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San Juan del Sur Basics

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Scenes of San Juan del Sur

Fast Facts: San Juan del Sur


San Juan del Sur is a small beach town located on a semi-circular bay, just 20 miles from the border with Costa Rica. With a population of just 18,000 people, most of whom are involved in fishing or operating businesses that cater to the tourists that find the town's surf and its vibe so appealing, the town is very accessible.

San Juan del Sur's economy is based on tourism--it's a favorite haunt of surfers and ecotourists from North America and Europe. The town is also a draw for Managua residents who come on weekends.

San Juan del Sur's tropical climate is almost always sunny, hot and humid. There are two seasons in San Juan del Sur: the Dry Season, which lasts from November through April, and the Rainy Season, which lasts from May through October. It's hot and humid in the dry season, and hotter and even more humid during the rainy season.


San Juan del Sur map


First Impressions


San Juan del Sur beach
©2013 Fashiondetective, under cc-by-sa 3.0 license

San Juan del Sur is a small beach town, perched behind the strand that stretches along the bay for three-quarters of a mile from north to south. Thatched roofed cafes and bars have staked out their place along the beachfront, and behind them is the sleepy town that is only a few blocks deep. It's the kind of town that you want to check out to see what makes it tick; but alas, the vast majority of ship's excursions don't allow you that luxury, instead whisking you to Granada or Masaya or to Lake Nicaragua for a full day's adventure, and making it back to town just in time to board the tender and sail away.

Your ship will lay anchor in the bay, and passengers are transported to shore aboard your ship's tenders. You'll land on the dock at the south end of the bay, where a small band greets you with Nicaraguan music. Here you'll also find a small group of vendors hawking their wares of locally-made craft items, ersatz cigars and post-dated bags of coffee. It's a 5 minute walk from the dock to the center of San Juan del Sur. If you're going on a shore excursion, you'll board your transportation at the dock.

While San Juan del Sur played a supporting role during the California Gold Rush era (see our history section), today the town is a Mecca for surfers and ecotourists. It's an easy going place, where life goes on in the town much as it has for a hundred years, but with high technology making it more accessible to the gringos. You can watch sports events taking place as you enjoy a meal in one of the cafes, and surf the internet via a Wi-Fi connection after a day of surfing on the waves.

Since your trip to San Juan del Sur may be the only time you'll ever spend time in Nicaragua, and you'll be spending most of that time in transit between San Juan del Sur and Granada or Masaya or to Lake Nicaragua for a full day's adventure, just sit back and enjoy the hospitality of the Nicaraguans that you meet. They're wonderful and hospitable people, and the country is a beautiful place. It's just a pity that their government has so ill served them over the years.


Time Zone


San Juan del Sur is on Central Time, six hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time during. Nicaragua does not observe Daylight Savings Time.

Nicaragua flag San Juan del Sur Local Time
 


Language


Spanish is universally spoken in San Juan del Sur; many of the shopkeepers catering to tourists also speak English.


Currency


Currency



Cordoba Oro

The Cordoba Oro is Nicaragua's official currency, and uses the "C$" sign to denote the cordoba amount. Banknotes come in denominations of C$10, C$20, C$50, C$100, C$200 and C$500. Coins come in denominations of 5, 10, 25, 50 centavos, and C$1, C$5 and C$10 Cordobas.

The current US Dollar/Nicaragua Cordoba exchange rate is as follows:


Banks and ATMs

A few banks with ATM machines can be found in San Juan del Sur. ATM machines can be found at the following locations:

  • BAC: On the Malecon, just at the corner of the Hotel Casablanca. BAC is a member of the PLUS network.

  • BanCentro: has a branch with an ATM just half a block east of the Restaurante El Timon (which is located on the Malecon).

San Juan del Sur ATM Map


Map icon

See our San Juan del Sur ATM map for the locations of the above ATMs.


