What's Happening in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua?

Welcome to San Juan Live - your guide to one of the most authentic, relaxed and sunniest spots around.

The exquisite views, dramatic headlands and sandy coves will draw you in at first. Then you'll find it's time to discover the vibrant surfing scene, the recreational opportunities in the interior, the seafood restaurants on the sand and the welcoming personality of a small fishing village set on a perfect crescent of sand that's rapidly putting itself on the map as Nicaragua's most important lifestyle destination.

Apart from the occasional cruise ship that anchors in the half-moon bay, this is not a coast of glitzy mega-resorts, high rises and air-conditioned buses packed with camera-toting tourists. San Juan de Sur with its brightly painted wooden houses and red tin roofs retains a refreshingly rustic charm that draws in visitors seeking a low-key spot that eschews pretension. The town still has some rough edges and unlike many other tropical getaways, you'll find life here very affordable.

Over the years nomadic surfers from California, retirees, US and Canadian snowbirds, artists, and even the occasional celebrity have snapped up property and put down roots, making way for a growing expatriate community. But despite the snazzy homes starting to dot the hillsides, the region remains casual and unassuming.

We keep you informed about the events, activities, restaurants, volunteering and real estate news you need to get the most out of San Juan del Sur.

Plus our community profiles, relocation information and the 180 page content-packed Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur will give you a deeper flavor for the kind of lifestyles and experiences on offer. Use our categories at the top of the site as a starting point, sign up for our free updates, or head to the home page to learn all about what San Juan del Sur has in store for you.

Meet your editors, Brooke and Claudia

Brooke Rundle

Brooke moved from California to San Juan del Sur in 2007. As a sales agent with Coldwell Banker Nicaragua from 2007 – 2014, she’s led dozens of real estate tours through every neighborhood and mountain range in the region. Since 2011 she stepped into a sales and marketing role at Villas de Palermo Resort and over the years she’s organized and hosted numerous types of surf, sports and service tours throughout Nicaragua with various visiting schools, churches and tour operators.

San Juan del Sur is a town that inspires adventure, creativity and service.” She says, “I originally came seeking surf and adventure. I’ve stayed all these years because of the people.”

She co-founded the Casa Llanta Fund providing English classes and scholarships for students in the neighborhood of El Carizal and assisted with the founding of a sustainable women’s cooperative called Condimentos del Carizal which produces and sells homemade jams. She also co-founded Manos Unidas, a cooperative for adults with disabilities to make and sell handmade tote bags from re-purposed rice bags.

Claudia Gonella

Claudia first ventured to Nicaragua in 2000, initially living in Granada, then Managua and finally in San Juan del Sur.

I finally found the Nicaragua I love,” she says. “San Juan del Sur brings me closer to nature, closer to community and closer to fun than any other place I know”.

She ran a real estate brokerage in Nicaragua for over a decade and today is a freelance writer, editor and trip designer dedicated to help others learn more about this authentic, quirky and beautiful region.

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Carreterra San Juan del Sur, km 139
Palermo Neighborhood
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How to Reinvent Yourself in 2017

photo credit// @pineapples

photo credit// @pineapples

As 2016 fades away behind us, I’ve been reflecting on ways to reinvent myself, my business and my non-profit (again) in 2017.  I find myself nearly overwhelmed with a combination of both grief and gratitude.  How can so much good and evil co-exist in the world? Can any one of us make a difference? Is there still hope remaining? 

I need to believe that the new year provides an opportunity for self and communal reinvention.  I have faith that humanity has the capacity to forgive, heal, change and grow.  I believe that in the end, love and peace will eventually win.  

So while new year’s resolutions may simply be a man-made impetus to start over, this year’s resolution feels extra important. Here are 4 intentions to reinvent yourself in 2017:

1. Be an advocate for a good cause. 

There’s never been a better time to support a grassroots organization in San Juan del Sur. Non-profits are feeling the financial squeeze left over from lingering feelings of fear and scarcity. And yet, the town continues to develop while the cost of living for locals rises.  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we encourage you to make a financial contribution this year to improve the quality of education that locals have access to.  In 2017, let’s make it our mission to empower these Nicaragua non-profits year-round.

2. Live in the moment.

The power of now is one of Nicaragua’s greatest life lessons. Time is measured differently in a region where entire communities lack access to electricity, running water and private transportation. Subsistence farmers and fishermen know there are no guarantees for tomorrow.  Let’s make it our intention to make the most of today. 

