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.


Carreterra San Juan del Sur, km 139
Palermo Neighborhood
San Juan del Sur

San Juan del Sur Day School Growing Pains

Day SchoolBack in 2009, the San Juan del Sur Day School was a 1/2 day preschool for children aged 2 to 4 years. Over the last several years we’ve watched it blossom into a quality, international school educating kids from 18 months to 9 years in levels Pre-K thru 4th grade.

The teaching faculty is highly qualified and diverse, with teachers regularly putting in extra hours to re-decorate classrooms, paint playground equipment and develop new, inspiring curriculums.  The student body is growing – both in age and in the number of students per class. A Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) was formed in March 2014 to strengthen commitment and collaboration between families and staff.  And plans for the construction of a new campus are underway. No matter how you measure the history of this school, it’s growing.

[Read more…]

Best of San Juan del Sur Readers Poll

Thank you to everyone who has cast their vote to help define the Best of San Juan del Sur.  The poll is now closed and here are the results. Thanks everyone for participating!

Everyone’s got an opinion. If you’ve read our Insider Guide or you follow our blog then you’ll know our top picks in town.

But now we want you to tell us yours. So we’re taking a poll of readers and residents to discover the Best of San Juan del Sur.

To make this fair, we’re laying down some ground rules for the vote. Don’t worry, there are only 2 of them:

  1. You must fill out at least 10 questions to enter. This is to prevent people from voting for their business only.
  2. Only 1 vote per email address will be counted.

Here’s the form to cast your votes:

We’re Officially Ringing the Bell on the Holidays

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you’re thinking of spending this Christmas or New Years in San Juan del Sur, then you’re running out of time to book your accommodation.  That’s why here at San Juan Live, we’re officially ringing the bell on the holidays.

We’ve already had to turn down so many inquiries for New Years that we decided to save our followers time by pointing out where you can still find lodging in San Juan del Sur.  Don’t worry, there are still some awesome options available but you’ll need to pull the trigger on a booking soon.

Here’s 5 great places to stay in San Juan del Sur during the holidays. [Read more…]

Newton Sister City Project: One School at a Time

PreschoolThe Newton (MA) – San Juan del Sur Sister City Project has been working with folks in San Juan del Sur for over 25 years in the fields of Health, Education and Green Building. The project specializes in providing clean water systems, smoke-free cook stoves and buildings with minimal carbon footprints to families in need.  It also provides secondary education opportunities for those left out of the public high school system and supports numerous schools in the outskirts of town.  The foundation is pioneered by the tireless efforts and dedication of Kathy Knight.  

To get to the heart of the impact the project is having in the region, we interviewed Daniela Rodriquez at the preschool in the El Oro neighborhood. The school is just one of several schools built and supported by The Newton (MA) – San Juan del Sur Sister City Project. [Read more…]

Ladies & Gentlemen BRUSH Your Hair


Brush is a hair salon with a love for the surf, the sun, the sand and your hair.   Originally founded by Justin Bobby Brescia in California, the Ladies and Gents Hair Salon in San Juan del Sur opened in 2013 and is now in the creative genius hands of Natasha Lazdins, an award winning Australian hairstylist.

Brush offers all types of styling, cutting and coloring for any type of hair, whether it’s sun-kissed or not.  Located almost directly in the center of town, only one block off the main beach road in San Juan del Sur. [Read more…]

La Carreta: A Smokin’ Party on Monday Nights


Located on a choice corner on the only road leading into San Juan del Sur and the beach, La Carreta Bar y Restaurante is where it’s at on Monday nights.  It’s no secret that this corner bar has seen a few face lifts over the years, but we’ve never seen it as hopping as it currently is under Claus’ management. [Read more…]

Two Free Tickets to Pitaya Fest for a Lucky San Juan Live Subscriber


Winner: Congratulations to Ricardo Claro! Get free email updates from San Juan Live for a chance to win future prizes.

It’s coming.  Pitaya Fest 2014.  With a fantastic lineup of live music, great food, local art and handmade crafts, Pitaya Fest is THE place to be on Saturday, March 15th.

And here’s the best part – you can go to the fest for free.  Yes, totalmente libre.   Pitaya Fest has partnered with San Juan Live to offer two free tickets to one of our lucky subscribers.

Now how do you win these awesome tickets?

Simple.  All you have to do is be on our email list.  Get our updates on San Juan del Sur delivered via email for free (we hate spam, so don’t worry about that) and you could win the free tickets.  And if you’re already a subscriber, no worries – you’re already eligible to win.

We’ll pick a winner at random from San Juan Live subscribers on Wednesday, March 12th.  We’ll notify you via email and you’ll have 24 hours to claim your tickets.  Otherwise we’ll draw again and give them to the next subscriber in line.

So all you have to do is click here to sign up for updates, and you’re eligible to win.  Oh and get your festival partner to subscribe as well for a greater chance of winning.  Good luck!

Pitaya Fest
Playa Hermosa – Saturday, March 15th .
It all kicks off at 3pm.
Pitaya Fest Website
Pitaya Fest Facebook Page

Pitaya Fest: A Smokin’ Party & Festive Fundraising


Photo Credits : Justin Courter

Entering its sixth year as Nicaragua’s premier music and sustainability festival, and the only one of its kind, this year’s Pitaya returns to Playa Hermosa on March 15th – bringing romping and raging, fun-in-the-sun, and full moon festivities for locals and tourists of all ages. Pitaya Fest will transform the community of El Carizal into a rock n’ roll haven complete with national and international live music, a selection of cooperatives spanning Nicaragua from Ostional to Managua and a variety of specialty cuisines from your favorite restaurants in San Juan del Sur.
[Read more…]

All You Need is Love


Valentine’s Day is one of those emotional holidays that people either love or hate.  Either way, it’s here to stay.

In North America, the candy hearts, lovey-dovey messages and Valentine cards seem to appear on grocery store shelves the day after Christmas. In Nicaragua the Valentine vibe is much less apparent. But we’re noticing that “Día del Amor y la Amistad” (Spanish for “Day of Love and Friendship”) is becoming more celebrated in the region.

Children in San Juan del Sur don’t typically exchange Valentines at school, but the local businesses in town are starting to jump on board the celebration by offering cupid themed specials on February 14th.

Whether you’re observing 50 years of marriage or just looking for a dance partner, we’ve consolidated a list of Valentine’s Day specials around San Juan del Sur to spread the love. [Read more…]

Talkin’ About a Resolution: How to Succeed in San Juan del Sur in 2014

hammock timeAs we creep into February, I’ve started to notice some slippage in my new year’s resolutions.  We are all guilty of it.  The new year provides an opportunity for self reinvention and gives us the impetus to set new habits. But our goals quickly fade, buried under our day-to-day tasks, forgotten.  

But it doesn’t have to stay that way. I would like to remind everyone that it’s never to late to set a new year’s resolution and never to late to keep to one.  

Here are 5 suggestions to help you succeed in San Juan del Sur in 2014. [Read more…]