Comunidad Connect: A Model of Sustainable Tourism

The mission is simple.

Comunidad Connect supports Nicaraguan communities by matching social, economic and environmental opportunities with local and global resources.

Comunidad Connect

Photo Credit: Justin Courter

Funded by donations and tourists attempting to make minimal environmental and cultural impact, the organization strives to protect the environment, educate youth and generate future employment for local people. Since its foundation in 2006, it is impossible to quantify the magnitude of positive impact that this organization has had on San Juan del Sur over the years. Take a stroll through town and you will see its footprints in the recycling bins thoughtfully placed along the beach to the handmade recycled art products produced by the organizations’ women’s co-ops and sold in a range of hotels.

The program has three components:

Parque Deportivo, or “Sports Park”, is San Juan del Sur’s only outdoor sports center renovated and managed by Communidad Connect. Since 2007, the Parque Deportivo has played host to 16 futsala leagues, 4 basketball leagues and dozens of international women’s volleyball games and children’s clinics. Over 1200 local children and adults participate each year and approximately 2500 enthusiastic fans visit the Sports Park each month.

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La Posada Azul: The Blue Inn

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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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What Would My Life Be Like If I Lived Here?

It’s a great question. One that every real estate buyer looking at San Juan del Sur should answer before they purchase.

The good news, is that you’re in the right place.  SanJuandelSur.org is dedicated to answering the question – for both visitors and investors.

Working out whether San Juan del Sur has your right mix of lifestyle attributes is highly subjective. You’ll find the process easier once you develop a clear idea of the kind of lifestyle you desire and what you want to get out of your investment.

That’s the best place to start. Then, once you have some clarity, here are a few lifestyle factors to check off:

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Mi Bodeguita Delicatessen: A Foodie’s Delight

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It was bound to happen given San Juan del Sur’s evolution from sleeping fishing village to desirable destination. But every time I walk into Mi Bodeguita Delicatessen I’m thankful that it’s here.

Quick and easy comfort food, imported meats and cheese with a Mediterranean bias and a collection of edible exotica. There’s room in this short life for all of it.

Craving manchego cheese direct from La Mancha or a few slices of proscuito crudo? This is the place to visit. Love gourmet sausages, chorizo, pate, olives? Mi Bodeguita has you covered. And if you want to pack the perfect picnic, this tiny deli has enough to hit your palate’s sweet spots.

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San Juan Del Sur Farmers Market: Local Connections

It’s Saturday morning and pickup trucks and cars are assembling in-front of Big Wave Daves for the weekly farmers market. It’s first-come-first-get-space so vendors pile into the shady interior before the 9am start, their goods piled high.

Shopping for local, artisan products is fun. And the weekly San Juan del Sur farmers market is no exception. Wonder to the table groaning with smoked bacon and ham, check out the artisan breads and finish up at the cream pie stand. On any given week you’ll be able to choose from jerky, ribs, pork, muffins, biscuits, cheese, sausage, pastrami, empanadas, yogurt, bread, smoked fish, stew, pate, and soups. Yes, all this wonderful food is available in San Juan del Sur.

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Mercado, Market, Mercado!

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San Juan del Sur Municipal Market

Tucked behind a line of small shops, it can be hard to find San Juan del Sur’s municipal market (mercado municipal). It’s small – smaller than a city block – but is the place to visit if you are after vegetables, fruit, cheap clothes and even a hunk of freshly slaughtered meat.

You may not be able to get all your shopping done at the market – and this is not the place to buy local handicrafts – but you’ll leave with a slice of unfiltered Nicaraguan life.

Don’t miss the line of commedores serving breakfast and local Nicaraguan food on long tables in the shade. Grab a perch, nosh on gallo pinto and watch San Juan’s social and cultural life unfold.

The market is closed on Sundays.

Fish Market

The Fish Market

It’s hard to get much fresher than this. San Juan del Sur’s fish market is located behind the port where the fishing boats come in to drop off their catch. Made up of just four small stalls, you’ll find an enormous variety of seafood on offer. This changes with the tides but most days you’ll find shrimp (camaron), lobster (langosta), sole (lenguado), grouper (mero), snapper (pargo), makarel (caballa) and a type of sea bass (corvina).

Not only do you get fish for pennies on the dollar but you’re supporting local businesses and keeping the money flowing in the community.

Zen Yoga: All Levels, Every Day

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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

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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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