From Rivas we take the cheapest taxi ever, almost 2 hours of driving for just 100C$ directly to our new destination. Surrounded by mountains, there lies the valley that accommodates the settlement discovered by a Spanish sailor, Andres Niño in the summer of 1522, in his quest for a route that would embrace both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. San Juan del Sur, about 140km from Managua City, has the largest bay in the Nicaraguan South Pacific Coast, escorted by beautiful beaches that make it even more attractive. Playa Marsella and Playa Madera at the north of the village and Playa Hermosa, Playa El Coco and Playa La Flor at the south of this small fishers village. A big opportunity for both beginner and experienced surfer are the different surf spots along the shore.
Endowed with more than three kilometer of white sand beaches, San Juan del Sur, with its 14.000 habitants, is also a major port in the Pacific coast of Nicaragua but still feels like a small nothing-to-do community. Our hostel, ‘Hospedaje Nina’ (380C$ / night) is right in the center, near to the central square, little marketplace and the village beach. At first we get a very good impression with its cozy streets, lively ambient and a kind of ‘I-don’t-care-atmosphere’. But nothing is what it seems to be… there where we see relax and good vibrations we are confronted with business and unreal high prices. San Juan del Sur is a growing surf destination and lots of Costa Rica surf tourism moved to this corner at the border. If we compare with Costa Rica, it might be a bit cheaper here but not as much as it should be for a Nicaraguan village. Transports to the next beach are as expensive as taking the bus and crossing the whole country and when we ask for prices to visit one of the beaches (Playa La Flor) where turtles come to lay their eggs, we understand that this is unpayable for us and for most of the travelers on budget. So the first day we have a walk through the village, along the beach and the small shops with all kind of expensive handcrafts. After asking and comparing lots of prices we finally find the one and only restaurant with mercy for the wallet: 205C$ for a steak with jalapeños sauce and a roasted chicken with rice in the local village canteen. After a good sleep we try again, just to make sure we heard well yesterday. We ask again for the prices for some activities but there is no hope. So we spend a nice day at the beach, have a swim, write a post, read a book, prepare the border passing for tomorrow and close the day with a beautiful sunset fotoshoot.
We like San Juan del Sur but we just think that it’s overpriced. So we would like to ask for a big favor to all those dollar-waving-surfer-dudes… it might be cool to show off the money as a Rockefeller and it might feel powerful to act like you got lots of cash and it might feel great this ‘I-can-afford-it-all-luxury’. And probably it does feel great, powerful and cool but after all you will go home having spent ten times as much as you should! So apart from the fact that all the other travelers have to pay the price for that behavior… we ask ourselves: how cool, powerful and great do you really feel when you get home and realize that this village has been threating you like unknowing fools and you have been paying their outrageous prices as tame silly gringos?
Our recommendations: San Juan del Sur is a nice surf spot but compare rates and find the better option instead of paying the highest price / Hostel Nina is nice and clean but for the same price you will find better ambient / If you like to cook, bring the food with you because the supermarkets are very expensive / find a group to organize transports or activities so there might be a chance to discuss prices