Nicaragua may receive weekly recognition in international news and travel websites for its world class surf, luxury spa escapes and developing real estate market, but can you really take your children on a trip to the country?
The answer now is yes. San Juan del Sur can be the perfect family vacation spot. So if a family vacation to Hawaii filled with sun, surf and culture just isn’t in your budget this year, you may want to consider a trip down south. We’ve compiled a list of 11 activities for you and your kids to do in Nicaragua’s most popular beach town.
1. Take a day trip to Playa Hermosa, San Juan del Sur’s most family friendly beach. The $3 per person entrance fee that you pay at the gate ensures uncrowded beaches, added security and access to showers, shade and bathroom facilities that you won’t find anywhere else in the region. The beach bottom is comprised almost entirely of sand (except for one section of rocks identified by warning signs) offering perfect learning conditions for aspiring young surfers, boogie boarders and body surfers. Thatched palm palapas offer shaded hammock space for nap time and the beach front bar and grill has a great kids menu.
2. Visit the Central Park located directly in front of the Catholic church. The park is the most kid friendly destination in town, offering swings, slides and a climber. Children up to age 6 are sure to make local friends quickly on the playground.
3. Sail through the trees in Palermo. If your kids are over the age of 7 years, then a visit to the ‘Da Flying Frog zip-line canopy tour is a must. Offering seventeen stations of pure adrenaline, this jungle adventure could easily be the highlight of your vacation. This is also your best chance at spotting a Howler monkey!
4. Volunteer by teaching English. Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon from 2-3:30 Comunidad Connect teaches English and literacy classes in the local community of ‘El Carizal’. The children in the school range from 2 to 18 years. You’ll be surprised by how easily your children are able to communicate, play and interact with the local children despite the language and cultural barriers. It will also be an educational experience for them to see what a local school looks like.
5. Go swimming in any of the various resort swimming pools open to the public. For a minimal entrance fee or the price of meal, most resorts in town open their pools to visitors. Many offer spectacular ocean views and bar service for the parents while the kids can entertain themselves with a good-old-game of “Marco Polo”. Contact us for a list of kid friendly pools in the area.
6. Take a surf lesson. Many of San Juan del Sur’s many surf shops offer hourly surf lessons for kids of all ages. Soft top boards are available to minimize the chance of injury. Many local instructors speak English. The gentle waves in the sandy bottom bay of San Juan offer the perfect learning location for your child’s first time out on a board. Be sure to bring your camera!
7. Play Frisbee golf. Yes, that’s right; Nicaragua’s most famous sleepy little fishing village is now home to a frisbee golf course. And it’s the perfect 1/2 day getaway for a change in pace. At Marsella Valley Nature Center, you and your children can play, run around, scream, climb trees and do anything else your heart desires on this off the beaten path jungle course.
8. Go horseback riding on the beach. A gentle ride along one of Nicaragua’s uncrowded beaches is sure to be a family highlight. A great option is Rancho Chilamate horseback tours. Your family can dress like cowboys, saddle up and get professional family portraits taken all in day. English speaking local experts will guide your family through the nature reserve at Las Fincas to the beautiful untouched beaches of Escamequita.
9. Pay a visit to the San Juan del Sur Day School. Daily and weekly bi-lingual classes are offered to the public for short and long term visitors and residents. Your child will make international friends and experience a whole new side of Nicaragua. This is not your typical school; subjects range from math and science to yoga and surfing. Learn more about the school here.
10. Take a Spanish class with your child. Make your vacation an educational one. There’s no better way to learn about Nicara history and culture of Nicaraguan. We’d bet you will be surprised at how quickly your children pick-up new vocabulary words. Spanish Ya offers daily and weekly classes and home-stays in a wonderful learning environment.
11. Visit the Biblioteca Publica and check out a book. Located directly across the street from the Central Park, this free library is open to the public. Your child will find a variety of books in both English and Spanish. While you are there you can volunteer to assist in delivering books to schools in the surrounding local community. Be sure to leave a donation to support the ongoing operation of the library.