a sign that accurately identifies “The Best Tienda in San Juan del Sur”.

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Surf gear from San Juan Surf This surf style inspired clothing boutique offers an impressive collection of quality surf gear and stylish clothes. Clothing is handmade and designed in Nicaragua, plus profits go to help the San Juan local community.

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Anything from A U R I C From creatively cut surf tanks to leather sandals, everything in this store is sourced from Nicaragua and handmade by locals. The brightly colored walls display funky jewelry, stylish jean shorts and a variety of beach shirts for both men and women. 
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MAJOR DATES IN THE HISTORY OF NICARAGUA AND SAN JUAN DEL SUR

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‣ 6000 BC Ancient footprints of Acahualina found in Managua provide the earliest evidence of humans living in Nicaragua. ‣ 1522 Spanish Conquistador Gil González Dávila arrives in South Western Nicaragua. Spain would hold onto power in Nicaragua for almost 300 years. Around this time San Juan del Sur is established as a Spanish port. ‣ 1523 Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba follows and founds the cities of Granada and Leon. ‣ 1539 The Spanish discover that Lake Nicaragua connects with the Atlantic via the San Juan river and the idea of a trans-oceanic canal begins. ‣ 1633 Bluefields is established on the Atlantic coast. SAN JUAN LIVE

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‣ 1811 The first Nicaraguan uprising against Spain occurs in Rivas, 30 km (18.6 miles) from San Juan del Sur. ‣ 1821 Central America becomes independent from Spain. Every year on September 15th Nicaraguans celebrate this date with marching bands and parades. (For more on holidays and public events, see page 45.) ‣ 1833 Nicaragua becomes an independent country. Rival families in Conservative Granada and Liberal Leon struggle for dominance and control of the political processes – a conflict that lasts well into the twentieth century. Around this time the Nicaraguan province of Guanacaste, just south of San Juan del Sur, votes to become part of Costa Rica. ‣ 1849 The US negotiates a commercial treaty with Nicaragua. ‣ 1851 Cornelius Vanderbilt establishes a transoceanic route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Nicaragua ending in San Juan del Sur. This brings San Juan del Sur to the attention of the world, its port serving as a transit point for gold prospectors from the east coast of the US heading to California during the gold rush. This was the quickest route at the time from the eastern coast of the US. ‣ 1852 San Juan del Sur is designated as a “Major Port”. (150 years later, in 2002, this occasion is marked with another official naming of “The Port of San Juan del Sur”). ‣ 1854 Fruto Chamorro Perez becomes the first President of the Republic of Nicaragua. ‣ 1856 William Walker, a North America mercenary supported by the Liberal Party in Leon, takes over the city of Granada, declares himself President and reintroduces slavery. ‣ 1860 A loose resistance movement unhappy with William Walker forms. A series of skirmishes follow, including in San Juan del Sur and a better known one in Granada. William Walker is eventually captured and executed. ‣ 1866 Mark Twain travels through the transoceanic passage established by Cornelius Vanderbilt. ‣ 1902 The US decides to build an inter-oceanic canal in Panama rather than Nicaragua. ‣ 1893 A liberal uprising brings Jose Santos Zelaya to power. ‣ 1909 Zelaya is removed from power by the Conservatives with the support of the US. ‣ 1914 A treaty is signed giving the US exclusive rights to building a canal in Nicaragua. The US has no intention of building a canal but has every intention to avoid any competition to their Panama canal. Waves of invasions by US Marines follow “to protect US interests.”

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‣ 1927 A local resistance movement against the US occupation starts to develop in Nicaragua, led by Augusto C. Sandino. ‣ 1933 The US places an English-speaking bureaucrat Anastasio Somoza Garcia as head of the US National Guard. Somoza has bigger ambitions…. ‣ 1934….His National Guards assassinate Sandino and in 1936 Somoza seizes power, becoming the president. With the help of the National Guard – which effectively had been turned into a private army – the Somoza family keep control of Nicaragua for the next 42 years. ‣ 1956 Anastasio Somosa Garcia is assassinated and his son, Luis, becomes president. ‣ 1963 A resistance movement disgruntled with the Somoza dictatorship grows. Calling themselves “Sandinistas” they eventually form what is now known as the FSLN (Frente Sandinista De Liberacion National.) ‣ 1968 Luis Somoza dies and his brother Anastasio (the second) takes control of the country. ‣ 1967 Carlos Fonseca, one of the founders of the FSLN, is killed. ‣ 1972 An earthquake destroys parts of Managua. The Somoza family embezzles much of the international aid funds turning many former supporters against them and increasing support for the FSLN. ‣ 1978 Pedro Joaquin Chamorro, publisher of La Prensa and leader of the conservative opposition to Somoza, is assassinated. Young Sandinista guerrillas wearing masks used in the famous anti-Spanish play El Güegüense hurl homemade grenades at the National Guard. The US suspends military support to Somoza. ‣ 1978 Uprisings start across the country and the National Guard responds with violence, only inflaming matters further. A general strike is held. ‣ 1979 The Sandinistas march on Managua and overthrow the Somoza government. Anastasio Somoza flees the country on July 17. (He is later assassinated in Paraguay). On July 19 each year the FSLN hold a commemoration even in Managua to celebrate the victory. ‣ 1979 The US is not in favor of the Sandinistas holding power and President Ronald Reagan gives support to a resistance movement, called the Contras, supplying them with arms over the Honduran Border. ‣ 1980s Years of fighting between the Contras and the Sandinistas follow leaving behind a legacy of broken infrastructure and a battered economy. ‣ 1984 FSLN leader Daniel Ortega is elected as president.

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‣ 1985 The US enforces a full trade embargo against Nicaragua and continues to supply military aid to the Contras. ‣ 1986 Eventually a peace accord is signed and the US slowly withdraws its support of the Contras. ‣ 1990 Peaceful elections follow with Violetta Chamorro, widow of the slain journalist Joaquin Chamorro, unseating President Ortega. She is the first female head of state in the Americas. Peace brings international investment, aid money and the first trickle of adventurous tourists. ‣ 1996 Arnoldo Aleman is elected as president. ‣ 1998 The battered economy begins to show signs of life. Hurricane Mitch arrives destroying much of the infrastructure in the north west of the country. ‣ 2001 Enrique Bolanos is elected as president. ‣ 2004 The Central American Free Trade Agreement is implemented. ‣ 2007 Daniel Ortega is re-elected as President for the second time. ‣ 2008 Sandinistas dominate the municipal elections, which are widely denounced as fraudulent. ‣ 2011 Daniel Ortega, following a change in the constitution to allow him to be reelected indefinitely, wins the national vote for the third time. While Ortega comes with baggage and is known for his fiery rhetoric against ‘wild capitalism,’ his government introduces a series of policies to promote real estate, international investment and tourism. ‣ 2013 Ortega announce a plan to build a shipping canal between the Atlantic to the Pacific (see more on pate 43). ‣ 2014 Ortega remains a controversial leader with an increasingly tight grip on power. But while international funding bodies concerned with threats to democratic elections and due process withdraw their aid packages, industrial production is on the rise and local business confidence remains strong.

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A CANAL OBSESSION Even before Cornelius Vanderbilt established his transoceanic route, Nicaragua has been obsessed by the dream of a canal connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific. Plans have come and gone, but the most recent is perhaps the most audacious. The project, announced by President Daniel Ortega in 2013 would be the largest civilengineering and construction project in the world and comprise a waterway of up to 130 miles, ports, railway, oil pipeline and international airport. The planned route stretches from the Caribbean through lake Nicaragua to the mouth of the river Brito on the Pacific. The funding partner is Wang Jing, a little-known Chinese businessman. His group has controversially been given the rights to construct the canal for 50 years. While Ortega announced the project as an initiative to help the country’s poor, some analysts believe that the President has a private pact with Wang, many are concerned with environmental impacts, and others believe it’s a proverbial white elephant which will never come to pass.

PROPOSED CANAL ROUTE

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PLANNING YOUR TRIP Most of San Juan del Sur still exists outside the “tourist bubble” - something that we are thankful for. But it does mean that tourist services and infrastructure are patchy, especially in remote areas, and you may find yourself outside of your comfort zone at times. For most travelers, that’s all part of the experience of being somewhere new and unusual, but it does makes sense to have a plan. So let’s get to it.

HOW TO TRAVEL First you should consider whether you want to travel independently or join a tour. On an independent trip you can determine your own schedule on the fly. But it’s worth making advance reservations for your accommodation if you’re traveling during the peak season between December to April (especially over New Years and the week before Easter). At other times you should be fine traveling more flexibly. Still, if you’re heading to a remote location, arriving after dark or traveling with children, it’s a good idea book in advance. If you don’t speak Spanish, you’ll find having a phrasebook or a translation application on your smart phone handy for independent travel. Travel on a tour and you can delegate all the organizing and driving to someone else. A good tour company, with local access, insider connections and knowledgeable guides, should be able to offer experiences that you would find hard to do on your own. For some travelers, especially those without the luxury of time, it’s worthwhile having everything arranged in advance in order to cut out the hassle and enjoy every minute of a precious vacation.

WHEN TO GO Climate The San Juan del Sur climate is largely a function of elevation and does not vary greatly with the seasons. From sea level to 2,460 ft (750 meters) daytime temperatures average 79°F (26°C) to 84°F (29°C) and night temperatures fall to 69°F (20°C) to 75° (24°C). Given its latitude just a few degrees north of the equator, San Juan del Sur has equal hours of daylight and darkness throughout the year. The driest months are December to April when there is little or no rain, days are reliably sunny and warm and nights are clear. The dry season is known locally as verano (summer). Deciduous trees shed their leaves to later erupt with pink or yellow blossoms. Towards the end of the season the streams dry up and dust can reduce visibility. Although wet and dry seasons are becoming more unpredictable, the rains typically start in May, quickly turning the landscape a bright green. The wet season is referred to as invierno (winter) or "green season" and lasts to November. The rains tend to be heaviest in September and October and lightest in July and August. But even during the wettest periods, the rains rarely last for more than a few hours, clearing quickly.

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January and February have the most wind, but again it typically doesn’t blow all day, even on windy days. Seasons It’s always warm in San Juan del Sur making anytime good for a visit. But to help you with your planning here's a little more guidance: The height of the tourism season runs from December to April - peaking on New Years Day and Easter week. The main surf season runs from May to November when you’ll see solid swells that make the points and reefs come alive. The wind is a little less strong and can occasionally switch on shore. December to April bring reliable off shore winds (occasionally blowing a little too hard) and consistent mellow surfing. The turtle nesting period follows the lunar cycle with the massive synchronized nesting taking place between July to January (peaking in September and October). The best time for off-shore fishing is April to September. In-shore fishing is good yearround.

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Humpback whales migrate annually along the pacific coast of Nicaragua. Whale watching season runs from January to April each year.

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Events You might want to plan your trip to coincide with (or avoid) one of the religious festivals that dot the San Juan del Sur calendar. We’ve listed the main ones together with public holidays in the table below. The events are normally free and offer an opportunity to hang out with the locals and enjoy some street food. Though it can get rowdy and loud with public displays of drunkenness and the firing of firecrackers in the streets.

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Holiday

Description

January 1

New Years Day Fin de Ano

Most businesses are closed, but it’s not really the day for errands, is it?

February 14

Valentines Day Día del Amor y la Amistad

Day of Love and Friendship. Many businesses celebrate with live music and valentine specials.

Easter Week

Holy Week Semana Santa

Celebratory masses are held throughout the week. The town gets very crowded from Wednesday to Easter Sunday with thousands of visitors showing up on San Juan del Sur’s beach. The atmosphere turns rowdy and hectic with lots of heavy drinking. Tollbooths appear at the entrance to town and some roads are closed making it hard to circulate. This is not the best time to visit if you are after a relaxing vacation.

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Date

Holiday

Description

May 1

Labor Day Día del Trabajador

Most businesses are closed.

May 30

Mothers Day Día de la Madre

The date was set by President Somoza to commemorate his wife’s mother’s birthday. This is a very special day for all Nicaraguan mothers. Local schools and many businesses are closed.

June 23-30

Celebration of Saint John A celebration of San Juan del Sur’s patron saint, St the Baptist John the Baptist, lasting several days. On the 23rd Fiesta San Juan Bautista people gather at the central park for nighttime performances of Nicaraguan music. An early morning procession follows, where a statue of St John is taken around town accompanied by the Chicheros (musical band). There are more processions the next day, with one group carrying the smaller, original statue of St John the Baptist and the other group carrying a larger replica. When the two groups meet the celebration reaches a climax with much singing and dancing. The statues are then taken back to church. Apart from the marching bands and processions, a highlight is a battle between neighborhoods on who puts together the best Gigantona - a giant doll with a colorful swaying dress. La Gigantona is accompanied by Enano Cabezon, a small figure with a big head, who the legend says fell in love with her. The celebrations end on June 30th with a horse parade (Hipica)

July 16

Celebration of Our Lady of Carmen Virgen del Carmen

A delightful festival involving a procession of colorfully decorated boats carrying a statue of Virgen del Carmen, the patron saint of fishermen, across San Juan del Sur bay. The day before there is a vigil on the beach road with music, people selling Fritangas (grilled meats with plantain and salad).

July 17

Day of Joy El Día de la Alegría

Folk music performances in the central park to celebrate the anniversary of the date when Anastasio Somoza Debayle fled the country following the Sandinista uprising.

July 19

The Sandinista Revolution Day Día de La Revolución Sandinista

The Sandinista party faithful come out to celebrate the victory against Somosa. Most of the speeches and presentations take place in Managua. Some Sanjuaneños head to the bull ring in the small town of Las Marias. Here horse riders attempt to catch a greased duck.

September 14-15

Independence Day Fiestas Patrias

A spectacle of marching bands, fireworks and parades to celebrate Nicaragua’s 1821 independence from Spain. There’s lots of flags waving.

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Date

Holiday

Description

November 2

All Souls Day Día de los Difuntos

Celebrated at the cemetery in Las Delicias where people gather to leave flowers for their loved ones who have passed away. No alcohol is sold.

December 1-8

Celebration of The Virgin Mary La Purísima

Early morning marching bands call devotees to a 5am special mass held in the Catholic church. Decorated statues of the Virgin Mary, prepared by different neighborhoods, are paraded in the streets. La Gritería takes place on 7 December, where the congregation is asked: “Who causes so much happiness? The answer: “Mary’s Conception”. Some families decorate their homes with Madroño flowers from Nicaragua’s national tree. Lines form from house to house as families share candy, juice, sugar cane and sweet lemons.

December 25

Christmas Navidad

Most businesses are closed with many closing also on December 24.

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Monthly Rainfall Averages

79/84 F (26/29 C) EVERY DAY

Inches of Rain

18

Dry Season 13.5

DECEMBER TO APRIL

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Rainy Season

9

MAY TO NOVEMBER

4.5 0

Jan Feb Mar April May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec MAY - NOVEMBER

Data from weatherbase.com

Indicate peak holidays seasons. Travelers should expect limited vacancy and significantly higher prices for hotels.

JAN

(1) New Years Day

FEB

(14) Valentines Day

JANUARY - APRIL

MAR APR

(1 week before Easter) Holy Week

MAY

(30) Mothers Day

JUN

(23-30) Celebration of Saint John the Baptist

JUL

(19) The Sandinista Revolution Day

JULY - JANUARY

AUG SEP

OFF-SHORE: APRIL TO SEPTEMBER

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(14-15) Independence Day

IN-SHORE: YEAR ROUND

OCT NOV DEC

(2) All Souls Day SAN JUAN LIVE

(25) Christmas

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YEAR ROUND


The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

GETTING TO SAN JUAN DEL SUR Getting here by air Your arrival will be at Managua International Airport (MGA). Major hubs for non-stop travel from the United States are Miami, Atlanta, and Houston. Service is also available, usually with an intermediate stop, from Los Angeles and New York. You can reach Managua International Airport from Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and El Salvador and many cities on the South American mainland.Travelers from Europe change at a US hub or travel via Costa Rica, Panama or connections in Latin America. On arrival at the airport you will need to pay a US$10 entry fee in cash. Citizens of most countries receive a 90-day tourist visa and the process is generally hassle-free. For a list of countries that require visas head to the website of the Foreign Relations Ministry (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores). Passports are stamped on entry and should be valid for at least six months (this may be waived for US citizens, but double check prior to travel.) You are officially required to have an onward ticket, though this is not often checked in Managua. Not having an onward ticket can cause problems when you depart your resident country. For a comfortable landing you can travel to San Juan del Sur from the airport using a shared airport shuttle. Shuttle companies Iskra Travel (led by Magaly RodrĂ­quez, see Spirit Air - Fort Lauderdale her interview on page 53) and Adelante Avianca (Taca) - Miami, San Express both offer transport service. The Salvador, San Jose cost is around $40 per person each way or United/Continental - Houston $65 for two people and takes about 2 hours. Copa - Guatemala, Panama Private shuttle companies commute between Delta - Atlanta Managua and San Juan del Sur at all hours Nature Air - San Jose, Liberia of the night, but the charge is typically $80 if American Airlines - Miami you require transportation after normal Aerocaribbean - Havana working hours. If you arrive on a late flight into Managua and prefer to overnight at a hotel near the airport before traveling to San Juan del Sur the following day, there are two good hotel options close by: Directly opposite the airport is the Mercedes Best Western and one mile away is the Hotel Camino Real adjacent to the Casino.

AIRLINES TO / FROM NICARAGUA

An alternate flight option for those travelers coming from Canada is to fly directly into Liberia, Costa Rica. Sunwing Airlines offers a direct flights from Toronto to Liberia and both Air Canada and WestJet offer flights to Liberia and Managua via US hubs. Taxis run regularly from Liberia airport to the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Travel time is approximately 45 minutes but the border crossing can be time consuming depending on the time of year. For additional information on the border crossing see page 50. SAN JUAN LIVE

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! Getting here by bus Spend any time on the road in Nicaragua and you’ll notice dozens of yellow US school buses, often decorated with brightly painted slogans. These have been converted into public buses and they offer inexpensive transport to major towns. Locally referred to as “chicken buses” (for reasons I’m sure you can imagine) they can be crowded and uncomfortable. The legroom is limited as the buses were designed for children. The seats are hard. There is no air-conditioning on board and no storage for large bags. But even if you spend the whole journey holding your bag on your lap, it may be worth it for the opportunity to interact with the locals and experience a slice of unfiltered Nicaraguan life. If you’re traveling long distance consider bringing along some snacks. They’ll be dozens of vendors selling food, but after a while you may want something less fried and more familiar. San Juan del Sur is serviced from Rivas, Managua and Granada. Expresso routes are quicker than Routado routes as they have fewer stops. The main bus terminal in San Juan del Sur is near the Mercado Municipal (municipal market) see map on page 67.

INTERNATIONAL BUS COMPANIES Transporte de Sol - El Salvador, Guatemala King Quality - Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica Tica Bus - Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama Trans Nica - Honduras, Costa Rica Bus schedules are available at this website. Be sure to double check the information on the ground because the schedule is often subject to change. Crossing the border from Costa Rica As the border with Costa Rica at Peñas Blancas (Nicaragua’s border town) is just 40km (25 miles) from San Juan del Sur, quite a few visitors come overland. The easiest way to cross the border is on an international bus route serviced by TicaBus or Trans Nica. Both companies provide a comfortable, efficient and affordable service. Their buses are normally air-conditioned, have reclining seats, movies on a loop and on-board rest rooms. Both bus companies have offices in town however you will need to travel to Rivas to start your journey. Rivas is easily accessible by local bus and taxi. If you have a group of more than 20 people, Trans Nica may be willing to bring their bus into San Juan to save your group the trip to Rivas. Check this in advance with the ticket office in town.

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There are several checkpoints and stops you’ll need to make as you cross the border from Costa Rica but the bus driver should guide you through the process. You’ll have to get off the bus several times - including once with your bags - for passport stamps and customs checks. It’s a good idea to have a pen for form filling and cash in small denominations for the various fees you will have to pay. Once in Nicaragua, international buses continue north along the Pan American Highway stopping at the Uno gas station in Rivas, the regional transport hub. Visit their websites for the schedule. From Rivas you can either catch a local bus to San Juan del Sur or travel by taxi. The driver may allow you to get off the bus at La Virgen, the town that marks the turnoff to San Juan del Sur from the Pan American - but there’s no fixed rule. Another option is to get a taxi or bus from the border at Peñas Blancas to San Juan del Sur. There are taxi and bus stands on the side of the road as you enter Nicaragua. Private shuttles require prior reservation but they are reliable and provide a worthwhile comfort for only US$30 total for up to 4 people. You can also cross the border at Peñas Blancas with a private vehicle or on foot. If you are in a private vehicle, there is a whole lot of paperwork that you will need to prepare beforehand, so make allowances for this. Cross by foot and you’ll need to ignore the various touts, money exchangers and vendors and also be prepared for a walk of a few hundred meters between the Costa Rican and Nicaraguan sides of the border. There are several stops to make on both sides for passport and customs checks and to pay a series of small fees, not all of which are well signposted. If you are wearing a backpack or are looking in any way puzzled about the border process, expect to be approached by a guide or transito who’ll tell you that they can help you through the tangles of the crossing. While it’s probably better to ask a border official or police officer to direct you, if you do decide to use a transito negotiate the fee up front (typically just a few dollars) and never give them your documents. You don’t want to be in a position where you are paying to get your documents back. Also be aware that your guide may be inflating the fees required for the crossing. Some border crossings are faster than others. It’s very difficult to predict. However you choose to travel, if you get stuck behind a series of tour buses you can be delayed for hours. At other times your crossing can take less than 30 minutes. Arriving on a cruise line Since 2008 San Juan del Sur has been receiving around 20 - 40 cruise ship visits each year. In 2014, the government announced that it had started a bidding process for the construction of a cruise ship terminal to allow passengers to disembark directly on the port. Currently cruise passengers need to take a small boat or tender to reach the shore.

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Getting here by taxi Taxis are a practical way to travel in Nicaragua and the cost should compare favorably with renting a car. SAN JUAN LIVE

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The danger is being overcharged so settle on a price before getting into a taxi and if you can, ask local businesses about appropriate fares before flagging one down. Don’t be surprised if your taxi allows another pedestrian to join the ride. This is known as a collectivo with the driver picking people up and dropping them off along the way. If you prefer not to have a collectivo taxi, let your driver know up front. Always have change with you and small bills. Some cab drivers will tell you that they don’t have change and try to take all your cash. Tipping (page 66) is not mandatory. It’s appreciated of course, but don’t feel that you have to. Use the table as a guide to what you can expect to pay for some of the main routes to and from San Juan del Sur: From San Juan del Sur To:

Price (USD)

Rivas

20

Peñas Blancas

20

Playa Marsella

20

Playa Maderas

20

Playa Majagual

30

Playa Remanso

20

Palermo

5

Playa Hermosa

30

Playa Coco

70

Playa Ostional

90

Carizal (Escamequita)

40

Granada

60

Managua

80

Hacienda Iguana

80

El Flor

80

La Virgen

15

Nacascolo

15

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GETTING AROUND THE SAN JUAN DEL SUR REGION Orientation The best way to orientate yourself in the San Juan del Sur region is to understand which neighborhoods and beaches lie to the north of the downtown area and which lie to the south. Then grasp where the turnoffs are for the roads heading north (La Chocolata) and south. Here is a turnoff map that shows you how to get to the main roads heading north and south. It’s followed by two orientation maps. For detailed maps of each neighborhood and the downtown area head to the neighborhood section starting on page 89.

MAP SHOWING TURNOFFS TO ROADS HEADING NORTH & SOUTH

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! BEACHES & NEIGHBORHOODS NORTH OF SAN JUAN DEL SUR

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! BEACHES AND NEIGHBORHOODS SOUTH OF SAN JUAN DEL SUR

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DISTANCES FROM SAN JUAN DEL SUR IN KILOMETERS Boaco 196 Bonanza 528 Corinto 275 Chinandega 255 Diriamba 99 El Coco 16 El Sucio 5.5 Escamequita 12.5 Esteli 256 Granada 96

Jinotepe 94 Jinotega 267 Juigalpa 246 La Flor 18 Leon 216 Managua 141 Masatepe 103 Masaya 102 Matagalpa 233 Nandaime 75

Ostional 24 Penas Blancas 43 Pena Rota 3.5 Playa Hermosa 10.5
 Poneloya 234
 Puerto Sandino 192
 Rama 400
 Rivas 30
 San Carlos 405
 Tipitapa 168

Taxi Taxis will take you to most beaches, but always ask and agree to the price up front. Although on the map it looks as if La Chocolata (the road heading North from San Juan del Sur) continues past Maderas and Majagual to Gigante, it doesn’t. You have to go via Rivas (or travel by boat). The main taxi stand is opposite Barrio Café but you can hail a taxi wherever you see one. See taxi price guide on page 52. Bus There is a daily bus service heading south to Ostional. Bear in mind that apart from Playa Coco and Playa Ostional, the road is well back from the beach. The bus will drop you on the road and it will be a long hike to get to the beach. Shuttle Most shuttles are geared for surfers. Which means that if you want to get to Majagual (where there is no surf), you’ll have to walk from Playa Maderas (where there is surf). Playa Maderas - The most convenient and reliable shuttle service to Maderas Beach is through Casa Oro. For $5 roundtrip, you can get from town to Maderas beach and back. Shuttles depart from Casa Oro to Playa Maderas at 7:30am, 10am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm and 4pm daily. The return shuttle from Playa Maderas leaves at 8:15am, 10:45am, 1pm, 3:30pm and 5pm daily. Playa Hermosa - The Playa Hermosa Beach Hotel offers daily shuttles to and from the beach for $10 roundtrip, which includes the $3 entrance fee that you have to pay to enter the beach. Shuttles depart from the Azul Beauty Spa located 50 meters south of the Gato Negro coffee shop. Shuttles depart town daily at 10am and 2pm and return from the beach to town at 4pm. Private return trips from Playa Hermosa to town can also be arranged directly with the hotel if you do not want to spend the entire day at the beach. In addition many local hostels and surf shops offer daily transport to many of the local surf beaches.

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Rentals If you decide to rent a vehicle, you’ll want one with 4-wheel drive for exploring the region. On unpaved roads conditions will generally be worse toward the end of the rainy season. Take care when driving as hazards (even large ones) are not normally marked and you’ll be sharing the road with a wide range of other road users, including four legged ones. After heavy rains some river crossings may not be passable, so get up-todate information on this before setting out. San Juan del Sur’s gas station (formerly a Texaco, now operated by Uno) is located on the right of the main road as you drive into town. There are no gas stations on the La Chocolata or the road heading south, so fill up before leaving town. There are several good quality mechanics in town if you have car troubles. In addition to hiring a car, in San Juan del Sur you can also now rent motorbikes, ATV’s and bicycles. See the Directory for details. Directions Although more street signs are appearing in San Juan del Sur, and we’ve referenced these names in the Directory, most people give addresses based on directions from certain landmarks. It gets particularly confusing if you are not familiar with the area or if the landmark no longer exists. So "De donde fue Ricardo" would be "Where Ricardo’s bar used to be." A common landmark used in San Juan del Sur is the church or Iglesia. Remember that all churches in Nicaragua face west so if you have your back to the door, left is south, west is straight ahead and north is right. Directions may also be based around the sea (mar) or on the rise and fall of the land; up being arriba and down being abajo. A typical direction may be “De la iglesia, dos cuadas al mar, diez varras arriba” or “From the church, two blocks towards the sea, 10 varas up”. A cuadra is a square or a city block. A vara is an old Spanish yard, equivalent to 33 inches or 0.835 meters. Outside town addresses are given as a measurement in kilometers. Confused? Hopefully the summary below will help:

DEFINITIONS OF DIRECTIONAL TERMS Abajo - Down Arriba - Up Contiguo - Next to / Adjacent Frente - Across from opposite Mano derecha - Right side

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Mano izquierda - Left side Al mar - Towards the ocean Norte - North Este - East Sur - South Oeste - West Cuadra - City block

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Metro - Meter Vara - 0.83 meters Manzana - 1.72 acres Barrio - Neighborhood Entrada - Entrance Puente - Bridge Carretera - Road

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CULTURE AND FITTING IN It’s often said that Nicaraguans breathe poetry and its writers and poets are celebrated with surprising passion. Of course there’s Nicaraguan poet Ruben Darío who founded the modernism literary movement that flourished at the end of the 19th century and was arguably the most influential poet in the Spanish language. But there's also a line of “warrior poets’” such as Carlos Fonseca, Ernesto Cardenal and Gioconda Belli (see reading list on page 79. Thanks to Nicaragua’s eventful history (page 39) in particular the decade long civil war that remains deeply imprinted on the national psyche, there is no shortage of tales to tell and poems to be recited. While the economy may have been spluttering, Nicaragua’s cultural life flourished under the Sandinista government on the back of government support for folkloric music and dance. This love of music endures. You’ll hear a wide variety of “traditional” music including mariachi and marimba performed on a wooden xylophone, often combined with a dance performance.

EL GǕEGǕENSE Written in the 1500s and recognized by UESCO as an Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, El Güegüense is a satirical masked play full of double meanings, trickery and confusing expressions. The basic story involves a witty Mestizo (mixed Spanish and indigenous), called El Güegüense, running circles around a group of Spanish tax collectors in an attempt to evade payment.

The most recognizable is La Gigantona a satirical dance involving a large Spanish women with a short indigenous companion, but the most famous satire is El Güegüense (see box). Miami style reggaeton (with the volume turned up high) is also part of the musical landscape as is salsa and merengue. For the current musical landscape in San Juan del Sur, including what’s on and where see page 21.

The play has become a symbol of Nicaraguan defiance against authority. But there are lots of other theories about its meaning.

The culture is decidedly Latin with some machismo thrown in. Life revolves around the family unit with many women having the traditional role of raising children, cooking meals and managing the house. Family and extended family ties are extremely important in Nicaraguan society. This focus on the family makes the country very kid friendly. Walk around town with a child and you’ll notice this in the lavish attention you receive. The majority of Nicaraguans are Catholic, though other religions are practiced; including a growing missionary evangelism spread from the United States. But it’s Catholicism that is taught at school, Catholic holidays are held throughout the year and each town

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has a saint’s day that brings everyone out onto the streets. San Juan del Sur is no exception; see page 45 for a list of events and public holidays. The Catholic Church in San Juan offers mass every day at 6 pm, and on Sundays at 9am and 11am (the 11am service is for children). Everyone is welcome.


