Volunteer in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

If you want to change the world you're in the right place. Volunteer tourism or service travel is not a new idea. It's also not new to San Juan del Sur or Nicaragua. For decades now Peace Corp volunteers have participated in community outreach projects, church groups have lent a hand locally and tourists have made valuable contributions while visiting San Juan del Sur.

Our goal with this page is to make these opportunities easily available to you. From small doses of community support that a short vacation allows to longer term commitments.

Read through the projects below, check out our 'Vacation with a Purpose' volunteering tour, listen to your heart and decide how you want to make a real difference to the world.

If you change the world, the experience will change you too.

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…]

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…]

Sharing Rainbows and Spreading Smiles

IMG_0330Against the backdrop of beautiful beaches, colorful wildlife and world class surf breaks, it can sometimes be hard to remember that Nicaragua has the highest poverty rate in Central America. Studies show that 47 percent of Nicaragua’s 5.7 million people survive on less than 2 dollars a day.

Despite the poverty level, Nicaragua is transitioning into one of Central America’s most popular vacation destinations.  And in an effort to bridge the gap, we’re constantly coming up with new partnerships and innovative ways to give back to the local community.

[Read more…]

The Casa Llanta Fund: Hear their voices, see their faces

photo credit // Jessica Gildersleeve

photo credit // Jessica Gildersleeve

For many, San Juan del Sur is all about the beach experience – with surfing, fishing and sailing as the main attractions.  Others are drawn to the undeveloped landscape and jungles.  And some find that the easy going lifestyle is a reminder to slow down and refocus on the substance of life that really matters.  The substance that prioritizes relationships and community service over quarterly reports and deadlines. [Read more…]

The Season of Hope

Holiday Hope in Nicaragua || A compilation of photos from Jessica Gildersleeve, Joel Johnson and Blue.

A compilation of photos from Jessica Gildersleeve, Joel Johnson and Blue.

What gift is greater than hope?  

Hope that the days to come will be better than the season that past.  Hope that compassion will eclipse cruelty. Hope that abundance will win out over poverty. Hope that health will heal. Hope that a better education will ultimately result in an improved living condition.  

Hope changes everything. 

Through our recent holiday fundraising campaign we were able to donate $1,515 dollars to various non-profits in San Juan del Sur with your help.  

Together we bought 11 Christmas buckets filled with food and household essentials for the Rancho Chilamate food drive, school books for Escuela Adelante, kindle tablets for access to higher education for the San Juan Day School, library supplies for the Biblioteca Mobile, and much needed classroom essentials for the Manos Unidas co-op of people with disabilities.  

Thanks for helping us give the gift of hope this holiday season.  We couldn’t have done it without your generosity.  

P.S. Even though our holiday fundraising campaign is officially over, it’s never too late to give.  You can donate to these non-profits year round here. 

Festive Funding Flash Mob

FESTIVE FUNDING FLASH MOB POSTHere at San Juan Live we’re conscious of the magnitude of need in Nicaragua.  The good news is that there’s a group of wonderful non-profits and socially conscious businesses that try very hard to support the local community and make a real difference to local lives.  From supplemental education for youth and programs for people with disabilities, to environmental awareness and animal care, you’ll find a program with a heart for just about every need in San Juan del Sur. 

But while their missions may be different, they all have one thing in common… the need for additional funding. 

The work that these programs do is vital to the wellbeing and development of the local community.   Which is why this holiday season San Juan Live is hosting a “Flash Mob” of festive fundraising and everyone is invited to join! 

Here’s how it works:

[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…]

Escuela Adelante: A New Kind of International School

Free smiles.  Giving time and money to making a difference in the world.  Check out this A New Kind of International School : http://sanjuandelsur.org/escuela-adelante-school/  [Awesome photo by Jessica Gildersleeve]

Photo Credit : Jessica Gildersleeve

Escuela Adelante developed organically from free English classes based out of the Biblioteca Mobile. Co-founding director Carrie Valladares, an attorney for Microsoft in Seattle, envisioned bringing international education standards to San Juan del Sur in the form of a new type of international school. With program guidance from co-founding director Jamie Hunter, an American teacher and San Juan del Sur resident with a masters degree in education and child development, and the support of a dedicated teaching staff, the program has blossomed into the vibrant bilingual language learning center that it is today.

The program is a 2 year English language course taught in congruence with the ESL course at UPOLI (Universidad Politecnica de Nicaragua) with books sourced from the Oxford University Press.  The school is accessible and has a locally tailored fee structure to establish a sense of worth to the program but without prohibiting attendance from any eager local student. [Read more…]

San Juan del Sur Loves Volleyball

USA vball coloring booksMG_3519

Did you know that Bring It Promotions Volleyball Agency has hosted over 30 college and club volleyball teams from the United States in Nicaragua?  And did you know that all 30 have come to San Juan del Sur?

That’s right, since 2007 teams from all over the US have taken on the Nicaragua national and junior teams right here in San Juan del Sur’s Parque Deportivo.

[Read more…]