It's just a wonderful sensation to be walking barefoot on the sandy beach of this place. And, although I'm pretty sure things've inevitably changed, this village is still massive-tourism free and therefore a morning spent at the beach is a delight. When enjoying the sensation as if the whole beach belonged to you...
This small, fishermen village is located near the frontier between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, in the San Juan del Sur bay, which automatically tames the ocean a little bit and makes this town's beach a popular surfers' destination. At the far left end of the bay the town's dock is located... on the far right end of the bay, after a splendid beach, San Juan del Sur ends with a rock, a reef if you will, that has the shape of a profile of an Indian, called Cara de Indio (wish I had a good photo of the reef, it's fantastic). And yes, it's natural.
The bay is surrounded by hills which are not "cut" with highways and the blue sky is almost never polluted by airplanes.
I loved the nature... And the beach is awesome...
Fondest memory: the colours of the nature all around.. the sand and the sensation you get when you walk on the beach barefoot... the afternoon waves... and the food in the market place.
Favorite thing: A general tip would be not to visit San Juan del Sur in the end of the dry season. It might be less rain, but the lack of leaves on the trees, or in case of leaves, the brown and grey colours makes the whole place look rather sad and seem much less charming than else, especially if you arrived from the lush Atlantic cost or much greener Costa Rica.
This is probably not a "secret" anymore, but when I was there in November 2003, this new luxury resort up the hill at the back of the town was still under construction.
It wasn't in any guidebook. But I heard about it from some other travellers. Although the cabanas at the back were still being built, the restaurant and pool had just opened a couple of months prior. For the price of a few (very reasonably priced) drinks or lunch, you could enjoy the pool and the magnificent view over the town and bay for as long as you wanted!
Fondest memory: I spent many lazy afternoons here, and met several people, both tourists and locals.
This is the kind of place that usually only people spending a few hundred dollars a night get to enjoy in the Caribbean. And here I was, paying $15 for my room down the hill, 3 minutes walk away from this "resorty" place.
The staff was friendly and the food delicious (see my Restaurant tips).
Ha, la belle vie!
Favorite thing: This is a small town and well-off by Nicaraguan standards. Even fromer president Arnaldo Aleman had a summer home here. It is most famous for it's beautiful sunsets that can be best observed from the hill overlooking the town. Along the beach is many bars and restaurants. There are a few bars catering to Americans, but otherwise the town simply is not spoiled by excessive numbers of tourists like in other parts of Central America. The beach by the bars and restaurants is quite dirty, but if you go a bit further from the town, especially towards the wealthy homes in the North, the beaches are quite clean. There are 4 or 5 language schools in the town, but none are that good. Otherwise, there is nothing else in the town. It is simply a nice town to relax for a couple of days.
Favorite thing: There wasn't much to do in San Juan del Sur, but we had some really nice days in the bahia Majagual and had a nice fishing trip too.