With this being my fourth trip to Nicaragua I’ve decided to do a travel guide with tips to make your vacation easier and full of fun. This time I stayed in San Juan, which is the tourism capital of Nicaragua.
About San Juan
San Juan is a colorful busy little town full of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, stores and fitness studios. Spanish is the most spoken language here but I found that a lot more locals know English here than other parts of Nicaragua. With the population being just under 20,000 people, the locals are extremely friendly and show the up most hospitality to tourists.
Where to eat
Not only is this beach town thriving with fresh delicious seafood but they also accommodate to many different types of food for everyone. Here are some awesome restaurants I got to try.
The Beach House had an amazing beach front location. I ordered the flavorful watermelon salad and watched the sunset. PS. always order the limeade to drink. It’s a million times better than home-made lemonade.
Pili’s Kitchen is located in Playa Colorado (Tola) right on the beach, which is about a 45min drive from San Juan. They serve different food/menus all day. I really love their healthy breakfast menu offering fresh juices and protein shakes. Pili’s really offers lots of entertainment as well including the beach, pool, bar, hammock and volleyball nets.
Saving the BEST for last is Barrio Cafe located in the heart of San Juan. This place is amazing for both brunch and dinner. They have the best cocktail and fresh juice menu and yummy food.
Where to party
San Juan takes their “Sunday Funday” very serious. The way Sunday Funday here is celebrated is by party hopping all day to different locations. First stop on this Sunday was Hostel Pachamama. Don’t worry about getting around from party to party drunk either. The next party destination provides shuttles to get you there fast and safe. Shuttles which are really just basic small trucks, line up outside to load tourists in the back of their trucks and take you to the next party, group by group.
The Naked Tiger is committed to their Sundays. An all night entry is about 25 USD and oh so worth it. Not only do they have a full bar, pool, and an epic view but they also have outstanding EDM DJs performing all night. It’s really like a huge rave full of fun people from all over the world.
Where to stay
I rented a gorgeous big beach front house from Home Away which I find more useful internationally than Air BNB. The best part is you can get a huge mansion like home for cheap! Typically around $400-$800 per night for a 5 bedroom home that can sleep around 12 people and includes a chef/maid for $20 per day.
Mukul is a breathtaking luxury resort about an hour and a half drive away from San Juan. Their landscaping is beyond words. I would highly recommend staying in their villas at least one night. Typically range around $400+ depending on size of course.
Pelican Eyes is another beautiful resort I had the pleasure of staying at. Their home like beach styled villas really gives you the feel of what its like to live in San Juan!
If you’re traveling solo or just passing through San Juan and want a hostel then I would recommend The Naked Tiger or Pachamama as I mentioned above since they they’re both nice and see perfect for socializing.
What to do
If you’re looking to have fun, meet people and enjoy the beach then Iguana Bar located by the beach strip is the perfect spot to do so.
If you don’t want to stay the night at Mukul then I strongly suggest just going to the resort and enjoying yourself for the day. They have an amazing cocktail bar/restaurant by their double pool deck facing the beach. It is true tranquility here. Not to mention they have the best spa I have ever been to! Upon booking a massage you have six different themed temples to choose from. This trip I booked the Crystal Temple.
You should always walk around and explore the city you are calling home. San Juan is full of old buildings, churches, markets and more. The colorful architecture right next to the beach makes this town so unique.
Random fact: Lot of locals use different ways of transportation like motorcycles, scooters, or even animals like these bulls to get around since a full take of gas can range from $30-$60 and for some people that’s a full weeks paycheck!
Tips to know before visiting
If you’re renting a vehicle from an agency then they will offer a driver for a low price of $20 per day. TAKE THIS DEAL. Trust me you do not want to drive here.
Always wear a seat belt!
Always try to buy/order bottled water
Nicaraguan Cordoba (dollar) is 31 cents to USD
Here are just a few Spanish phrases you should know,
Donde esta el baño? – where is the bathroom?
cerveza – beer
tienes una cama? – do you have a bed?
Hola como estas? – Hi how are you?
Mi nombre es… – My name is …
Thank you for reading!!