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The 5 Most Popular Things to do in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Last updated : January 5th, 2020

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Most of the things to do in San Juan del Sur involve surfing, relaxing, or drinking. How can life get any better than that really? If you are short on time and want to know what everyone does in San Juan del Sur, I will explain here with the 5 most popular things to do in San Juan del Sur. 

San Juan del Sur is a small town and basically a tourist haven (especially for backpackers) in Nicaragua. Everything is within walking distance and the tourist vibe makes it very safe and easy to travel. English is spoken by nearly everybody and USD is the advertised currency.

Food, drinks, and accommodation are very affordable and cater to western culture. In fact, every weekend an event called Sunday Funday San Juan del Sur brings hundreds of tourists looking to join in on one of the world’s top-ranked parties. But besides the party vibe, there is surprisingly a very relaxed vibe around town as well.

In terms of things to do in San Juan del Sur, I have to be honest, there isn’t a whole lot. Like I said, surfing, drinking, and relaxing. But what is wrong with that right? If you are ready to escape the craziness that most cities in Central America come along with, then San Juan del Sur might just be the place you are looking for.

But first…you’ll need to get there.

Getting to San Juan del Sur

We came from Monteverde in Costa Rica and it was a bit of a journey. Basically, when coming to San Juan del Sur by chicken bus (local transport in run-down buses) it is essential to transfer in Rivas at the Bus terminal. From the Rivas Bus Terminal, it is a $1.50 USD hour long journey and will drop you in the center of town. Super easy.

Our Costa Rica and Nicaragua border crossing guide might be helpful for you, check it out here!

Things to Do in San Juan del Sur


1. Watch the Sunset with a Beer

Go to the main beach in town any night that isn’t storming and watch the sunset. This is a must as the sunsets do not disappoint!

I was in San Juan del Surf for 6 nights and went to the beach for the sunset EVERY night and each sunset was unique but equally beautiful. Grab a beer from a local shop for $1 USD and sit on a towel and relax. There are even street food vendors set up right near the beach if you are keen for a snack, the chicken quesadillas are really good.

Watch the sunset as the most popular things to do in San Juan del Sur
I know, it is incredible, right? A sunset which cannot be missed!

2. Go Surfing

The surf is very good in San Juan del Sur. Locals and tourists carefully time high tide and all head to the beach to catch some waves. When I was there, every afternoon was “surf time” and I couldn’t walk more than 5 minutes in town without being offered a shuttle to Playa Hermosa for $7 USD.

I am not the best surfer so I took lessons while I was here at a surf camp and I highly recommend this as I learned very quickly and felt more comfortable with a local instructor than I would have just renting a board and joining all the experienced surfers in the water.

Related Read:   San Juan del Sur Surfing - Beginners Guide
Surfing is one of the most popular things to do in San Juan del Sur
Me, just catching some waves at Playa Hermosa.
nothing like some surf to recover from the Sunday Funday San Juan del Sur hangover
Getting ready to jump on the board

3. Relax Poolside

One of the best things to do in San Juan del Sur is simply to have a few pool days. Do yourself a favor and choose your accommodation wisely, many places have nice pools but they also have huge parties and they are hardly a place to unwind.

We stayed at a beautiful place called The Surf Ranch Hotel and Resort, and it was exactly the perfect place to live in luxury without spending a fortune. Located a couple kilometers out of town The Surf Ranch was tranquil without all the craziness of town (but offered free shuttles in to town which was super convenient as well!) The pool was gorgeous and food and drinks were reasonably priced so I relaxed in a pool lounger with a margarita and life couldn’t get any better.

Have a couple cocktails at the pool, it should definitely be on your list of things to do in San Juan del Sur
Life doesn’t get much better than 2 for 1 cocktails at the Surf Ranch! Watermelon Margarita!
After Sunday Funday San Juan del Sur I needed some pool relaxation time.
Getting my tan on

4. Sunday Funday San Juan del Sur

This “pool crawl” is an event many people (including us) plan their stay in San Juan del Sur around. Sunday Funday San Juan del Sur is known all around the world as a crazy pub crawl that one simply cannot miss when traveling the backpacker trail in Central America.

We joined in on the craziness and had an afternoon of laughs and drunken stories with other backpackers from all over the globe. It definitely lived up to its reputation and was one of the best parties we have been to on our entire trip.

Sunday Funday San Juan del Sur Pool Crawl!
Sunday Funday San Juan del Sur Pool Crawl!
Related Read:   Things to do on Ometepe Island (in One Day)

5. Relax at a Beachside Restaurant

The beach in the town of San Juan del Sur is beautiful to look at. There is white sand, people swimming, boats heading out, and locals playing volleyball all within 100 meters. Lining the beach are some top-notch restaurants with lounge chairs and 2 for 1 cocktail deals. Grab a book and have something to eat and drink. There are so many to choose from and they all vary in price so shop around for what fits into your budget best.

relax at a restaurant on the beach as one of your things to do in San Juan del Sur
The beach in the town of San Juan del Sur (and another gorgeous sunset photo)

Where to Go Next

Typically most people head to Ometepe, Leon, or Granada next. Both will require a transfer in Rivas.

Related Read:   Where to Stay in Ometepe (and why this matters)

Already travelled most of Nicaragua? Head to Costa Rica and check out Puerto Viejo for a taste of the Caribbean coast. Or, for something different walk through a cloud forest in Monteverde. If you are looking for some city life and culture then check out all of the cool things to do in San Jose.

Related Read:   Nicaragua Travel Guide - Know before you go

There was something very special about San Juan del Sur. I have been to a lot of beach towns that attract backpackers, and although there isn’t a ton of specific things to do in San Juan del Sur, it would be favorite out of all of them. This place is just welcoming and comfortable. You’ll have to go for yourself to fully understand what I mean. I hope this guide helps to inspire you to make the trip!


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About the Author - destinationlesstravel

We are Dan and Bailey, just your typical thrill-seeking travelers! You will likely find us hiking, scuba diving, catching public transport, or just drinking beer at a hostel.

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