Using US Dollars in San Juan del Sur

US dollars are widely accepted in San Juan del Sur, so you don't have to change your dollars into cordobas. If you're using dollars alone, make sure to bring smaller denominations to pay for incidentals and taxi rides. Your change will be given to you in cordobas.


Weather


Internet Cafe
©2008 Mat Honan, under cc-by-sa 2.0 license

San Juan del Sur enjoys a tropical climate. There are two seasons in San Juan del Sur: the Dry Season ("summer"), which lasts from November through April, and the Rainy Season ("winter"), which lasts from May through October.

In the Dry season, expect daily highs in the low- to mid-80s F, with moderate humidity. In the Rainy season, expect highs in the mid-80s F, and higher humidities. It'll rain up to 3 times per week during the rainy season. San Juan del Sur gets around 60 inches of rain each year.

In the Dry Season, the average sea surface temperature is in the mid-70s F (24° C). In the Rainy Season, the average sea surface temperature ranges between 84° to 87° F (28° to 30° C).

June through November marks both the Atlantic and Pacific hurricane seasons, and in recent years Nicaragua has endured several hurricanes..

Average Temperatures

Average Precipitation



Keeping In Touch


Internet Access in San Juan del Sur

While San Juan del Sur has seen the opening of a number of cyber cafes in recent years, Wi-Fi in bars and restaurants is often a more pleasant alternative. Internet connections can be found at the following establishments:

  • Big Wave Dave's is a restaurant and bar that offers free Wi-Fi. It's located on the corner of Calle del Tropezon and Avenida Central. It's hard to miss.

  • Pau Hana is a beach-side restaurant located on the town's Malecon that offers free Wi-Fi connections. They're located 1½ blocks north of Calle del Tropezon.

  • El Gato Negro is a coffee shop, cafe and bookstore that offers free Wi-Fi connections. Open from 7:30 am to 3:00 pm. They're located at the corner of Calle del Tropezon at the intersection of Avenida Central.

  • Cyber Leo's is a small internet cafe; they're located on Avenida Central just a half block south of Calle del Tropezon. Expect to pay around 20 to 30 cordobas per hour.

San Juan del Sur Internet Access Map


Map icon

See our San Juan del Sur Internet Access Map for the locations of the above internet access points.


Internet Cafe

Cellular Phone & Data Services


Customers of the four major U.S. wireless carriers can expect the following levels of service in San Juan del Sur:

Verizon

Cell service: Verizon users must use a quad-band GSM phone when calling from Nicaragua.
Data services: Through its partners, Verizon offers data coverage in Nicaragua when using a UMTS-capable device with an active SIM card and global plan.
See details on Verizon's cell and data services pricing and coverage maps.

ATT Wireless

Cell service: AT&T's GSM service in Nicaragua is provided by partners Claro and Movistar.
Data services: AT&T offers 3G service in Nicaragua through its partners Claro and Movistar.
See details on AT&T's cell and data services coverage maps.

Sprint

Cell service: Sprint's users must use a quad-band GSM phone when calling from Nicaragua.
Data services: Through partner Movistar, Sprint offers 2G coverage in Nicaragua when using a UMTS-capable device with an active SIM card and global plan.
See details on Sprint's cell and data services pricing.

T Mobile

Cell service: T-Mobile's GSM service is available in Nicaragua through its partners Claro and Movistar.
Data services: T-Mobile offers 2G and 3G service in Nicaragua through its partners Claro and Movistar.
See details on T-Mobile's cell and data services pricing.


Samsung Galaxy S III

San Juan del Sur Telephone Information

Travelers with American and Canadian cell phone plans should be aware that their carriers will add a variety of international roaming and other charges when their phones or data devices are used in Nicaragua. Calls back home and using data are really expensive in Nicaragua. Check with your carrier for the precise details.