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Dress For a popular vacation spot by the ocean, you’ll find local Nicaraguans dressing quite formally. The dress-down culture or crumpled hippy look that you see in Europe or North America has not taken hold here. An old-fashioned prudishness survives in public; clothes are spotlessly clean and well pressed, women are never topless on the beach, exercise clothes are worn only when exercising and skimpy clothes are not worn in church. (And you’ll be hard pressed to find a Nicaraguan man wearing shorts). If in doubt, show less skin, not more. It will help you fit in and reduce the possibility of offending. Language Nicaragua’s national language is Spanish. While you’ll get by without speaking any, just a few words and phrases will help break down barriers. A Buenos dias (good morning) or Buenas tardes (good afternoon) is often all that you need to start a conversation. It’s also a good way to make a good first impression. Other words to learn are Please (Por favor), Thank you (Gracias) and Sorry (Disculpe). Here are a few more phrases to get you started, compliments of Spanish Ya a highly recommended Spanish school led by Yajaira Jimenez (see her interview on page 62). Nicaragua also has its own set of gestures. In particular the lip point. So join in, pucker up and point your lips at things.

HELPFUL SPANISH PHRASES ¿Puedo hacerle una pregunta? Can I ask you a question? ¿Me puede ayudar por favor? Could you please help me? ¿Hay alguien que hable inglés? Does anyone here speak English? ¿Podría hablar más despacio? Could/can you speak slowly? Estoy aquí de vacaciones. I am here on vacation. Mi equipaje no ha llegado. My baggage has not arrived. He perdido mi equipaje. I have lost my baggage. ¿Tiene habitaciones disponibles? Do you have any rooms available? ¿Cuánto cuesta una habitación para una persona? How much is a room for one person? ¿Dónde está el banco, mercado, hotel, …? Where is the bank, market, hotel….? Muchas gracias por su amabilidad. Thank you very much for your kindness. Me gustaría comer, beber… I would like to eat, drink…. SAN JUAN LIVE

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L L A B E S A

B

N O I G I L E R R O J A M R E H T THE O Baseball is Nicaragua’s national sport and hugely popular. Drive in any direction out of San Juan del Sur on a Sunday and you should come across a baseball game. Some baseball fields have bleachers for fans, food vendors serving snacks and a bar with cold beverages. Others have 4 bases, 2 teams, 1 bat, 1 ball and little else. In any case, baseball is Nicaragua’s favorite pastime and a visit to a baseball game offers a peak into the local culture. The most manicured field in town is in Las Delicias, on the left side of the road leading south across from tire repair shop Vulcanizaction ‘Las Pampas’. The closest large baseball stadium is in Rivas. It holds around 5,000 spectators and hosts national league matches. Tickets can be bought at the entrance before the match, but arrive early if it’s a popular one. Soccer is also played in Nicaragua, but baseball has a stronger following and inspires more passion. SAN JUAN LIVE

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Spotlight on Alejandro Jose Noguera Castro

Youth Baseball League 2014 In spring of 2014 Comunidad Connect launched a newly formed youth baseball league in San Juan del Sur. The program is headed by Alejandro Jose Noguera Castro. Alejandro was born in San Juan del Sur in 1979 and played professional baseball for the Nicaraguan national team until 2006. As an all-star pitcher he competed against some of the world’s best teams in Venezuela, Europe and the United States. He now manages all youth athletic programs for Comunidad Connect. We’ve interviewed Alejandro to learn more about the youth baseball league and ways the community can support.

What is your role at Comunidad Connect? I am the Sports Park Program Manager. I manage all the youth athletic programs and the sports park.

baseball gear for this season and future ones. Our program needs include: Wooden and aluminum baseball bats, gloves, cleats, balls, catchers gear, helmets, bases and full sets of uniforms.

Where are the teams from? The league consists of teams from Comunidad del Baston, Boca de la Montana, Barrio Maria Auxiliadora, Barrio Las Pampas, Comunidad el Ojochal and Las Delicias. We hope to expand in the future.

To donate supplies or watch one of the youth games, contact Communidad Connect. An updated schedule of league and playoff games is available on their Facebook page.

What are the ages of the children playing in the league and when will the season run? The youth league for ages 7 - 12 runs from March to July. The juniors league for ages 12-14 runs from August and through December. What needs does the program have and how can people support the youth baseball league? SAN JUAN LIVE Comunidad Connect is collecting all types of

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Bureaucracy Nicaraguan bureaucracy can be frustrating. Most travelers won’t get tangled up in it, but those that do will have their patience tested. Simple procedures such as processing an insurance claim, or getting car documents require multiple forms and several stages, each one involving standing in a line. Inexplicable delays and run arounds are common with more complicated or unusual tasks. In fact there’s an entire profession of people employed just to deal with bureaucracy; a good part of the job description involves standing in a line. San Juan del Sur may be an active place full of things to do but it’s also a place to take the time to slow down and take a deep breath. Become familiar with the term mañana but at the same time recognize that mañana does not always mean “tomorrow.” It could mean tomorrow, or next week, or some other time altogether. Maybe it’s because many Nicaraguans don’t have a western concept of the value of their own time or maybe it’s just because the weather is nice. Whatever the reason, there’s no point getting frustrated. In fact take it as a lesson to slow down, and become a more patient person yourself. Business hours Businesses generally open at 8:30 or 9am, close for a couple of hours at around 11:30 or noon for a break (descanso) and then open for the afternoon from 1:30pm or 2pm until 5 or 6pm. We’ve kept the hours vague because every business in town can close at a different time for lunch. On Saturdays, many businesses are open in the morning only. For shopping, you’ll increasingly find that larger stores and popular local shops remain open all day, without the midday break. Tipping A 10% service charge is usually included in restaurant bills. Tipping maids, porters, security guards and other staff is both customary and appreciated. A tip of anything under five cordobas is probably too low. Taxi drivers are not normally tipped, although make an exception if your driver goes out of their way to help you. Taxes Almost all goods and services in Nicaragua are subject to a value-added tax ("i.v.a."), currently 15% percent and rising. An additional 2% INTUR tax is charged for hotel services. Trash Unfortunately you will see trash discarded on the side of the road. The government has started an education campaign to discourage littering, but it will take time to take root. Do your bit and set a good example. This is one area where you shouldn’t do as the SAN JUAN LIVE

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locals do. In fact even consider picking up errant pieces of trash in otherwise clean areas. San Juan del Sur has regular beach clean ups organized by Comunidad Connect. If you see this being promoted (look in Del Sur, the local community newspaper), why not join in.

SHOPPING The Mercado Municipal (municipal market) and the Fish Market are worth checking out when you’re in Downtown San Juan del Sur (see page 90). You might not get your full shopping list covered in the markets, but you’ll get a real insight into the local social and cultural life. You’ll also get the freshest products.

MAP OF MUNICIPAL MARKET

As you wonder around town you may notice signs for pulperías. These are small grocery stores selling basic produce, snacks, soft drinks, cleaning supplies, alcohol and toiletries. Their overall range is typically smaller than at the Palí supermarket (part owned by Walmart) located 200m east of the Uno station, but some pulperías, such as SAN JUAN LIVE

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Sanchez Pulpería, have carefully tailored their stock to cater for the international visitor. So while you can find cooking oil in Palí, in Sanchez you’ll find extra virgin olive oil. You’re also more likely to find curry paste, brown pasta, canned tomatoes, peanut butter and tampons at Sanchez than at Palí. Palí only accepts payment in cash, while Sanchez and some of the other pulperías accept card payments. Flor de Caña The cocktail culture of Nicaragua is defined by Flor de Caña (Spanish for "sugarcane flower"). First produced in 1890 at the San Antonio Sugar Mill, in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua, Flor de Caña has climbed the charts over the years to become Central America's leading brand of rum. In 1950 Don Carlos Francisco Pellas Vivas initiated the commercial distribution of the Slow-Aged Rum in Nicaragua and today the company remains in the hands of the fifth generation of the Pellas family. Even after returning home, you can soothe your senses with a bottle of Nicaragua’s most beloved rum.

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Cigars If you like cigars, you are in for a treat. Smooth, spicy, woody, sweet…you’ll find it all here. The Nicaraguan cigar industry produces some of the world's best cigars. Try any selection of the Padrón series ranging in price from $4.70 to $7.25 per cigar or the Plasencia series starting at $2.50 per cigar. Topping the ranks is the Plasencia Reserva Orgánica at $14.25 per cigar. All grown in Esteli, you’ll find an impressive selection at Sanchez Pulpería and the Black Whale. If you want to watch the makers hand roll the cigars, we suggest a day trip to Granada with a stop at Doña Elbas.

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Costs One of the beauties of traveling to San Juan del Sur is that your dollar will stretch a long way. If you’re a budget traveler you’ve found a great destination spot; a dorm bed may only cost $6-10. Food, entertainment, public transport will all cost far less than at home. Eat street food and a couple of dollars will get you a full meal. Beer and the local rum are cheap, and a chicken bus will also only cost a few dollars on most routes. Of course if you want to travel in more comfort, stay in a luxury hotel and eat at smart restaurants, your costs will go up considerably. There are also a few pricey items, such as wine. But you’ll still often feel like you’re getting a bargain. A seafood meal for two, right on the sand, could set you back around $25. Compare that to a restaurant with an ocean view in the US. You’ll find that your money stretches a lot further in Nicaragua than it does in the USA, Canada, Australia, Europe and even Costa Rica and other countries in Central America. As the years go by and visitor numbers increase, more and more shops are opening in Downtown San Juan del Sur. These days you can find just about anything you need.

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SHOPPING PRICE GUIDE THE BASICS

THE FISH MARKET 1 Pound of Lobster (seasonal)

$7-10

Coke (2 Liter Bottle)

$1.36

1 Pound of Small Shrimp

$5

Milk (1 Liter)

$1.28

1 Pound of Large Shrimp

$8

Cafe Las Flores® (16oz /1lb)

$7.12

1 Pound Red Snapper

$2.40

Dozen Eggs

$1.63

1 Pound Mahi Mahi

$3.30

Canned Tuna

$1.40

1 Small Grouper

$1

Loaf of Bimbo® Bread

$1.52

1 Large Grouper

$2.40

7oz Bag of Pasta

$0.48

4lbs of Red Beans

$1.92

2kg of Bag of Rice

$3

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THE MEAT MARKET 1 Pound of Chicken Breast

$2.50

1 bag of 400g of Sugar

$0.40

1 Pound of Steak Filet

$3.40

1 Jar of Peanut Butter (242g)

$5.68

1 Jar of Jam (250g)

$1.92

1 Box of Generic Cereal (18oz)

$0.72

1 Watermelon

$1.30

6 Bananas

$0.25

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BEER AND LIQUOR Bottle of National Beer

$1

750ml 5 Year old Flor de Caña® $4.72 Bottle of Wine

$6-15

Money and Banks Although US dollars are widely accepted, the official Nicaraguan currency is the Córdoba (named for the founder of Nicaragua, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba), divided into 100 centavos. In July 2014 the exchange rate was just over 26 cordobas to the US dollar. In some hotels and restaurants you may find prices listed in US dollars. San Juan del Sur has four banks (BAC, Lafise Bancentro, Banpro and BDF) and five ATM machines (cajeros automáticos) where you can withdraw Nicaraguan Córdobas or US Dollars. If you are doing more than withdrawing money from an ATM, make sure you bring your passport, as it is required for most bank transactions. Credit cards are widely accepted, but traveler’s checks are not. Laundry Gaby’s laundry, located a few doors east of the Municipal Market is great for same day laundry (wash, dry and fold) service. They charge by pound, which we find always ends up less expensive than using laundries that charge by piece.

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Papaya (Papaya or paw paw) You’ll find papaya available year round in

Nicaragua. When the fruit is ripe it feels soft to the touch and the skin turns yellow or orange. Most people avoid eating the tiny black seeds that line the sweet interior flesh due to their bitterness. Green or unripe papaya is cooked before eating. Fun fact: Papayas in San Juan del Sur can be huge – some are as long as your arm.

Nispero, Zapote or Sapote (Sapote) Native to Central America the nispero belongs to the Sapodilla family. The flesh is white, red or orange (depending on the variety) with two long black seeds and extremely sweet. You’ll find the fruit widely available from February to May. Fun fact: If you come across a nispero dessert you should try it. You’ll be in for an ultra-sweet flavor sensation.

Platano (Plantain) Plantains are easily confused with bananas. The difference is how they are used (plantains are cooked) and their size (plantains grow larger than bananas). Available throughout the year, plantains are used in many typical Nicaraguan dishes. Fun fact: In Nicaragua tostones are slices of starchy unripe plantain that have been flattened and fried. Platano maduros are long lengthways slices of the sweeter, ripened fruit that have been baked in oil.

Nancite or Nance (Savanna Serette, Golden Spoon) This strongly scented, small, round, sweet, yellow fruit can be eaten both raw or cooked. Nancite is also fermented to produce an alcoholic beverage. The skin is thin, opening to reveal a white, oily pulp surrounding a single large stone. Fun fact: Nancite is mixed with ice (raspado) and sold by street vendors on the streets of San Juan del Sur.

Mamon Chino (Rambutan) - Locally named “Mamon Chino” due to the fruit’s Asian origin, Rambutans are available throughout Nicaragua during the rainy season. Closely related to the lychee, once the hairy outer skin is removed the exposed yellow flesh has a sweet, grape like quality and a large single seed.

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Pitaya

(Dragon Fruit) Cut open a pitaya from Nicaragua and the flesh is a bright purple pink (varieties elsewhere have a white flesh). The bright color packs a flavor punch with creamy, nutty, berry notes. The black seeds are eaten with the flesh. Pitaya is available during the rainy season.

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Fun fact: The cactus that produces the pitaya fruit only blooms at night.

Calala or Maracuya (Passion fruit) The passion flower vine not only produces a beautiful flower reminiscent of a water hyacinth but also a delicious fruit. The juicy interior is both sweet and tart and filled with numerous seeds. Available year round, the fruit can be juiced, used in smoothies, added as a topping for yogurt, as a flavoring for cheesecake or eaten whole. Fun fact: When the skin begins to shrivel the fruit is ripe.

Noni (Cheese fruit) This strange looking yellow/white fruit has a pungent odor and a bitter taste. But you don’t eat a noni fruit for its taste, you eat it for its medicinal qualities. According to folklore noni juice can be used for many health conditions – from constipation to diabetes to high blood pressure and depression. Fun fact: Got a scratch on your cornea? Some noni juice evangelists even claim that the juice can heal eye problems.

Jocote (Hog Plum) As a jojote ripens the skin changes from green to a

dark red or yellow color and the flesh sweetens. Mostly available in the dry season this is a small fruit, sold in bags of 20 or 30. The skin and flesh are eaten, leaving only a single large seed. Fun fact: Unripe, green jojote are eaten with salt.

Tamarindo

(Tamarind) The brown sticky pods of the tamarind make for an odd looking fruit. Sold wrapped in plastic, tamarind has a wide variety of culinary uses. Add it to water for a tart tasting juice, mix with sugar to make jam or syrup, or use as a paste to add a savory kick to curry dishes.

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HEALTH AND SAFETY Health Most locals can drink the municipal tap water in San Juan del Sur without getting sick, but if you are not confident that your digestive system will be able to cope in a new environment, stick to bottled water. It’s inexpensive and widely available. It’s also best to assume that water from rivers and streams is not safe to drink. The sun shines brightly in Nicaragua so keep hydrated, wear a hat and use sunscreen. Malaria is present on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua but is extremely rare in San Juan del Sur. There are cases of Dengue - also a mosquito borne illness - which manifests with a high fever and body aches. There is no vaccine so if you experience these symptoms you should seek medical care. Best is to avoid being bitten by using an insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and trousers when visiting rural areas. San Juan del Sur has a free Health Clinic (Centro de Salud) Monday to Friday 8am to 12 am and from 1pm to 4pm. The center also has a 24 hour service for emergencies (Tel: 2568 2320) as well as an ambulance, again, only for emergencies. The town has several well-stocked pharmacies serving as de facto clinics, see Directory for details. For anything more than minor medical problems, it makes sense to go to the Hospital Metropolitan Vivian Pellas in Managua. The hospital provides high quality medical care, modern facilities and reputable doctors. Hospital Gaspar Garcia Laviana is located in Rivas, the closest major town to San Juan del Sur, but the recommended first choice for medical care is Hospital Metropolitan Vivian Pellas in Managua. In most cases, no special vaccinations are required though you should make sure you are up to date with tetanus and other basic inoculations. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has additional health information for travelers to Nicaragua, including recommended vaccinations. If you are taking any medications, it’s best to bring as many as you need for your trip. In case of loss keep a note of the active ingredients and not just the brand name. A copy of your prescription is also a good idea. Safety Petty theft is relatively common in San Juan del Sur, with much of the crime targeted towards tourists. Keep an eye on your personal belongings, make use of the hotel safe and lock your car, leaving nothing of value in it. But above all, don’t walk around flaunting expensive items or loudly counting the cash you have just withdrawn from the ATM. Take particular care at night when it is not advisable to walk on the beach, hang around the nightclubs or loiter in less trafficked parts of town. Violent crime is rare in San Juan del Sur, but each year there are a few reports of tourist muggings. One crime hotspot that is only beginning to get the police attention it deserves is the road to Playa Remanso, where there have been several reports of tourist muggings taking place after SAN JUAN LIVE

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dark. We do not recommend walking, biking or taking ATV’s to Playa Remanso or Playa Peña Rota. It’s a good idea to take scans of your passport, credit cards, driving license, hotel reservations and travel tickets before you arrive. Email them to yourself or, if you’re tech savvy, store them in the cloud. This will cut out a lot of the hassle in case of loss. The Fire Station (Bomberos) and Mayoral Office for the Municipality (Alcaldía) are at the Complejo Centro Civico just after the turnoff to La Chocolata. San Juan del Sur’s Police Station is next-door to the Fire Station behind the Mayoral Office. The Alcaldía is actively taking steps to improve the infrastructure in the center of town but you’ll still find uneven sidewalks, potholes and unfinished roadwork so take care when walking around, especially at night as many streets are dimly lit. Some of the beaches in the area have strong tidal currents and rip tides. Before you go in the ocean ask about the current conditions and keep a close eye on your position at all times. We also strongly recommend that you don't leave anything unattended on the beach.

EMERGENCY CONTACTS US Embassy Non-emergency services for US citizens are available by appointment only Monday to Friday, from 1 to 3pm, except on Nicaraguan and US holidays. Visit the embassy website to schedule an appointment online. Website: nicaragua.embassy.gov. Tel: 2252 7104 Ask for the American Citizens Services Unit during Embassy office hours. If the Embassy is closed, call 2252 7171 or 8768 7171 and ask to speak with the Embassy duty officer. Directions: Located on Km 5 ½ C. Sur in Managua Email: ACS.Managua@state.gov Centro de Salud on duty 24 hours. 2568 2320 Fire Department on duty 24 hours. Cell: 8740 5340, 8993 4797 & Office: 2568 2529 Police Department on duty 24 hours. Cell: 8999 6906 & Office: 2568 2382

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COMMUNICATION Movistar and Claro are the two most popular cell phone networks in Nicaragua and both have an office in San Juan del Sur. It’s quick and easy to get an inexpensive local phone plus SIM card (or just a local SIM card if you have an unlocked phone) and you’ll find running your life in San Juan del Sur much more efficient. Phone calls within the same network are cheaper than those made between the two networks so try and choose the same network as your local contacts. In San Juan del Sur you’ll find most people have a Movistar phone. Internet is widely available in San Juan del Sur so you shouldn’t have to do much hunting around for it. Most hotels, hostels and an increasing number of restaurants offer free wifi for guests. The Post Office is located on the beachfront road heading towards the port, next to BanPro. Look for the large cell phone tower as the post office is next door.

TIME ZONE AND ELECTRICITY Time zone Nicaragua’s time zone is UTC (GMT) -6.00 observed in Central Standard Time in North America, as well as in Mountain Daylight Time. Nicaragua does not currently utilize Daylight Saving Time, although it has in the recent past. Electricity Electricity is supplied at 110 volts in Nicaragua. Plugs are the same as in the US, having two flat pins. The San Juan del Sur area does suffer the occasional blackout, but as the infrastructure is being improved these are becoming less frequent. It’s a good idea to pack a headlamp or download a flashlight application on your smart phone (see packing list page 81)

TRAVELERS WITH DISABILITIES Unfortunately little has been done to make the infrastructure in San Juan del Sur accessible for wheelchairs or travelers with other disabilities. To date there are no compliance standards in the municipality and as a result, sidewalks and roads are uneven and potholed. Where there are curbs, most do not have indentations to allow easy crossings. Few hotels and restaurants have ramps, corridors are narrow and it’s hard to find accessible bathrooms. Getting around in a wheelchair on a daily basis is challenging. There are some exceptions, but for the most part a person with physical disabilities will need assistance to get around San Juan del Sur. However, you also are likely to find that the locals are extremely innovative in their solutions to compensate for the lack of infrastructure. They are also friendly, patient and often willing to lend a hand. The biggest struggle might be in the language barrier in requesting specific types of assistance with various tasks. SAN JUAN LIVE

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Transportation Do not expect any local shuttle or bus service to have a wheelchair ramp. More than likely, everyone will be willing to help lift you into the car, van or even the back of a truck. Hotels and Restaurants We’ve done an inventory of hotels and restaurants in town. Refer to the Directory for more details, contact numbers and directions. Here’s what we found:

HOTELS! Casa Blanca Hotel has a wheelchair ramp accessing the main lobby and dining area of the hotel. Room # 1 has handrails in the shower and is accessible by ramp. Villas de Palermo has ramp access to the restaurant and pool area only, but not to any of the hotel rooms. Villa # 41 and 13 are the most easily accessible and the staff is always friendly and willing to assist as needed, however you should know that all villas at this hotel have two floors and that accessing the 2nd floor requires a stair climb. The downstairs room is accessible by wheelchair. Hotel Royal Chateau has an access ramp to the restaurant from the exterior parking lot and rooms # 1-8 on the 1st floor of their main building all have flat access entries. Enter through the parking lot, not the main entrance to the street. The bathrooms have a narrow doorway, which could be problematic for wheelchair entry but suitable for walkers. Villa Isabella Hotel has handrails in every bathroom and one of their rooms has wheelchair access. Hotel Victoriano has handrails in the bathroom of room # 211 and the room is accessible by a ramp. However to get to the main lobby, restaurant or room you’ll need to enter through the side entrance of the hotel not the main entry way.

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RESTAURANTS In general, the restaurants along the main beach road offer the best wheelchair ramp access in San Juan del Sur. Below is a list of the restaurants with the best access in town. El Timón has the most thoughtful conditions for travelers with disabilities. A wheelchair ramp painted yellow is located at the entrance of the restaurant. The bathroom contains one extra large bathroom with wrap around bars for wheelchair access. Ines Bar and Restaurant is accessible by wheelchair ramp and the main floor of the downstairs portion of the restaurant is flat. However the bathrooms are narrow and lack handrails. Lago Azul has a wheelchair ramp access on the corner adjacent to the restaurant entrance. One of the bathrooms is specifically designated for travelers with disabilities offering a larger entrance and service area. Vivian Restaurant is accessible by wheelchair ramp and the upper section of the restaurant is flat, however the bathrooms are narrow and lack handrails. Eskimo Ice Cream has a small wheelchair access ramp to the left of the icecream shop. The shop does not have any bathrooms. Meson Español has an access ramp at the door to access the upper level. The bathrooms are bigger than most but do not have any handrails. The flooring of the Municipal Market does not have any stairs, however expect to have to navigate around the bumps and busyness of the market place.

TRAVELING WITH KIDS The family unit is important in San Juan del Sur and you’ll find Nicaraguans very welcoming of children. One visit to the Central Park to play on the swings and slides will show you this. Many parents are surprised by how easily their children are able to communicate, play and interact with the local children despite the language and cultural barriers. If you’re deciding on a family vacation with young children check out Mums and Bums Nicaragua. Based in San Juan del Sur, they offer baby gear rentals including strollers, monitors, portable cribs, toys, mats and car seats.

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BRINGING YOUR PET TO NICARAGUA The rules and prices change but there are certain basics you need to know - including information not mentioned in the official guidelines. First, be aware of tasks you have to do in your home country before you set foot on a plane. Start with contacting your airline to find out their guidelines. Some airlines will not accept your pet if it is over 85 degrees at take-off or landing so plan accordingly and make reservations well in advance. If traveling from the US your pet’s paperwork must be completed no more then ten days prior to departure, prepared by a USDA accredited veterinarian and approved at a USDA office - check the USDA website for specific details. On arrival in Managua be prepared to run into town to pay your fees at a local bank and return to the airport with your receipt to present to customs before your pet can be released to you.

BOOKS, NEWSPAPERS, MAGAZINES AND WEBSITES Books The trusty guidebook you have in your hands should guide you through the planning process for your trip. But stories set in Nicaragua and those written by locals will help round out your knowledge. They are all great so we have no problem recommending them to you (and using our affiliate link which will take you to Amazon). We’ve kicked off the list with Ruben Darío as he leads the way in Nicaragua’s literary tradition. But if reading poetry is not your style there are options for you to consider. Ruben Darío, Stories and Poems/Cuentos y Poesías: A Dual-Language Book, edited by Stanley Applebaum, offers a good introduction to Darío’s body of work. An English translation is provided next to the Spanish text. Salman Rushdie visited Nicaragua at the height of the Contra war and his account, The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey, offers an accessible glimpse of this defining time in Nicaragua’s history. If you are keen to dig a little deeper into the Somoza era and the Sandinista Revolutions, Walker’s Nicaragua, Living in the Shadow of the Eagle provides in-depth coverage and exposes the breadth of US influence on Nicaragua. The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War, written by Nicaraguan born Gioconda Belli, describing her experiences as a member of the revolutionary Sandinista movement. Blood of Brothers, is a story of ‘Life and War in Nicaragua’ written by Stephen Kinzer. Praised by the New York Times Book Review as, ”a graphic account of a country torn in half.” Thomas Belt, The Nationalist in Nicaragua. A combination travelogue and natural history book first published in 1874. Follow the author as he navigates the tropical rivers, valleys, forests, and lakes of Nicaragua. SAN JUAN LIVE

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501 Spanish Verbs by Christopher Kendris provides 501 commonly used Spanish verbs. The verbs are conjugated in all tense forms, arranged alphabetically by infinitive, and defined in English. It is essentially the bible of Spanish verb books and should be in every household of any expat that lives in Nicaragua. Newspapers & Magazines The Del Sur News (delsurnewsonline.com) - The main local source for news, information, events and information in San Juan del Sur. Every Thursday 1,000 copies of print are distributed around town. Kelvin and Maria Axiliadora Silva are tirelessly dedicated to delivering the residents of San Juan del Sur the news in English and Spanish. Nicaragua Dispatch (nicaraguadispatch.com) - Nicaragua’s first and only English Newspaper transitioned to crowdsource news site in 2014. Hear the news straight from the mouths of the people who live in Nicaragua. Tico Times (ticotimes.net) - A Costa Rican based newspaper which covers many happenings and events in San Juan del Sur as well as the neighboring region. An excellent source of news and referral business if you’re in the tourism industry. Helpful Tip: The two main national newspapers in Nicaragua are La Prensa and El Nuebo Diario. As these are in Spanish, you can use google translate. Websites & Blogs Nicaragua Community (nicaragua-community.com) - A combination website and newsletter providing reliable information on Nicaragua for existing and future expats. Sign up to Nica Nuggets for insightful information about the country. In Nica Now (innicanow.com) - A detailed account of relocating to and living in Nicaragua. Written by retired Canadian ex-pats Gordon and Elisha MacKay. INTUR (visitnicaragua.us) - INTUR is the official tourism website of Nicragua. Aeropuerto Internacional Augusto C. Sandino (eaai.com.ni) - The official website of Managua’s international airport is a handy resource for lost luggage, flight information and other travel general travel information. PRONicaragua (pronicaragua.org) - PRONicaragua is a helpful resource for investors exploring business opportunities in Nicaragua. The site offers complimentary support services, business directories and referral assistance to reliable local firms.

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PACKING LIST ‣

Passport (don’t forget your passport)

Some US cash in small-denomination bills

Hat with ample brim or visor

Swimwear

Comfortable walking shoes. Running shoes will suffice for most purposes

Flip flops

At least one lightweight, long-sleeved top and pants, for sun and insect bite protection

! ! WHAT TO PACK Before we list out some essential items for your packing, here are some quick tips: ✓ Don’t bring anything that you can’t afford to lose (emotionally or financially) ✓ Laundry services are cheap, so you can get away with fewer clothes. Try to stick to lightweight and easy-care pieces that don’t need ironing. ✓ Remember that you can always buy the essentials (toothpaste, shampoo & conditioners, etc.) at a local store in San Juan del Sur.

A rain jacket if you travel during rainy season

Sunglasses

Sunscreen

STAYING ON

Lip balm with SPF

Ear plugs to help you sleep among noisy neighbors

Insect repellent and anti-itch cream if you are susceptible

If you’re staying for longer that your tourist visa allows, you can extend your visa for 30 days 3 times, or 90 days at once, but after that, you must leave the country and return to get a new 90 day visa.

Any prescription medication (make a note of active ingredients in addition to brand name in case of loss. A copy of your prescription will also come in handy)

Flashlight or a head lamp

Not just your camera but also your charger - in fact all your chargers

First-aid kit

Waterproof bag to protect electronics at the beach

Rash guard if you plan to surf

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Many of the longer-term visitors in Nicaragua do a “border run” to Costa Rica for their visa renewals. Bear in mind that the government reserves the right to deny visas and we’ve seen cases in which multiple re-entries are denied.

