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

Pan de Vida: Raising the Bread Bar in San Juan del Sur

I find it hard to imagine my eating life in San Juan del Sur without Pan de Vida. The artisan bakery opened its doors in 2008 and has been turning out gorgeous breads, cookies and cakes ever since. They also run a popular line in briny rosemary focaccias (especially delicious in my view), chewy sourdough breads, plump cinnamon raisin loaves and gutsy coffee cakes.

How did we manage without it? The answer: A four hour round trip to La Colonia supermarket in Managua. Before Pan de Vida, if you lived in San Juan del Sur, that was the only way to get good quality bread.

Now all we have to do is follow the enticing scent of fresh baked bread into downtown San Juan del Sur, push open the swing doors and choose between the loaves piled high on wooden tables or arranged in wicker baskets in an antique cupboard. Even if a loaf is the only thing on your list, you’ll probably walk away with something else bought on impulse – a chocolate chip cookie maybe, perhaps cornbread or a couple of slices of carrot cake, lovingly wrapped in brown paper.

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How to Use Four Hours on a Sailboat to Recharge Your Soul


Photo Credit : David Kalani

With a quiet whoosh the sleek hull of the catamaran slices through the blue waters of the Pacific, its sails snapped tight. There’s an elemental pleasure that comes from harnessing the wind and after visiting San Juan del Sur for more than a decade, I’ve learned that there’s no better way to experience this stunning coastline. Yes you could take a motorized boat, hike the high cliffs or stroll along the beaches, but that can’t compare with the intimate connection with the ocean that you get under sail.

We set of in the early afternoon. The offshore winds fill the mainsail as we round smoothly out of San Juan del Sur bay. Captain Zach keeps us close to the shore and I watch the beautiful bays of Nacascolo and Marsella pass by, the gentle tingle of ocean spray on my face.

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SJDS Biblioteca: A Gateway to Education

Mobile Library
The San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Publica is a free public library open to everyone that crosses its path.  Located across the street from Central Park in the heart of town, it’s doors open every day except for Sundays.  The library consists of over 12,000 books, primarily in Spanish, for students and patrons to borrow, browse and return.  The library also hosts free classes covering a myriad of topics including public health, English classes, literacy and crafts for children.  The library offers a safe and healthy place for children to read, learn, study and get lost in imagination.  Upon seeing the walls and shelves lined with children’s art, inspiring posters, educational games and stuffed animals it’s no wonder this is one of the most popular non-profits in town for children of all ages.
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Zen Yoga: All Levels, Every Day

yoga 1

If you have tried googling San Juan del Sur yoga, then you know that there is no shortage of yoga class, retreats and teacher training options that show up online.  The reality is that many of the websites are outdated and the instructors have long since left town.

Zen Yoga is the first and only real yoga studio in San Juan del Sur with a variety of levels, consistent instructors and regular class schedules.  No matter what day of the week it is, you can be certain of finding a quality yoga class available at Zen’s outdoor yoga studio centered in the heart of San Juan del Sur.  Located just one block west of the church square and surrounded by Fundacion Tierra’s beautiful nursery gardens, this two-storey outdoor studio capturing sea breezes and ocean views is an oasis of oxygen.

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Wrap n Roll: Prepared Just For You

Wrap N Roll

The doors at Wrap n Roll open at 11.00AM each day, and from then on the wraps keep rolling out the door. Whenever you arrive the wraps are freshly prepared right in front of you.

Located in an unassuming building 15 mts north of Casa Oro, Wrap n Roll is the perfect place to soak up San Juan del Sur’s casual vibe. It may serve the wraps quickly but Wrap n Roll is no ordinary fast-food joint.

If you find Kenny Nakai, the owner, perched on one of the high stools be sure to say hello.

We like all of the wraps, quesadillas and noodle bowls on offer. They’re all tasty, cheap and authentic and there’s something for everyone on the menu. But if we had to choose, these three would be at the top of our list:

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Bambu Beach: Great Food, Relaxed Yet Elegant

When Bambu Beach first opened its doors, it was the only dining spot on the beach that could be described as having a modern vibe – chic even.

Since then the choice of beachfront restaurants has broadened considerably but Bambu Beach with its polished bamboo dividers, cool swimming pool, and attractive high tables still retains a forward looking feel.

But perhaps more important, the food never disappoints.  Its fusion menu pulls in influences from the Mediterranean, Asia and Mexico and the chalked up list of daily specials offers more of a sense of place with local seafood dishes prominent. There’s something to suit every lunch and dinner palate — and with a gorgeous presentation to boot. On any given day you could find Orange Chili Mackerel, Lobster in Garlic Sauce, Fettuccine with Shrimp, a mixed Seafood Grill or even New York Steak on the specials list.

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