Arribas: A Beachfront Bar with Great Vibes


On some nights, the crowd at Arribas will keep dancing until 4 or 5 in the morning. This kind of popularity does not happen by chance. The owners have spent the time to build out an imaginative event calendar mixing in guest DJs, special party nights, live benefit concerts and sports screenings.

The brushed concrete floor, metal furniture, hardwood railings and clean lines give the place a stripped back, minimalist vibe that carries all the nighttime activity effortlessly. Make sure you check out the meticulously built Flor de Caña bottle wall at the entrance when you next walk by.

As the sun begins to set and the air cools, out come the squashy cushions and the sofas on the sand. Grab a spot fast as as few hours later it will be standing room only as the DJs take things up a notch and the place transforms from cocktail bar to nightclub.

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El Timón: Watch Live Performances & Sample Nicaraguan Cuisine


Photo Credit: Justin Courter

Located in a prime beachfront position, shaded by a tall, multi-level thatch roof, El Timón has been serving up typical Nicaraguan food since 1979. It’s easily one of the most established restaurants in town.

Practically every visitor comes at least once during their stay to watch live performances while sampling delicious local specialties. It’s hard to miss: El Timon is located right where the main entrance road meets the beach.

But the secret to El Timón’s long lived popularity is not just the prime location. The food and drink stand up well and the owners keep adding new events, introducing new dishes and inviting skillful performers.

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A Superb Panorama Awaits You At El Jardin Hotel & Restaurant


Overlooking the superb panorama of Nacascolo bay, this 11 roomed boutique hotel has one of the best views of the area. And, around here, that’s saying something…

Perched on a hill and drenched in a spectrum of bright paint colors, the boxy architecture of the hotel cleverly exploits the areas greatest resources – sun and sea. The large swimming pool is surrounded by sprawling terraces and chaise longues to laze around in. Those seeking a shadier spot can steal away to smaller seating areas dotted around the place, or retreat to their private terrace (most of the rooms have one).
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We’ve Got a Lot of Love for Howler Bar


“Would you like that served in a coconut, chicas?”

We’d just ordered two spicy rum drinks and started a conversation with the friendly barman. “Yes please!” we answered. I mean who doesn’t want a drink served in a coconut? It’s an appropriate introduction to Howler Bar, a hip new entrant on San Juan del Sur’s bar scene.

The place is fast building a reputation for the most creative cocktail and food menu around town. On our visit everyone was ripping into their fantastic garlic fries and knocking back Mojitos. But we went straight for the beautifully marinated beef kebabs and Howler ensalada. And those drinks we ordered? Perfectly balanced and outrageously spicy (we went for the jalapeño number).

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Pelican Eyes Hotel and Resort: Luxury On San Juan del Sur’s Doorstep


If you had the pick of any location in San Juan del Sur for a hotel, you’d probably choose Pelican Eyes. While there may be higher hills overlooking the bay, few locations deliver the magic combination of full bay views and close proximity to downtown while still managing to feel a million miles away from it all.

From the minute you drive past the the pair of pelicans gracing the entrance gate, you’ll be impressed. The hay-bale construction of this resort allows for a curved, flowing design that befits the contoured landscape. The collection of individually designed studios, multi-story town homes and family sized villas are linked by winding hand made brick pathways. Each turn delivers a surprise – a fountain, an intimate little plaza or a small statue.

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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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La Posada Azul: The Blue Inn


After a tasteful renovation in 2007, La Posada Azul went from historic family house built in 1910 to perhaps the most delightful boutique inn in San Juan del Sur. The public spaces – especially the large sala and wide veranda that runs the length of the house – conjure the feel of a stylish, well-furnished hacienda.

While the historic sensibility of the home has been retained, you’ll find all the modern conveniences needed for a comfortable stay. Each of the 7 rooms is uniquely decorated with wicker furniture and regional art to take advantage of the high ceilings and wooden floors. Brightly painted bathrooms, plush cotton towels, 100% cotton sheets, excellent mattresses and beautiful throws round things off in style.

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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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