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BUYING PROPERTY The combination of warm weather, inexpensive property and a laid back lifestyle make it easy to understand why so many visitors are seduced by the idea of buying property in San Juan del Sur. If you’re considering investing in the region, here are 3 essential elements to cover in your research. Do your research Let’s face it; research is not as fun as sipping a mojito at Howler Bar or watching the sun set over Maderas beach. But solid research is essential if you want to build up your market knowledge to be successful as a property investor. We’ve seen too many buyers assume that the market in San Juan del Sur operates in exactly the same way as the market back home. One major difference is that unlike in the US, San Juan del Sur does not have an MLS (Multiple Listing System) and most listings are "open". Successful investors take the time to research the local market, understand its nuances and use this knowledge to their advantage. Get “in the market” Smart real estate investors make their presence known in the locations they are targeting. Sure, you can start your research over the Internet, send emails to agents or property owners who have properties you are interested in and promise you’ll visit. But don’t kid yourself that this is enough to find out about the best deals, the motivated sellers or the breaking opportunities. To really get “in the market” you need to visit in person and go on property viewings with in-the-know insiders. Don’t skimp on due diligence This is not a time to be cavalier. Don’t get so focused on life in the sun that you forget to carry out basic due diligence steps. The legal basis of property ownership in Nicaragua can be complex and convoluted. In addition to fee simple (what most buyers are looking for) there are rights of possession, agrarian reform titles, titles derived from public donations and supplementary titles that can trip you up. Due diligence prior to closing on a property is crucial and the most important thing to do is to hire your own independent attorney to conduct a thorough due diligence and represent you in the purchase process. In San Juan del Sur start by contacting Garcia & Bodan or E. Castillo Advisors.


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Ethical and Professional Commitment to the Client

Our internationally top rated attorneys are the perfect partners for purchasing real estate and/or developing a new business in Nicaragua

SOME OF OUR SERVICES • Due Diligence reports on Titles. • Legal counsel for Real Estate acquisitions. • Incorporation of Touristic and Real Estate companies. • Immigration services for residency applications.

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Del Restaurante “El Timón” 2 cuadras al Norte, contiguo al Hotel Alcazar. Tel: (﴾505)﴿ 2568 2134 Fax: (﴾505)﴿ 2568 2132 US Phone: (﴾786)﴿ 522 6900 Email: SANJUANDELSUR.ORG sanjuandelsur@garciabodan.com

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The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur LEARN THE TOP 5 MISTAKES THAT OTHERWISE SMART TRAVELERS MAKE IN SAN JUAN DEL SUR

(YOU’LL DEFINITELY WANT TO AVOID #4)

I don’t know about you, but when I first started traveling to exotic destinations like San Juan del Sur, I made a whole lot of mistakes. I’d have the chance to enjoy somewhere remarkable and I wouldn’t make the most of it.

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The good news is that we can fix mistakes. And in some ways, making mistakes is a good thing - provided we learn from them.

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So here are 5 of the most common mistakes we’ve seen people make when they travel to San Juan del Sur.

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1. Getting (too) caught up in their expectations Endless sun soaked beaches. Amazing natural landscapes. Welcoming locals. It’s easy to get caught up in the race for a perfect travel experience.

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But successful travelers know that no country is 100% perfect and no destination can claim to have a monopoly on great travel experiences. They realize that some things won’t match their expectations and there will be times when the excitement of being in a new place wears off.

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Don’t forget, this is Nicaragua. Though tourism is on the rise, roads are being resurfaced and new hotels and restaurants are opening, the travel industry is still at an early stage of development and the country remains the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Don’t let the occasional power outage, delayed bus, flat surf or rutted road get you down.

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In other words, try to let go of your expectations. Don’t over romanticize the place. Travel with curiosity, to explore and to really see. Do this and you’ll enjoy your trip much more.

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2. Only sticking to the well-trodden tourist trails None of us wants a canned travel experience – the kind that comes when all you do is check a series of “tourist attractions” off a list. Most of us want to experience more of a destination and see more of the living culture.

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The good news about San Juan del Sur is that it has largely been insulated from mass tourism. There are no zoned off “tourist areas” or attractions “especially for tourists” (and if there were, unless it was something that is genuinely worth seeing, we’d tell you to avoid it.) This means that it’s easy to get off the beaten path.

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You’ll get much more out of your trip if you talk to locals, expats and long term visitors, eat at local restaurants, participate in community outreach projects, nose around the street markets and just watch San Juan’s social and cultural life unfold around you.

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3. Not being open-minded Open-mindedness is a phrase that’s often used in the context of traveling well. But what does it really mean? Well, it doesn’t mean giving up deep-seated beliefs or becoming wishy-washy in your views. It simply means realizing that context is different for everyone.

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Immersive travel allows you to become deeply rooted in the region you are visiting, and this can allow for a beautiful learning experience. On such a trip you may be confronted by something uncomfortable. But rather than wasting time trying to convince people to agree with your perspective, you’re better off seeing what you can learn from the situation. Do this and Nicaragua will teach you something new again and again.

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(Caveat: You may not have this kind of learning experience if you stay in your luxury hotel the entire time. This is totally fine of course, sometimes travel is just about the resort experience.)

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4. Rushing Often travelers try to do too much and end up frazzled and frustrated. Rushing around all day is not the best way to experience San Juan del Sur. It’s important to build

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slowness and rest into your schedule, giving things their due time and sometimes stopping just to be in a place.

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San Juaneños do this by building a descanso - a rest break - into each day at around noon. (It’s generally not called a siesta)

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Don’t be on your tablet or laptop all the time. Try not to think about what you’ll be doing later or worrying about work. Slow down, be present. Strolling aimlessly, loitering, witnessing life at a slower pace will bring you closer to the essence of San Juan del Sur than will picking up the pace.

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5. Not having a plan San Juan del Sur is well suited to traveling flexibly, but without some sort of a plan you may find yourself frustrated, stuck on the side of the road and missing the sunset at the beach.

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How much time you have is an important consideration. Most people on a tight schedule prefer to have everything arranged in advance in order to cut out the hassle and enjoy every minute of a precious vacation. With more time you can adjust your schedule day by day, allowing yourself to stumble on things by accident, have chance encounters and make your own discoveries.

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ROMANCE SECRETS

The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

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Experiences that will blow your date’s mind… and yours

Sandy beaches, warm nights, and stunning sunsets: San Juan del Sur has all the ingredients for love. Even better, there’s no need for an extravagant budget in the 6 romantic options we’ve listed below. 1. A smooch-worthy spot A lovers rendezvous, especially as the sky builds for sunset, is the La Canoa restaurant at Pelican Eyes Resort. Food and romance have long been intertwined, but why not take things further? Slip into the infinity pool, swim right to the edge and pause to soak up the scenery. This has to be a guaranteed Kodak kissing spot.

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2. Get your head in the game Love is not a place, but a state of mind. And sometimes all you need is a zen-like break to liberate your appetite for sensual experience. How about lying on a massage bed while a therapist kneads aromatherapy oils into your muscles… with your date getting the same treatment an arm’s length away? Yes, that should do the trick. 3. Lovers on a high, get higher Climb up the Jesus statue in Pacific Marlin (page 120) for a kiss in the clouds. There’s something about a birds eye view of the ocean that inspires romance and this is the highest spot in town. Wind your way up the hill, climb hand in hand up the stone steps and raise a toast to romantics everywhere. 4. Love on the beachfront Love lurks on the San Juan del Sur beachfront at sunset. There’re over a dozen spots to choose from, but perhaps the most conducive to affairs of the heart is Bambu Beach. The softly lit palapa on the sand is perfect for whispering secrets over glasses of wine. Then pick you way through the list of seafood specials on the chalkboard. 5. A musical romance If listening to live tunes or dancing cheek to cheek is more your style, then head to La Carreta for swing night on Mondays. We guarantee a warm and balmy night, a harmonica flirting with a saxophone and an optimistic crowd that knows it’s stumbled onto a good thing. 6. A love affair with the ocean “Following unpredictable winds to little known places...” no wonder people find sailing romantic. A day spent on the catamaran with Nica Sail n’ Surf is the best way to discover San Juan’s stunning coastline from the water. You’ll hear the sails unfurl and snap tight. You’ll feel the rush of the boat underneath you. It’s the perfect place to lure your lover. Yes, San Juan del Sur is romantic, if you're doing it right.

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NEIGHBORHOODS & BEACHES When we think of San Juan del Sur, we don’t think just of the town, we think of its neighborhoods (or barrios, to use the Spanish word). From the country feel of Escamequita to the grandiose homes of Pacific Marlin, to surf crazy Maderas and sleepy Ostional, it all changes rather noticeably from one place to the next. This guide starts with the patchwork of neighborhoods around the town itself (Downtown, Barrio La Planta, “Southern Hills” to Remanso, Las Delicias, La Cuesta, Palermo, La Talanguera and Pacific Marlin). That done, we cover the neighborhoods north to Maderas (Nacascolo, Marsella and Maderas) and then south, all the way to Costa Rica (Escamequita, El Coco and La Flor and Ostional). The beaches of the area are beautiful by anyone’s standard, so look for the orange sections where we give you the beach details. Perhaps the most popular is Playa Maderas given its consistent surf break, the regular access shuttles and the sublime views. But venture further, and you’ll find quieter stretches of sand with their own special allure. We’ve covered over 20 in the pages that follow. If you’re a surfer, the call of the waves will inspire exploration in the region (see box). But authentic cuisine and a unique dining backdrop is also good motivation to investigate beyond Downtown San Juan del Sur. Choose a restaurant in a neighborhood for lunch and head to a different one for dinner, stopping on the way to take in the culture, flavor and local attractions. To be fair some of the neighborhoods don’t offer a long list of obvious highlights or activities. Often the enjoyment comes from just being there and interacting with the locals and other visitors. But we wanted to be comprehensive in our coverage and give you a feel of the diversity of this special little corner of the world. Beach

Surf Description

Playa Maderas

The most consistently clean break in the region but also the most crowded beach. Suitable for all levels of surfing on most days. Offers several peaks to choose from with both left and right breaks. Maderas will hold up to double overhead. Best at mid to high tide.

Playa San Juan del Sur

Despite its usual calmness, the bay does get a beach break near the river mouth during big storms (usually October).

Playa Remanso

Considered by many to be a good “beginners wave” but it can hold a large swell depending on swell size and direction. Best known for its left point break but there are rights to be had on the north end if you’re patient – including some long rides when conditions are right.

Playa Hermosa

A mile long sandy bottom beach. Multiple peaks with left and right breaks. Works best on a mid to high incoming tide. $3 per person entrance fee.

Playa Yankee

Recommended for technically advanced surfers only. A hard fast wedge that you’ll either love or fear. Much less frequented. Best at medium to high tide. Will hold up to overhead waves. $4 entrance fee.

Playa Coco

Only breaks on a big south swell. Sandy bottom beach with strong rip current at times. Exercise caution.

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DOWNTOWN SAN JUAN DEL SUR! !

There’s lots of life in the streets of downtown San Juan del Sur. Cart-pushing fisherman yell out “Camarones” to the people passing on the sidewalk, backpackers jump off surf shuttles to crowd around hole-in-the-wall food spots and vendors do deals out of tiny wooden tiendas.

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THE GIST OF IT Arced around a curving strip of sand and protected by dramatic headlands, San Juan del Sur’s downtown area (or centro) is small, just 10 blocks or so. The beachfront road (malecón) is lined with a string of thatch-roofed restaurants, bars, surf shops, souvenir stalls and stretches from the southern headland to the pedestrian bridge. (La Talanguera neighborhood (page 117) completes the remaining third of the bay, ending at the northern headland, home to the Pacific Marlin neighborhood (page 120). You can find just about anything you might need - from sandals, surf wax and authentic handicrafts to ATMs, notaries and taxis. There’s now even a well-equipped gym in town. But midday is probably not the best hour to go exploring (or exercising); the sun shines strongly in these parts. Afternoons and evenings are a better time for a drink and a wonder. Locals carry their rocking chairs into their doorways swapping news with their neighbors, whole families stroll along the beachfront road and fishing boats return with their catch destined for the seafood restaurants on the sand. Everywhere glows a pinkish orange, ready for another magical sunset. Things pick up as night falls with music spilling from the bars as travelers enjoy themselves into the wee hours.

“San Juan del Sur’s charms are more kickback than pretty-pretty”

Despite the picturesque bay flanked by steep hills, the fishing boats dotting the harbor, the brightly painted wooden-clapboard houses (some dating back to the Gold Rush) and tidy church plaza, San Juan del Sur’s charms are more kickback than pretty-pretty. Some houses are shabby - no more than tin and plywood, their owners using whatever materials they can find. There are holes in the sidewalk, power outages are common and a surfer-cum-backpacker-cum-party vibe predominates. But over the years the port facilities have been improved, a pedestrian bridge completed, roads paved and streetlights added. The result is a town that is growing inexorably upscale. You’ll see this in the up market restaurants, plush hotels and smart condo projects starting to muscle out the hostels and surf shops. None of this is happening in a rush of course. And development laws ensuring only low-rise construction in the downtown area (apart from one glaring exception), mean that views aren’t being unobstructed by blocky high-rise buildings. You may wonder what’s driving the interest. It’s a combination of the low-key atmosphere, the laid back life and the nicely priced real estate that’s attracting early adopters, property investors and people looking for a different way of life. It’s worth spending a day or two here eating and drinking. Then hit the road or take to the water to explore the cleaner and quieter beaches and neighborhoods spooling on either side.

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Playa San Juan del Sur San Juan del Sur beach curves around a large horseshoe bay protected by two jutting headlands. It’s a dramatic setting only added to by the dozens of yachts and fishing boats tied up or on their way in and out of the bay. It’s the most popular (and easily accessible) beach in the region, and it shows. This is not a place to get away from it all - the beach is busy with vacationers, locals and expats. At any time of day you’ll come across people playing sports, walking their dogs or trying to sell you something. Although regularly cleaned, it can feel a bit dirty in places and it’s often hard to find any shade. While the dramatic bay setting provides a beautiful backdrop for the dozens of restaurants and bars that line the beachfront road, if you’re after a purer, more natural beach experience, we encourage you to explore the cleaner and quieter stretches of sand elsewhere in the region.

How to get here Simply follow the road that heads in a westerly direction off the Pan-American Highway at the tiny town of La Virgen. After around 18km (11miles) the road ends at San Juan del Sur. Just before downtown you’ll pass the Uno gas station on your right. Four blocks later you’ll be facing El Timón restaurant on the beachfront road. Take a left for two blocks followed by another left and you’ll reach the church and town square. You will almost have completed a circle, the Municipal Market is now one block away to your left. There are direct buses from Managua, but it’s often quicker to get the more frequent bus to Rivas and change there for San Juan del Sur (or grab a cab for around $20). From Costa Rica, take a Rivas bus and get off at La Virgen (it’s best to check with the driver that the bus stops at La Virgen before hand). Here either pick up a local bus to San Juan del Sur or jump in a taxi.

You may also decide to catch a taxi or organize a private shuttle to take you all the way from the border. Check the Planning section page 44 for more details. The bus station is on the south side of the Municipal Market. Where to stay Accommodation downtown runs from swish hotels with ocean views, historic inns in carefully renovated buildings, fun packed hostels teaming with backpackers and budget options for the no-frills set. If you want to be in the heart of everything, then this is the place to choose to stay. The downside? With the exception of a couple of options at the top end, you are, quite literally, in the middle of everything going on in town so expect to hear everything from roosters crowing to music bars bouncing. Check the Directory (page 159) for a comprehensive list. Below are some of our favorites. At the top end If you had the pick of any location in San Juan del Sur for a hotel, you’d probably choose Pelican Eyes. While there may be higher hills overlooking the bay, few deliver the magic combination of full bay views and close proximity to downtown. The hay-bale

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construction of this resort allows for a curved, flowing design that befits the contoured landscape. The collection of individually designed studios, multi-story town homes and family sized villas are linked by winding hand made brick pathways. The resort climbs a steep hillside so come prepared to tackle the steps, especially if you are hiking up from town. The resort has an on-site dining room, several pools and a spa. After a tasteful renovation in 2007, La Posada Azul went from historic family house built in 1910 to perhaps the most delightful boutique inn in San Juan del Sur. The public spaces - especially the large sala and wide veranda that runs the length of the house conjure the feel of a stylish, well-furnished hacienda. Each of the 7 rooms is uniquely decorated with wicker furniture and regional art to take advantage of the high ceilings and wooden floors. Rates tend to be more affordable than at luxury competitors, since the hotel does not have ocean views (though the beach is within walking distance). The Victoriano Hotel resides in one of San Juan del Sur's iconic landmarks - a historic mansion set in a beachfront position on the southern end of the bay. The hotel has 21 rooms beautifully restored with fine wooden finishes, pool, jacuzzi and a restaurant overlooking the ocean. Once the weekend retreat home of the ruling Somoza family, and visited by Mark Twain during his Transit Route, the story of this hotel’s rich history is told in the art on the walls. It’s worth a visit whether or not you decide to stay the night. Mid-range Located on the beachfront road, Hotel La Estación is ideally situated in the heart of town. Named after the original train station that pre-existed, the newly refurbished 20 room hotel has photographic evidence in the lobby to prove its historic past life. Another good choice on the beachfront road is Casa Blanca Hotel. For a hotel directly across from El Timón in such a central position, it’s hard to beat the price - especially if you’re traveling in a group, as some rooms sleep up to 6 people. The rooms are clean but small and include hot water, A/C, free wifi and daily breakfast. The hotel staff is very welcoming and there is a small pool in the courtyard. Budget If you are traveling solo or just want simple, yet clean and safe accommodations in town, Hotel El Puerto is worth seeking out. The owners do not allow guests at the hotel to ensure security. It’s located a few blocks from the beach and walking distance to everything in town. For a popular family run hostel that receives consistently good reviews, try Hostal Elizabeth. It’s located 75m east of the market, has private rooms and brightly painted apartments at good rates. The rocking chairs on the patio are a good spot to go over the day’s adventures with your hosts and other guests. Hostels PachaMama is your quintessential party hostel. If you love to meet new people, surf and party, it’s a no-brainer. There are parties every day of the week and PachaMama SAN JUAN LIVE

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plays host to the ever so famous Sunday Funday. Located one block from the beach and two blocks north of Gato Negro, dorms and private rooms are available, with free breakfast. With its prime beachfront position next to the sports park, Hostel Esperanza is arguably the best-located hostel in town. The shady gardens and terrace give the place a chilled out vibe and its Spanish restaurant - Jugoso - has great daily specials and live music on Saturday night. Home-stays For a slice of local San Juan life and the kind of cultural immersion you just can’t get in a hotel, consider a home-stay with a host family. A great option, especially if you want to combine your visit with Spanish lessons, is to organize your home-stay with Spanish Ya. You’ll be staying in comfortable and safe accommodations near the river within the home of a wonderful local family. The Romano House next-door to La Posada Azul is another good choice. Centrally located in town and only one block from the beach, but it does not accept reservations so you’ll have to take your chances on availability the day of your arrival. Where to eat Apart from the line of thatch-roof restaurants on the beachfront road serving fresh catches of the day, you’ll also find pizza and taco shops catering to the tourists. But there are some healthier options too. Here are some of the best spots for food ordered by category. See the Directory on page 158 for a complete list. Fine dining La Canoa, is the pearl restaurant of Pelican Eyes hotel. Serenely situated above town with expansive bay views, fine wine and a good selection of liquor and cigars. The fish filet and Nicaraguan Churrasco dishes are grilled to taste and the dessert menu alone is worth the hike. You wont find a “Brown Sugar and Rum Banana Flambé” anywhere else in town. On Wednesday nights La Canoa plays host to Antologia folkloric dancing. Bambu Beach offers a stylish eating ambience on two beachfront terraces - the lower one surrounding a small dipping pool. The fusion menu pulls in influences from the Mediterranean, Asia and Mexico and the chalked up list of daily specials offers more of a sense of place with local seafood dishes prominent. There’s something to suit every lunch and dinner palate - and with a gorgeous presentation to boot. On any given day you could find Orange Chili Mackerel, Lobster in Garlic Sauce, Fettuccine with Shrimp, a mixed Seafood Grill or even New York Steak on the specials list. International Big Wave Dave’s has a legendary status among expats and travelers looking to dust off their boots (or the sand off their sandals) in search of a hearty meal and a cold draft beer. Dave’s weekly shopping trips to Managua provide specialty food like Asian pork SAN JUAN LIVE

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ribs and a higher quality lettuce than most other restaurants are able to offer. The salads are a healthy serving of fresh meat and fresh vegetables. Two popular entrées are the 100% pure beef burger topped with bacon, Wisconsin Cheddar and hand cut fries and the Filet Mignon demi-glace with mash potatoes and sautéed vegetables. If you like swinging music, hearty food and German beer then you’re in for a treat at La Carreta. You’ll find more than just Toña and Victoria on offer when it comes to beer. And there is definitely no other place in town where you can dine on Jaegerschnitzel or Rouladen. All German dishes are served with a hearty portion of green beans, bacon or red cabbage and your choice of potatoes or spaetzle. The portions are generous, so arrive hungry. King Curry is the only curry house in town. While the menu is limited and the place tiny (it only has 3 tables) the food is delicious. Portions are generous and prices are very reasonable. Try the garam masala curry choices paired with a chai tea or lassi. If you like your food extra hot, just ask chef Marcus to pile on the chili. ! For authentic Italian style pizza, San Juan Pizzeria (Da Maurizio) has you covered. Located in an unassuming spot southeast of the church square, the restaurant has been cranking out pizzas from their wood-burning oven for years, building a huge fan base in the process. To deal with the crowds Maurizio opened a sister pizzeria, La Terraza, on the beachfront road.! Catering for all budgets and for practically any taste, EL Bocadito Tapas & Cervezas lets you try any of the dishes on the menu as a tapas, half portion or a full dish. The food is beautifully presented and exceptionally tasty. Start with the traditional Spanish tapas and then experiment with global flavors including Greek Tzatziki, Lebanese Kefta, Middle Eastern Hummus, and even Mexican Guacamole. The outdoor porch seating overlooking the street is good for people watching. Nacho Libre is San Juan’s first and only gourmet burger lounge. All burgers are served on Auntie Jalyn's corn island coconut bread freshly baked daily. Choose from 9 different burgers on the menu with names like “Smelly, But Nice” and “In n’ Out Animal”. There’s also “Yoga Ass”, a vegetarian option. Nicaraguan! Located on the beachfront, El Globo Bar y Restaurante is a good place to enjoy Nicaraguan plates of seafood, beef and chicken. Each is offered with a choice of sauces (chimichurri, mushroom, jalapeño, and tomato & onion), served in generous quantities. Right next door, Josseline’s Restaurant has a similar menu and a happy hour offering 2 for 1 specials from 4pm to 7pm, Monday to Friday. Doña Angelitas is a great value Nicaraguan comedor with 2 locations. One is inside the municipal market; one of 4 in the line of comedores serving breakfast and local Nicaraguan food on long tables in the shade. Grab a perch, nosh on gallo pinto and watch San Juan’s social and cultural life unfold. For the second location you have to walk down a little alleyway across from the market. It’s a little tucked away, but the SAN JUAN LIVE

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quieter atmosphere and open-air setting may be just what you need to recover from the noisy streets. Another noteworthy restaurant serving typical Nicaraguan flavor is Comedor Margarita. Seafood Located in a prime beachfront position, shaded by a tall, multi-level thatch roof, El Timón has been serving up great food since 1979. It’s easily one of the most established restaurants in town and is a good spot for seafood. When it comes to the menu here’s our advice: Start with the seafood ceviche to give your taste-buds an explosion of flavor, squeeze in a couple of fish carpacios and then try anything cooked “a la plancha“- on the flat grill that Nicaraguans put to such good use. And if your dining partner orders the seafood platter, there will be enough for you to pick at too. On most nights there are live performances to accompany your meal, but if you come for cultural night on a Thursday, be sure to make a reservation ahead of time. A more affordable restaurant serving seafood is Comedor La Lancha. It’s a simple comedor that’s attracting a loyal crowd. It’s small, so you may have to wait for a table, but that’s always a good sign. Healthy Buddha's Garden is San Juan’s first vegan, vegetarian and raw food restaurant. Local health nuts are calling it a “godsend”. Head chef Bridget serves up organic, raw and vegan meals, juices, smoothies, deserts (and even pizza!) in a quiet garden setting. If you’re still on the fence about raw and vegan food the dishes here are so good, they may change your mind. Despite the easy-going vibe, there seems to be a lot happening at Simon Says, a popular juice, sandwich and salad bar. In one corner patrons are playing card games, in another avocados are tossed with tomatoes and olives, books are being exchanged and smoothies are being blended behind the counter. Choose from the menu or create your own salads and sandwiches from a list of tasty ingredients. Jugoso is a Spanish restaurant with a healthy twist. Start your day off right with a complete fruit salad, return at lunch for a “Super Sandwich” and indulge in Pablo’s specialty seafood paella for dinner on Saturday nights. Their daily specials are easily one of the best deals in town and the shaded dining terrace right on the beachfront road has a comfortable, chilled out atmosphere. On the go While there are lots of places downtown to grab a quick bite, Wrap n’ Roll has developed into somewhat of a locals favorite lunch spot. Choose from a small menu of wraps, quesadillas and noodle bowls. They’re all tasty, cheap and hand-prepared on the spot, just for you. If you find Kenny, the owner, perched on one of the high stools, be sure to say hello. Coffee shop SAN JUAN LIVE

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Coffee and books are such natural bedfellows, its no wonder that Gato Negro has been a hit in San Juan ever since it first opened in 2005. Part breakfast joint, part coffee shop, part bookstore - a pitch-perfect combination that has made Gato Negro both an expats meeting place and foodies destination. Bakery Artisan bakery Pan de Vida opened its doors in 2008 and has been turning out gorgeous breads, cookies and cakes ever since. They also run a popular line in briny rosemary focaccias (especially delicious we think), chewy sourdough breads, plump cinnamon raisin loaves and gutsy coffee cakes. Drinking holes Famous for its spicy rum drinks, creative food menu, al fresco seating, outdoor stage and huge screen, Howler Bar is both hip and happening. Whether you’re coming for a quick drink, a touch of romance or sitting down to a meal, you’ll find the bar to be nothing short of courteous. Sitting, standing, perching or dancing, a knowledgeable service staff will attend to your every need. If you ever find yourself short on ideas, they’ll be able to guide you towards your next taste adventure. Check it out. Republika is a popular bar attracting an eclectic crowd. Get here early if you want to grab a table. Republika has screenings of all the big games and hosts trivia night each Tuesday, charity poker on Wednesdays and “Name That Tune” on Friday. The bar has a soulful history. Their tacos have a solid reputation and they serve delicious Belgian waffles. 


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MAP OF DOWNTOWN SAN JUAN DEL SUR The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

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The DOWNTOWN Insider Guide to San Juan del SurJUAN DEL SUR KEY TO MAP OF SAN

HOTELS & HOSTELS

!

Hostel Esperanza

31

Comedor Angelita

60

Alcazar Hotel

1

Hostel Ola Italiana

32

Comedor La Lancha

61

La Posada Azul

2

Hostal Suenos del Mar

33

Comedor Margarita

62

Pelican Eyes

3

34

Cafe Mediterraneo

63

Victoriano Hotel

4

La Terraza Guest House

Cafe Ticos

64

Casa Blanca Hotel

5

Orlando's House

35

Chiverias

65

Estacion Hotel

6

PachaMama

36

Choco Banana

66

Hotel Anamar

7

Posada Puesta del Sol

37

67

Hotel Colonial

8

Rebecca’s Inn

38

Crazy Crab Beach Disco

39

68

9

Romano House

El Velero

Hotel Encanto del Sur

40

69

10

Rositas Hotel (Joxi)

El Bocadito

Hotel Gran Oceano

Secret Cove Inn

41

El Buen Gusto

70

Buena Onda Backpackers

42

El Brasero

71

EL Colibri

72

Mama Sara Guest House

43

El Globo Bar y Restaurante

73

El Pollito

74

El Timón

75

Hotel La Dolce Vita

11

Hotel Maracuya

12

Hotel Royal Chateau

13

Park Avenue Villas Hotel

14

Sunset Hotel

15

Villa Isabella

16

Brisas y Olas Hostal

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RESTAURANTS AND BARS Asados Juanita

44

Eskimo Ice Cream

76

17

Taco Stop

45

Gato Negro

77

Casa Airiki

18

Taco Stop Food Truck

46

Howler

78

Casa de Mar Hostel

19

Wrap n Roll

47

Iguana

79

Casa Oro

20

Vintage Restaurant

48

Ines

80

Coco Azul

21

Vivian Restaurant

49

Irish House

81

Estrella Hotel

22

Arena Soda Pizza

50

Josseline’s

82

Guest House Nina

23

Cha Cha Cha

51

Jugoso

83

Hotel Azul Pitahaya

24

Arribas Bar

52

King Curry

84

Hotel El Puerto

25

Bad Ass Eats

53

La Carreta Restaurant

85

Hospedaje La Fogata

26

Bambu Beach

54

La Terraza

86

Hospedaje Playas del Sur

27

Barrio Café

55

87

Big Wave Dave’s

56

La Veccia Signora Pizza

Casa Amarilla Hostel

28

Buddha's Garden

57

Lago Azul Restaurant

88

Hostal Elizabeth

29

Black Whale Bar & Grill

58

Loose Moose Canadian Pub

89

Hostel Emilia

30

Brisas Marinas

59

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The DOWNTOWN Insider Guide to San Juan del SurJUAN DEL SUR KEY TO MAP OF SAN

Municipal Market Comedors

90

Emilio Gonzales Stationary

O

Baloy’s Surf Shop

s

Nacho Libre

91

Artesanias Dayana

P

Moke Huhu Surf Shop and Guest House

t

Pescador Rancho La Cubana

92

Plaza de Arte

Q

Mopes Surf Shop

u

Republika

93

AURIC

R

v

Restaurante Las Lugo

94

Farallon

S

San Juan del Sur Surf and Sport

95

T

Surf Shop Arena Caliente

w

Roca Mar

Francys

San Juan Pizzeria

96

San Juan Surf

U

Arecife Tours

x

Segadas

97

Alba mini super

V

Indian Face Tours

y

Simon Says

98

Esmelda pulpería

W

z

Super Frutto Gelateria

99

Carnes San Martin

X

Tourism Information Office and Tours

ii

100

Y

Adelente Express

Sushi

Cocos

iv

101

Z

Iskra Travel

Meson Espanol

Don Marcos Bakery

v

102

a

Tica Bus Agency

San Juan Surf Crepes & Coffee

La Bodeguita Fish Market

b

Eco Pool

vi

Municipal Market

c

Sun Care Dental Clinic

vii

Gaby’s Transport

d

Nica Sail n’ Surf

ix

Pan de Vida

e

Sanchez Pulpería #1

f

Sanchez Pulpería #2

g

Casa de la Ceramica

h

La San Juanena

i

Ferreteria y Materials de Construccion "Barahona"

j

Jardin Belina

k

!! !!

