From Hostel to Private Apartment: San Juan Del Sur

Chicken Bus

The ride from Granada to San Juan Del Sur was not the easiest transition.  We loaded up our bags and took a taxi to the bus station.  We had to take 2 busses, one first to Rivas and another to San Juan Del Sur.  As Chicken Busses go, it wasn’t at all bad.  We had enough room, the air was flowing, and the ride went faster than expected.  It was definitely worth the $3 we paid each vs the $80 private taxi.  It wasn’t a difficult ride, but it was rather bumpy.  Luckily I slept through most of it, and Richard enjoyed his Super Freakanomics.

View from our apartment.

However, when we finally arrived in San Juan Del Sur, the hostel we booked was no longer available!  We had made reservations at Casa Oro.  As hostels go, it is the most popular backpacker/surf hostel in the city, and it got fairly positive reviews.  We booked a private room and paid online, but when we arrived the owner let us know they were unfortunately doing a last minute remodel since the neighbors were causing a lot of noise with their own remodel.  She apologized profusely, but we were concerned about where we would sleep for the night.  Most people book hostels as they go, but I really like planning ahead to stay at something clean and with good reviews.  Luckily, she recommended La Terraza Guesthouse only a half a street away.  They had an apartment room available for the same price than what we would have paid for a private room at Casa Oro!  Even luckier, although the apartment has 3 bedrooms, none of them were reserved so we essentially had our own private apartment for our entire stay.  The apartment was beautiful, and we would recommend it to anybody.  For a full review of La Terraza Guesthouse, click here.

Watching the sunset.

Our first night in San Juan Del Sur was relaxing.  We had a delicious dinner with an ocean view, and we watched the sunset from the sand.  The city was much quieter than anticipated.  There were plenty of bars that had some live music, but overall it was a fairly calm night.  We watched some performers on the sand, and we roamed the streets at night.  The surf town felt incredibly safe to walk at night.  Streets were lit up with food carts on almost every street, and there were plenty of children hanging out or playing soccer in the dark.  The walk along the coast line was especially nice walking along the lit up restaurants.

Crossing the bridge

The next morning, we woke up early to hike up to The Statue of Christ.  The hike was actually pretty fun and an exploration.  We passed the bridge to the other side, and there was only one place to stop for breakfast: a small hotel/hostel paradise.  The food was good, but I would definitely recommend getting some water and breakfast before crossing the bridge.  We were also glad we went fairly early because in the afternoon, the heat was fairly stifling.

The road isn’t marked very well, but after some referrals, we made our way up the windy residential road to the top.  There were a few miradors, viewpoints, stops on the way that made for great photo ops.

Statue of Christ in the distance.

Mirador Stop #1

At the top.

Christ of Mercy Monument

Balcony relaxation.

After our hike, we came back to the apartment to be lazy for a few hours.  I took a nap and watched some episodes of Friends while Richard relaxed on the balcony.  After a few days at the apartment, Richard really wanted to buy a hammock for our return trip.  Too bad it would not have fit in our backpacks.

Huge ants off the beaten path!

After a few hours of rest, we sought out to find a petrogylph.  We had vague direction involving passing a gas station that no longer existed, a school, and a farm area, to find a path that lead to an ancient petroglyph.  The petroglyph itself probably wasn’t worth the trouble, but we had a lot of fun on the journey.

Trekking to find this petroglyph…they all started staring at the same time….creepy…

After a few hours of searching, we finally found the petroglyph!

rooftop photo fun

We were lucky enough to get a free ride back to the city.  A tour was driving back some zip-liners from Da Flying Frog and offered a lift.  When we came back to the apartment, we took in the sunset from the roop, snatched some photos, and got ready for another dinner.  There was a cultural night at El Timon that was highly recommended.  Although it is a very touristy restaurant, the food is delicious and the entertainment was even better on their cultural night.  There was festive music, dancing, and great service.

Watching the Nica dancers


Seafood rice at El Timon is delicious!

Breakfast at Gato Negro

The next day, we planned to catch a shuttle with Casa Oro (the hostel we originally were planning to stay with still had their shuttles running) to Playa Maderas.  Although San Juan del Sur itself is a beach and surf town, the beach is no where as nice as the near by, unpolluted and unpopulated beaches.  Before taking the 1pm shuttle, we walked the streets of San Juan Del Sur and ate at the ever popular Gato Negro and explored the mercado, which has some of the cheapest and most delicious food in town.

Delicious Fresh Blueberry Pancakes and Bacon

Richard’s kept talking about this bagel even after our trip: Egg, tomato, cheese, sun-dried and garlic cream cheese, and bits of bacon.

The Menus

Great cheap eats at El Mercado

After lunch, it was time to take the shuttle to Playa Maderas.  The beach was much less crowded than we expected, since we had read that it is usually very crowded.  There were some bars on the beach to relax, and they have plenty of beach chairs to lay out in.  Later, we headed back to the back lounge where they had large mattresses for customers to relax in.  I had some yummy cocktails while Richard kicked back on some beers, and we both caught up on our reading.

Playa Maderas

Beach time!

Balcony of the restaurant

Plenty of empty beach chairs

Relaxing day at the beach.

We were happy our last day in San Juan del Sur was by far our most relaxing.  We returned on the shuttle at around 5pm and had our final ocean side dinner, with eskimo dessert and late night tacos.

Our final meal in San Juan del Sur. I was craving clams.

After dinner, we walked the streets a bit and stopped by some of the nightlife scene San Juan is known for, but we eventually made it back to our apartment to get ready for an early bus ride.  San Juan del Sur’s chill surf vibe make it an ideal destination for any vacationer with a low-key adventure in mind.

You might also enjoy:
10 Things We Bought for Less than $3 in Nicaragua
Nicaragua Lodging: A Review

3 thoughts on “From Hostel to Private Apartment: San Juan Del Sur

  1. So weird to see… I’ve actually had a drink at Timon and ate at Gato Negro. 🙂 Our hostel was over the bridge – I wonder if it’s where you ate before hiking to the statue?

    • Most of them leave really regularly, and they all come from bus station. In some cities, there are 2 bus stations though. You can either catch a shuttle/chicken bus/large more expensive bus. In every city we went to, we just asked for directions or double checked our map. =] Send me an e-mail if there are particular routes you’re thinking about. =]

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