San Juan Del Sur is high on the list of places to visit for many backpackers travelling through Nicaragua. It is a relatively small town spread out across land that is dry and scorched from the relentless heat, and on first glance it can be hard to understand why it’s such a popular place. But San Juan Del Sur has one big tourist attraction that draws in huge numbers of travellers from all over the world: surfing.
Well, surfing and bars. And as neither Dan nor I had much interest in surfing we were basically forced to hit the bars, and spent our afternoons wandering along the beach front looking for the bars with the cheapest cervezas and/or best happy hour deals.
In contrast to its boozy backpacker vibe, San Juan Del Sur is also pretty big on health food and healthy lifestyle. If you go to a cafe or restaurant you will be hard pressed to find an item on the menu that doesn’t include overnight oats, goji berries, bee pollen or quinoa – and unfortunately, these things come with matching “healthy” price tags. Fortunately for us, San Juan Del Sur still has plenty of cheap eats, taco stands and comedors that were better suited to our budget!
We stayed at an amazing hostel called Buena Onda Backpackers, which is just up the hill from the centre of town. It is colourful, bright and cheery, and has quite a new feel to it – it’s almost more like a hotel than a hostel. The owner, Baba, is from Germany, and he is not only super friendly but also an excellent source of information about things to do in San Juan Del Sur.
After we settled into our room he got out a map and marked several cheap eats, coffee shops and bars, plus a few attractions and other things to do in town. One of the places he recommended was a yoga studio called Zen Yoga that is down the road from the hostel. Having just been doing yoga with YouTube videos for ages, I decided to head down the following morning to try out a class. Fortunately for me the class was in English, and it took place on a lovely open air wooded platform looking over the street. It was tough but very relaxing, and although the price was comparable to a yoga class back home I would say Zen Yoga is definitely worth a visit for yoga fans.
Although most of our time was spent in beach bars enjoying piña coladas and beer, we managed to force ourselves out of bed early on our last day to walk up to the Jesus statue. Just like the one in Rio, the San Juan Del Sur statue is a magnificent structure that sits high above the town, watching over the inhabitants below. At 37° and sunny, the weather in San Juan Del Sur doesn’t exactly make a long uphill climb an enjoyable experience, but when we finally made it to the top we were rewarded by the incredible views over town, out to sea and even all the way to Costa Rica – our next destination!