Nicaragua is home to miles and miles of pristine unpopulated coastline and the beaches of San Juan del Sur are some of the best in the country. Whether you are looking to surf, stand up paddleboard in calm waters, or simply relax on the beach, the beaches of San Juan del Sur provide plenty of options.
There is a wonderful beach right in the heart of town in San Juan del Sur. Lined with beachfront restaurants like Beach House, El Timon, and Josseline’s, the bay of San Juan del Sur is an easy option for those looking to quickly access the beach while staying close to all the amenities. A boardwalk allows onlookers to people watch and admire the various boats docked in the bay. This beach is a local favorite for exercising in the early morning, soccer and volley games, sunset strolls, and general outdoor activities. Because of its easy access, this beach tends to get more crowded than the other beaches listed below, especially during the holidays.
Now we’ll share some of our favorite beaches of San Juan del Sur, north and south of town, each with its own interesting characteristics and charm!
Beaches South of Town
Playa Remanso is less than a ten-minute drive from town and a very popular beach for both surfers and families. Several surf schools, including Tribu Surf give both group and private lessons at this beach. A surf lesson is an excellent way to get yourself comfortable with the water and the board before paddling out into a lineup filled with people. Surfboard rentals are available at this beach also, for all skill levels. A plus to this beach is that there are great food options. There are three restaurants to choose from here, Sauldy Bar, Restaurant Tacos Grill, and Bokana. The first two have typical Nicaraguan food and the familiar favorites of nachos, fish tacos, etc. Everyone loves the nachos from Sauldy Bar. Both Restaurants have a full bar too. Parking at this beach can sometimes be tricky because you park on the side of the road and walk in, but there is always a spot to be found. One of the huge bonuses of the beach is it’s close proximity to town and easy access. There is a late-night spot on this beach called Bokana where you can often find dancing, music, and even a bonfire on occasion.
Playa Hermosa is another famous beach only slightly further from town at about 12 kilometers or 15 minutes by car. After passing the entrance gate off the paved road you may think you are driving to the middle of nowhere, but we promise it is worth the drive. There is an entrance fee of $3 USD per person which goes towards maintenance of the access road and security. Playa Hermosa is a long, wide sandy beach that is rarely crowded. There is ample parking a few steps from the beach. The on-site restaurant has a diverse menu with great food and drinks. There are covered shade palapas with tables and hammocks where you can relax for the day and take in the views while sipping on a refreshing cocktail or Tona. Surfboard rentals are available or you can bring your own. There are outdoor showers to rinse off here after enjoying your dip in the ocean and actual bathrooms. If you think you are in love with the beach, you can even stay the night at the Playa Hermosa Ecolodge.
If you want to take a long walk by yourself, then this is the beach for you. Coming from town you turn right immediately before the “Flor de Mar” development signage and drive straight until it dead ends. The walking path places you on the north end of the beach. There is more than a half-mile of open beach here with no restaurants or houses directly on the beach, so enjoy the view and the walk. Pro tip … you can find an incredible amount of sand dollars on this beach at low tide, so keep your eyes peeled. There is one small shade spot at the south end of the beach, which is also the best spot to sit and watch the surfers. Playa Yankee is well known to the surfers as one of the best places to surf south of town but with no board rental available, bringing your board along with plenty of water is a must.
This is a gem of a beach that can be accessed through the gated neighborhood of Costa Dulce. There is an entrance fee of $5 USD per car to drive to this beach, which is well worth what awaits you. The only people on this beach are residents of the community or guests from a couple of eco-hotels. There is a nice surf break here, and you can fish from the rocks. Rancho Tortuga is a beach restaurant that serves fresh seafood and alitas (chicken wings). There is an estuary at the south end of the beach where you can walk for bird watching or stand-up paddling boarding. There are board rentals available on the beach through one of the eco-hotels, and you can even take a surf lesson.
This is a white sand beach with several access points from the main road. You can bring chairs, ice chests, food, etc. to this beach or there are several hotels and vacation rentals steps from the sand. One of our personal favorites is La Veranera. The boutique beachfront guest house lets you come in for the day and enjoy their restaurant, bar, and pool and then step out onto the sand for an ocean dip. A turtle hatchery project was added just outside the beachside gate in 2020, which means that if you are lucky, you can watch baby sea turtles hatch and make theirs to the ocean.
Playa La Flor Turtle Reserve
This is one of the very special beaches of San Juan del Sur. If you miss out on the turtle magic at Playa Coco then La Flor Turtle Reserve is a safer bet that you will see at least one or one hundred turtle sightings. This Nicaraguan Natural reserve project is on a government-protected beach where thousands of Olive Ridley and Leatherback Sea Turtles lay their eggs each year. If you are hoping to see, a mama turtle lay her eggs come at night, and bring a red flashlight. The red light is less distracting to the turtles. Once you pay your entrance fee, there are park rangers that will give you some background on the turtles and how to approach them, and then you can head out and begin your search. Park Rangers and guards will be on the beach to help you spot the turtles. Turtle season lasts from about June through March, and the turtle activity can be affected by the moon cycles. In addition to watching the moms lay the eggs, thousands upon thousands of baby turtles are hatched and released on this beach each year. Turtle releases happen at sunset and after. While there is no way to know precisely when eggs will be hatching, we have never come to this beach and have not seen at least one turtle. La Flor also has at least one Olive Ridley Arribada a year which is a mass arrival of turtles all at the same time to lay their eggs. This is a once-in-a-lifetime sight to see, and it usually lasts a few days and takes place 24-hours-a-day until the turtles are done. Arribada or not, La Flor is always worth the visit. There are serval shuttles that tour services that bring visitors to La Flor from town regularly, and it is possible to call the ranger station and check the turtle activity before making the trek out.
Other Beaches South of Town
While these are some of our favorite southern beaches of San Juan del Sur, these are not the only ones. There is also Tablas, Tamarindo, Playa Escamequita, Ostional, Playa Anima and more.
Beaches North of Town
Playa Marsella is approximately 12 minutes north of town and is known as one of the calmest beaches in the area. Large beachfront homes line the coast and create a scenic backdrop for relaxing days at this beach. Due to its calm waters, it’s a local favorite for standup paddle-boarding, swimming, and kayaking. There are two small restaurants by the beach’s northern end that serve excellent fresh seafood and the typical beach fare. Make sure to stop by Machete Cafe before or after the beach for some tasty food and good vibes.
Playa Maderas is known worldwide for its great surf and cool atmosphere. Situated 15 minutes from town, this popular beach has something for everyone. Surfers can enjoy waves for over 300 days of the year. Not a surfer? No problem! A handful of restaurants and bars provide shaded areas and a front-row seat to the action in the water and on the beach. Catch the epic sunsets at Maderas Sunset Bar with delicious fish tacos and cold beers. When the tide is low, walk north across the beach rocks amongst crashing waves to discover another less frequented beach! On your way back to town, stop by Artesano Hotel for an amazing ambiance and even better food!
One of our personal favorites, this secluded, quiet beach is one of the most northern beaches in San Juan del Sur. Located about 25 minutes from town, you definitely want a 4×4 vehicle to access this gem. The rugged access and distance mean fewer people go to this beach, which is great if you are up for the adventure. We’ve been to this beach numerous times when we have been the only people there; it’s a great option if you look to be away from crowds and have more personal time with nature. There is a little shop that serves cold beer and sometimes has food on the menu. Amenities here are sparse, so make sure you load up on the ride out if you plan to spend the day here.
There you have it, the beaches of San Juan del Sur! And there are some special ones we kept off the list; you’ll have to come to check them out for yourself😉!
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We’ll see you at the beach!