OTHER BUSINESSES

E. Castillo Advisors

A

Garcia & Bodan

B

Gimnasio

C

Zen Yoga

D

Brush Your Hair

E

Spa Sol y Luna

F

Elixir Center

G

Gaby’s

H

Paint Shop and Key Cutting

l

Taller Automotriz Carfran

I

Volcan Music

m

Comunidad Connect

J

Farmacia Comunal

n

Barrio La Planta Project

K

Latin American Spanish School

o

Biblioteca Movil

L

Spanish Ya

p

Jean Brugger Foundation

M

Chica Brava

q

Click!

N

Good Times Surf Shop

r

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ARE YOU READY TO JUMPSTART YOUR HEALTH? The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

GIMNASIO SAN JUAN DEL SUR

Located 1.5 blocks east of the Central Market Hours: Monday – Saturday 6am to 8pm

Website: www.gymsanjuandelsur.com Tel: 8589 7379

COCO AZUL “Little Sister” of Posada Azul elcocoazul.com | +505 2568 2697

LA POSADA AZUL An Elegant Boutique Inn by the Beach laposadaazul.com | +505 2568 2524

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BARRIO LA PLANTA! !

The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

The neighborhood is a patchwork sprawl of tiny fisherman’s houses, wooden clapboard shacks, small rental homes marketed to expats and the occasional large newly built home. Along the streets of this neighborhood, fishing is still a way of life.

! THE GIST OF IT Tucked behind the port on the southern side of the bay is Barrio La Planta (aka Camilo Ortega). As the houses are packed closely together it can get noisy, but the views are excellent. All you need to do is walk or drive from your property to the bottom of the hill and you’re quickly catapulted back into the heart of downtown.

Barrio La Planta is becoming popular among younger expats because of the relatively cheap rents.

Barrio La Planta is becoming popular among younger expats because of the relatively cheap rents. How to get here There are several small roads that wind their way into the hills of Barrio La Planta. The main one begins just before the port. To get here, take the beachfront road past the Victoriano Hotel and take a left at the Sunset Hotel, followed by an immediate right. You’re now at the bottom edge of the neighborhood. As soon as you get a little altitude the views start opening up nicely.

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Where to stay Barrio La Planta is a popular choice for longer-term rentals. If you don’t mind a little rustic charm and can handle some noise from your neighbors, two good options are LoboLira Cabañas and Nicovalle. LoboLira has several wooden cabins and bungalows available to rent on its steeply terraced one-acre property. Some have beautiful views of the bay. A little further up the hill is Nicovalle, a community of 9 homes available for rent. Where to eat

BARRIO LA PLANTA

Right on the edge of Barrio La Planta, just before you get into Downtown proper is Restaurante Las Lugo, an “insider” spot that’s been serving authentic Nicaraguan food for over 40 years. Look for it directly behind the Victoriano Hotel. Wonder a little further down the hill and you’ve got plenty of food options to choose from. Check out the Downtown section (page 94) for some ideas.

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SOUTHERN HILLS TO REMANSO! !

The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

The steep contours of these “southern hills” haven’t stopped developers dividing up the land and building beautiful homes with views that sweep down to the ocean. Playa Remanso is the closest surf beach to town and a great break for learning, as evidenced by the growing numbers of surfers and beach shuttles that frequent.

! THE GIST OF IT The southern edge of town is marked by a line of hills that reach into the ocean to cap off the bay. As you gain in altitude above Barrio La Planta and on the hill that curves towards Pelican Eyes, the properties get grander and more expensive. Despite the steep terrain, the area - which includes real estate developments such as Brisas del Pacifco and Villas Viscaya - offers one of the best vantage points across the bay and a perfect sunset orientation. Adventurous builders have taken on the challenge and some impressive homes are appearing - some on stilts, others cascading in layers and cantilevered planes over the contours. Head over the line of hills and down the other side and you’ll arrive at another bay. Smaller and rockier than the bay of San Juan del Sur, Paradise Bay is named after a real estate development that started here years ago. Several gorgeous homes have been built to take advantage of the ocean views and close proximity to San Juan del Sur, but there are many vacant lots too.

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“The steep hills continue in dramatic fashion, often rising sheer from the ocean.”

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The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

Continuing south from Paradise Bay the steep hills continue in dramatic fashion, often rising sheer from the ocean. There are a few rocky beaches but the first real stretch of sand heading south from San Juan del Sur is Playa Remanso. The neighborhood directly behind Playa Remanso (also called Remanso) has dozens of homes, many with commanding views of the sand and ocean. There have been a few attempts at starting a hotel here, but never with very much success. In the last few years, a couple of tumbledown beach bars have opened, mainly catering to the surfer crowd. Playa Peña Rota A small rocky beach with rocky formations. Getting here: The beach is accessible via a rutted track from Las Delicias, but you’re better off sticking to the other beaches as the road has a bad reputation for robberies. Playa Remanso Hugged by two headlands, the gentle curve of Remanso beach is up there as one of the most attractive in Nicaragua. It's bounded on the north by a real estate development and you'll see several houses dotting the hillside. A couple of beach shacks on either side of the entrance road offer shade, snacks and cold drinks. The break is good for beginners but can also handle large swells. So if the surf is too big elsewhere, Remanso is worth a shot. There have been some muggings reported on the road to Playa Remanso, especially in the early evening and at night. It’s not wise to travel here alone or on foot. Take a vehicle, leave before dark and look after your belongings. All of that being said, if you’re traveling by beach shuttle or by car, it is absolutely worth a visit. Getting here: The public road takes you to the sand. Playa Tamarindo Playa Tamarindo is the next beach south. Getting here: The best and safest way is by boat.

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A little further inland in a mountainside setting, you’ll find O’Shea’s, an Irish owned and operated restaurant and pub with swimming pool and Jacuzzi. The open-air palapa and poolside terraces fall gently down the hillside offering views towards Remanso and its surroundings. How to get here There are several small roads that wind their way into the hills on the southern edge of San Juan del Sur. The main one begins just before the port. To get here, take the beachfront road past the Victoriano Hotel and take a left at the Sunset Hotel, followed by an immediate right. Follow this road as it runs behind the port and curves upwards into the hills. Take a left to keep within the hills that overlook San Juan del Sur bay or keep going over the shoulder into Paradise Bay. A second way into this area is to take the road from the church plaza towards Pelican Eyes, turning right before the entrance to the hotel. You can’t drive from San Juan del Sur to Remanso, via Paradise Bay, you’ll have to take the main road heading south through Las Delicias, keeping to the right unpaved section as it forks. SANJUANDELSUR.ORG


The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

Where to stay So far, no big hotels have launched in this area, but there are lots of rental options. From mid-range accommodations to some very up market single family homes as you gain in elevation and cross over to Paradise Bay. Where to eat For some home-style Irish cooking and a pint of Guinness try O’Shea’s. The fish and chips and shepherd pie are delicious. The restaurant has a resort style atmosphere with beautiful pools and spacious terraces. To get here pass through Las Delicias on the road heading to the southern beaches, continuing straight on towards Remanso (don’t take the left fork to Playa Hermosa). Look for the entrance sign and head up the hill.!

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If you work up an appetite surfing at Remanso, Tacos Bar and Grill serves tacos and nachos right on the sand. The fish tacos are fresh and the nachos an impressive mountain of tortilla chips, guacamole, pica de gallo, cream, beans and onions. They also serve beer, wine and a variety of liquor for blended frozen cocktails and smoothies. !

SOUTHERN HILLS TO REMANSO

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LAS DELICIAS! !

Spend some time in Las Delicias and you’ll witness an unfiltered slice of local life in Nicaragua. Burial processions often pass through the neighborhood winding their way to the cemetery. Baseball fans flock to the central field on weekends to cheer on their favorite team and people socialize by the side of the road.

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THE GIST OF IT As it’s tucked behind the coastal range, you don’t come to Las Delicias for the ocean views. In fact for most people this will just be a neighborhood to pass through on the way to the beaches south of town. But drive slowly and you’ll notice there’s lots of activity on either side of the road - people drinking Toñas at beaten-up tables, baseball teams practicing on the field, while across the road people leave flowers at the cemetery. There’s also some industry including a popular roadside tire repair shop, a busy woodworking shop and several well-stocked pulperías. The road through Las Delicias has recently been paved, breathing fresh air and more interest into what’s possible here, given the space and close location to Downtown San Juan del Sur. Surf Ranch, an action sports resort and Las Cascadas Retreat, a nicely designed hotel have both opened in the last few years. You may feel the area looks sketchy on the surface but that’s often where people are the most friendly. (Of course, take the usual precautions.) But if you spend a bit of time with the locals here you’ll come to realize that San Juan del Sur is much more than beaches and SAN JUAN LIVE

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“Spend time here and you’ll come to realize that San Juan del Sur is much more than beaches and ocean.” SANJUANDELSUR.ORG


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ocean. Watch the baseball on Sundays and grab some refreshments in the local pulpería. It’s places like Las Delicias that break-down the distance between the way you see a place and the lives of its people. How to get here Las Delicias starts as you turn onto the road heading south to Ostional. The first thing you’ll see is the immaculately maintained baseball field on your left, followed closely by the cemetery on your right. The neighborhood continues until the road forks left to Escamequita and the beaches further south.

LAS DELICIAS

Where to stay Las Cascadas Retreat has 2 apartments, 2 suites, 4 rooms and a cute looking treehouse. Long terms rates are available if you plan to stay for a while. There’s a small pool, attractive water features and an open BBQ area. For more of a hostel atmosphere, check out Surf Ranch where you can choose from a private room, condo or villa. As Nicaragua’s first action sports resort it’s a perfect spot if you want to indulge in some athletic fun. Surf Ranch is also famous for its blow out pool parties. Where to eat Surf Ranch serves a local Nicaraguan and worldwide menu. Order your meal for under the thatch roof cabanas, on the second floor of the restaurant or at the swim up bar. If SAN JUAN LIVE

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you’ve made use of all the action sports on offer, you should have worked up an appetite. If you fancy a “Cucaracha” - a ceviche served from conch shells - then stop at Cocos Bar. They also have other Nicaraguan dishes. A little further down the road, set back under some trees is Bar Campestre, a no-frills place serving drinks and a few food options under an open-air rancho. It’s more of a small grocery store than a restaurant, but Pulpería Santa Ana has a small outside seating area. It’s a good place to pick up some refreshments if you’re watching the baseball across the road.

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PALERMO! !

The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

After a few days in Palermo, you’ll almost forget that Downtown San Juan del Sur is right down the road. You won’t feel isolated here, just removed, from the hustle and bustle of town.

THE GIST OF IT In the contoured foothills directly east of town you’ll find the Palermo Neighborhood. It offers panoramic views of the ocean beautifully framed by San Juan del Sur’s two jutting headlands, and a quieter, neighborhood feel. The main paved road into Palermo first snakes past Lomas de Palermo, an area with completed single family homes mixed in with active construction projects and vacant lots, eventually reaching Villas de Palermo, a hotel and resort that provides the focal point for the neighborhood. A couple of secondary roads higher up the hill provide access to a second cluster of houses, Casa de Olas and the Naked Tiger hostel. Rental homes in Palermo are highly sought after by regular expat visitors to town. They know the country well and choose to stay in Palermo time and again. You can enjoy the peace and tranquility that comes from being away from the center of town, while knowing that the shopping, restaurants and bars are just down the road. (In full disclosure, we’re rather biased to Palermo and we often stay here.)

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“Spend time here and you’ll almost forget that Downtown San Juan del Sur is right down the road.”

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Villas de Palermo pool can offer an escape from the heat for the price of a meal at Terraza de Palermo, the onsite restaurant. For an adrenaline fix, take to the hills with Da Flying Frog Adventures and try the zipline canopy tour located high in the hills behind Villas de Palermo. There’s a spectacular view of San Juan del Sur’s horseshoe bay at the starting off point (it’s where our cover photo was taken). The zip line covers 2.5 km (1.5 miles) with 17 platforms. The longest cable is 328 meters (1,050 feet) and the highest passes over a 70 meter (225 feet) deep canyon. Bring a few extra Córdobas for an ice-cold drink at the end of the tour. It that’s not enough of an adrenaline buzz, try an Aracne Rappelling Tour and repel down a 45-meter waterfall deep into the surrounding forest. Or combine the two activities with the Da Flying Frog Adventures Extreme Adventure Package. For something more contemplative, head a little north of Villas de Palermo to gaze at the spirals and abstract patterns of a petroglyff that could be 1,500 years old. You’ll need to ask directions, as it can be a little tricky to find. (If you’re doing the Canopy Tour or the rappelling, ask to be taken there). The petroglyff is located by a river and if it’s the rainy season, head a little upstream to a small waterfall. Long pants are a good idea to protect against the nettle-like sting of the pica-pica plant. How to get here To get to Palermo neighborhood from San Juan del Sur take the main road out of town, passing the Uno gas station on your left. Drive over the bridge and keep heading straight as if to La Virgen and Rivas. After about 2 km (1.2 miles) look for the signs to Villas de Palermo on your left. Where to stay Villas de Palermo has 50 luxury villas with generous bathrooms, comfortable beds, large walk in closets and tall picture windows to bring in the light and energy of the outdoors. The resort has a gorgeous freeform pool with long views to the ocean and a large clubhouse that combines clean, modern architectural lines with more casual palm thatched sections. The resort is set within a reforestation and conservation project so if you are awake at sunrise you may hear the grumbling of howler monkeys from the tree-lined hills to the north and east. The hotel has free shuttle service to and from San Juan del Sur during daylight hours. If you’re looking to have some fun, Naked Tiger should be high on your list. It’s your typical party hostel with dorm style accommodations for tourists and backpackers looking to meet other people and have a blast. Most of the action happens around the ocean view swimming pool and in the outdoor beds and hammocks. !

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A cross between a hostel and a hotel, Casa de Olas has 9 rooms (4 dorms and 5 private rooms with en-suites) and can accommodate up to 40 people. The bar, restaurant and infinity pool all have great views of the ocean. Where to eat If you’re staying at Naked Tiger or Casa de Olas, you’ll most likely use the on-site bar and restaurant. Terraza de Palermo, the restaurant at Villas de Palermo draws a bigger crowd of people. Every weekday its 2 for 1 drinks at happy hour and the food is gaining recognition for its eclectic menu and seafood specials. If lobster is in season, the seafood stuffed lobster should not go unordered. If you are hungry for shrimp, try the 25 shrimp grilled to your taste with choice of tempura, scampi and breaded seasonings. There’s also a lighter menu of snacks.

PALERMO AND LA CUESTA

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VILLAS DE PALERMO HOTEL & RESORT

Ocean View Luxury Villas in Palermo www.villasdepalermo.com | +505 8672 0859 | +1800 734 3402

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TERRAZA DE PALERMO

Fine dining, seafood specials and weekly happy hour. For reservations call +505 8672 0859 SAN JUAN LIVE

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LA CUESTA! !

The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

Offering stunning views from Lake Nicaragua’s Ometepe island to the Pacific coastline reaching as far as Costa Rica. Also home to La Nica Orgánica and San Juan del Sur’s first skate park.

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THE GIST OF IT

The neighborhood of Hermanos Mendozas La Cuesta, or "La Cuesta" for short, is a mixed community of Nicaraguans and expats. It falls on both sides of the main road into town. The north side rises steeply up a forested hill revealing stunning views of the coastline, and eastward to Ometepe and Lake Nicaragua once you reach the top. The southern side is not known for its spectacular ocean views. Rather it’s the close access to San Juan del Sur and the friendly neighborhood feel, one that isn’t cooked up for tourists, that attracts people here. The southern side of La Cuesta is anchored by the El Camino del Sol residential development. It’s well advanced with many houses having been built around a community pool and well maintained gardens. El Camino del Sol has made a name for itself as a place to practice yoga and for several years has been hosting retreats led by experienced (and widely traveled) instructors.

“La Cuesta hasn't been cooked up for tourists.”

Just below the entrance to Finca Las Nubes, at the foot of the hill on the northern side of the neighborhood is La Nica Orgánica. Come here for farm-to-table organic fruit and

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vegetable sourced from Finca Las Nubes, coffee from Finca el Petén (an organic farm in Jinotega) as well as baked goods, hardwood furniture and toys. Next to La Nica Orgánica is a skate park (Sk8 park) with a large bowl, rails, stairs and ramps. Built by Finca Las Nubes, the park provides a safe location for local kids and their international counterparts to skate. How to get here La Cuesta is easily accessible from San Juan del Sur by taking the main road towards La Virgin and Rivas. As you’re leaving town the road to El Camino del Sol is on the right (at kilometer 137.5) and the entrance to Finca Las Nubes on the left, a little further up the hill (at kilometer 136). As soon as you get off the main road in either direction, the paving becomes un-even and breaks to dirt and gravel. Where to stay El Camino del Sol has homes available to rent. Amenities include a large lap pool, restaurant, yoga terrace, bar and shaded relaxation areas. The homes at Finca Las Nubes each have a private infinity pool and great views over San Juan bay and out to the ocean. They're set within an organic farm and showcase all aspects of a self sufficient and sustainable lifestyle. Where to eat If you’re staying at Finca Las Nubes or El Camino del Sol you can make use of the on site restaurants and catering. La Terraza restaurant at Villas de Palermo is close by and there’s always the option to roll down the hill to town.

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LA TALANGUERA! !

An affluent beach-side neighborhood located on the northern end of San Juan del Sur bay. Quiet streets, big houses, and a tight knit residential community.

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THE GIST OF IT La Talanguera is the beachside neighborhood on the north end of San Juan’s bay. The 10 block area extends from the estuary to the steep hills of Pacific Marlin. While it’s only a few minutes from downtown, it feels much further. Here life quiets down and the leafy residential streets give it a distinct neighborhood feeling. La Talanguera is popular among the Nicaraguan elite, with families holding onto their properties for generations. The streets are kept clean, the houses well maintained and the gardens cared-for. While a few of the internal streets within the neighborhood remain “Here life quiets down unpaved, both the access road from town as well as the main and the leafy residential street running behind the beachfront row have been paved. streets give it a distinct The land is flat so you won’t get much of an ocean view unless neighborhood feeling.” you’re directly on the beachfront or in a high-rise building (of which there are few). Still, it’s just a short walk to the beach from anywhere in the neighborhood. It’s quieter and calmer here than in the town center, but you can walk or cycle into the action in a matter of minutes, via the pedestrian suspension bridge.

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On the other side of the La Chocolata road that marks the eastern border of La Talanguera the rising land has attracted a handful of real estate developers marketing condos and lots for sale as well as Bahia del Sol, a hotel and resort project terracing up the hillside. Travel along some of the roads heading into the hills and the views across town open up nicely. How to get here The pedestrian walkway provides quick access to La Talanguera from San Juan del Sur’s beachfront road. By car you’ll need to head out of downtown passing the Uno gas station on your left and then taking the first left onto La Chocolata. Look for the entry road into La Talanguera where the paving stops and the dirt starts (around 800m from the turnoff). If the road starts to rise and you see Bahia Del Sol on your right, you’ve gone too far.

LA TALANGUERA, PACIFIC MARLIN & NACASCOLO

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Where to stay La Talanguera is almost entirely residential, with just a sprinkling of hotels and upscale vacation rentals. A little past the suspension bridge is Hotel HC Liri, a small hotel with large swimming pool and terrace orientated to catch the sunset. Another good option is El Pacifico, located at the foot of Pacific Marlin. It has comfortable rooms, a restaurant serving simple home cooking and a pool. The villas and condominiums of Bahia del Sol overlook La Talanguera from the other side of La Chocolata. Each spacious 3 bedroom unit has a kitchen, dining area and ocean view terraces arranged over 2 floors. There’s also a community pool and kids pool.

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PACIFIC MARLIN! !

The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

Historically referred to by locals as the Cara del Indio (Face of the Indian) and more recently marked by the massive statue of Jesus (Jesús de la Misericordia), Pacific Marlin arguably offers the best viewing site of San Juan del Sur. Owners might have to dig a little deeper to own property here, but the views... Ah, the views.

THE GIST OF IT Given the fabulous ocean view, the tranquility and privacy that come with residing on a hill, and the close proximity to downtown San Juan del Sur, it’s no surprise that Pacific Marlin continues to be one of the most highly sought after locations for beach property on the coast. The neighborhood occupies the entire northern bluff and is topped by a massive statue of Jesus (Jesús de la Misericordia). The high cliffs hook out into the ocean and end with a face-like profile known locally as Cara del Indio (Face of the Indian). The Jesus statue was erected in 2009 and has quickly become an iconic landmark and geographical reference point for the town. At 24 meters (77.8 feet), it’s one of the 10 largest Jesus statues in the world. It’s a “This neighborhood is nice hike to get here. Start at the stone steps in La Talanguera, all about location and turn right on the paved road until you reach a small parking area dramatic ocean views.” (yes, you can choose to drive). From here it’s just a final clamber up a set of steep steps and a small fee to pay to the security guard before you reach the statue. The view is a full 360 degrees and well worth the hike.

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A mix of Nicaraguans and expatriates have bought here and while Pacific Marlin is considered a “real estate development”, it feels more like an integrated residential neighborhood than a gated community. The majority of properties on Pacific Marlin are single family homes. Some are truly spectacular - the kind of homes that could be featured on the pages of Architectural Digest. Vacationers pay good money to rent homes here. This neighborhood is all about location and dramatic ocean views. There isn’t much commerce (meaning almost no restaurants or shopping in the immediate area) but just roll down the hill and you’ll find it all there. Careful as you navigate the roads in Pacific Marlin as some are very steep. How to get here The main (front) entrance to Pacific Marlin is accessed via La Talanguera. Drive behind the line of beachfront homes until reaching the entrance to Pacific Marlin at the foot of the headland. If you don’t take the road into La Talanguera but continue towards the beaches, you’ll notice a second entrance on your left towards the top of a rise. This takes you into the rear part of the neighborhood, but there’s occasionally a barrier at the entrance. Where to stay Time travel to future and there will be a hotel on Pacific Marlin because of the great views, but right now the main accommodations are vacation rentals. The headland overlooks Nacascolo on its north side, and sitting high above the beach in a prime oceanfront location is Casa Del Soul. This is a combination vacation rental and hotel, with three guest rooms, each with a private balcony overlooking the swimming pool and ocean. Relax on the sun deck, find a shady spot under the thatched roof palapa and just kick back into tranquil vacation mode.

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NACASCOLO! !

It’s not hard to understand why Nacoscolo bay is used in so many promotional materials about the area. The pristine emerald green bay is simply stunning. And that’s saying something in these parts.

THE GIST OF IT Marketed by local real estate developers as “an extension of San Juan del Sur” Nacascolo bay is indeed on San Juan del Sur’s doorstep. It’s the first bay you get to as you head north out of town. Just skirt behind the Pacific Marlin headland and you’ve arrived. But you won’t be able to see very much from the road. For the views of Nacascolo bay you have to get into the hills. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend who owns a house perched somewhere on the hillside, try to get a drinks invitation. From some special spots you're “For the views of Nacascolo bay treated to a double view of Ometepe rising out of Lake Nicaragua towards the east and the Pacific you have to get into the hills.” ocean to the west. Unless you’re staying at El Jardin, the main hotel in the area, and can make use of their shuttle, you’ll want your own transport. It’s a few minutes into town, or head in the

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other direction to the beaches around Maderas. The roads are unpaved so be prepared for some bumpy sections. Playa Nacascolo and ToroMixcal Nacascolo beach is owned by the pension fund of Nicaragua’s military and access is restricted. There are a few hidden access paths leading to the beach from Pacific Marlin, but not from La Chocolata. To the north is ToroMixcal, a privately owned nature reserve doing great work in preserving the natural habitat of the region. The reserve has a small private beach, bounded by rocky outcrops on either side. How to get here After passing the Palí grocery store as you head out of town, take the next left on La Chocolata. At La Talanguera the paving ends and the road winds up a little passing Bahia del Sol on the right and the back entrance to Pacific Marlin on the left. Continue past Little Bavaria until you see signs for the Los Miradores and Encanto del Sur real estate developments on your right and you’ve arrived. Where to stay El Jardin is the place to stay in Nacascolo. Perched on a hill and drenched in a spectrum of bright paint colors, this 11 roomed boutique hotel has one of the best views of the area. And, around here, that’s saying something. The large swimming pool is surrounded by sprawling terraces to laze around on. Those seeking a shadier spot can steal away to smaller seating areas dotted around the place, or retreat to their private terrace (most of the rooms have one). If you’re staying you’ll be treated to heavenly food at the onsite restaurant.

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MARSELLA! !

The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

With just a smattering of beach front homes and boutique hotels, Playa Marsella is the place to come if you're looking for beach front accommodations with little interruption.

THE GIST OF IT Playa Marsella is all about the natural attraction of the beach: a golden crescent of sand stretching between two rocky headlands. Most of the beachfront is taken up by private houses, but there are a couple of places to stay in the area and to get some shade. For the most part, this place is about sea and sand although Marsella is also home to Nicaragua’s only disk (frisbee) golf course. Look for the signs on the left on the road leading for the beach. Unlike Playa Maderas to the north, the beach break at Marsella is a rare occurrence. So if you’re a swimmer, this is your spot. How to get here Take the same left on La Chocolata after the bridge as you would for Playa Maderas, go over the bridge and take the next left (it’s signposted). A Y-junction follows a little further down the road. Take another left here. (To go to Playa Maderas you’d make a right). Carry on straight and the road will lead you to the north end of the beach at the river mouth.

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“Marsella is all about the beach”

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The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

! Where to stay Located right on the beach on the south end of Playa Marsella, Marsella Beachfront Hotel offers comfortable, but basic, villas, pool-side suites and private ocean view rooms. On the other end of the bay you’ll find two 8 roomed hotels: Villa Mar and Casa Bahia Hotel. Both have nice views of the river, beach and sunset, with Casa Bahia Hotel having a more elevated position behind the beach. There’s also a 3 bedroom, 2 bath cabana available at Casa Bahia Hotel. If you don’t mind being a little away from the beach, a popular choice is Mango Rosa, located before the road forks between Maderas and Marsella. Choose from 1 bedroom bungalows, 2 bedroom ranchers and a 3 bedroom house set within lush tropical gardens around a free-form swimming pool. The Grand Rancho Bar and Restaurant offers fine cuisine, cocktails and a 40” flat screen for sporting events and movies.

Playa Marsella The surfing is better at Maderas, which is why most visitors don’t stop at Marsella. But it’s a beautiful beach and good swimming spot so worth adding to your list. There are rarely more than a handful of people on the beach and development is limited. At least for now. Getting here: If you want to avoid the rough roads, a boat taxi takes around 30 minutes. Where to eat While you wouldn’t guess it from its name, Munchies Blues Café is a popular pizza restaurant. The pizzas are Roman-style, cooked in wood-burning oven. The restaurant started out just serving food on Mondays, but you may now be lucky on other days too. Call first as you’ll need to make a reservation. Chilo’s Bar (La Umaleya) serves a tasty Nicaraguan fare of meat, chicken and seafood dishes at a casual spot around 100 meters back from the beach. There’s a small pulpería next door where you can stock up on basics. Restaurante Rancho Marsella (also known as Conchas) serves a similar menu right on the sand at the north end of the beach, at the mouth of the river. Another good dining option is El Secreto, part of the Marsella Beachfront Hotel. Their ceviche comes highly recommended. And don’t forget Mango Rosa. They’ve been serving great food (and strong cocktails) since 2006. As well as formal dining, there’s also a more casual area where you can relax in hand crafted sofas as you work your way through the menu.

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MARSELLA & MADERAS

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MADERAS! !

The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

San Juan del Sur’s most popular surfing beach framed by the jagged, wolf-tooth shaped outcrop the area is famous for. Favored by surfers, locals, and lovers of alternative living, Maderas is an easy neighborhood to love.

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THE GIST OF IT If you’re a sucker for surfing and laid-back beach living, you may find yourself kicking back and falling for the seductive charm of the Maderas area. The terrain rolls up from the shoreline into a series of rugged hill where you’re treated to breathtaking views up and down the coast. The growing community makes the most of the main outdoor activity of the area: surfing - you pass several real estate projects catering to the surfer crowd on the way to the beach. But the development at Maderas still has a small-scale, rustic feel; although every year there’s a little more of it. Despite the growing buzz, the first time you visit Maderas it will still feel special. Turning off La Chocolata you’ll climb into verdant hills, wind around a little then plunge sharply down towards the ocean. Walk onto the sand, look right and suddenly a jagged tooth shaped rock will appear, spilling into the blue ocean. It’s an iconic landmark of the area that’s been photographed a thousand times. The beach is beautiful too. Large sandy expanses to roam around on, interesting rock formations and one of the most consistent surf breaks in the region. A clutch of restaurants behind Maderas serve up fish tacos, cold beer and fruity rum drinks to the multinational crowd. If you can, stay for sunset to watch the striking rock formations silhouette against the sky. Walk north along the sand and you’ll reach Los Playones - technically part of Playa Maderas and locally known as Maderas North - tuck behind the headland and you’ll reach Playa Majagual and La Florcita, long-time favorites for locals and expats. A developer has bought the land behind Majagual and walled it off, so changes may be afoot in the future.

Playa Maderas !

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The beach is carpeted with soft sand and the steep hills form a dramatic backdrop to the surf. On an incoming tide the place buzzes with surfers. If it feels too crowded, walk away from the main area towards the pointed headland and it will quickly feel like you have the place to yourself. It’s worth exploring the tidal pools and rocky expanses at low tide for marine life. If you’ve come with kids, this is a must. Getting here: Take the left fork after the turnoff from La Chocolata road and follow the twisting road right, away from Playa Marsella and up a steep hill until it slopes down to the beach. There is parking directly in front of the surf so you wont have to carry your surfboard very far. The drive is 10km (6.2 miles) and surf shops offer daily shuttles.

