Nicaragua is called the land of volcanoes and lakes but we decided they could all wait a week or so and after Managua we headed straight for the beach… San Juan del Sur is a popular surf spot on the pacific coast, not far from the border with Costa Rica. It’s a bit of a party town for young surfers from the US / Canada and European backbackers. Throw in a few alternative travellers who perform fire dances at night and sell feather earrings on the beach during the day and there you have it.
We decided against the chicken bus (the local buses where you can bring everything including live chickens going to or from the market). We booked a shuttle instead however we feel a bit guilty for chickening out (sorry for the bad joke!). We should try one of these infamous buses while we are here.
San Juan del Sur is predominantly a surf destination. The town is located on a big bay with a wide beach which probably isn’t as clean as it used to be. So we ran along the beach a couple of times as we keep trying to maintain a bit of fitness but didn’t swim there. Within 30 minutes drive either south or north there are some fantastic beaches and since that’s where everybody is going it’s easy to catch a shuttle which here means the back of a truck or ute!
We loved the beaches at Maderas, Matilda and Majagual, 3 connected bays getting more deserted as you walk along. Maderas is the busiest with 3 very chilled cafes and lots of surfers and yogis practising their handstands.
At Matilda’s there is a small beach shack cafe (and a hostel behind it where we plan to spend a few days before leaving Nicaragua) and at Majagual there is nothing unless you count this tree where we met a girl from Sydney.
We spent lots of time walking on the beach. Not sure if any of you have ever paid attention to hermit crabs? We’ve seen them at Cable Beach in Broome; at Amami Oshima in Japan and now here. We haven’t yet gone as far as naming any of them but having fun watching their efforts and imagining their conversations: ‘So, how was your day?’ ‘Ah you know, same same, lots of sand and too windy – I’m pretty much back where I started this morning’.
The hills above the town of San Juan are scattered with villas for those wanting a peaceful holiday with a great view over the sea. The town itself is colourful and with a bit of an edge, especially at night when all the guys have had a couple of Flor de Cana (the local rum).
We stayed in an old ramshackle house right in the centre, lots of character but unfortunately also quite a menagerie, from ants everywhere to the sounds of bats and rats at night and pigeons from dawn. We had our mosquito net for protection but probably wouldn’t have been much good against the bats…
It had one big plus though – hot water in the shower which is the exception here. People keep telling us that a cold shower is good for the skin. I think that must be propaganda from the previous regime or something!