3. Simplify

In a society that glorifies wealth, minimalist living goes against the flow. We are inundated daily with advertisements that promote consumerism and a lifestyle of abundance. Making a conscious choice to spend less money, own less possessions, create less waste and commit to fewer obligations can be wildly freeing. Change your priority to time with loved ones and see what that does for your perspective this year. 

4.  Do something brave. 

Maybe you want to learn how to surf or finally book a plane ticket and learn what life is like in Nicaragua on one of our relocation tours. It could something big like buying real estate in Nicaragua, or something important like simply having a hard conversation with a loved one.  

For me it’s being more vulnerable in my writing. What’s yours?  We want to hear it!

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Give the Gift of Hope This Holiday Season

photo credit // Thomas Kelley

photo credit // Thomas Kelley

The time is now and it’s all happening!

This holiday season we are walking along side non-profits that serve our community in San Juan del Sur.  We supporting Rancho Chilamate as they deliver much needed Christmas buckets filled with food and household essentials to rural communities south of town.  We’re helping Escuela Adelante buy new school books for local children. We’re paying for the school bus for people with disabilities at Manos Unidas. And we’re providing 7 scholarships for students in the Carizal Community through Comunidad Connect. 

These non-profits are doing incredible things and we need your help.  We realize there’s a lot of wonderful causes pulling at your pocketbook this holiday season.  But if you’ve enjoyed vacationing in Nicaragua or purchased real estate here, we hope that you can invest a little more in improving the lives of the locals as the town and country develops with tourism. 

We still need 27 more people to donate $25 each in order match our fundraising goal of raising $1,000 for these 4 great non-profits at work in our community of San Juan del Sur.  


Here’s our Festive Funding Wish List:

photo credit // Rancho Chilamate

photo credit // Rancho Chilamate

1. Rancho Chilamate Christmas Bucket Drive – $250

Each December, Rancho Chilamate delivers Christmas buckets filled with food and household essentials to rural communities south of San Juan del Sur. This year we’re buying blankets, towels, cooking oil, sugar, flour, salt, toothpaste, detergent, soap, candles, matches, soup mixes, baby formula and kitchenware to buckets for these families in need.  You can buy a family a bucket for $25. We’re looking for cowboys to step up and buy a bucket.   You can donate directly to Rancho Chilamate here. 

2. Books for Escuela Adelante – $250

Escuela Adelante provides high quality, alternative education in Spanish and English to students in San Juan del Sur. With over 110+ local Nicaraguan students attending the supplemental education program, they need additional funding for school books. Supplying books for the students in this program is critical to the success of the students. Help us buy books! You can donate directly to Escuela Adelante here.*501(c)3 certified donation.

3. Manos Unidas co-op for People with Disabilities – $250

Manos Unidas is a cooperative for adults with disabilities in San Juan del Sur. The program empowers people with disabilities through a cooperative where students learn how to craft stylish tote bags out of repurposed rice bags which are sold to support their families.  This program holds a special place in our hearts since Brooke is the co-founder.  You can contribute to ongoing needs of this program by making a donation via San Juan Live’s Festive Funding page here.

4. Scholarships for Students through Comunidad Connect – $250

The Casa Llanta Fund has partnered with Comunidad Connect to offer scholarships to students in the rural community of El Carizal. We are currently raising money to give 7 students the opportunity to go to a university or trade school in 2017.  Please help us send these kids to college.  You can donate directly to Comunidad Connect here.*501(c)3 certified donation.


We believe that together we can make a difference in the lives of our neighbors and lift up our community. If everyone just gives $25 each, we can make a HUGE impact! This holiday season, please consider supporting one of these causes.

The Festive Funding Flash Mob is here!

FESTIVE FUNDING FLASH MOB POSTIt’s that time of year again. We’re ringing the bell on the holidays early this year to provide much needed financial support to NGO’s actively working to empower the lives of locals in San Juan del Sur.  These NGO’s work tirelessly to improve the wellbeing and contribute to the development of the local community.  You’ll find a program with a heart for just about every need here. 

At San Juan Live we believe in helping our neighbors, which is why this holiday season we’re hosting another “Flash Mob” of festive funding and everyone is invited to join! 

Here’s how it works:

[Read more…]

The San Juan Live Black Friday Sale Starts Today

BLACK FRIDAY

The Black Friday Sale has now ended. Thank you.

Can you believe it’s almost December?