If you can, climb into the steep hills behind the ocean and look down over the canopy of trees and out to the ocean. You’ll see the tiny dots of surfers far below. Even with the surf camps, vacation rentals and yoga studios springing up, Maderas is a place of raw, natural beauty that somehow gives off an energetic and relaxing vibe at the same time. Lets hope it continues to inspire environmentally responsible approaches to development.

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How to get here

Maderas North (Playones)

Getting here: Walk along the sand from Playa Maderas. Or, by car, take the right fork after coming off La Chocolata. Pass the entrance to Morgan’s Rock on your right and continue until you see a long wall, also on your right. Follow the wall and park on the other side near the small buildings.

Take La Chocolata road for around 15 minutes until you come across a small bridge with yellow railings. Take a left after the bridge and drive over a second, larger bridge and take the left fork to Playa Marsella and Playa Maderas for around 5 minutes, passing Mango Rosa resort. Follow the right fork up a steep hill veering to the left at the summit and down the other side until you reach the beach. It’s a good idea to drive a 4×4 as the roads are unpaved and the hills steep.

Playa Majagual

Where to stay

Set in a beautiful bay Playa Majagual is another of Nicaragua’s finest beaches. Hills behind, ocean in the front and soft sand underfoot. What better place to spend an afternoon? Majagual is a good swimming spot, but take care with the rip current. Walk a little north and you’ll uncover a second cove. Smaller but equally as delightful, La Florcita is still completely undeveloped.

If you’re prepared to splurge, book a stay at Morgan’s Rock - Nicaragua’s best-known luxury ecolodge overlooking the mile long sandy sweep of Playa Ocotal. The 15 thatched-roofed wooden bungalows cling to the steep mountains on stilts and connect via a hanging bridge to the reception area, bar, swimming pool and restaurant. Join guided tours of the 4,000 acre protected forest, lend a hand in the organic working farm and ride horses on the beach. Or just lie in the outdoor swing bed in your bungalow and watch the waves lapping on the beach below.

Here the sand is a touch lighter, the slope a little steeper and the shade thrown by its much photographed northern headland a smidgen deeper. On the other side of the headland is Playa Majagual.

Getting here: Follow the wall after the entrance to Morgan’s Rock as it curves right behind the beach. There’s a small parking spot and path to the beach. The signpost at the turnoff from La Chocolata indicates that it’s 6 km (3.7 miles) to Majagual, but in practice it’s closer to 4.5 km (2.8 miles). Water taxis from San Juan del Sur regularly visit Playa Majagual.

If you’re not worried about being right on the sand check into Buena Vista Surf Club an off-grid, self-sustaining surf lodge. A beautiful yoga platform provides a view of the famous break at Maderas. Home cooked gourmet dinners using many fresh ingredients from the on-site garden are available daily. You don’t have to be a surfer or a yoga practitioner to book a room, but you’re likely to become one after an extended stay. The Dutch resident owners, Marielle and Marc, have been hosting guests here since 2004. Tucked away in the jungle behind Playa Maderas is Maderas Village - a hostel-cumcreative-community that brings together people who share a love for the beauty of the area, surfing and sustainability. Come here alone or as part of a group and you should SAN JUAN LIVE

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find that one of the palapa-roofed structures will fit your needs. From some of the buildings you get a nice view of the ocean peaking through the trees. You’ll enjoy the place best if you’re prepared to mix in and meet people. Most guests congregate and share meals family style. Where to eat Playa Ocotal You could hire a boat taxi and anchor off Playa Ocotal but really the best way to experience this mile-long crescent-shaped beach is to book a cabin at Morgan’s Rock. Yes it’s expensive but it’s also San Juan del Sur’s most upmarket “eco-chic” hotel. Expect an understated luxury, stripped back to its essence. Getting here: Take the road to Majagual, following the MR signs painted on rocks, and turn to the right into the Morgan’s Rock entrance before you get to the beach. Access is usually restricted to people with a booking. Playa Blanca Most visitors fall hard for Playa Blanca. This could be one of the most picturesque pacific coast beaches in all of Central America. The water has an extra sparkle, the sand shimmers a little more than normal, the rocky formations spring energetically out of the blue waters and a steep hillside provides the perfect backdrop. Snap a photo of yourself to make your Facebook friends jealous. (#selfie) Getting here: Although there is access via a private road, you’d need to get permission first. And truly the best way to enjoy this slice of paradise is by sailboat.

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Tacos Locos claims to serve the “best fish tacos in Nicaragua”. One thing’s for sure, you cannot beat the location. Directly in front of the surf break at Maderas, it’s perfectively positioned to feed hungry surfers or those just wanting to relax and enjoy the view. Directly behind is Cafe Revolución with their self styled “California kitchen” serving cold beer, smoothies, good quality expressos, baked goods and wood oven baked pizzas. Perch on one of the stools facing the ocean and take in the scene. They also offer cabanas and camping. Plus the wifi is free. Back from the ocean, try Sabores. The restaurant is part of Casa Maderas Ecolodge but open to the public. The cuisine is both Nicaraguan and international, with a variety of vegetarian options. Or if you have transport and you’re after a more local experience, grab a table at Restaurante Rancho Las Marias on La Chocolata. Expect large plates of tasty Nicaraguan food at this family run restaurant.

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Buena Vista Surf Club

The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

A design eco-lodge at Playa Maderas

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Reservations Only

For reservations please contact us at: info@buenavistasurfclub.com Tel (505) 8863-4180 or Tel (505) 8863-3312

www.buenavistasurfclub.com

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The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

ESCAMEQUITA! ! While only a short drive south of town, Escamequita is a completely different world. Sun-drenched hills roll in all directions, occasionally breaking for a distant ocean view; ox-wagons roll by on wooden wheels and machete-wielding vaqueros (Nicaraguan cowboys) ride tall in the saddle. SAN JUAN LIVE

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THE GIST OF IT Life here feels secluded, picturesque and very rural. Despite the better access following the recent paving of the road from town and the improved cell coverage by Claro, Escamequita still feels blessedly untouched by time. It’s the kind of country that will inspire you to move into a hacienda, start an organic vegetable garden and throw away your cell phone. The main beaches of the area are Playa Hermosa, Yankee and Escameca - all with great surf breaks. You’ll often see pickup trucks and hostel shuttles piled high with surfers and surfboards on the way to Playa Hermosa, occasionally pulling over to watch some howler monkeys in the trees or slowing to pass droopy-eared cattle grazing on the side of the road. Apart from surfing, a not-to-miss experience in Escamequita is horseback riding and no one does it better than Rancho Chilamate. The ranch hands and trail guides are friendly, knowledgeable and energetic, making even the least experienced rider and farthest-flung visitor feel very much at home. You’ll wind your way through private nature reserves, across rivers and along quiet beaches marveling at the Nicaraguan countryside at every turn. The road south from San Juan del Sur passes through the tiny village of El Carizal, set on a river that swells “Escamequita still feels and falls with the seasons. Around 50 families live blessedly untouched by time.” here, with livelihoods relying on subsistence farming. It’s easy to miss on the drive south. Look out for the small lime green building on your left opposite the blue and white painted Carlos Guzman school, after you pass the entrance to Playa Hermosa. This is a community kitchen and store selling jam run by the El Carizal Woman’s co-operative (Condimentos del Carizal). If the kitchen is closed, head a little further up the hill to the peach colored house with a red satellite dish. This is Doña Nelly’s house (8734 0772). She’s the head of the jam co-operative and will be delighted to open the kitchen, let you taste the varieties and sell you some jam. Your dollars will make a real difference to the lives of people living in El Carizal. How to get here As you head out of San Juan del Sur take a right just before the bridge. If you pass the grocery store Palí on your right, you’ve missed the turn. Stay on the paved road past the houses of Las Delicias, following it as it forks left. The right fork is unpaved. Around 6km later, you’ll reach the village of El Carizal and the entrance to Hermosa beach. A little past El Carizal the paved road turns to dirt just before the entrance to Las Fincas residential community and Rancho Chilamate, signposted on your left. Continue over a river crossing and you’ll come to the tiny village of Escamequita and local food spot Rancho Tere. A little further on you’ll see the sign to Playa El Yankee on your right.

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Playa Hermosa Ask locals to name their favorite beach in San Juan del Sur and many will say Hermosa. Perhaps it's the consistent beach breaks, the rocky island vistas or simply the long stretch of sand to lose yourself in. It also helps that the beach bar serves good food, cold drinks and offers a place to shower off. Playa Hermosa is the site of Pitaya Festival, a celebration of music, local handicrafts and sustainability. It’s held each year at the full moon, either in February or March. Hermosa has not just caught the imagination of locals, episodes of hit TV series Survivor were filmed here. Active types can play beach volleyball or ride horses on the beach. For a quieter time just hang out in one of the hammocks with a good book, or a good friend. Sea turtles lay here, pelicans bob in the water with the surfers and you may even see the occasional ray or dolphin. It’s a very mellow vibe. Book ahead if you want to overnight at the beach. Playa Hermosa Beach Hotel has private rooms and dormitories right on the sand. But don't look for luxury frills. The experience here is simple. Unaffected. Stripped back. Getting here: The road is paved until the turn off to Hermosa beach, but the remainder is unpaved. There’s a small fee to enter, paid at the gate. From here the meandering road crosses the river 17 times (yes we've counted) before curving its way towards the sand. The Playa Hermosa Beach Hotel, Casa Oro and other hostels offer daily shuttles to Hermosa. Another option is to group together and take a private taxi.

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Where to stay A couple of years ago, accommodation was mainly limited to individual vacation rentals in Las Fincas and Playa Yankee. But the new paved access to San Juan del Sur is changing the area fast and new places are opening. To really connect with the character of Escamequita and get a taste for ranch-style living, you’re best option is to check into the Eco Guest Ranch at Rancho Chilamate. El Romántico is the most luxurious room offering a beautiful cast iron king size bed, antique furniture, colorful artwork and saloon style doors leading to a ½ barrel cowboy shower. The room is named for the privacy of its backside balcony with hammock. El Pirate and El Sueño each offer a queen bed, private entrance and bathroom in parallel Chilamate design quality. El Nido offers 2 bunk-beds, a private outdoor shower and plenty of horseshoe hooks to hang your cowboy hat. Whether you want to take a dip in the pool, or lounge in chairs on the sun deck, quality time spent in the courtyard is an absolute must.

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Playa Hermosa Beach Hotel is located right on the sand at Playa Hermosa. The hotel structure, along with the indoor and outdoor furniture is built from beautiful local hardwood. The rooms can’t be described as fancy, but are clean and secure. The first floor consists of 4 dorm rooms - each with 5 beds and a bathroom. The second floor has 4 rooms with king bed, private bathroom and terrace. Two of the rooms overlook the ocean and two feature views of the forest.

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Another spot close to the ocean is Orquidea del Sur, an elegant boutique retreat at Playa Yankee. The hotel has 5 luxury suites, a yoga deck, infinity pool and a separate jacuzzi pool connected by a waterfall.

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The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

Playa Escamequita A beautiful stretch of grey sand divided into two by a rocky headland. There’s no surf here and access is restricted so apart from the occasional horseback rider guided here by Rancho Chilamate, expect to have the place to yourself. Getting here: A road follows the winding river to the beach, but access is restricted. If you come here, you’ll most likely have ridden in or travelled by boat. Playa Yankee Another beautiful Nicaraguan beach, framed by another set of rocky headlands. A few homes - part of the Cantamar De Yankee real estate development - pepper the tropical dry forest hillside behind the beach but so far have been non-intrusive on the surf, sand and ocean. Getting here: The road to Yankee is mostly paved with a short drive on dirt. The right hand turn off the main road comes just before you reach the Cantamar de Yankee entrance gate. The road heads towards the ocean at first, turns left at a sign, rises sharply up a hill (a good spot to check the surf) before winding down to the south end of the beach. If you’re taking the bus, bear in mind that you’ll be dropped off at the main road and will still have to hike 1.8km (just over 1mile) to the beach. If you drive your own car, you’ll need to pay a small entrance fee for the car. Playa Escameca It’s mainly surfers who visit Playa Escameca, but as the Costa Dulce real estate development on the edge of the beach fills out, more visitors will be leaving their footprints on the soft sand. For now, seclusion is almost guaranteed.

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Where to eat The restaurant at Playa Hermosa Beach Hotel serves tasty food on the sand at Playa Hermosa. For a spot in the interior try Rancho Tere in Escamequita village, across from the Centro De Salad. This local style restaurant serves generous portions of Nicaraguan cuisine under an open-air Rancho. Ask for fresh catch of the day and try the fresh squeezed juices.

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ARRIBA VERDE

Off the grid ocean view lots near the entrance to Playa Hermosa from $20,000 Contact Tim Kelly at: w.timothy.kelly@gmail.com

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The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

EL COCO & LA FLOR! !

A swathe of sparkling white sand bookended by tall cliffs and backed by a thickly forested hill that seems to hold its green for longer than other parts of the country. La Flor is home to the flotillas of endangered Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtles that come ashore en masse to lay their eggs.

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THE GIST OF IT As you head south past Escamequita and the beaches of Yankee and Escameca, the coastal road swings closer to the ocean passing just behind Playa El Coco. This is one of the few beaches you can see from the road. And it’s a beauty. While popular with day-trippers on weekends and holidays, Coco rarely feels overcrowded. So if you’re after a reflective walk on the beach or you just want to quietly perfect your hammocking skills, you’ll find the space to do this in. There’s a handy restaurant and bar located directly on the sand if you’re craving food and company.

“While popular with day-trippers on weekends and holidays, Coco rarely feels overcrowded.”

Parque Marítimo El Coco, a low-key resort and tourist center located on the northern end of the beach, offers vacation rentals nestled in the trees and the occasional condo for sale. It also provides tours of the area, horseback riding and bike rentals. Given the relatively intact tropical dry forest in the area there’s some good bird watching, if you’re so inclined.

Apart from hanging out on the beach, the area is famous for turtle watching at La Flor Wildlife Reserve (Refugio de Vida Silvestre La Flor) a little south of El Coco. August and September are the main months to marvel at thousands of Olive Ridley turtles and, if you’re lucky, some Leatherback turtles, crawling up on the beach to lay their eggs in the sand. You may also catch a sighting between July and January. The turtle arrivals are unpredictable, so this is something to check when you get here. The best way to experience the night-time egg laying is on a guided tour (recommended tour operators include Casa Oro and San Juan del Sur Surf and Sport). It’s also worth visiting La Flor to see the new hatchlings make a run for the ocean around 50 days after they have been laid. The Reserve comprises La Flor beach, a stunning crescent of sand, as well as around 800 hectares of tropical dry forest hinterland. Marena, the Government environmental agency, manages the Reserve and you’ll have to pay a small entrance fee. (Foreigners pay $8 for adults and $4 for children. Nationals and residents pay $4 for adults and $2 for children). While the turtles are the main event, La Flor also offers camping ($20 per site, bring your own gear), kayaking, boating and wildlife viewing. Your contributions help pay for turtle cops to patrol the beach and protect the eggs from poachers. How to get here El Coco is around 16 km (10 miles) south of San Juan del Sur. Follow the road past Escamequita until you reach Playa El Coco. There are a few signposts but if you miss these you’ll know you’ve arrived when the coastal road moves towards the ocean and runs behind the beach. SAN JUAN LIVE

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La Flor is a little further to the south. Look for the wooden signpost on your right. The road is edged with white stone and leads to a parking lot and visitor welcome area 140 meters from the beach. Check in here before continuing. There’s a line of handy information signs that will get you up to speed with the arribadas and turtle viewing etiquette. A taxi from San Juan del Sur to Playa El Coco will cost around US$70. By bus, take the Ostional route and ask the driver to drop you at Playa El Coco or La Flor. Where to stay

EL COCO & LA FLOR

Parque Marítimo El Coco has a good range of vacation homes, bungalows and cabanas (each accommodating between 2 to 10 people). Some have an ocean view, others are set within the trees, and all are within close walking distance to the sand. A small on-site grocery store - El Guanacaste - is located at the entrance. Next door, La Veranera offers more intimate accommodations in a well-preserved Nicaraguan ranch house right on the sand. The guest rooms lead off a wide veranda, bar and pool area. The bar is reserved for guests. Across the street you’ll find Playa Coco Cabanas offering basic wooden cabins with full kitchen and bathroom.

Given its long standing as a popular beach spot, Playa El Coco always has private vacation rentals available. Some right on the sand and others perched on the hill on the other side of the road with glorious views over the beach and out to the mountains of Costa Rica. Where to eat Restaurante Puesta del Sol is still the only public restaurant on the beach at Playa El Coco. It’s managed by Parque Marítimo El Coco who have given it several upgrades over the years. There’s now a good-sized swimming pool, gift shop, table football and a pool table. You’ll find it on the north end of Playa Coco, adjacent to La Veranera. !

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! Playa El Coco The white expanse of sand, pretty cliffs and warm waters of Playa El Coco make this a popular spot for locals and foreigners looking for a taste of beach life. There is a surf break, but it’s not consistent, so people mostly come here to swim and boogie board. Exercise caution and check local conditions before you enter the ocean, even if the water looks calm on the surface, because there is a dangerous rip current at times. La Redonda, Brasilito and Anima El Coco is followed by a string of beautiful beaches; perfect little Redonda (not to be confused with La Redonda beach in Tola), ever lush Brasilito and clover-shaped Anima. These beaches are mostly accessible by boat - which only makes them more intriguing. For the full experience, why not splurge on a sailing trip? Brasilito is a favored stopping off point for sailing charters from San Juan del Sur. The thrill of a blue water passage, the serenity of a sheltered white beach, the rolling green hills behind… Blue, white and green a colorful reminder of how beautiful the world can be. Getting here: Although at low tide you may be able to get to La Redonda by walking south from Playa El Coco, make sure you are up to speed with the sea level movements. The best way to experience this part of the coastline is by boat. La Flor La Flor is famous for the endangered Olive Ridley and Leatherback turtles who return home annually to lay their eggs. It’s a spectacle that La Flor shares with only a handful of beaches worldwide. Surfing here is off limits during turtle season. Rightly so. Instead take a walk up the forested river and lose yourself in Nicaragua’s rich biodiversity. Getting here: By road La Flor is around 21 kms (12 miles) south of San Juan del Sur.

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The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

La Flor is one of only beaches in Central American where Arribadas occur. More

100,000

than Olive Ridley turtles come to nest at La Flor each year. There are

REFUGIO DE VIDA SILVESTRE LA FLOR ‘Arribadas’ of Olive Ridley per month 2012 - 2013 Title

July

5 7

18,689

September

38,033

October

34,391

November

100

45,062

December

12,052

January

3,327 0

12500

25000

37500

*Stats published by MARENA (Ministerio delValue Axis Ambiente y los Recursos Naturales Nicaragua)

No fires or white lights on the beach. Never get in front of or surround a turtle. Stay at least 3 meters away from turtles. Do not shine any lights on the turtle’s faces. Only approach quietly after a turtle begins laying eggs. Limit one flash photo per person from behind when turtle is done laying. ✓ Do not touch the turtles, eggs or baby turtles. ✓ No flash photos of baby turtles. ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓

OPEN 24/7

50000

to eggs in less than an hour. Many turtles return to the refuge multiple times throughout the season. Typically the eggs hatch

50 60

RESERVE RULES

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the refuge, Leatherback, Green, and Hawksbill. Each year La Flor is witness to

between and major Arribadas taking place between July and January. Each Arribada lasts several days. Olive Ridleys can lay up

0

August

3 other species of turtles in

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between to days after being laid. To increase chances of survival, the baby turtles dig out of the nests at the same time and make their way towards the ocean as a group. Hatchlings rush to the water at night for added protection against predators and dehydration from sun exposure. Olive Ridley turtles born at La Flor may travel as far north as Alaska and as far south as Chile before returning to their home. SANJUANDELSUR.ORG


The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur

OSTIONAL! !

Nature is still intact at Ostional. Home to a small fishing village marked by sandy white beaches and a few bobbing boats. Wild animals outnumber humans here.

THE GIST OF IT More adventurous souls will continue south from El Coco and La Flor to reach the tiny village of Ostional. The dirt road to Ostional is bumpy but the landscape with its wide open bay and long beach is beautiful. If you have a sturdy vehicle and no schedule, it’s worth the trip. The booming Guanacaste region of Costa Rica is just a few kilometers to the south and a handful of real estate developers have already scouted the area selling it as a “ground floor” investment opportunity. If the road gets better and the much touted tourist border to Costa Rica opens, a second wave of real estate dollars could follow.

“The dirt road to Ostional is bumpy but the landscape with its wide open bay and long beach is beautiful.”

But for now, Ostional feels remote, cell phone reception is patchy and services are basic. People come here to experience a laid back fishing village, watch the locals tend their nets on the beach, have a swim in the ocean or paddle around in kayaks (Hospedaje Manta Raya has kayaks for rent).

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If you want to get closer to nature and choose from a fun menu of activities check out O Parks, WildLife, and Recreation. They offer horseback riding, mountain biking and beautiful nature trails. If you’re lucky you may cross paths with a smiling sloth, colorplumed parrots, tree-perching toucans, a dashing deer, or even a jaguar. Entry to the wildlife adventure park is $5. How to get here Continue along the road heading south from El Coco for around 7 kms (4.3 miles) until you come across a paved section of road at a small traffic island. Here you’ll see a road leading off to the right sign-posted Playa Ostional 600m. This takes you through the village to the main beach area. The church square is off this road to the right. If you continue on the main road at the traffic island, following it to the left, you’ll pass over a bridge and continue parallel to Ostional bay. You can access the beach by taking a right at the “Ostionalito” sign and following a sandy track. If you’re not getting here in your own vehicle a taxi will cost you around $90. There’s a daily bus service to and from San Juan del Sur.

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Where to stay If you want to stay close to the beach, Hospedaje Manta Raya is a good option. It offers basic rooms and apartments and has a nice looking restaurant and bar. In the village itself, you’ll find Casa El Jicaro, an assuming house on the church square with four rooms available to rent. There’s a small pulpería tucked behind the house. O Parks, WildLife and Recreation cater for different accommodations styles offering camping, beds, rooms, suites and houses. Stay here and you’ll feel good knowing that you’re part of the project’s greater vision to create a unique, ecologically sound and community focused presence in the Ostional region.

Playa Ostional The beach curves gently from Ostional Village southwards to a beautiful rolling headland. The jagged profile of Costa Rica’s Papagayo Peninsula is closer than ever and with this flashy neighbor just a few kilometers away the place is already being eyed up for future development. Getting here: You can access the beach via the village or by taking a right at the El Ostionalito sign. Playa Tortuga Cupped by steep cliffs on either side, Playa Tortuga feels like the quintessential secret cove. Take care when swimming. Given its bowl like shape the water can surge, carrying you long distances towards the beach and out to sea. A couple of magnificent houses sit high above the beach. Getting here: The beach falls within the Punta Sur real estate development. But don’t count on there being someone at the entrance gate to allow you to pass. Playa Manzanillo Just around the corner, overlooked by the Secret Cove real estate project, is Playa Manzanillo. More protected than Playa Tortuga (you’ll see the occasional boat at anchor here) the beach has a fine grey-colored sand and is edged by rocky outcrops that become exposed at low tide. Getting here: Take the road signposted to Secret Cove to the right after Ostional. Make sure you have a high clearance vehicle and check conditions before you travel. Playa Naranjo A rocky beach located next to the border. Costa Rica’s Papagayao peninsula juts out into the sea, making for calm water with few waves. This is Nicaragua’s southern most beach. Getting here: The access is directly from the main coastal road which runs behind the beach.

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Where to eat A couple of low-key places serve food in the village, including one spot on the beach. The pace of life is distinctly unhurried so you may have to wait for the restaurant owner to arrive before you can get your order in. A nice restaurant for a meal on the beach is Bar Gaby Mar. Enjoy fresh seafood and a cold beer with views of Playa Ostional and Playa de Los Botes (literally: boat beach there are always a few fishing boats at anchor here). Follow the road to the beach and Bar Gaby Mar is in the last building on your right.

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TIME TO TICK YOUR BOXES: 101 THINGS TO DO IN SAN JUAN DEL SUR 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 last count we’ve gathered together 101 things to do in and around San Juan del Sur. We’ve covered most of them already in the guidebook, but we thought it would be useful to bring it together in a checklist. Whether it’s sun, adventure, nature or culture you seek, you’ll find something to tempt you. In no particular order, here they are.

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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.

5. 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.

2. 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.

6. 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…

3. 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.

7. …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’s safe to say, there’s no better vantage point in town.

4. Ride through a nature reserve to a deserted beach with Rancho Chilamate horseback tours. You’re almost guaranteed to see monkeys on your way (which covers activity #40 below).

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

Eyes. For that fabulous San Juan del Sur light, it doesn’t get any better than this. 15. Stay all day in a hammock at Playa Hermosa. It’s the perfect spot for blissed out total relaxation.

9. If your visit coincides with a nighttime arribada, head to La Flor Wildlife Refuge for a remarkable experience. As many as 20,000 female Olive Ridley sea turtles arrive to lay their eggs on the beach. Then ….

16. Want to learn the local lingo? Enroll in an immersion program with Spanish Ya. You’ll learn more than proper Spanish, you’ll also get to know about Nicaraguan history, local holiday celebrations, cuisine and culture.

10. …around 50 days later come back to watch the newly hatched turtles make a dash to the sea.

17. 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.

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

18. Set sail to hidden coves with Nica Sail n’ Surf and recharge your soul. The stunning coastline and secluded beaches will have you reaching for the camera button.

12. 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.

19. Every Thursday the beach front stage at El Timón 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…

13. Partake of a Macuá served in a chilled oversized glass at Buen Gusto on San Juan del Sur’s beachfront road. 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 Macuá until you’ve had Rosi’s version. We recommend it with an order of Tostones y queso.

20. …sign up for a salsa lesson. In Nicaragua an inability to dance salsa is far less frowned upon than an unwillingness to try. 21. Take a day trip to Ometepe and marvel at the volcanic peaks of Concepción and Maderas rising like twin spires from Lake

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Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America.

29. 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.

22. Slurp on a delicious smoothie at Simon Says. These ice-cold refreshments come in all sorts of delicious combinations. Fruity, nutty, spicy… it’s all here.

30. 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 Rancho Chilamate. Or buy direct from the Carizal community at Doña Nelly’s house across from the Carlos Guzman school.

23. Tuck into a good book at Gato Negro. This part breakfast spot, part coffee shop, part bookstore has over 4,500 titles, including a collection of books on Nicaraguan history. But you’ll need to buy before you read.

31. Grab a guitar and sing on stage at open mic night at PachaMama on Tuesdays at 9pm. Sometimes it’s the taking part that counts.

24. 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.

32. Enjoy a lobster dinner on the sand at Playa Hermosa. Caught earlier in the day it’s no wonder it tastes so good.

25. Attend Catholic mass at the church in the main square. Services are held every day at 6 pm and every Sunday at 9am with a special service for children at 11am.

33. 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?

26. Pack an indulgent 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.

34. Go completely off grid and rent a vacation home in a nature reserve.

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

35. Listen to Los Pobrecitos live. After all they’re San Juan’s most beloved 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.

28. Head out to Republika Bar on Friday for “Name That Tune”. While you're there try a Belgium waffle paired with Knob Creek.

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36. 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.

41. Rapell vertically down a rock face into the jungle. No question, Aracne rappelling tours organized with Da Flying Frog Adventures will make you feel glad to be alive. 42. Fish to your hearts content for Roosterfish, Dorado, Mackerel, Tuna, Wahoo, Sailfish, Jackfish, Kingfish, Grouper and Barracuda. The in-shore fishing around San Juan del Sur is world-class. Book your private panga at San Juan del Sur Surf & Sport with top of the range reels, the latest tackle, modern rods and electronics or…

37. Buy a Nicaraguan cigar from Sanchez Pulpería and see what all the fuss is about. 38. 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 beachfront road. 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 Connect and the minimal entry fee goes to upkeep the sports park.

43. …try your hand at the traditional “line wrapped around a piece of wood” method of fishing used by local fishermen in the harbor. Load up on SPF beforehand. 44. Swaddle yourself in fluffy towels ready for some pampering at Gaby’s Spa and Massage Studio. Sometimes a simple massage can be the greatest luxury.

39. 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.

45. Buy a piñata, fill it with treats, find a tree and a bat and have a fiesta. Adults welcome. Piñata fun is not just for children. 46. See if you can find the colorful Sandino (Augusto C. Sandino) mural in Downtown San Juan del Sur. It makes for a great photo. You’ll see murals of Sandino throughout the county - all featuring his trademark hat.

40. 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.

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47. Pay a visit to the rasta colored storefront known as Volcan Music and take a ukulele lesson from Ukulele Dave. All of the guitars and ukuleles are handmade by !152

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Nicaraguans. We guarantee you will be tempted to buy a musical piece of artwork.

rewarded with delicious grilled chicken meal with cabbage salad, gallo pinto and plantains. Look for the street stalls east of the municipal market or west of the central park.

48. Put on some fins, mask and snorkel (plus scuba gear, if you are so inclined). Then weave lazily over one of San Juan del Sur’s dive sites and enjoy the underwater stage show.

55. Drum up your competitive spirit and drop in on a game of grass volleyball at Mango Rosa. This offthe-beaten-path laid back surf resort near Playa Marsella is also a great place to take a yoga class, dip in the pool or pull up a bar stool and watch all the sports you’re missing on ESPN.

49. Shake the morning out of your body with a workout at the Gimnasio. Now offering a variety of classes, you have no excuse to not workout during your extended vacation.

56. Jump start your taste buds with a ceviche appetizer. The one at El Timón packs an explosive, citrusy punch of flavor.

50. Devour an authentic seafood Paella at Jugoso. This casual Spanish restaurant is worth hunting out. Located in front of its hostel counterpart directly across from the beach. It is not a bad place to watch the sunset either.

57. For a low impact workout change into your swimsuit and join the water aerobics class at Pelican Eyes. It’s a great way to meet other exercise buffs.

