January 2018 we traveled to San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. aka Nica! We usually go to Mexico so this was a change for us. We researched flights for quite a few months and flying into Liberia, Costa Rica was the most affordable for us. Seven and half hours later we arrived in Liberia. We were staying at a friends place in Nica so he had arranged a driver for us. It’s about an hour drive to the Libera/Nica border. If you are thinking Canadian/US style border – think again. They are run down buildings with water damage, the screening of luggage was a foldable wooden table. You have to get out of your car on Costa Rica side and go through their border crossing, then walk across to the Nicaragua building. Which was quite interesting as it was now 8PM and dark. Basically we were flying by the seat of our pants and by the time the whole process ended we were laughing. It was out a movie. One hour later we arrived in Nica. Were we happy to see a Tona! The local beer. Its delicious by the way.
Our villa was called Casa Suenos and was situated in a gated community up on a hill. A 5 min walk to downtown. Things I can recall on the first night was holy $%^& it was muggy! It felt amazing! We hit the town walking and enjoyed a nice dinner and did some touring. San Juan is about 7 streets one way and 3 streets the other way. There are zero street signs or house numbers. There is no direction on most roads and you can drive a car, motorbike, bus, horse etc on any street. I loved this!!! You shop at the local market unless you drive over an hour away to Managua with Walmart etc. We never left!
We learned quickly our favourite routes to hike in the morning, favourite restaurants and where the best coffee was. Nica has amazing coffee! I would get an iced coffee at my favorite Beach House Restaurant and it came with a cinnamon stick. SO Delicious!! Avocado was amazing and huge!! Shop around – the prices were all over the map!
We rented a motorbike for 24 hours for $30 US and toured Hermosa beach where Survivor was filmed and Playa Maderas – the famous surfer beach. Majority of the roads are dirt roads. Interesting fact: When Survivor was filming they paved a 5 KM stretch to Hermosa beach – this road is great for venturing out! It also takes you to La Flor beach where they release the turtles. Probably one of the best days we had.
We hiked to the Jesus Statue (Proper term: Mirador del Cristo de la Misericordia). What a view! This is a STEEP hill and it knocks the wind out of you – but so worth it! Locals pay $1 US and gringos bay $2 US. Definitely a must. We went quite a few times – yes a few times were on a side by side or motorbike!
Nica is full of Canadian and American locals. Truly a wonderful group – everyone knows everyone and everyone was friendly! Our house came with a lady named Katalina that maintained all the rentals. You could hire her too cook, she booked tours for us, she taught us Spanish. She was an amazing part of our trip – the most beautiful lady ever! We met more Canadian snow birds at the local sports bar and would play crib and drink $1 beers.
We hired a driver and went to Granada for the day! Spanish Colonial city with so much history. Must tour the broken islands – one highlight of the trip! We even went to a live volcano – wasn’t as excited as I expected but hey, I can say I’ve been there! lol
Trying to keep this short — on a final note — you must love rum. Flora de Cana to be exact. Its in expresso flavour, coconut flavour and $1 a rum at most places. I was partial to rum & ginger with lots of fresh lime! Delicious while hanging out by the pool. If you are a wine lover like myself – not a great selection here.
We really did spend 3 weeks relaxing. Some days doing nothing but laying in a hammock. There is so much more to see – that we must go back. I can’t wait! The weather is perfect! 29C during the day 24C at night.
One travel suggestion is on the way home – fly out of Managua – it may cost a bit more but it’s just not worth fighting that Nica/Costa Rica border when you have a flight to catch. You are in no rush on the way in – so I would still fly into Liberia. It was very stressful with buses, semi trucks, people etc trying to cross over that morning we flew out and we even gave ourselves 4 hours!
Last but not least – We met this cat at our house and we called him Gato – cat in spanish. He used to live at the neighbours house – his owner moved and took him but the cat came back. So 4 years later he lives in the grass behind the house and showed up 15 minutes after sunset. 5:45 every day to be exact. This was the best part of my day! lol I’m the biggest animal lover and it broke my heart he didn’t have a home. Yes I have researched like a crazy person about flying him to Canada. Until then, the beautiful Katalina sends me pictures of him. I must go back just to see Gato.
SO thankful my bestie since Grade 2 was able to experience this with us! Who knew this is where we would be many many years later 🙂
Go to San Juan Del Sur. If you don’t want commercialization and a star bucks on every corner, you will fall in love with this little surf town. We did.
Send me any questions you have!