In the spirit of the holidays, we’re dropping the price of the Insider Guide To San Juan del Sur and The Real Estate Market Report for San Juan del Sur and the Emerald Coast starting right now…

Until this Tuesday you can get:

  • The Insider Guide to San Juan del Sur for $4.99 – That’s a saving of 37%. So if a trip to Nicaragua is in your future travel plans, now is the time to get the guidebook on San Juan del Sur.
  • The Real Estate Market Report for San Juan del Sur and the Emerald Coast for $4.99 – So if you’re interested in buying property here or you have property to sell, now is the time to get the Real Estate Market Report.
  • Both the Insider Guide and the Real Estate Market Report for just $6.99 – That’s a saving of more than 50% if you bought the two separately. So get the discount while you can.

On midnight, December 1, the prices will go back up.

Happy Holidays!

The Black Friday Sale has now ended. Thank you.

Keep Giving Thanks

November has been an emotional month.  The recent presidential elections in the United States and Nicaragua have stirred up emotions and feelings of uncertainty about the future of both countries.

One thing is clear, we’re experiencing a season of change. And in times of change, it’s often helpful to name and rededicate ourselves to the causes making a positive impact in our local community.

So this Thanksgiving I’m giving thanks to these grass roots organizations dedicated to educating and empowering locals. [Read more…]

See what your life could look like in San Juan del Sur

Picture this: you wake up in the morning and walk out to your balcony to feel the gentle breeze from Lake Nicaragua and listen to the tropical birds. The sun is shining, so you put on your swimsuit, grab your surfboard and head to the nearby beach.

You follow it up with a dip in the pool and order a fruity cocktail with a plate of plantains and fried cheese (tostones con queso) plus a side of fresh salsa. After soaking up the sun by the pool, you return to your villa to read a magazine in the rocking chair on your private porch overlooking the bay. Your friends pop round in time to watch the sun slowly dip into the ocean.

It doesn’t have to be a dream. Take a peak at what your life could look like:

Right now, 2 bedroom ocean view villas are available at Villas de Palermo starting at $110,000. That’s a lot of house for your money. Take a look.

In a recent article by Dwell, Award-winning landscape architect Margie Ruddick explains landscape architecture as the discipline in which, “the sometimes murky but exquisitely beautiful world of ecologists intersects with design“.

For nature enthusiasts who want to be as close as as they can get to the wild outdoors without compromising comforts, the villas at Palermo Hotel & Resort are the best of both worlds.

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Meet the locals: Who is the real Chuka?

I’d heard rumors about the artist from San Juan de Oriente who comes to San Juan del Sur on weekends only to sell his art.  I’d followed his trail of Pre-Columbian spiritual inspiration mixed with a modern Day of the Dead flavor hanging on walls in trendy places like Gato Negro and King Curry. There are plenty of street vendors on the malecon trying to get an extra buck by selling imposter paintings. But who is the real Chuka? We tracked him down.

Chuka“I was born in San Juan de Oriente. I am a descendant of indigenous people in my pueblo. To understand me, you must understand the roots of my ancestors.  [Read more…]

Meet the Locals: Richard Morales

Welcome to “Meet the Locals” – a new series of posts where we introduce you to San Juan del Sur locals (#Sanjuañenos) and chronicle their stories. We know our readers are going to love reading about other people in the community so we’re excited to make the introductions.

Ricardo Morrales

“I was born in Las Delicias and raised by my mother. She worked as a cook on a military base earning 350 cordoba each month. It was not always enough to feed us.  I dropped out of school in 6th grade because I felt that I had to help support my family. [Read more…]

Celebrating the Best of San Juan Live 2015

Favorite posts from 2015As the new year approaches, we wanted to celebrate the highlights of the one about to pass.

It’s been a big year here at San Juan Live. Our traffic has doubled compared to the previous year, we’ve added hundreds of new subscribers to our email lists, we launched the San Juan Live Real Estate Marketplace, completely overhauled our learning centers, and hosted our first funding flash mob to support local non-profits.

We also published a wide range of content to help our readers get the most out of San Juan del Sur and Nicaragua. We feel fortunate that so many people are turning to us to learn about the experiences and lifestyles on offer in this sunny part of the world.

And so, without further ado, here are our favorite posts of 2015: [Read more…]

Giving Thanks

Giving ThanksWriting a post for things we’re thankful for in San Juan del Sur has become a Thanksgiving tradition at San Juan Live.  It reminds us to feel grateful not only for the warm waves and beautiful sunsets that Nicaragua consistently delivers, but also for the day-to-day dedication of people that often goes unnoticed, for the silver lining in experiences that didn’t quite go as planned and for the changes in town that we can reflect upon as signs of positive progress.

So as is customary at Thanksgiving, we’d like to keep the thanks alive in San Juan del Sur.  Here are 5 more things we’re grateful for: [Read more…]