51. Eat a pitaya. Because sometimes life just isn’t hot pink enough. Peak pitaya season is from June to November.

58. Buy hard crafted ceramics, masks, hammocks, leather, jewelry, you-name-it at prices you’ll want to write home about. Look for vendors on the beachfront road, along Avenida Central and at the Plaza de Arte directly across from Meson Español.

52. Act out your philosophy of buying local and connect with the expatriate community at the weekly farmers market held at Big Wave Dave’s. 53. Go green by taking a public bus (aka a “chicken bus”) from Granada to San Juan del Sur instead of hiring a taxi or renting a car. You’ll find yourself riding along with the locals in a yellow school bus retired from the United States.

59. Escape to the beach. There are dozens to choose from in the area and you can always find an isolated stretch of sand. What better place to spend an afternoon? 60. Tuck into Doña Angelitas comedor in the municipal market for a typical Nicaraguan breakfast or lunch and taste the authentic flavor of Nicaraguan cuisine. All the

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food is cooked in front of you on a wood burning stove. You won’t find a better meal for the price. Be sure to say “hola” to Juan.

history lesson on Nicaragua’s most desired export. 66. Watch the locals play beach volleyball on the waterfront. The concrete stadium seating alongside the breakfront road just south of the Eskimo ice-cream shop is a great spot to take it all in. The courts are put up daily by the dedicated local players, most of whom play competitively, so don’t bother challenging unless you’ve really got the skills. That being said, if you can really play beach volleyball, the locals are always looking for new competition.

61. Follow a religious parade through the streets of San Juan del Sur and feel cultured and enlightened. 62. Get ready to get dirty! The local experts at Beach Fun Rentals will provide you with all you need to know about exploring the beaches, trails and hills of San Juan del Sur on 4 wheels. 63. Volunteer at the Barrio Planta Project (locally known as BPP). This educational foundation offers daily classes for local children on a range of subjects including English, art, dance, computers and sports. Volunteers are always welcome and donations are always needed.

67. Climb a tree and pick a mango. Or just buy fresh mango from the roadside vendors in town. If you visit in the rainy season when the mangos are ripe, you are likely to see kids climbing trees in search of fresh low hanging fruit. Whether you pick one yourself or buy from a vendor, a visit is not complete without a few fresh mangos.

64. Drive any direction out of town on a Sunday and you should come across a baseball game. The most manicured field in town is in Las Delicias, across from Pulpería Santa Ana.

68. Drink fresh water directly out of a coconut. There are a few businesses in town such as the Barrio Café and Gato Negro that regularly sell fresh coconut water. However we challenge you to find the gentleman who roams town with his mobile cooler filled with ice-cold coconuts. Don’t be alarmed by his machete, he only uses it to cut a hole in the top.

65. Splurge at Mulkul. Technically Mukul is not located in San Juan del Sur, but it’s a doable day trip at only an hour’s drive north. It’s worth the journey and the price if you really want to get pampered in a world-class spa - and the country’s finest. Perched above the sandy white beach of Guacalito, you can now purchase day passes to enjoy the spa, restaurant, pool facilities and 18-hole ocean front golf course. Be sure to check out the Flor de Caña tasting room for a SAN JUAN LIVE

69. Do the Harlem Shake in San Juan del Sur and post your video to youtube.com. Make sure you send us the link too!

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70. Share stories and play guitar around a bonfire on the beach. Bonfires on beaches in San Juan del Sur are permitted.

whale. (You may also see dolphins and turtles). 77. Practice the Nicaraguan “lip point.” Say you’re at a fruit stand, instead of pointing a finger at a pitaya, purse your lips and point with them: “Is that a (lip point) pitaya?” Or if you’re at the bar: “That guy (lip point) sure can dance.” Get it right and no one will think you just got here.

71. Grab a copy of Del Sur News, San Juan del Sur’s community newsletter, and complete the puzzle page. You should see copies all around town, or download the latest edition from the website. 72. Traveling with Fido? Since sandy paws equal happy dogs, why not take your furry friend for a run on the beach….any beach? They’re all dog friendly - dogs can roam off leash at any time of the day.

78. Shop for fish caught by local fishermen at the Fish Market. Look on the chalkboard for the catch of the day. 79. Join in with the frenzied festivities on the beach in San Juan del Sur during Semana Santa. (Semana Santa is always the week before Easter Sunday.) But if crowds, incessant noise and drinking hard liquor in the sun all day aren’t your thing, it’s probably best to steal quietly away for a few days.

73. Amble along the malecón in the late afternoon and people-watch as locals roll past on bicycles or rock hypnotically in wooden rocking chairs. This last activity is so popular there’s even a word for it: porteando; to be in one’s doorway. 74. Locate a constellation you’ve never seen before. The stars twinkle brightly in San Juan del Sur on clear nights. (Tip: Download the Google Sky Map application on your smart phone or mobile device to help you identify the constellations).

80. Get completely stuck in a cattle drive. Drivers in Nicaragua share the road with horses, ox drawn carts, chicken, pigs and herds of cattle. There’s no point hurrying them along. Just sit and watch them amble by. 81. Strap on your protective gear and head into the jungle. You’ve never experienced a paintball course so intense. It’s survival of the fittest in this adult playground at Surf Ranch.

75. Spot Nicaragua’s colorful national bird – the “Guardabarranco” or “Turquoisebrowed Motmot.” As it likes open habitats, you might see it at the forest edge, in some scrubland or perched on a fence.

82. Choose a school from a list provided by Fundación A. Jean Brugger, collect supplies, join the team on a visit to the school to

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deliver them and help improve local education.

Connect. SpanishYa also offers lodging. There’s no quicker way to learn Spanish and make friends then living with the locals.

83. Stock up on local Flor de Caña rum, high altitude coffee (we like beans sourced from Matagalpa) and local cheese (queso quesillo is good for melting over a tortilla, queso seco is great fried and queso de crema is delicious on toast).

90. Want to get close to the ocean but prefer to stay above the water? Rent a stand up paddle-board (SUP) from San Juan Surf and become familiar with the bay. 91. Enjoy an ice cold Toña on the upper balcony of the Iguana Bar. It’s the perfect way to soak up the atmosphere and pass a lazy hour or two. Can you legally marry a bottle of beer?

84. Have an invigorating session of boogie boarding. It’s easier than surfing, but catch a good wave and you’ll be shrieking with delight. 85. Buy a machete from a ferretería and use it like the locals. In San Juan del Sur machetes are used for everything from cutting the grass to opening a beer bottle.

92. Drop into one of San Juan del Sur’s skateboard parks. 93. Take a property tour. If you are considering relocation to San Juan del Sur or just think it would make a great spot for your family vacation home, then we suggest taking a property tour of homes and condos for sale in the area. There are many knowledgeable English speaking realtors in town who can help you navigate the local real estate market.

86. Visit the cemetery. In Nicaragua the caskets are above ground and the headstones are brightly colored. If you can time your visit around November 1st, you will see the cemetery covered in flowers in celebration of the Dia de Los Muertos. 87. Ride in the back of a pick-up truck. Yes it is completely legal to do so in San Juan del Sur. It may end up being the highlight of your trip. Be sure to take a road soda to fully enjoy the experience. 88. Take a picture of an iguana in the wild. They are difficult to find but absolutely beautiful. Be sure to send us your photo.

94. See San Juan del Sur’s history told though photos hanging on the walls of La Posada Azul, Estrella and the Estación hotels. The collection tells a 400 year story from the town’s establishment as a port, the years it served as the Pacific transit point during the California gold rush through to the present day.

89. Support sustainable tourism by spending a week living with a local family. Home-stays can be arranged through Communidad

95. Get kitted out with the latest surf gear from one of San Juan del Sur’s many surf shops. According to the legends Arenas Caliente

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was the first surf shop in town. It originally opened in 1999.

in Spanish.) The Foundation hosts occasional luncheons to feed and entertain local elders in the community. Donations are always needed to continue the program.

96. Play frisbee golf at the Marsella Valley Nature center. Yes, San Juan del Sur has a frisbee golf course. We recommend bringing a cold cooler filled with waters.

100. Make a donation to a local non-profit. If you can afford a plane ticket to vacation in San Juan del Sur then you can afford to make a donation to the local programs in need of funding. There are several wonderful non-profits actively supporting education, health and environmental initiatives in San Juan del Sur. We strongly encourage you to make a donation to the one that most tugs at your heart.

97. Get up to speed on Nicaragua’s political history by reading Blood of Brothers: Life and War in Nicaragua. Written by a New York Times journalist it’s a highly readable account of the Sandinista revolution and Contra war that took place during the 80s. 98. Play “fútbol” in the harbor of San Juan with the locals. (And we don’t mean American football.) Everyday during the low tide soccer games take place around sunset.

101. Surrender to the experience of Nicaragua’s one and only annual Pitaya Fest. Come for great music, eclectic craft stalls, local art, tasty food, friendly vibes and to support the Casa Llanta Fund. Playa Hermosa provides a beautiful backdrop to all the festival fun. 


99. Attend an “Ancianos Luncheon” with the Fundación A. Jean Brugger (Ancianos means elders

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DIRECTORY

CELL PHONE SERVICES AND COMMUNICATIONS

ATTORNEYS AND NOTARIES

Claro (Downtown) Head to the Claro Office in Palacio de Communicaciones building next to Hotel Victoriano for chips, telephones and re-charge.

E. Castillo Advisors (Downtown) San Juan del Sur office of E. Castillo Advisors, a legal firm offering a full range of services. The office is located across from Josseline’s Restaurant a few meters south of Hotel Estrella on the beachfront road. Website: ecastilloadvisors.com Tel: 2568 2244, 2279 0095, 8723 6300 Email: scorrales@ecadvice.com

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Movistar (Downtown) The Movistar office is on Avenida Gaspar Garcia Laviana diagonally across from LAFISE Bancentro bank.

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Tel Cell (Downtown) Both Movistar and Claro chips and refills are available at Tel Cell which is located on the main road into town a few meters west of Pan de Vida.

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Garcia & Bodan (Downtown) Full range of legal services from Garcia & Bodan, one of the largest law firms in Central America. Next to Chica Brava on the beachfront road. Website: garciabodan.com Email: eduardo.cabrales@garciabodan.com Tel: 2568 2134, 2568 2132

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Llamadas Heladas (Downtown) An air-conditioned Internet café and phone center on Avenida Vanderbilt a few meters north of AURIC.

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Post Office (Correos de Nicaragua) (Downtown) The post office is located next to BanPro on the main beach road. Open Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 4:30pm, Saturday from 8:00am to 11:30am and closed on Sunday.

BANKS AND ATMS BAC (Downtown) BAC has two branches, one of which has an ATM, and two additional ATMs. One branch office is located a few meters west of Big Wave Dave’s. The other is inside the Palí supermarket just outside town (this branch does not have an ATM). There are two additional ATMs. One is located within Casa Blanca Hotel. The other on the main road into town a few meters west of Big Wave Dave’s

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GYM AND YOGA Gimnasio San Juan del Sur (Downtown) Located on the second floor of a breezy warehouse, 1.5 blocks east of the Central Market, Gimnasio San Juan del Sur has a good range of machines, free weights and good workout surfaces. Open Monday to Friday from 6.00am to 8.00pm. Website: gymsanjuandelsur.com Hours: Monday – Saturday 6am to 12 (noon) & closed on Sundays Tel: 8589 7379

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Banco Pro Credit (Downtown) The branch office and ATM is on Avenida Vanderbilt 10mts south of Barrio Café.

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Banpro (Downtown) You’ll find the Banpro ATM in the Palacio de Comunicaciones building next to Hotel Victoriano and in El Timón.

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Gymnasio (Downtown) The cheapest gym in town open Monday to Friday 6am - 11am and 2.30pm to 9pm. Saturday from 7am - 11am and 2:30pm to 7pm. You’ll find it a few meters north of the car wash on Avenida Gaspar Garcia Laviana

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BDF Bank (Downtown) BDF Bank branch and ATM is located in a large building on the corner of Avenida Real and the beachfront road.

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Zen Yoga (Downtown) Yoga studio in San Juan del Sur has a variety of levels, consistent instructors and regular class schedules. They also offer retreats and various teacher trainings throughout the year. The studio is located across from San Juan Pizzeria. Enter

LAFISE Bancentro (Downtown) The Bancentro branch and ATM is on Avenida Gaspar Garcia Laviana, across from the Movistar office. There is a separate ATM on the corner opposite Iskra on the main road leading into town.

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sign on the right. 
 Tel: 2568 2320

through the bamboo gates of the vivero (plant nursery) Website: zenyoganicaragua.com
 Tel: 8465 1846

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Elixir Center Holistic Health – Chiropractic del Sur (Downtown) Located in Barrio Planta House, next to sports park on the beachfront road, Elixir offers chiropractic, massage, acupuncture and natural nutrition services from an American trained chiropractor. Call for appointments. Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8am to 6pm. Website: nicachiropractic.com Tel: 8971 9393

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HAIR SALONS AND BEAUTY SPAS Azul Beauty Spa (Downtown) A professional full service spa. The location, ½ a block to the south of Gato Negro, also houses the Playa Hermosa and Da Flying Frog Canopy Tour offices. Open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 7pm. Email: azulbeautyandspa@gmail.com Tel: 2568 2062

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Hospital Metropolitan Vivian Pellas (Managua) For serious medical issues, the best hospital in the country is the Vivian Pellas located in Managua. Km. 9¾ Carretera a Masaya, 250 mts to the West, ManaguaWebsite: metropolitano.com.ni Tel: 2255 6900

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Brush Your Hair (Downtown) Run by an award winning Australian hair stylist this ladies and gents hair salon offers cutting, coloring, styling as well as their own line of organic, raw and natural hair products. Website: facebook.com/brush.sanjuandelsur Email: brush_sanjuandelsur@hotmail.com Tel: 7823 8268

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Sun Care Dental Clinic (Downtown) A good option for dental care in San Juan. The dentist is Dr. Jorge Eduardo Cerna Cirujano. On the main road into town, a block west of the Uno Gas Station. Website: elmercadooriental.com/dentista.html Tel: 8465 3574, 8733 9466

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Calova Hair Salon (Downtown) Colova can be found a few meters south of Hotel Victoriano. Tel: 2568 2003, 882 90902

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Dunia’s Massage (Maderas) Look for the sign and a small house as you start up the hill towards Maderas Village, Buena Vista Surf Club and Hostel Clandestino. You may need to book. By all accounts not only can Dunia massage well, she’s also a great surfer.

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Alcazar Hotel (Downtown) If you prefer the comforts of luxury, combined with the closeness of town and the sound of nearby breaking waves, then you will love the Alcazar Hotel. This might be the most contemporary hotel in San Juan. All rooms include hot water, air conditioning, cable TV, free wifi, and a safety box for securing valuables and exquisite woodwork throughout. It also has a swimming pool in the courtyard just steps from the beach. Alcazar is a few meters south of Chica Brava on the beachfront road. Website: hotelalcazarnicaragua.com Email: reservations@hotelalcazarnicaragua.com Tel: 2568 2075, 8992 5715

Spa Sol y Luna (Downtown) Offering hair cuts, color and style, pedicures, manicures, facials, waxing and massage. Open from 9am - 7pm every day apart from Sunday. From Gato Negro head 70mts to the South. Email: solylunaspa@ymail.com Tel: 2568 2012, 8381 3084

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HEALTH AND MEDICAL Centro de Salud / Health Center (Downtown) A public health center open Monday to Friday 8am to 12 am and from 1pm to 4pm. The center also has a 24 hour service for emergencies as well as an ambulance, again, only for emergencies. The center is located up a hill on the corner of Calle el Calvano and the main road coming into town. As you approach from the South on Calle el Calvano look for the red cross

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Bahia del Sol (La Talanguera) The spacious 3 bedroom, two story villas of Bahia del Sol terrace up the hillside overlooking La Talanguera. Each comes with a well-equipped kitchen, dinning area and two ocean view terrace.

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Guests can enjoy the community pool area (with shallow kids pool). Access is via La Chocolata road. Website: bahiadelsolnica.com Email: reservations@bahiadelsolnica.com Tel: 2568 2828, 8909 9300

air conditioners and fans and free wifi. Parking, beach shuttles and room service available. Website: orquideadelsur.com Email: info@orquideadelsur.com Tel: 8984 2150

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Pelican Eyes Resort & Spa (Downtown) If you’re looking for comfort and centrality, Pelican Eyes comes out on top. It is San Juan del Sur’s premier resort experience. A magical combination of full bay views and close proximity to downtown while still managing to feel a million miles away from it all. Offering 2 restaurants, 3 pools and a complete spa onsite spa facility, in addition to a selection of elegant rooms, studios and houses with multiple bedrooms and full kitchen services. It is also one of San Juan del Sur’s most romantic and popular honeymoon and destination locations. De la Parroquia, 1½ blocks to the East, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Directions: www.pelicaneyesresort.com Email: reservations@pelicaneyesresort.com Tel US: 310 776 9364 Tel: 2563 7000

Finca Las Nubes (La Cuesta) Located high on a plateau behind San Juan del Sur Finca Las Nubes has views of both the Pacific to the west and Lake Nicaragua to the east. Family style homes, sleeping between 8 and 10 people, each with an infinity pool, are available for rent on a weekly basis. They're set within an organic farm and showcase all aspects of a self sufficient and sustainable lifestyle. Website: fincalasnubes.com

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La Posada Azul (Downtown) After a tasteful renovation in 2007, La Posada Azul went from historic family house built in 1910 to perhaps the most delightful boutique inn in San Juan del Sur. While the historic sensibility of the home has been retained, you’ll find all the modern conveniences needed for a comfortable stay. Each of the 7 rooms is uniquely decorated with wicker furniture and regional art to take advantage of the high ceilings and wooden floors. The breakfast is exquisite, complete with fresh fruit and natural juices. La Pozada Azul is on Avenida Real, ½ a block east of the BDF Bank. Website: laposadaazul.com Email: info@laposadaazul.com Tel: 2568 2524, 2568 2698

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Victoriano Hotel (Downtown) Once Somoza’s beachfront escape and now a beautifully restored colonial hotel literally just steps away from San Juan’s beach front. Located on the quiet, south end of the beach, the Victoriano Hotel has a pool with an ocean view, a complete bar and restaurant on site, wifi throughout and it is walking distance to everything in town. Includes: air conditioning, hot water, mini bar, laundry service, in-room safe TV and DVD player. You’ll find the hotel on the beachfront road, 200m north of the port. Website: hotelvictoriano.com Email: info@hotelvictoriano.com Tel: 256 82005, 256 82091 & 256 82006

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Morgan’s Rock (Maderas North) A beautiful resort and eco-sanctuary in the jungle overlooking Playa Ocotal, 8km north of San Juan del Sur. Guests stay in ocean view bungalows with thatched roof, wood finishes, stone tiles and exposed brass plumbing. Not only do you get a king size bed, sofa and desk but also an outdoor swaying bed. The menu at the restaurant draws from the resort’s own gardens and changes with the seasons. Website: morgansrock.com Email: info@morgansrock.com Tel: 2563 9005, 8670 7676

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Villas de Palermo Hotel & Resort (Palermo) Luxury villas with panoramic views of the Pacific ocean and surround canopy. Located 5 minutes out of town, the resort has a gorgeous freeform pool with a large clubhouse. The on site restaurant, Terraza de Palermo, offers local and continental dishes. All villas include 24 hour security, room service, A/C, hot water and free wifi. The turnoff to the hotel is just under 2kms east of the Uno Gas station on the main road into town. After the turnoff, the road curves for 500m before you reach the entrance gates to the hotel. Wheelchair accessible. Website: villasdepalermo.com Email: info@villasdepalermo.com US Tel: (800) 734 3402 Tel: 8672 0859

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Orquidea del Sur (Escamequita) Escape to an elegant boutique retreat and watch the breaking waves below at Playa Yankee. The hotel consists of 5 luxury suites to ensure privacy and personal service. Amenities include a 3,000 square foot yoga deck, a 50-foot infinity pool and a separate Jacuzzi pool connected by a waterfall. Suites each have kitchenette, hot running water,

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Casa Maderas Eco Lodge (Maderas) Consists of 16 cabins (24 rooms), a full service restaurant, free wifi and a community swimming pool. The lodge does not offer ocean views but daily shuttles to the town and nearby beaches are available. Website: casamaderas.com Tel: 8786 4897

Mid-Range Buena Vista Surf Club (Maderas) A completely off-grid and self-sustaining surf lodge built in harmony with the surrounding environment. A beautiful yoga platform provides a perfect view of the famous break at Maderas. Breakfast and dinners are included in the daily rate and the bar is always stocked with cold beer and national rum. There is a minimum 2 night stay. Website: buenavistasurfclub.com Email: info@buenavistasurfclub.com Tel: 8863 4180, 8863 3312

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El Pacifico Hotel (La Talanguera) Located in a quiet spot in La Talanguera neighborhood, El Pacifico offers comfortable rooms, a pool and restaurant offering simple home cooking. Access into town by foot is via the pedestrian bridge. Email: pacifico@ibw.com.ni Tel: 2568 2557

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Casa Bahia Hotel & Restaurant (Marsella) Located on a hill overlooking Playa Marsella from the north, Casa Bahia has eight rooms and a small private 3 bed cabana. As you approach the beach, you’ll see the sign on the right, around 150m from the beach. Head up the hill to the reception area. Casa Bahia was formerly Pacific Bay Hotel. Website: casabahiahotel.com Email: info@casabahiahotel.com Tel: 8888 5289, 8863 6986

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El Camino del Sol (La Cuesta) A residential resort and yoga community just outside San Juan del Sur with custom homes available for rent. Amenities include a large lap pool, restaurant, yoga terrace, bar and shaded relaxation areas. The rental program is run by Nica Yoga. Website: elcaminodelsol.com and nicayoga.com Email: stay@nicayoga.com

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Casa Blanca Hotel (Downtown) For a hotel directly across from El Timón on the beachfront road, you simply cannot beat this price. The rooms are clean but small and include hot water, A/C, free wifi and daily breakfast. The hotel staff is very welcoming and there is a small pool in the courtyard. Wheelchair accessible. Website: elcasablanca.com Email: casablanca@ibw.com.ni Tel: 2568 2135

El Jardin Hotel and Restaurant (Nacascolo) An 11 roomed boutique hotel famous for its stunning views of Playa Nacascolo and fine restaurant. The large swimming pool is surrounded by sprawling terraces. Most of the rooms have private terraces. To get here take La Chocolata road heading north from San Juan del Sur for 3.4 km and turn right at the “El Jardin” sign post, just after the entrance to Los Miradores. The road climbs for 500m, ending at the hotel. Website: www.eljardinhotel.com/ Email: info@eljardinhotel.com Tel: 8659 1795, 8880 2604

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Casa de Olas (Palermo) A “Perfect blend of hotel and hostel” according to one trip advisor review. The 9 rooms (4 dorms and 5 private rooms with en-suites) can accommodate up to 40 people. Set on a hill behind town in the Palermo neighborhood the bar, restaurant and infinity pool all have great views of the ocean. Website: casa-de-olas.com Tel: 8326 7818

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Hotel Anamar (Downtown) A sport fishing themed common area with simple rooms, free wifi and breakfast. Rooms are basic and offer a variety of sleeping options for large families or groups wanting to share a room. The antique cannon positioned by the pool is rumored to be brought from Boston by William Walker himself. If you’re interested in visiting for the pool only, you can purchase a day pass. Anamar is located few mts south of the pedestrian bridge. Website: hotelanamar.com Email: hotelanamar.shds@gmail.com Tel: 8198 2785, 8958 0083

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Casa Del Soul (Nacascolo) A three-floor oceanside retreat on Nacascolo Bay, Casa Del Sol has three guest rooms with private balcony overlooking the swimming pool and ocean. Website: casadelsoul.info Email: information@casadelsoul.info Tel: 8632 9646

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Hotel Colonial (Downtown) Located a few blocks from the beach and walking

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distance to everything in town. The rooms are simple and small but clean and comfortable. The wall mural inside the hotel is a caricature of San Juan del Sur painted by the well-known Cuban humorist Alfredo Martirena. All rooms include free wifi and breakfast. There is secure parking on site. The Hotel is on Avenida Vanderbilt a few meters north of Casa Oro Hostel. Website: hotel-nicaragua.com Email: hotel.colonial@ibw.com.ni Tel: 256 82539

Hotel La Dolce Vita (Downtown) An artfully decorated hotel with brightly colors walls and a charming courtyard. The rooms are spacious and include free wifi, breakfast, A/C and hot water. Located on the main road entering town, 1 block west of the Uno gas station and walking distance to the beach. Email: ladolcevitahotel.sjs@gmail.com Tel: 2568 2649

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Hotel Maracuya (Downtown) A comfortable 6 room bed & breakfast with affordable prices. All private rooms with TV, fan, free wifi and A/C if you’re willing to pay a little more. The hotel has 24 hr security and parking available. Walking distance to everything in town and located a few blocks from the beach. Terrace with nice views of town and bay & garden with hammocks. From Gato Negro, 1 block north, 1 block east, on the hill. Website: hotelmaracuya.com Email: info@hotelmaracuya.com Tel: 2568 2002

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Hotel Encanto del Sur (Downtown) Located only 75 meters from Central Park. Offers 10% discounts on stays over 3 days and free inroom free drinks. Rooms have flat screen TV’s and wifi in the common area. Rooms are simple but clean. Two-story hotel with restaurant on site. Website: hotelencantodelsur.com/ Email: reservations@hotelencantodelsur Tel: 2568 2222, 8999 2495

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Hotel Gran Oceano (Downtown) Offers all room types for singles, doubles and families. Located less than 1 block from the beach front next to Posada Azul. Large swimming pool and outdoor communal dining area with secure parking lot. Breakfast and free wifi is included with all room reservations. Website: hotelgranoceano.com.ni Tel: 2568 2219, 2568 2428 Email: hgoceano@ibw.com.ni

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Hotel Royal Chateau (Downtown) Comfortable mid-range hotel with views of town and secure parking. 20 rooms which include A/C, cable TV, free wifi, private bathrooms with hot water, full size beds and continental breakfasts. The hotel is one block east of the market. Wheelchair accessible. Website: hotelroyalchateau.com Email: info@hotelroyalchateau.com US Tel: (321) 507 1075 Tel: 2568 2551, 8867 5307

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Hotel HC Liri (La Talanguera) Located in La Talangera, 150m northwest of the suspension Bridge Hotel HC Liri has 9 bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms. Guests can enjoy the large swimming pool and ocean view terrace – a great place to catch the sunset. They also have a new downtown location across from Josseline’s restaurant. Website: hclirihotel.com Email: info@hclirihotel.com Tel: 2568 2274

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La Veranera (Playa El Coco) A boutique guest house located on the sands of Playa El Coco, between Parque Maritímo el Coco and Restaurante Puesta del Sol. It’s designed like a Nicaraguan ranch house with guest rooms leading off a wide veranda, guest only bar and pool area. Website: laveranera.net Email: info@laveranera.net Tel: 8328 6260

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Hotel La Estación (Downtown) Named after the original train station that preexisted, the newly refurbished hotel has photographic evidence in the lobby to prove its historic past life. Located on the beachfront road, across from Hotel Estrella, it’s ideally situated in the middle of town. The hotel has 20 rooms and a bar & lounge (El Tren). All rooms include breakfast, private bathrooms, cable TV, free wifi, hot water and A/C. Website: laestacion.com.ni Email: info@laestacion.com.ni Tel: 2568 2304

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Mango Rosa (Marsella / Maderas) Choose from one bedroom bungalows, two bedroom ranchers and a three bedroom house set within lush tropical gardens around a freeform swimming pool. The Grand Rancho Bar and Restaurant offers fine cuisine, cocktails and a 40” flat screen for sporting events and movies. It’s located on the road to Playa Marsella and Maderas, a little before the fork that takes you left to Marsella and right to Maderas. Website: mangorosanicaragua.com

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Email: lapangarosa@gmail.com Tel: 8477 3692

Playa Hermosa Beach Hotel (Escamequita) If you want great surf, uninterrupted nature and local culture combined with wifi, security and delicious meals all directly on the sand, it does not get any better than the Playa Hermosa Beach Hotel. The owners have developed this beachfront hotel, bar and grill with a conscience for the environment and the surrounding community. The hotel is solar powered and offers free wifi and fans but not hot water or A/C. Website: playahermosabeachhotel.com Email: info@playahermosabeachhotel.com Tel: 8671 3327

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Marsella Beachfront Hotel (Marsella) Located right on the beach on the south end of Playa Marsella, the hotel offers villas, pool-side suites and private ocean view rooms. The hotel also has an on-site restaurant called El Secreto. Website: marsellabeachfronthotel.com Email: marsellabeachfront@gmail.com Tel: 8194 4666 


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Nicovale (Barrio La Planta) The resort consists of bungalows, apartments and houses for up to 10 people. Most have views of the pacific ocean through the trees and the entire resort is a short walk from town. Long-term rental rates are also available. Website: nicovale.com/resort.php Email: robi@nicovale.com Tel: 8845 8690

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Rancho Chilamate Horseback Adventures & Eco Guest Ranch (Escamequita) The Eco Guest Ranch at Rancho Chilamate was built by local hands using regional resources. The masterfully designed guest ranch consists of four rentable rooms, a casita and the owners barracks complete with pool, horse stables, wifi, cowboy showers and a “boot room” for horseback riders to gear up for the trail. The entire ranch is solar powered. A percentage of every ride gets donated back a local community development fund. Rancho Chilamate is located 10km south of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Check the website for the weekly riding scheduled based around the ocean tide.
 Website: ranchochilamate.com Email: blue@ranchochilamate.com Tel: 8849 3470, 8995 7025 (only works when owners are in town)

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Park Avenue Villas Hotel (Downtown) This beautiful boutique hotel is located few blocks off the beach on a hill overlooking the bay. The shared balcony has an uninterrupted view of the bay which is a fantastic location to watch the sunset. There is wifi throughout the hotel. A few of the suites include kitchens making it an ideal location for longer stays for which they offer attractive rates. The ex-pat resident owners are very knowledgeable and hospitable. From Chica Brava, two blocks east, on the left behind the park. Website: parkavenuevillas.com Email: info@parkavenuevillas.com Tel: 8837 0582

