San Juan del Sur

Great beaches, great food, great people, and actually affordable. This Emerald Coast town is our favorite!

View of the bay from the Christ of Mercy statue

The Beaches

Bahía San Juan del Sur
Playa Maderas
Playa Marsella
Playa Remanso
A Complete guide to the beaches can be found here

Our first sunset in SJDS in Jan 2022; looking towards Christ of Mercy Statue

Bahía San Juan del Sur
It’s not exactly the most beautiful beach, but it’s huge! There does tend to be some garbage along here, but you’ll also see several people picking up trash throughout the day. The beach is extremely wide during low tide- perfect for families and kids to play on! Note: we did happen to see quite a few jellyfish on the beach during low tide in Jan/Feb, and some yellow-bellied sea snakes when the water was very cold (also Jan/Feb). The town of San Juan del Sur is located in this bay, so there is plenty of access to great restaurants along the beach and little stores to purchase water, snacks, or anything else you might need.

Playa Maderas
This is the very well known surf beach, located about 20 minutes north of San Juan. There are surf lessons available here, as well as a few restaurants on the beach. Casa Oro (hostel in town) offers shuttles here 4x/day for $5 round trip. Otherwise, expect to pay close to $30 round trip in a taxi. Walking there sucks, I wouldn’t recommend it (from personal experience, and pushing a stroller too…). To get here, take the Chocolata north out of town and then take a left on the road to Playa Maderas/ Playa Marsella (there’s a sign). Follow the signs the rest of the way (you’ll stay left at the first fork, and right at the second). There is a large parking lot here, so it’s great if you have your own vehicle!

Playa Marsella
This beach is the calm alternative to Maderas and is the next beach to the south. With low waves and white sand, it’s a great beach for young children to play and swim at! There are two restaurants here as well- one on each end of the beach. You might even see the crocodile who lives in the fresh water near the restaurant. To get here, you’ll need to take the Chocolata north to the road to Playa Maderas/ Playa Marsella (the road where Machete Market is located) and then simply follow the signs/keep left at the forks. Parking is only on the side of the road, so be ready for that.

Playa Remanso
Remanso is known for being the beginner’s surf beach, located just 15 minutes south of town. There are a few restaurants on the beach here, so you don’t need to bring any food/drinks! Casa Oro also offers a daily shuttle here for $5 round trip. Similar to Playa Marsella, parking is only on the side of the road (there isn’t a parking lot).

Playa Remanso, Feb 2022

Playa Hermosa
There is a 100 cordoba per person entrance fee, but it’s worth it! Parking here is great- the lot is pretty large, and some spaces are even in the shade. There are several palapas and tables along the beach, along with fresh-water showers, and flushable toilets. You’re not allowed to bring in outside food and drinks, but the restaurant here has everything you’ll need during your stay (I don’t think they’d mind if you brought in something to eat though, especially with kids, as long as you buy something there too). It’s all reasonably priced- mixed drinks are $4.50, national beers are under $1.50.

The Town of San Juan

San Juan is a vibrant beach town with tourists, expats, retirees, and of course, locals. You can get pretty much whatever you need here (except blueberries, mushrooms, or SPF less than 50…) and the laid-back community is full of events and the nicest people! It’s also VERY family friendly!

Getting Around
Everything in town is very walkable. You can also take taxis (from town to La Talanguera should cost about 150 cords for foreigners).

There are a lot of fantastic restaurants here- even with vegan + vegetarian options! It’s kind of surprising for a small town in LATAM.
This is NOT a comprehensive list, as there are so many wonderful options around town, but my go-to favorites right now are:
Dale Pues (for breakfast, lunch)
The Art Warehouse (for breakfast, coffee, lunch)
Simon Says (for breakfast, lunch) *Cash only
Ding Repair Cafe (for breakfast, coffee)
Loma Pinita (for a Nica lunch, dinner)
Sauced Pizza (though everything else in the gastro garden is $$$)
The Beach House (for Sushi, dinner)

Guide to Grocery Shopping
I’ll touch on the basics here, but Gordon and Elisha from have an amazing, comprehensive blog post about exactly this. If you want in depth (with pictures!), visit their guide to groceries here.
Pali is the basic large store where you can get bulk items, and they will have a variety of options for you to choose from- it’s basically a mini Walmart grocery store.
The Sanchez stores (there are two, owned by sisters) are great for imported items like feta cheese, goldfish crackers, etc. My personal favorite of the two is the Miscelania Sanchez.
There are two really great fruit and veggie stands/stores- one is across the street from the church on the north side (Google Maps lists it as “Mercadito”) and there is another one located 1 block closer to the beach (it’s the green market, on the block between Las Delicias de Francia and Casa Oro). There is also usually a guy with a truck on the corner near Miscelania Sanchez. The other two are storefronts.
The Pan Frances bakery is great for daily fresh bread, and next door to them is Bagels and Bakes- they have a lot of vegan specialty desserts (Bagels and Bakes is cash only).