If you plan on using your cell phone a lot while on your cruise, you may want to consider getting a SIM card for your trip from OneSimCard.com. These SIMs work in over 200 countries, and provide very affordable prepaid talk, text and data plans. Not only will you save a lot of money, but you'll also avoid a big cell bill surprise when you get home.

Country Code: 505

Local landline phone numbers have eight digits: 2XXX-XXXX

Local cell phone numbers have eight digits: 8XXX-XXXX

To call a San Juan del Sur landline from the US or Canada: dial 011-505-2XXX-XXXX

To call a San Juan del Sur cell phone from the US or Canada: dial 011-505-8XXX-XXXX

Using your US or Canadian cell phone in San Juan del Sur

To make a call from:

San Juan del Sur to the US or Canada: Dial 001-(area code) XXX-XXXX

San Juan del Sur to a US or Canadian cell in San Juan del Sur: Dial 001-(area code) XXX-XXXX

San Juan del Sur to a local San Juan del Sur number: Dial 001-505-2XXX-XXXX or 001-505-8XXX-XXXX

Cell phone user

OneSimCard - prepaid international roaming, works in over 200 countries, free calls in over 150 countries

Local Events, Holidays & Festivals


  • Fiesta de la Griteria Immaculate (Feast of the Immaculate Conception), December 8. Marks the beginning of the Christmas celebration season.

  • Navidad (Christmas Day), December 25. A public and religious holiday celebrating the birth of Christ.

Local festivals, holidays and events taking place in San Juan del Sur in 2018:

  • Ano Nuevo (New Year's Day), Monday, January 1. Many Nicaraguans celebrate this national holiday by heading to the beach.

  • Air Force Day, Thursday, February 1. Public holiday held in honor of the nation's air forces.

  • Maundy Thursday, Thursday, March 29. A national public holiday.

  • Good Friday, Friday, March 30. A national public holiday.

  • Primero de Mayo (Labor Day), Tuesday, May 1. A national holiday.

  • Liberation day
    ©2007 Elemaki, under cc-by-sa 3.0 license
  • Liberation Day/FSLN Revolution day, Thursday, July 19. This national holiday marks the day that the National Liberation Army defeated the Somoza dictatorship in the Nicaraguan Revolution.

  • Army Day, Sunday, September 2. A national holiday that celebrates Nicaragua's army.

  • Battle of San Jacinto, Friday, September 14. This national holiday celebrates the victory of Nicaraguan nationalists over the mercenary army of William Walker in 1856.

  • Dia de Independencia (Independence Day), Saturday, September 15. Commemorates Central America's Declaration of Independence in 1821.

  • Indigenous Resistance Day (Columbus Day), Friday, October 12. Highlights the struggle of native peoples against European colonialism.

  • Fiesta de la Griteria Immaculate (Feast of the Immaculate Conception), Saturday, December 8. Marks the beginning of the Christmas celebration season.

  • Navidad (Christmas Day), Tuesday, December 25. A public and religious holiday celebrating the birth of Christ.

San Juan del Sur Cruise Port Schedules


Tender
©2008 Jean-Philippe Boulet, under cc-by-sa 1.2 license

San Juan del Sur is a boutique port of call; ships arrive here either before or after Panama Canal transits. As a rule, the cruise lines visit San Juan del Sur from late October through April.

As a rule, ships arrive in San Juan del Sur between 6:00 am and 7:00 am, and depart between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm.

In 2017, San Juan del Sur is slated to host around 43,000 passengers sailing on 34 ships. See our San Juan del Sur Cruise Ship Schedule - 2017 for further information.

In 2018, San Juan del Sur is slated to host around 49,800 passengers sailing on 33 ships. See our San Juan del Sur Cruise Ship Schedule - 2018 for further information.


Cruise Lines Making Port in San Juan del Sur


The following cruise lines will make port in San Juan del Sur in 2017:

Princess icon Princess Cruises Norwegian
Oceania Oceania Azamara
Crystal Cruises Regent Cruises Regent
Windstar    
Cruise Ship


       
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