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Sunset Hotel (Downtown) Located directly across the beach on the southern end of San Juan's Bay, 60 meters south of Banpro. There are currently 7 rooms with A/C, free wifi and shared outdoor terrace as well as a bar and restaurant in the lobby. Future plans to build up to 18 rooms and a pool. Email: inversionesdiversas@issdhu.gob.ni Tel: 2568 2745, 8992 2011

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Parque Marítimo El Coco (Playa El Coco) An established vacation spot and tourist center on the north end of Playa El Coco with vacation homes and cabanas (each accommodating between 2 to 10 people) tucked away among the trees. The beachfront restaurant Puesta del Sol is part of the centre. Parque Marítimo El Coco places emphasis on preserving the natural environment and allowing guest to immerse themselves deeply within it. Head to the reception area to learn about activities including boat trips to nearby island for bird watching and wildlife viewing, bike rentals, excursions to La Flor to see turtles nesting and hatching as well as hiking and horse riding. A small grocery store, El Guanacaste, is located at the entrance to the center. Website: playaelcoco.com.ni Email: reservaciones@playaelcoco.com.ni
 Tel: 8999 8069

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Surf Eat Sleep Retreat (Maderas) The retreat offers beachfront accommodations in 4 homes steps away from Playa Maderas. There are all-inclusive packages available designed to allow for maximum surf time. Website: surfeatsleepretreat.com Email: info@surfeatsleepretreat.com Tel: 8387 3932

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Villa Isabella (Downtown) One of the longstanding hotels in town, Villa Isabella offers 9 simple but comfortable bedrooms and four 1-2 bedroom condominium apartments,

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Tel: 8568 9714

with daily breakfast included and free wifi. Amenities include a swimming pool, A/C, hot water, secure garage parking and handicapped access. You’ll find it on Avenida Real on the corner behind the church square, 3 blocks from the beach. Website: villaisabellasjds.com Tel: 2568 2568 US Tel: (970) 744 2082

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Casa de Mar Hostel (Downtown) A simple hostel with wifi, bar and cheap rooms located behind the Plaza de Arte on the beachfront road. Tel: 8441 3184

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Casa el Jicaro (Ostional) An assuming house located on the church square about 600m from the beach with four rooms available for rent. There’s a small pulpería tucked behind the house. Tel: 8909 5620

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Villa Mar Hotel and Restaurant (Marsella) Small 8 room hotel and restaurant close to Marsella Beach. Villa Mar is a little elevated giving you great views of the river, beach and sunset. Follow the road to the beach and just before you reach it you’ll see Villa Mar on your right. Email: hotel.villamar@hotmail.com Tel: 8663 0666, 8292 1225

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Casa Maderas Ecolodge (Maderas) Located inland from Playa Maderas (the beach is 8 minutes away on foot), the accommodations range from dorms to suites. There’s a large swimming pool, yoga rancho and restaurant (Sabores Restaurant). Take a right at the Yjunction after Mango Rosa and you’ll see Casa Maderas on your right. Website: casamaderas.com Tel: 8786 4897

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Budget Brisas y Olas Hostal (Downtown) Simple hostel on Avenida Real with basic rooms and private bathrooms. Located on Avendia Real one block from the beachfront. Tel: 8830 7288, 8836 2001

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Casa Oro (Downtown) A popular, well located and well organized hostel with dorms and rooms, starting at $9 a night. Free breakfast, wifi, kitchen and regular shuttles to the beaches. Casa Oro is in a prominent corner building on Avenida Central one block east of the beachfront road. Website: casaeloro.com

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Buena Onda Backpackers (Downtown) A small guesthouse a few minutes from the center of town with a top floor social area offering nice views. Buena Onda has 4 private bedrooms, each with a private bathroom. To get here start on the east side of the church, head two blocks south, one east and one south. Website: sanjuandelsurbackpackers.com Email: buena.onda.backpackers@gmail.com Tel: 8743 2769

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Casa Pelon (Marsella) Located a stones throw from the beach, Casa Pelon is a laid back beach hostel and bed and breakfast. Double bedrooms with private and shared bathroom available. Follow the road to the beach and you’ll see Casa Pelon on your right just as you approach the sand. Website: casapelon.com Tel: 8387 1241

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Casa Airiki (Downtown) Artfully decorated, relaxed vibe and a safe environment at an affordable rate. Casa Ariki has 4 rooms and sleeps up to 15 people. Private or shared rooms are available for short or long term stays. They also offer free wifi and coffee. Rooms come with option of A/C or ceiling fan. Resident owners, Sarah and Baldo, are extremely knowledgeable and helpful. You’ll find Casa Aikiri 2.5 blocks south of the Municipal Market. Website: casaariki.com Email: info@casaariki.com Tel: 2568 2620, 8460 8882, 8887 6255

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Coco Azul (Downtown) Owned and operated by Posada Azul, Coco Azul offers lower priced boarding options, less than one block from the beachfront. You’ll find it next to Posada Azul on Avenida Real Website: elcocoazul.com Email: info@elcocoazul.com Tel: 2568 2697

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Casa Amarilla Hostel Nice friendly place to stay. The hostel has 3 private rooms with shared bathroom, a small dorm room and kitchen. The second floor has a balcony with rocking chars and hammocks.

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Estrella Hotel (Downtown) Open since 1929 this is the oldest hotel in San Juan del Sur. It’s 10 rooms are available at $15 dollars a room which includes breakfast, fan and

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south of Gato Negro.

wifi. Hotel Estrella is on the beachfront road across from Hotel Estación Tel: 8966 6690

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Hostal Elizabeth (Downtown) A popular, family run hostel located 75m east of the market offering private rooms and brightly painted apartments at good rates. The rocking chairs on the patio are a good spot to go over the day’s adventures.
 Tel: 2568 2067

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Guest House Nina (Downtown) Both a hostel and a local’s family home, offering simple accommodations. Nina is centrally located, a few meters east of the market. Tel: 2568 2302

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Hostel Clandestino (Maderas) At Hostel Clandestino you’re tucked away in a jungle cabin in the trees behind Playa Maderas. It takes around 6 minutes to walk to the beach. The hostel has a kitchen, hammock spot, shared bathrooms and a lounge area. The cabins accommodate 1-4 guests. Website: hostel-clandestino.com Email: clandestinomaderas@gmail.com Tel: 8371 3245

Hostel Emilia (Downtown) Emilia has rooms with fans and ac, wifi and cable TV. It’s located next to Irish House Hotel and Bar on Avenida Gaspar Garcia Laviana Tel: 2568 2373

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Hostel Esperanza (Downtown) Located on the beachfront, next to the sports park, Hostel Esperanza offers bedrooms and dorms with private and shared bathrooms. The Spanish restaurant at the hostel - Cafetin Jugoso - has great daily specials and live music on Saturday night. Website: hostelesperanza.com Email: hostelesperanzasjs@gmail.com Tel: 8754 6816, 8471 9568

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Hotel Azul Pitahaya (Downtown) Rooms come furnished with 2 queen size beds, television, air conditioning and hot water. The hotel is located above Barrio Café on Avenida Central. Website: hotelazulsanjuan.com Email: info@hotelazulsanjuan.com Tel: 2568 2294

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Hostel Los Tres Hermanos (Maderas) A hostel with basic rooms and dorms on the beach at Playa Maderas. Often busy with surfers given the surf break a few steps away. This is a party hostel so be prepared for some noisy nights. The hostel only has two bathrooms, so you’ll have to share. Surfboards are available to rent. Email: manuelantoniocascante@hotmail.com Tel: 8460 7464

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Hotel El Puerto (Downtown) El Puerto offers simple, yet clean and safe accommodations. There is free wifi in the hotel lobby and the option of A/C for an extra charge. The owners do not allow guests at the hotel to ensure security. It is located a few blocks from the beach and walking distance to everything in town. On the main entrance road into town, across from Hotel Dolce Vita. Email: hotel-el-puerto@gmx.net Tel: 2568 2661

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Hostel Ola Italiana (Downtown) Nicely maintained hostel offering rooms with queen size beds and bunk rooms. Every room has a bathroom. Full kitchen, wifi and cable TV. Ola Italiana is 100mts south of the Centro de Salud on Calle El Calvano. Tel: 2568 2238 Email: olaitaliana@gmail.com

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Hospedaje La Fogata (Downtown) A good value hostel offering 5 functional rooms with private bathroom and 6 with shared bathroom. Bike rentals available. La Fogata is centrally located, across from the south side of the municipal market. Tel: 2568 2271

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Hostal Suenos del Mar (Downtown) Located next to Villa Isabella Hotel, Suenos del Mar has rooms with both private and shared bathrooms. There’s a kitchen for guests, large lounge and patio. Email: elplacerdelmar@hotmail.com Tel: 2568 2079

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Hospedaje Manta Roja (Ostional) A cute little hostel with rooms, apartments and a restaurant a few steps from Playa Ostional. Kayak rentals also available. Tel: 8353 7091

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La Terraza Guest House (Downtown) The third story of this simple guest house has a roof top balcony. A vacation condo with great views over town, private rooms with balcony and

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Hospedaje Playas del Sur (Downtown) A simple hostel located above Segadas a few mts

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del Sur. The owners have turned a large home with swimming pool into dorm style accommodations for tourists and backpackers looking to meet other people and have fun. Most of the action happens around the ocean view swimming pool and in the outdoor beds and hammocks. There's also a bar and restaurant and free shuttle service into town. Facebook: facebook.com/SanJuanDelSurHostel Tel: 8621 4738

a garden apartment are available. La Terraza is located on the south side of Avenida Real a few meters west of the Church. Website: laterrazasanjuandelsur.com Email: laterrazasanjuandelsur@gmail.com Tel: 8765 6354

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Las Cascadas Retreat (Las Delicias) Las Cascadas offers 2 apartments, 2 suites, 4 rooms and a cute looking tree-house. There’s a small pool, attractive water features and an open BBQ area. Parking is on the other side of the road. Email: wapo49@gmail.com Tel: 7810 6620

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Orlando's House (Downtown) Private bedrooms with bathroom, A/C, cable TV and wifi on Avenida Vanderbilt across from Hotel Colonial. Tel: 2568 2155

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LoboLira Cabanas (Barrio La Planta) Located in Barrio La Planta, the houses, cabins and apartments (8 in total) are set on a 1 acre parcel with a BBQ area, shady terrace and fruit trees. Each has a fully equipped kitchen and can accommodate groups of different sizes for both long and short term stays. Website: lobolira.com Email: info@lobolira.com Tel: 8887 4167

PachaMama (Downtown) A popular party hostel located in downtown San Juan del Sur, one block from the beach and two blocks north of Gato Negro. Dorms and private rooms available, with free breakfast. If you love to meet new people, surf and party PachaMama is for you. There are parties every day of the week. Website: hostelpachamama.com Email: info@hostelpachamama.com Tel: 2568 2043

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Maderas Village (Maderas) Maderas Village is a boutique resort with 20 rooms, ranging from individual beds to spacious cabanas, that can accommodate up to 35 guests. The experience is designed to be conducive to purposeful living, creating and sharing new ideas, and forging new meaningful relationships. 
 Website: maderasvillage.com

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Playa Coco Cabañas (Playa El Coco) Offering 1 and 2 room wooden cabins across the street from Playa El Coco. The cabins have full kitchen and bathroom and are located at the north end of the beach, look to your left after you pass Puesta del Sol restaurant. Website: playacococabanas.com Tel: 2276 5229

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Mama Sara Guest House (Downtown)
 A basic 4 room hostel (3 doubles and 1 dorm) with a lovely homely feel. Guests can use the community kitchen, the bathrooms are clean and there is free wifi. Mama Sara and her family will make you feel right at home. If you’re lucky you’ll be greeted with cold lemonade. Located across from Casa Oro in an unassuming building that is easy to miss.
 Facebook: facebook.com/HostalMamaSaraHouse
 Email: pomares_sara@yahoo.es
 Tel: 8649 9262

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Posada Puesta del Sol (Downtown) Functional single, double and triple rooms are available for rent at this small hostel centrally located on Avenida Real. A laundry also operates here.

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Rancho Cecilia (Maderas) A small off-the-grid eco-ranch and surf lodge surrounded by fruit trees. The restaurant serves typical Nicaraguan dishes. Located inland from Playa Maderas. Website: ranchocecilianicaragua.com Email: info@ranchocecilianicaragua.com Tel: 8639 6496

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Matildas (Maderas North) While best known for its beachside camping, Matilda’s also offers cabanas and casitas that look a little like large dog kennels. Matildas is on the far north of Maderas beach, next to the headland that separates it from Playa Majagual.

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Rebecca’s Inn (Downtown) Rebecca’s Inn offers rooms for rent plus private parking. It’s located on the south side of Avenida Real a few meters west of the Church. Tel: 8675 1048

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Naked Tiger (Palermo) A party hostel located on a hill behind San Juan

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Priced per clothing item. Has dryers and guarantees service in 1 hour. Located 1 block west of central park. Open every day from 7am to 10pm. They also offer Spanish school and rooms for $15 per night if you’re looking to live with a local family. Tel: 2568 2142

Romano House (Downtown) Romano House, located on Avenida Real diagonally across from Hotel Gran Oceano. Locally owned and operated guest house. Comfortable, clean and safe rooms with private bathrooms. Free wifi and use of kitchen. Does not accept reservations. Open 8am to 11pm daily. Website: casaromanosjs.blogspot.com Email: romanosjs@gmail.com, theblueland@gmai l.com Tel: 2568 2200

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MECHANIC, CAR WASH AND GAS STATION

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Autotronica Sanchez (Downtown) Full service mechanic offering brake repairs, suspension repairs, A/C servicing oil changes and general repairs. Open from 7am to 5pm Monday to Saturday. Across from the Alcaldia. Tel: 8489 9618

Rositas Hotel (Joxi) (Downtown) The hotel offers 24 private rooms at competitive prices. It’s location a few meters east of Estrella Hotel is a good spot if you want to be in the heart of all the action. Website: rositashotel.com
 Email: rosita@rositashotel.com Tel: 8326 7733

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Car Wash (Downtown) Offering an efficient interior and exterior car washing service. Located on Avenida Gaspar Garcia Laviana.

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Secret Cove Inn (Downtown) A clean, comfortable and affordable place to stay in San Juan del Sur. Located at "The Secret Cove" Casa de Familial, ½ block west of the church. Email: info@thesecretcovenicaragua.com Tel: 8672 3013 US Tel: (530) 776 5480

Taller Automotriz Carfran (Downtown) Located in an elevated workshop diagonally across from the Uno Gas Station on the main road coming into town. Ask for Carlos. Tel: 8957 8541

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Uno Gas Station (Downtown) San Juan del Sur is serviced by the Uno Gas Station found on the main road into town.

Surf Ranch Action Sports Resort (Las Delicias) San Juan del Sur’s first and only action sports resort complete with climbing wall, skate park, air pad drop, paintball, swim up bar and more. If you want an active vacation blended with a party scene, the surf ranch offers both. After the baseball field in Las Delicias, turn left and follow the signs. Website: surfranchnicaragua.com Email: booking@surfranchnicaragua.com Tel: 8816 8748, 8959 3820

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Vulcanizaction ‘Las Pampas” (Las Delicas) Efficient tire repair service across from the baseball field in Las Delicias. General repairs also offered. Ask for Bernardo Mora. Tel: 8823 6198

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MUNICIPAL SERVICES

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Alcaldia / Mayoral Office (Complejo Centro Civico) Mayoral office and local government administration for the entire San Juan del Sur Region. The office is located in the Complejo Centro Civico, on La Chocolata road a few meters after the turnoff from the main road into town
 Website: alcaldiasjs.gob.ni Tel: 2568 2383

LAUNDRY Gaby's Spa and Massage Studio (Downtown) Priced per kilo, Gaby’s laundry offers a quick, good value service. Find Gaby’s on Avenida Central, half a block east of the municipal market. Tel: 2568 2320 Facebook: facebook.com/gaby.estudiodemasaje

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Bomberos / Fire Station (Complejo Centro Civico) The fire station is located a few meters north of the Alcaldia. You can see the fire truck from La Chocolata road when it’s parked at base. Facebook: facebook.com/bomberos.sanjuan

Laundry Service Camilito (Downtown) Open 8am to 5pm every day. Located a little north of Iskra Travel. Tel: 8851 8224

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Raspados Doña Daisy (Downtown)

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Tel: 8993 4797, 8740 5340, 2568 2529 Police Station (Complejo Centro Civico) Located at the Complejo Centro Civico on La Chocolata road a few meters after the turnoff from the main road into town.
 Email: seguridadpublica@policia.gob.ni Tel: 8999 6906, 2568 2382

Website: comunidadconnect.org E.A.R.T.H Fund (Downtown) The service sector of the developing community of El Encanto in Nacascolo. The E.A.R.T.H. Fund office is located downtown next to Central Park. Website: elencantodelsur.com/the-earth-fund

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Free High School for Adults (Downtown) Providing quality secondary and technical education for adult students in San Juan del Sur. Website: sanjuandelsursistercityproject.wordpress.com/ adult-education

US Embassy (Managua) Non-emergency services for U.S. citizens are available by appointment only Monday to Friday from 1 to 3pm, except on Nicaraguan and US holidays. Visit the embassy website to schedule an appointment online. The embassy is located on Km 5 ½ C. Sur in Managua Website: nicaragua.usembassy.gov Email: ACS.Managua@state.gov Tel: 2252 7104 (Ask for the American Citizens Services Unit during Embassy office hours. If the Embassy is closed, call 2252 7171 or 8768 7171 and ask to speak with the Embassy duty officer.)

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Fundación A. Jean Brugger (Downtown) Serving San Juan del Sur since its inception in 1999, the Fundación A. Jean Brugger has made and delivered over 3,000 school uniforms, provided over 70 scholarships, graduated 25 university students, and provided distance learning and teacher training programs. The foundation is located in the Pelican Eyes Resort. Website: fundacionajbrugger.org

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NON-PROFITS & COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS

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Newton - San Juan del Sur Sister City Project The Newton (MA) - San Juan del Sur Sister City Project has been working in San Juan del Sur for over 25 years in the fields of Health, Education and Green Building. Website: newtonsanjuan.org

Barrio Planta Project (Downtown) A non-profit organization established to provide free access to English education, arts, communication and job-training to residents of San Juan del Sur. Located next to the Sports Park on the beachfront road. Website: barrioplantaproject.org

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PRINTING, PHOTOCOPY AND DESIGN

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Biblioteca Publica (Downtown) The Biblioteca Publica is a lending library which offers free classes to the public and delivers books to schools throughout the region of San Juan. Located next to the Catholic church on the corner of Avenida La Bolsa, on the south side of the square. Website: sjdsbiblioteca.org

Click! Design and Print Shop (Downtown) Click can be found 20 meters to the south of the Uno Gas Station on the other side of the road. Email: clickimpresionydiseno@gmail.com Tel: 8897 5004, 8192 5064

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Emilio Gonzales Photo Copies & Stationary (Downtown) Across from the Church and Central Park on the south side. Tel: 2568 2687, 8745 3594

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Casa Llanta Fund and Pitaya Fest (Escamequita) The Casa Llanta Fund provides English classes for students and university scholarships to young adults in the community of El Carizal. The fund is the non-profit sector of San Juan del Sur’s annual music and sustainability festival called Pitaya Fest held at Playa Hermosa. Foundation Website: casallantafund.com Festival Website: earthshippitayafestival.com

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RENTAL SERVICES BICYCLE Rentals (Downtown) Bike rentals are $7 per day. Drivers License or $100 USD deposit required. Head inside Hospedaje La Fogata on Avenida Central.

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Comunidad Connect (Downtown) The organization strives to protect the environment, educate youth and generate future employment for local people. Comunidad Connect is next to Zen Yoga on Avenida La Bolsa SAN JUAN LIVE

Beach Fun Rentals (Downtown) ATV rentals available at both hourly and full day rates. They are located in front of Hostal Casa 28.

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From Gato Negro, head 20 meters to the south on Avenida Vanderbilt. Website: beachfunrentals.net Email: info@beachfunrentals.net Tel: 86801902

Asados Juanita (Downtown) Authentic Nicaraguan street side BBQ, known by many as the original “chicken lady”. She transforms her living room into a restaurant every night and grills directly on “Avenida Central”. Open every day for dinner only.

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Car Rental Alamo National (Downtown) Alamo is located inside Casa Blanca Hotel, opposite El Timón. Website: alamonicaragua.com Email: alamonicaragua@anccar.com Tel: 2565 0663, 2277 1117

Bad Ass Eats (Downtown) Selling tacos and pizza and gyros, 15 meters south of Barrio Café. Ask for Kenny. If you see Hoku (his dog), he should be close by.

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Bambu Beach (Downtown) Good quality menu with a daily selection of special seafood dishes. Tastefully decorated, Bambu beach offers a stylish eating ambience on two terraces - the lower one surrounding a small dipping pool. Monday night is sushi night. Closed Tuesday. Open from 11am on other days. Bambu beach is on the beachfront road 75 meters south of the pedestrian bridge. Email: paolo@nrcnicaragua.net Tel: 2568 2101

Car Rental Budget (Downtown) The Budget car rental office is located at Hotel Victoriano. Website: budget.com.ni Email: reserve@budget.com.ni Tel: 2255 9000 US Tel: (786) 955 9000

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Car Rental Dollar (Downtown) Located in the parking lot of Pelican Eyes Resort. Website: dollar.com.ni Tel: 2255 7979 US Tel: (800) 462 9912

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Bar Campestre (Las Delicias) An open air rancho with wooden tables a little set back from the road. Look for the sign on the left as you head south before the paved road turns inland at the fork to Remanso. A no-frills spot and a causal atmosphere with limited food options. Open 10am to 12-midnight every day except Sunday.

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Mums and Bums Nicaragua Baby gear rental in San Juan del Sur. Mums and Bums have strollers, car seats, breast pumps, toys, monitors, floats, maps, cribs and more available for rent. Everything you need for your baby.
 Facebook: www.facebook.com/ mumsandbumsnicaragua

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Barrio Café (Downtown) A busy café in the heart of town. Come here for traditional Nicaraguan breakfasts, pancakes, omelets, burgers, pasta and wraps. Barrio Café is on Avenida Central one block west of the municipal market. Website: barriocafesanjuan.com Tel: 2568 2294

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Pepes Motocycle Rentals (Downtown) Pepes is on Avenida Central a few meters east of Sanchez Pulpería #1 Tel: 8261 9799, 8248 1553

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RESTAURANTS AND BARS

Bar Gaby Mar (Ostional) Come here for fresh seafood and very cold beers. It’s a nice breezy spot with views of Playa Ostional and fishing boats at anchor in Playa de Los Botes. Follow the road to Playa Ostional. Bar Gaby Mar is on your right.

Arena Soda Pizza (Downtown) A locally owned and operated pizzeria and Italian food restaurant located a few meters east of Pulpería Sanchez (#1).

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Arribas Bar (Downtown) A beachfront bar, 300 meters north of El Timón, attracting an eclectic mix of tourists, expats, backpackers and locals. Arribas has an imaginative event calendar mixing in guest DJs, special party nights, live benefit concerts and sports screenings. Open Monday to Sunday from 2pm to 2am. Tel: 8254 8797

Big Wave Dave’s (Downtown) Big Wave Dave’s is a popular spot for expats and travelers in search of a hearty meal and a cold draft beer. Open Tuesday to Sunday 8am to 10pm. You’ll find Big Wave Dave’s 25 meters east of El Timón on the main road leading into town. Email: BigWaveDavesSJDS@gmail.com Tel: 2568 2648

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before Callejon del Sindicato, north of the market. Open every day. Facebook: facebook.com/ChaChaChaSJDS Tel: 8128 1218, 8125 6611

Buddha's Garden (Downtown) The first vegan, vegetarian and raw food restaurant in town. Serves organic, raw and vegan meals, juices, smoothies and deserts. Open 9am to 8pm daily. Closed on Mondays. Located on Avenida la Bolsa, next to Zen Yoga across from San Juan Pizzeria. Website: www.buddhasgarden.net Email: buddhasgarden@outlook.com Tel: 8986 6654

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Chilo’s Bar and Restaurant La Umaleya (Marsella) A casual bar and restaurant 100 meters back from the beach. You’ll find a typical Nicaraguan menu of meat, chicken and seafood. Chilo’s is also popular for breakfast. You’ll see Chilo’s on the left before you get to the beach. If you reach Villa Mar on your right, you’ve passed it.

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Black Whale (Downtown) Casual bar with music, food, outside seating and free pool tables. Open Monday to Sunday 12pm to 2am. Located on the beachfront road, across from Eskimo and next to Howler Bar.

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Chiverias (Downtown) Shop and small restaurant for sandwiches, natural juices, smoothies and local dishes. Located on the corner in between Comunidad Connect & Buddas café. Open every day from 7am to 11:30pm. Tel: 8325 5292

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Brisas Marinas Bar and Restaurant (Downtown) Brisas Marinas offers typical Nicaraguan cuisine at good prices with a focus on seafood and beef. The beachfront restaurant has a second floor balcony. Open every day from 8am - 10pm. From Hotel Estrella 40mts to the north on the beach front road. Website: restaurante-brisasmarinas.blogspot.com Email: restaurantebrisasmarinas@gmail.com Tel: 2568 3014, 8453 6044, 8903 9382

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Choco Banana (Downtown) Serving…yes you’ve guessed it… chocolatecoated bananas. From Gato Negro ½ block to the south.

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Comedor La Lancha (Downtown) A simple comedor specializing in seafood and attracting a loyal crowd. Located one block east of the market on Avenida Central.

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Cafe Mediterraneo (Downtown) Cafeteria located across from the market, serving great coffee and Italian food cooked by an Italian chef. Come here for panini, seafoods, salads, smoothies and juices and Italian food. Open from 9.00am to 5.00pm Tuesday to Sunday. Free wifi. Tel: 8279 0012

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Comedor Margarita (Downtown) A typical Nicaraguan food restaurant. Open from 7am to 10pm, located a few meters south of the car wash, across from Arenas Caliente Surf Shop.

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Cafe Revolución (Maderas) Located steps away from Playa Maderas, Cafe Revolución is a great little bar and coffee shop, serving quality expresso coffee. The bar stools offer good views of the beach. They also offer camping spots at Playa Maderas. Facebook: facebook.com/ caferevolucionnicaragua
 Tel: 8569 3274

Cocos Bar (Las Delicias) A simple bar in Las Delicias. Consider stopping here on your way back from surfing. You’ll find it 50 meters past the entrance of Playa Peña Rota when you’re heading south of town. If you reach Escuela Sauda Birkeland, you’ve passed it. They’ve got typical Nicaraguan food options. Their specialty is “Cucaracha”, a ceviche served from conch shells. Open Monday to Thursday 12pm to 2am and Friday to Sunday 10am to 1am. Tel: 8852 0721

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Cafe Ticos (Downtown) Serving coffee from Costa Rica and tasty snacks. You’ll find it 10 meters to the south of Gato Negro across from Choco Banana.

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Crazy Crab Beach Disco (Downtown) Crazy Crab is the latest place open on most nights and serves as the main disco in town. Latin sounds of Salsa and Merenge as well as popular international music. Open Friday to Sunday from 8pm until late, located on the river across from the pedestrian bridge. Website: crazycrabdisco.wordpress.com Email: crazycrab.sjds@gmail.com

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Cha Cha Cha (Downtown) Comfort food with a cozy candlelit vibe. Best known for their fish and chips specials on Fridays. Offers happy hour every day from 12 noon to 6pm. Located on Avenida Gaspar Garcia Laviana

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El Timón (Downtown) Located in a prime beachfront position, shaded by a tall, under a thatch roof. El Timón opened its doors 1979. Come here to watch live performances and sample Nicaraguan cuisine. Happy Hour takes place Monday through Friday from 4pm to 6pm. El Timón is on the beachfront road where the main entrance road reaches the beachfront road. Wheelchair accessible. Website: eltimonsanjuandelsur.com Email: restauranteeltimon@yahoo.com Tel: 2568 2243

Tel: 8711 4794

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Doña Angelitas (Downtown) This great value Nicaraguan comedor has 2 locations, one inside the municipal market and one outside across the street from the market. You have to walk down a little alleyway next to San Juan del Sur Surf and Sport on Avenida Central to get to it, but the causal atmosphere, good prices and open-air setting is worth it.

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El Velero Restaurante (Downtown) Sports bar on the beachfront road. Open every day 10am - midnight. Tel: 8140 0680

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Eskimo Ice Cream (Downtown) Selling ice-cream from two locations in San Juan del Sur. On the beachfront road next to Pescador Rancho La Cubano and on Avenida Venderbilt 10 meters south of Barrio Café. Wheelchair accessible. Website: eskimo.com.ni

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El Bocadito (Downtown) Nice outdoor porch seating overlooking the street, good for people watching. Serving tapas and beer every day apart from Mondays from 12am to 10pm. Located 50 meters north of the market. Tel: 2568 2761

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Gato Negro (Downtown) A popular coffee shop and bookstore attracting a daily crowd of tourists and expats. There’s free wifi for customers so take your time and enjoy the scene. The menu is filled with tasty delights not widely found in San Juan del Sur. Open from 7am to 3pm Monday to Sunday. Located 1½ blocks east of El Timón. Email: elgatonegrosanjuan@yahoo.com Tel: 8819 7093

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El Buen Gusto (Downtown) Famous for its giant Macuás, Nicaragua's national drink, El Buen Gusto offers a full menu of typical Nicaraguan dishes. The restaurant is across from Hotel La Estación on the beachfront road. Open every day from 7:30am - 10.00pm. Email: buengustorest@gmail.com Tel: 2568 2304 


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El Brasero Restaurant and Steak House (Downtown) Italian owned restaurant, across from Barrio Café, serving a range of meat dishes.

