Backpackers Guide to San Juan Del Sur – Nicaragua

Sunset in San Juan Del Sur

San Juan Del Sur is a small coastal town on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua. San Juan Del Sur is the hub for exploration of Nicaragua’s toned and tanned southern beaches. While San Juan itself doesn’t have an amazing beach or great surf, you can easily get shuttles either 30 minutes North or South to find waves. San Juan Del Sur is the best location for restaurants and nightlife and is home to Central Americas biggest party, Sunday Funday, that attracts hundreds of foreign travellers each week. If you are backpacking through Nicaragua, chances ar that you will end up in San Juan Del Sur at some point. 

Things to do in San Juan Del Sur

Hike to Jesus (Mirador del Cristo de la Misericordia)

This viewpoint overlooks San Juan Del Sur offering an amazing view. Sunset is a great time to hike to this viewpoint. The entrance fee is $2. 

Things to do in San Juan Del Sur

Party on Sunday Sunday

San Juan Del Sur is renowned for its party scene, in particular, Sunday Funday. Sunday Funday is basically a pool crawl that goes to three different locations in San Juan Del Sur. After attending a Sunday Funday, you will understand what all the hype is about. The ticket costs $30, which includes a tank top and transportation between the pools/bars — drinks are not included, but are pretty cheap.  

Things to do in San Juan Del Sur


There are many great surf spots North and South of San Juan Del Sur. Your hostel or surf shop can organize transportation or surfing lessons for you. The photo below was taken at Playa Maderas. 

Things to do in San Juan Del Sur

Enjoy the beaches

Even if you don’t surf, still check out the beaches North and South of San Juan Del Sur as they. Playa Maderas, Playa Hermosa and Playa Remanso are worth checking out.

Explore the colourful town by foot

San Juan Del Sur is filled with bright, colourful buildings. You could spend a few hours walking around the town and admiring/photographing them.

Go on a Fishing Trip

Many places in town offer chartered fishing tours. Every person I spoke to that went on one loved it and highly recommended it.

Explore by quad bike

If you want to see San Jual Del Sur in a unique way, why not do it by quad bike. This will be sure to get your adreneline pumping, but may not be to friendly on the backpacker budget. 

Go Sailing

Lots of companies offer sailing tours off the coast of San Juan Del Sur. Many will come with unlimited drinks and lunch. You will get the best price if you book in town (instead of online). 

Enjoy happy hour

As I said, San Juan Del Sur is famous for it’s party scene, so you can be sure that enjoying happy hour is one of the best things to do. Get a seaside location and enjoy sunset with a cocktail.

Learn Spanish

If you are looking to learn Spanish, San Juan Del Sur may be one of the best places to base yourself. Spanish classes are offered in town at affordable prices. 

Horse riding

If you have wanted to try horseback riding along the beach, you can in San Juan Del Sur. This activity isn’t the best on a backpacker budget, but would create a unique memory to last a lifetime. 

Recommended length of stay in San Juan Del Sur

San Juan Del Sur is a great place to spend some downtime on your backpacking trip through Central America. Therefore, I recommend staying in San Juan Del Sur for 6 nights, however, you could easily stay here more if you love to party. Many hostels in town offer work for stay programs. 

Hostels in San Juan Del Sur

Pacha Mamas: Pacha Mamas is the last and most central Sunday Funday venue. I recommend Pacha Mamas as it is located in town making it easier to get around and see things. There are two Pacha Mama hostels. One is the main one where the party is held and one is smaller and quieter, just only 1 block away. Try and stay in the second one. 

Naked Tiger: Is a mansion turned hostel, sitting on the rolling hills of San Juan Del Sur offering an unbeatable view. Naked Tiger is the second Sunday Funday venue. Although out of town, the shuttle makes it easy to get around.

Search for hostels in San Juan Del Sur

Getting to and around San Juan Del Sur

If you are coming to San Juan Del Sur from overseas, you would fly into Managua Airport, Nicaragua.

From Managua, you would take a bus to Rivas, then a bus from Rivas to San Juan Del Sur. Alternatively, you could organize a shuttle or get a taxi.

If you’re coming from Granada you would take a bus to Rivas, then a bus from Rivas to San Juan Del Sur.

If you are coming from Costa Rica you would get a bus to Rivas from the border, then a bus to San Juan Del Sur from Rivas.

Once in San Juan Del Sur, most things are within walking distance. To get to the Northern and Southern Beaches, you can arrange a shuttle from one of the surf shops in town for a small fee. Transportation to Sunday Funday is included in your ticket purchase.

Currency in San Juan Del Sur

Nicaraguan Cordoba and US Dollars are accepted in San Juan Del Sur. 

Travel Insurance for San Juan Del Sur

Travel insurance is a necessity when backpacking to San Juan Del Sur. I recommend World Nomads.  If you are still unsure if you should buy travel insurance or not, read this. 

Safety in San Juan Del Sur

You should always be excercising safety precautions in San Juan Del Sur:

  • Avoid flashing your valuables
  • Keep an eye on your belongings at all times
  • Lock your belongings in the hotel safe
  • Remain aware of your surrounding
  • Avoid unknown streets at night
  • Don’t drink too much

Remember, San Juan Del Sur is a popular party destination. There are people who will be looking for opportunities to take advantage of drunk tourists. Make sure you avoid drinking to much and keep yourself safe.

See more tips for keeping safe when travelling. 

Language in Nicaragua

The official language in Nicaragua is Spanish. Limited locals will speak English.

Vaccinations for Nicaragua

Check the Travel Doctor website to find out what vaccinations you need when backpacking to Nicaragua. If you have any further questions regarding vaccinations required for Nicaragua, I recommend consulting a doctor.

Overseas Travel Checklist 

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