San Juan del Sur
- Where to Go
- The Best of Nicaragua
- Nicaragua’s Best Surfing
- Hiking Nicaragua’s Ring of Fire
- Nicaraguan Arts & Crafts
- Nicaragua’s Great Green North
- Sportfishing in Nicaragua
- Down the Río San Juan
- Nicaragua’s Celebrations & Fiestas
- Volunteering in Nicaragua
- Diving & Snorkeling in Nicaragua
- Managua’s Revolutionary Driving Tour
San Juan del Sur proper is a relatively small town; you could walk every street in a single morning. Most visitors spend at least two days and a night here, and if you start exploring the surrounding beaches and coves, beach lovers can stretch it into a full week, as can surfers.
At a minimum, count on one full day wandering around town, one trip north to a nearby beach and another trip south to Playa el Coco or La Flor Wildlife Reserve; plan an extra half-day for a canopy tour, sportfishing, or sailing excursion.
Getting to San Juan del Sur
The trip from Managua is about 2–2.5 hours in your own vehicle or express bus but nearly 4 hours in an ordinario.
To San Juan del Sur: From Managua, the absolute fastest way is by express shuttles that leave from the airport. Adelante Express (tel. 505/8850-6070, www.adelanteexpress.com) charges about $40 one-way, cheaper per person for groups. For guaranteed service make your reservation at least 24 hours in advance. Nica Express (tel. 505/2552-8461, info [at] nica-adventures [dot] com, www.nica-adventures.com) also has comfortable, scheduled shuttles from San Juan to other cities.
By bus, regular express buses leave from Huembes market ($3–5 pp) about every hour around the middle of the day; the best and last one leaves at 4 p.m. Slow, crowded, ordinario service to Rivas from Huembes market in Managua operates 5 a.m.–5 p.m. The handlers at the Huembes bus terminal are unusually aggressive. They will grab your bags out of the taxi, push you onto a slow Rivas bus, claim it’s an express, and then demand a tip. Read the windshield of the bus and ask the other passengers to verify.
Once in Rivas you can take a colectivo ($1.50 pp) or taxi ($7) the rest of the way to San Juan del Sur. Colectivos don’t run after dark and taxi prices double because not even the most skilled drivers can see the potholes at night. And from Granada there are several shuttle services worth taking, all of which cost more than the bus but more than compensate in saved time and frustration.
To Managua and Rivas: Express buses leave from the corner in front of the market at 5 a.m. (this is the nicer lujo bus), 6 a.m., and 7 a.m. Ordinarios to Rivas and Managua leave every hour 5 a.m.–5 p.m. You can also catch a colectivo taxi to Rivas from 4 a.m. to about 3 or 4 p.m. and then catch any northbound bus toward Managua. The trip to and from Rivas takes about 30 minutes in a car; 45 minutes in a bus ($1).
To and From the Costa Rica Border: From the Costa Rican border at Peñas Blancas, buses for Rivas leave every half hour. Get off at Empalme la Vírgen and flag a bus, taxi, or ride going between Rivas and San Juan del Sur. The beach is 18 kilometers due west of La Vírgen; taxis from the border to San Juan charge $11–20.
To the border at Peñas Blancas, get a ride to La Vírgen in a bus or taxi, then catch a lift south; the first Rivas–Peñas Blancas bus passes at 7:30 a.m. Or book a ticket with TicaBus (tel. 505/8877-1407) in Rivas. Also check with the shuttle services.
© Randall Wood & Joshua Berman from Moon Nicaragua, 4th Edition