Howler Bar and Restaurant (Downtown) A stylish bar and restaurant on the beachfront road next to Black Whale. In the front is a thatchroofed bar with an ocean view. The back courtyard has outdoor couches, a stage for live music and a giant cinema screen. Open Monday to Sunday from 11am to 3am. Facebook: facebook.com/howler.bar.5 Email: howlerbar@gmail.com

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El Globo Bar y Restaurante (Downtown) Good for seafood, beef and chicken dishes. Each is offered with a choice of sauces, served in generous quantities. Open every day from 8am. Located on the beachfront road 75 mts south of Hotel Estrella, next to Josseline’s Restaurant. Email: elglobosjs@yahoo.com Tel: 2568 2478, 8966 7063, 2568 3613

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Iguana Beach Bar & Restaurant (Downtown) A two story beachfront bar & restaurant with 2 giant balconies located next to El Timón, and in the heart of the action. Open every day from 9am to 12:30am it’s a good place for breakfast on the terrace in the mornings and a popular spot for music and dancing at night. Happy hour from 4pm to 6pm from Sunday to Thursday. Ladies drink free from Sunday to Thursday (rum and vodka drinks only). Website: iguanabeachbar.com Email: iguana@iguanabeachbar.com Tel: 2568 2085

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El Pollito (Downtown) Fire roasted chicken, good steaks and good value. You’ll find El Pollito 20 meters north of Casa Oro on Avenida Vanderbilt across from Hotel Colonial. Open at 5pm. Tel: 8975 2043

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El Secreto (Marsella) This well positioned restaurant, part of the Marsella Beachfront Hotel, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinners. Tel: 8194 4666

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Ines (Downtown) A typical Nicaraguan restaurant featuring

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Nicaraguan flavors and seafood specials with a second floor balcony. Open every day from 8am to 10pm. Ines can be found next to Brisas Marinas on the beachfront road. Wheelchair accessible.

La Veccia Signora Pizza (Downtown) An Italian style pizzeria across from Barrio Café.

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Lago Azul Restaurant (Downtown) A typical Nicaraguan restaurant on the beach front. Spanish lessons are also offered here. Open from 6:30am to 10pm. To get here head 1 block south of Estrella Hotel. You’ll see it next to El Globo on the beachfront road. Wheelchair accessible. Tel: 2568 2432, 8854 2230

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Irish House (Downtown) A friendly hotel and bar on Avenida Gaspar Garcia Laviana, across from Hotel Dulce Vita.

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Josseline’s Restaurant (Downtown) Come here for typical Nicaraguan seafood, chicken and beef dishes. Open 8am - 10pm. Josseline’s has a happy hour offering 2 for 1 specials at 4pm to 7pm, Monday to Friday. It’s located on the beachfront road opposite E Castillo Advisors a little south of Estrella Hotel. Email: restaurantejosselines@gmail.com Tel: 2568 2454, 8850 6073, 8380 1660

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Loose Moose Canadian Pub (Downtown) A popular bar decorated with Canadian memorabilia that stays open late. Serving Canadian Poutine and Caesars. Open Monday to Sunday from 10am to 3am. Located 20 meters south of Gato Negro on Avenida Vanderbilt. Website: theloosemoosesjds.com Tel: 8255 6395

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Jugoso (Downtown) A Spanish restaurant with a healthy twist. Great daily specials. Every Saturday night Jugoso offers live music and Pablos’s specialty seafood paella. It’s worth seeking out! Open daily from 7:30am to 10pm except for Mondays. Located in front of Hostel Esperanza next to the Sports Park. Website: hostelesperanza.com/#restaurante Tel: 8754 6816

Los Tres Hermanos, Bar and Restaurant (Maderas) Cold beer, loud music and freshly caught seafood right on the sand at Playa Maderas. Los Tres Hermanos also offers accommodations with shared bathroom.

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Meson Español (Downtown) Spanish restaurant on the beachfront, 50 meters north of Eskimo, serving tapas, paella, meats and seafood. Open every day from 11am, expect Tuesday. Wheelchair accessible. Website: mesonespanolonline.com Email: info@mesonespanolonline.com Tel: 2568 2051

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King Curry (Downtown) The only curry house in town. Head to Avenida Central next to Pulpería Calderon, across from the Municipal Market.

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Sushi (Downtown) The only sushi bar in town. Located a few meters east of Gato Negro on the main road into town. Open every day from 12pm to 10pm. Website: nicaraguachef.com Email: nicaraguachef@gmail.com Tel: 7722 0933

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Municipal Market Comedors (Downtown) San Juan del Sur’s municipal market has several comedors offering a basic Nicaraguan menu at low prices. Wheelchair accessible.

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Munchies Blues Café (Marsella) A popular pizza restaurant located inland from Playa Marsella. The pizzas are Roman-style, cooked in a wood-burning oven. You’ll need to make a reservation. The restaurant started out just serving food on Mondays, but you may now be lucky on other days too. Call first to make a reservation. Approximately 200mts before you get to Playa Marsella, look for the sign on your left. Tel: 8814 8530

La Carreta Restaurant (Downtown) Swinging music, hearty food and German beer. There is no other place in town where you can dine on Jaegerschnitzel or Rouladen. You’ll find La Carreta on the corner across from Iguana Bar.

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La Terraza Restaurant and Pizerria (Downtown) The original San Juan Pizzeria, located near the church square has become so popular that the owner built a second wood-burning oven and opened a new venue on the beachfront. La Terraza is closed on Tuesdays. Other days it’s open from noon to 10pm. Located on the beachfront road a few mts south of El Timón.

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Nacho Libre (Downtown) San Juan’s 1st and only gourmet burger lounge located half a block north of Barrio Café. All burgers are served on Auntie Jalyn's corn island coconut bread freshly baked daily. Nacho Libre is

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Juan. Located on the street directly behind the Victoriano Hotel. Open every day from 10am to 10pm. Tel: 2568 2380

open Monday to Saturday from 12am to midnight. Reservations needed for groups. Website: facebook.com/ NachoLibreBarAndRestaurant Tel: 8884 0112

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Restaurant at Playa Hermosa Beach Hotel (Escamequita) A beautiful spot right on the sand at Playa Hermosa, 10km south of Downtown San Juan del Sur. Simple tasty food with a focus on seafood. Website: playahermosabeachhotel.com Email: info@playahermosabeachhotel.com Tel: 8671 3327

O’Shea’s (Remanso) Irish bar located on an elevated spot on the road to Playa Remanso. Guinness served. The spacious bar, terraces and attractive swimming pools. Open from 12pm to 8pm. Closed on Wednesday. To get here pass through Las Delicias on the road heading to the southern beaches, continuing straight on towards Remanso (Don’t take the left fork to Playa Hermosa). Look for the entrance sign. Website: bluesnicaragua.com Tel: 8109 8927

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Restaurante Puesta del Sol (Playa El Coco) Part of Parque Marítimo El Coco, Puesta del Sol is still the only public restaurant on the beach at Playa El Coco. There’s also a swimming pool, gift shop, table football and a pool table. Open daily from 8am to 8pm. It’s located on the north end of Playa El Coco, just after La Veranera guest house. Website: playaelcoco.com.ni/restaurante Tel: 8999 8069

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Pescador Rancho La Cubana (Downtown) Nice seafood restaurant on the beachfront opposite the Garcia & Bodan law firm. Open 9am to 9pm every day except Tuesday. Happy hour runs from 4pm to 6pm on weekdays.

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Rancho Las Marias Restaurant (Maderas / Marsella) Large plates of tasty Nicaraguan food at this family run restaurant. Rancho Las Marias is a casual, outdoor spot with a local feel. It’s normally quiet except for the occasional weekend party. The restaurant is on the right side of La Chocolata as you head north and before the left hand turn to Playa Marsella and Playa Maderas. Tel: 8949 9333

Restaurante Rancho Marsella (Marsella) Also known as Conchas. Simple spot for food right on the sand at the north end of Playa Marsella at the mouth of the river. Follow the road all the way to the beach and you’ll see the Rancho in front of you.

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Roca Mar Bar and Restaurant (Downtown) Spend $5 at the bar and restaurant at Roca Mar and you can use the swimming pool. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 9pm. Wifi is provided. Roca Mar is on the beachfront road a few mts south of the Pedestrian Bridge. Tel: 2568 2706

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Rancho Terre Restaurant (Escamequita) Serving Nicaraguan food under an open-air Rancho across from the Escamequita Centro de Salud.

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Sabores Restaurant (Maderas) Sabores is part of Casa Maderas Ecolodge but is open to the public. The cuisine is both Nicaraguan and international, with a variety of vegetarian options. Open from 7:30am to 9pm. Located on the road to Playa Maderas at Casa Maderas Ecolodge Tel: 8786 4897

Republika (Downtown) Popular bar attracting an eclectic crowd. Get here early if you want to grab a table. Republika has screenings of all the big games and hosts trivia night each Tuesday, charity poker on Wednesdays and “Name That Tune” on Friday. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their tacos and Belgian waffles are delicious. You’ll find Republika ½ a block east of Barrio Café on Avenida Central. Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Bar-RepublikaNicaragua/628635447193898

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San Juan Pizzeria (Da Maurizio) (Downtown) Serving tasty Italian style pizza. Closed on Thursdays but their sister restaurant, La Terraza Restaurant and Pizzeria, on the beachfront is open. They also deliver. One entrance is across from the church square on Avenida Gaspar Garcia Laviana and the second (the main one with the outside seating) is on Avenida La Bolsa across from Zen Yoga.

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Restaurante Las Lugo (Barrio La Planta) Serving authentic Nicaraguan food for over 40 years. This restaurant specializes in seafood and might be one of the best-kept secrets in San

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Tel for Deliveries: 2568 2295

Taco Stop Food Truck (Downtown) Open at night this food truck is a nice addition to the taco scene in San Juan del Sur. You’ll find it across from Big Wave Dave’s in the Alamo car park. Website: tacostopnicaragua.com

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San Juan Surf Crepes and Coffee (Downtown) Serving gourmet crepes and coffee. Offers to go and delivery services. Closed on Mondays. Open on Tuesdays from 5pm to 10:30pm and Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 10:30pm. Located next to the Taco Stop.

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Terraza de Palermo (Palermo) Located within the Villas de Palermo development Terraza de Palermo is getting a name for serving Nicaraguan dishes and seafood specialties. The restaurant has seating overlooking the swimming pool and ocean. Website: villasdepalermo.com/accomodations/ terraza-de-palermo-restaurant Email: info@villasdepalermo.com Tel: 8476 9111, 8670 7283

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Segadas (Downtown) Serving fruit smoothies and juices 20 mts south of Gato Negro on Avenida Vanderbilt.

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Slaudy Brother’s (Remanso) Serving a variation of typical Nicaraguan dishes with an emphasis on quesadillas. They also sell beer by the liter. Open every day from 8am to 9pm, the bar is located directly on the sand on the south side of the entrance road.

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Wrap n Roll (Downtown) Serving up delicious wraps, noodle bowls and quesadillas. Wrap n Roll is located 15 meters north of Casa Oro. Ask for Kenny. Facebook: www.facebook.com/wrapnrollsjds Tel: 8997 1436

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Simon Says (Downtown) A popular juice, sandwich and salad bar 75mts south of Gato Negro on Avenida Vanderbilt. Choose from the menu or create your own salads and sandwiches from a list of ingredients. Good atmosphere, games and a book exchange. Open every day except Tuesday from 10am to 6pm. Tel: 8769 2148

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Vintage Restaurant in Hotel Victoriano An up market restaurant located in the beautifully restored Hotel Victoriano, ½ a block south of the BDF bank. Grab a table by the window and you’ll have a gorgeous, elevated view of the bay to accompany your Nicaraguan dishes. Open from 6am to 10pm. Website: www.hotelvictoriano.com/web_files/ restaurante.html Tel: 2568 2005, 2568 2091, 2568 2006

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Super Frutto Gelateria (Downtown) Serving high quality Italian ice-cream from its location next to Estrella Hotel.

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Tacos Bar and Grill (Remanso) A simple beachfront taco bar run by Yeshner Carillo with plenty of shaded seating directly in front of the surf break at Remanso beach. Their specialties include fish, chicken tacos and nachos. They serve beer, wine and a variety of liquor for blended frozen cocktails and smoothies. Open every day from 10am to 6pm. Located directly on the sand on the north side of the entrance road. Tel: 78515752

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Vivian Restaurant (Downtown) A typical Nicaraguan food restaurant and a good spot from which to see the Indian Face (Cara de Indio) on the Pacific Marlin headland on the north end of the bay. It’s also a good place to watch the late afternoon beach volleyball. Free wifi and free coffee with breakfast. Open 8am to 10pm. Next to Iguana Bar on the beachfront road downtown San Juan del Sur. Wheelchair accessible.

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Tacos Locos (Maderas) A fun, laid back taco restaurant right on the sand at Playa Maderas in front of the surf break. Friendly staff, good music and a fabulous view. Try their fish and shrimp tacos.

Casinos Atlantic City Casino (Downtown) Atlantic City Casino is open every day from 1pm to 2am. It’s located across from the entrance to the Port of San Juan del Sur.

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Taco Stop (Downtown) Original taco stop serving meat, fish, vegetable and chicken tacos, burritos and quesadillas. Next to Barrio Café one block west of the municipal market.

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Surf Casino (Downtown) Slots, blackjack, stud poker and hold’em. From Gato Negro 10mts south on Avenida Vanderbilt. Open 2pm to 6am every day. Tel: 2568 2429

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Francys (Downtown) A well stocked fashion boutique with a good selection of dresses, T-shirts and bathing suits. Find Francys on the main road into town a few meters west of Pan de Vida.

SHOPPING Artisan Vendors and Souvenirs

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Artesanias Dayana (Downtown) Hammocks, hammock chairs, art and Nicaraguan souvenirs. Open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 6pm and on Sunday from 8am to 2pm. Artesanias Dayana is on Avenida Central in front of the taxi stop.

One Way Fashion (Downtown) Selling dresses, T-shirts, pants and bathing suits for sale on the corner opposite Barrio Café on Avenida Central.

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San Juan Surf (Downtown) A surf style inspired clothing boutique. All clothes are handmade and designed in Nicaragua. Super good quality and the funds from profits go to help the San Juan local community. They have 2 offices in town. One is located on the beachfront road 1 block north of Iguanas Bar in the Nica Life Realty building. The other is located next to the Taco Stop. San Juan Surf is open daily from 8am to 5pm. Website: sanjuansurf.com Email: sean@sanjuansurf.com Tel: 8988 9206

Plaza de Arte (Downtown) A covered area where local artisans sell handicrafts, t-shirts, jewelry, pottery, sunglasses. Look for the traffic island on the beachfront road across from Meson Español.

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Posada Azul Gift Shop (Downtown) A well-curated souvenir store packed full of Nicaraguan arts and crafts. A great place to pick up good quality gifts from Nicaraguan artisans. It’s located within the Posada Azul hotel on Avenida Real ½ a block east of BDF bank.

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Santosha - Organ Nica (Downtown) A souvenir shop that also provides massages and meditations next to Estrella Hotel on the beachfront road.

Tienda Dayana (Downtown) A small fashion boutique located a few meters east of Republika bar on Avenida Central.

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Variedades Gaby Mar (Downtown) Small fashion boutique across from Sanchez Pulpería #1 on Avenida Central.

Silo-ve souvenirs (Downtown) Silo-ve sells clothing and typical Nicaraguan souvenirs. You’ll find it next to Alcazar Hotel and across from Eskimo on the beachfront road.

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Variedades Liliam (Downtown) A small clothing store 15 mts to the south of Gato Negro on Avendia Vanderbilt.

Fashion

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AURIC (Downtown) Clothing store selling urban surf apparel, designed, inspired and produced in Nicaragua. The owners have a great eye for fashion and design making it a great place to pick up stylish beach wear. You’ll find AURIC Diagonally across from Barrio Café on Avenida Vanderbilt. Open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 8pm. Website: www.facebook.com/pages/AURIC/ 1427815584124557 Tel: 8798 7665, 8586 4221

Variedades Tita (Downtown) Fashion boutique located on Avenida Central, next to El Papagayo, across the road from Sanchez Pulpería #1.

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Fishing supplies Wooly Booger (Downtown) Fishing supplies store selling bait, tackle and rods. Across from Jardin Belina the plant nursery on Avenida Gaspar Garcia Laviana.

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El Papagayo (Downtown) Selling clothing, art and higher quality jewelry. On Avenida Central, next to Variedades Gaby Mar, across the road from Sanchez Pulpería #1. Tel: 2568 2287

Groceries Alba mini super (Downtown) A liquor and general food store located 50 meters east of the Irish house on Avenida Gaspar Garcia Laviana. Tel: 8875 9973

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Farallon (Downtown) Higher end dresses, T-shirts and jewelry for sale. Located on Avenida Gaspar Garcia Laviana a few meters north of LAFISE Bancento. SAN JUAN LIVE

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Esmelda Pulpería (Miscelanea Esmelda) (Downtown) Well stocked grocery store, open daily on Avenida Central across from the Municipal Market.

Palí (Downtown) The largest supermarket in San Juan del Sur, offering a full range of basic grocery items. (The smaller pulperías stock more specialty items.) Palí only accepts cash. While a BAC bank operates in the store, there is no ATM. Open Monday to Saturday 8am to 8pm and on Sunday from 8am to 5pm. Palí is located 400mts before the Uno Gas Station on the main road into San Juan del Sur.

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Carnes San Martin (Downtown) A butcher shop offering a good supply of raw meat, especially beef. Located on the main road leading into town, 75 mts west of the Uno Gas station. Open from 7:30am to 5pm daily Tel: 8879 4288

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Pan de Vida (Downtown) Artisan bread, cakes and cookies baked in a specialty brick oven. Find Pan de Vida on the main road leading into town, across from La Bodeguita. Tel: 8374 2433

Cocos (Downtown)
 Offering a good selection of liquor as well as sandwich, salads and smoothies. (Not to be confused with Cocos Bar in Las Delicias.) Cocos is on the main road leading into town a few meters west of Big Wave Daves.

Pulpería Santa Ana (Las Delicias) A small grocery store located in Las Deliciais, across from the baseball field. There’s a table and chairs outside if you want to pause while you drink a cold beer.

Don Marcos Bakery (Downtown) Offering a good selection of bread for sale. The bakery is on Avenida Central across from LAFISE Bancentro bank. La Bodeguita (Downtown) Great selection of deli meats, cheeses and specialty items. If you’re craving gourmet delights head here. Its located on the main road leading into town, across from Pan de Vida.

Sanchez Pulpería #1 (Miscelanea Sanchez) (Downtown) Very well stocked pulpería with speciality food items and cooking ingredients not found in Pali. Open from 8am to 10:30pm every day. Next door is a small fashion store. Sanchez is located diagonally opposite Barrio Café on Avenida Central. Tel: 2568 2425

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La Nica Orgánica (La Cuesta) An organic produce store selling a variety of fruits and vegetables not available anywhere else in town. Products such as spinach, basil, cherry tomatoes, mint, romaine lettuce, kale and fruit such as mandarins, grapefruit. It also sells coffee from Finca el Petén, their organic farm in Jinotega. The produce store is located at the entrance of Finca Las Nubes, the farm from where all the food is sourced. Open everyday (even holidays) from 7am to 6pm. Tel: 8768 1367, 8652 1540

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Sanchez Pulpería #2 (Downtown) Good range of groceries including specialty items catering to the international visitor. This second pulpería run by the Sanchez family can be found in the Municipal Market with an entrance also on Avenida Gaspar Garcia Laviana.

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House and Garden Supplies

Fish Market (Downtown) Located behind the port of San Juan del Sur are 4 acopias or fish stalls selling fish direct from the fishing boats. Head past the entrance to the port and into the open area. You’ll see the line of fish stalls in front of you.

Casa de la Ceramica (Downtown) Flooring, tiles, sinks, baths, toilets, lamps and bathroom accessories. Open 8am to 5pm Monday to Saturday on Calle el Sindicato. Email: recruzbarrios@gmail.com Tel: 5503 3978, 8824 5218

Municipal Market (Downtown) Clothing, shoes, meat, vegetables, fruit, kitchen supplies, hats, balls of string, T-shirts… it’s all here for sale at the Municipal Market on Avenida Central. The market closes at around 5pm most days.

La San Juanena (Downtown) Sells electronic home goods (blenders, TVs) as well as motorbikes. Open Monday to Saturday from 7am - 5pm and Sunday from 7am to 12pm across from Hotel Royal Chateau. Tel: 8777 2806

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Monday to Saturday and from 8am to 8pm on Sunday.

Eco Pool (Downtown) Pool products (tablets, pool brushes, swimming supplies). Open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5:30pm and Saturday from 8:30am to 12:30pm. Email: ecopool@grupoecoquimica.com Tel: 2560 0989, 8245 1224

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Farmacia La Fe (Downtown/Las Delicias) La Fe is located just outside town, but is worth seeking out given its wide range of products for sale. Open Monday to Saturday from 8am to 8pm and on Sunday from 8am to 6pm. Head 300mts east of the Uno Gas Station, on the corner of the main road into town and the road to Las Delicias. Tel: 2568 2289

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Ferretería San Juan (Palermo) Locally referred to as Ferretería de Cubano, this hardware store is located 50 meters past the turnoff to the Naked Tiger Hostel entering San Juan. Open Monday to Friday from 7am to 12pm and 1pm to 5pm, Saturday from 7am to 1pm and closed on Sundays. Tel: 7851 7172

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Farmacia Santa Martha (Downtown) While small, Farmacia Santa Martha is wellstocked with basic pharmacy items. You’ll find it on the main road into Downtown San Juan del Sur, next to the BAC Bank, a few meters east of El Timón.

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Ferretería y Materials de Construcción Barahona (Downtown) A hardware and construction materials store located next to the Uno Gas station. Open Monday to Friday from 7am to 5pm, Saturday from 7am to 3pm. Closed on Sundays. Tel: 2568 2194

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SPANISH SCHOOLS Latin American Spanish School (Downtown) Located on the north side of Central Park (second floor above Remax realty office) Website: www.nicaspanish.org Email: spanishschoollss@yahoo.com Tel: 2568 2158

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Jardin Belina (Downtown) Largest plant nursery in town located across from Irish House. Open Monday to Saturday 8am to 6pm. Email: bellangel27@yahoo.es Tel: 8465 0054

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Spanish School House Rosa Silva (Downtown) Located 50 meters west of the market in the center of town. Website: spanishsilva.com Email: spanish_silva@yahoo.com Tel: 8682 2938

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Paint Shop and Key Cutting Service (Downtown) Look for the building with Sherwin Williams painted on it located a few mts south of the Centro de Salud.

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Spanish Ya (Downtown) Offering an immersion style of learning and accommodations within the home of a wonderful local family with daily breakfast and flexible group or private Spanish lessons. Spanish Ya is located along side the river behind the Uno Gas Station. From Uno head 100 mts north. Website: learnspanishya.com Email: info@learnspanishya.com Tel: 2568 3010 Tel: 8898 5036

Music Store Volcan Music (Downtown) The first and only music store in San Juan del Sur and the only store in the world that exclusively sells hand-made Nicaraguan instruments. Come here for guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, banjos and guitar strings as well as music lessons. Volcan Music is located ½ block north of Barrio Café. Website: ukulelesnicaragua.com/volcanmusic.html

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Veronica’s San Juan del Sur Spanish School (Downtown) Located near the Palí supermarket on the main street entering town. Website: learnspanishnicaragua.com Tel: 8888 6567

Pharmacies You’ll find pharmacies dotted throughout San Juan del Sur. Below are the best stocked stores.

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Farmacia Comunal (Downtown) From Irish House Hotel, head half a block to the East. The pharmacy is open 7:30am to 10pm

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rentals, also provide a full range of surf related services.

Mosco's Surf Repair (Downtown) Mosco provides quality surfboard repair. You can also sell your surf boards here. Located next to Taco Stop and Barrio Café. Look for the red surfboard sign and ask for Mosco.

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Chica Brava (Downtown) Chica Brava runs all girls surf camps. As well as offering surf packages their store has a good range of cute clothes and surf gear for women. Chica Brava is on the beachfront road across from Arribas. Website: chicabrava.com Email: info@chicabrava.com Tel: 8894 2842

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One Love Surf School (Downtown) One Love offers board rentals and beach shuttles from its location next to Big Wave Dave’s on the main road into town. Tel: 8251 5525

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San Juan del Sur Surf and Sport (Downtown) Offering surf trips by boat, rentals and surf lessons, fishing trips and the town’s most popular sunset booze cruise. Located on Avenida Central across the road from the taxi stand. Website: www.sanjuandelsursurf.com Email: info@sanjuandelsursurf.com Tel: 2568 2022, 8402-2973

Good Times Surf Shop (Downtown) Good Times rents boards, offers lessons and has a good selection of rash guards, board bags and repair equipment. They also offer kayak and SUP rentals. You’ll find it in between Iguana Bar and Vivian’s Restaurant. Email: outerreefsa@gmail.com Website: goodtimessurfshop.com Tel: 8460 3151, 8675 1621

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Surf Shop Arenas Caliente (Downtown) Opening its doors in 1999, Arenas Caliente was the first surf shop in San Juan del Sur. They have rentals and carry out surfboard repairs from their location on Avenida Gaspar Garcia Laviana. Website: arenacalientesurfcamp.com Email: info@arenacalientesurfcamp.com Tel: 8815 3247

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Baloy’s Surf Shop (Downtown) The shop is locally owned and operated by Luis Chamorro. He started the shop in 2009. Baloy’s sells and rents surf boards, offers surf lessons, a variety of surf gear and clothing for sale in the shop. Baloy’s is also an officially distributor of FCS surf products including leashes, board bags and fins for any size surfboard. You’ll find it located ½ block west of Hotel Dulce Vita hotel open 8am to 5:30pm every day except Sunday. Facebook Page: facebook.com/baloy.s.shop Tel: 8987 8824

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TOURISM Arecife Tours (Downtown) Operating out of a small tour stand on the beachfront road across from Hotel Estrella, Arecife is open from 8am to 5pm providing water taxis and boat tours.

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Moke Huhu Surf Shop and Guest House (Downtown) Offering $10 board rentals - they have a good supply of long boards which are good for beginners. The surf instructors at Moke Huhu are some of the best local surfers in San Juan. Surf lessons are provided for all levels. Moke Huhu is locally owned and operated and also operates a guest house with 3 rooms. From the Uno gas station head 120 mts west. Website: mokehuhu.com Email: mokehuhu@gmail.com Tel: 2568 2084, 8818 1737

Da Flying Frog Adventures (Palermo) Aracne Rappelling Tour & Da Flying Frog Canopy Tour located at Finca Palermo. Located 700 mts north and 700 mts east of the Alcadia. Look for the entrance sign on La Chocolata Road. They will pick you up in town at your hotel. The tour is open Monday to Saturday from 8am until 4pm and is closed on Sundays unless you have an appointment. Website: daflyingfrog.com
 Email: reservations@daflyingfrog.com
 Tel: 8465 6781, 8861 4460

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Mopes Surf Shop (Downtown) At Mopes surf shop you can rent boards, arrange surf lessons and beach trips. Mopes is next to Ines restaurant on the beachfront road. Email: gerardosurf@yahoo.com Tel: 8757 7614

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Extreme Nicaraguan Adventures (Downtown) Offering tours throughout the country. Open daily 9am to 7pm. Email: hollywoodhunterct@gmail.com Tel: 8668 5585

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Facebook: facebook.com/TropCsjds Tel: 8997 1436

Indian Face Tours (Downtown) Tours to Managua, Granada, Ometepe and San Ramon Waterfall as well as transportation services across the country. The Trans Nica agency operates out of the office which you’ll find on Avenida Central next to the municipal market Website: hindianfacetours.wix.com/indian-facetours Email: indianfacetours@gmail.com Tel: 8392 7877, 8244 5344

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TRANSPORT SERVICES Adelante Express (Downtown) Offers scheduled trips and private vehicle service. Bookings can be made online, by phone or by stopping by the office located inside the San Juan Surf / Nica Life Realty office located 1 block north of El Timón directly across the street from the beach. Website: adelanteexpress.com Email: reservations@AdelanteExpress.com Tel: 8850 6070, 8325 9074, 2586 2083

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La Flor Wildlife Refuge (Coco)
 Managed by Marena (the Environmental Agency), the refuge is most famous for its turtle protection program. Located a little south of Coco on beautiful La Flor beach, the site for thousands of nesting turtles. The reserve is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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Gaby’s Transportes de Richard Morales (Downtown) You’ll find the office across from Hotel Villa Isabella on Calle el Calvano. Website: transportegaby.com Email: info@transportegaby.com Tel: 8882 8368

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Nica Sail n’ Surf (Anchored in the bay) Offering catamaran yacht charters and epic sailing adventures up and down the coastline. Charters are available daily from the bay of San Juan del Sur. Website: nicasailandsurf.com Tel: 8980 1213 US Tel: (281) 960 7093

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Iskra Travel (Downtown) Located next to El Gato Negro. Iskra offers a good value, reliable and comfortable transport service and regular airport shuttles. Website: iskratravel.com Email: info@iskratravel.com Tel: 2568 2054 US Tel: (267) 248 0844

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O Parks, WildLife, and Recreation (Ostional) A wildlife adventure park located in Ostional embracing a "Leave No Trace" policy to protect the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. The park offers a quiet, scenic location for ziplines, mountain bike trails, wildlife watching and orchard tours, horseback riding, picnic and camping areas, fine baked goods, and themed events. Park entry fee is $5. Website: opwr.org Email: o@opwr.org Tel: 8733 5989 US Tel: (202) 656 7842

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Tica Bus Agency (Downtown) At the office on Avenida Central a few meters east of Pulpería Sanchez #1, you can book tickets for Tica Bus international bus services to Costa Rica, El Salvador and beyond. You’ll need to travel to Rivas to connect with the bus. The office is open Monday to Sunday 4am to 7pm. Website: ticabus.com Tel: 2222 3031

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Tourism Information Office (Downtown) Located in a landmark building on the corner of the Church Square and Avenida Real. You’ll recognize this tourism information office by the large Sandino Mural painted on the façade. The guides here are certified by INTUR (Nicaragua’s tourism board) and offer a range of tours and general information. Tour Guide Contact: Aroldo Collado Email: osmararoldo@gmail.com Tel: 8338 6105, 7855 4110

Trans Nica Agency in the offices of Indian Face Tours (Downtown) Agency of the Trans Nica international bus service to Costa Rica, El Salvador and other countries in Central America. The office is on Avenida Central next to the municipal market. Website: transnica.com Tel: 2270 3133

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Tropical Concierge (Downtown) Chef services, surf instruction and private tours. Located at Wrap n Roll,15 meters north of Casa Oro. Ask for Kenny.

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