Ahhhh San Juan del Sur, an adorable little surfer town on the Nicaraguan coast, this place will force you to relax, let your hair down and have some fun!
The Surfing Donkey Hostel is one of the busiest hostels in town. They have large, cheap dorm rooms available and have a small pool and bar to hang out and meet other travelers at. While I met other travelers that absolutely loved this hostel, I didn’t like it too much due to the plastic wrap on the mattresses, and the huge rooms. It wasn’t a very nice room and when it’s as hot as it is in Nicaragua, you are going to want more fans in a room with 2o other people!
We decided to leave that hostel early, and instead my sister and I stayed in a private room at Rosita’s Hotel. This put us closer to the centre of town, and gave us a little balcony area to enjoy. Oh, and having our own personal shower, fan and mirror? Perfection.
Oh trust me, you won’t be strapped for choice in San Juan del Sur. If breakfast is your thang, check out my favourite breakfast spot, Simon Says. Man, this place knows how to do a good breakfast! Heaps of options to choose from to ‘Make your own breakfast plate’. Great idea and absolutely delicious! The outdoor garden also makes this the perfect little place to relax and catch up with other travelers after a party!
San Juan del Sur is famous for a good party. One of the most well-known is the incredible Sunday Funday Pool Crawl parties the town hosts every week. Purchase your tickets Sunday morning at Pacha Mama from about 9.30am. The party gets going in the early afternoon and goes well into the night! It consists of a pool crawl, with the crowd moving from hostel pool to hostel pool continuing to party harder at each one. Be prepared for some craziness though, Sunday Funday usually attracts a lot of drunken dickheads. You can also meet some cool people though and have some good fun. I think it was amazing event to experience, especially if you want to meet other travelers. The last party area is usually the Naked Tiger, where you can dance with the sunset and get some dinner with your copious amounts of alcohol. Remember to keep your head with you and don’t let your friends get lost or leave without you, contingency plans people!
The Mirador del Cristo de la Misericordia, also known as the Christ of Mercy, is a maaaaaassive statue of Jesus standing on top of a hill on the north end of San Juan del Sur. It is a bit of a trek to get there, but the views over the ocean from the top is stunning!
There are plenty of tours you can book from your hotel/hostel or a street vendor, such as surfing tours where the locals take you out to find the big ass waves, horse riding tours, and motorcycle tours! Have a little look around and see what suits your budget. I decided not to do any tours and just chill the f*ck out. And it was glorious. Just hanging out in the local cafes, on the beach and on our little hotel balcony was absolutely lovely. Some other tours offered which caught our attention are the turtle hatching tours, and the firefly tours! They get you up close with the wildlife on the nearby beaches.
The local men in San Juan del Sur can be a little confronting. They often stare and sometimes follow you. I would not recommend ladies walk alone at night. Guys have to take care too of course, but especially the ladies. We strolled around town with our male friend from Costa Rica and only then were we not targeted by the local men (I guess in their eyes we were ‘taken’).
The border crossing from Nicaragua to Costa Rica was quite an experience. As soon as you get out of the car (we took a taxi to get to the border which was relatively cheap) you are jumped on by a heap of locals trying to sell you the immigration form for about $1. Don’t bother because as soon as you get inside the form is free and waiting for you! It’s all a bit silly really. Then once you pay an exit fee (it was quite low and paid in US dollars if I recall correctly, someone please comment if this is incorrect) you have to walk through a little no mans land and to another building which you must go to in order to enter Costa Rica. I had a friend who only exited Nicaragua, and did not get a stamp at the next building to prove he entered Costa Rica, this meant when he tried to leave Costa Rica a week later from San Jose, he had to go all the way back to the Nicaragua border to get the stamp, and consequently missed his flight! All very silly, isn’t it? So just make sure you get an entry stamp! To get one, you must prove that you will leave Costa Rica. Luckily I had an email confirmation on my phone of my exit (flight details). Make sure you have something to show them to prove you are leaving, or you will have to purchase a bus ticket out of the country so they know you are leaving. I met a girl who had to do this as she had not yet booked her flight out of Costa Rica.