Surf lesson tips and a zip-lining canopy tour through an HD adventure travel video from 2 Backpackers, Jason and Aracely Castellani, while visiting San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. In travel video episode #17, take our video camera high above the forest canopy to share some incredible views and fast flying zip-lines. Enjoy the show!
Getting to San Juan del Sur
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua was on our list of must see beaches since we heard about it from other backpackers while traveling in El Salvador. “This is where you go to surf,” they exclaimed. From Grenada, we boarded a local bus to Rivas. At the Rivas bus terminal, which is located in the market, we searched for a bus to San Juan del Sur. In no time, we were on our way to the coastal town on the Pacific Ocean, in southwest Nicaragua.
Hostels in San Juan del Sur
San Juan del Sur’s most popular hostel is Casa Oro, which is on the corner of the main street and the street that leads down towards the water. It’s currently under construction, but still a hot spot for those seeking dorms. As we exited Casa Oro Hostel, a women on the street asked us if we needed a place to stay. We replied, “Si,” and she offered us a private room with bathroom around the corner for $20 USD a night. Sounded perfect to us. Rebecca’s Inn was clean and comfortable, but lacked a social environment.
After settling in, we quickly went out for a walk around town. The town is well developed with lots of hostels, hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars and surfing shops. Many tourist shops around town offer shuttle rides to the surrounding beaches for surfing.
San Juan del Sur isn’t a beach for surfing, but rather your base town for day excursions. The beach is flanked on both sides by mountains and bars and restaurants line the water’s edge, creating a picturesque night life. It’s still low season around here and the night life was lacking during our stay.
Nicaragua Travel Costs
Gradually, our expenses have been increasing, and shockingly, Nicaragua has been the most expensive country for us so far. It was surprising to us considering it’s also the second poorest country in the Americas; Haiti being the first. Nicaragua, typically includes a 15% tax on everything in its tourist cities. San Juan del Sur, was no exception, and we struggled to find dinner for under $10 USD.
Surfing Lessons in San Juan del Sur
We walked back to Casa Oro Hostel to book our surfing lessons for the next morning. A surf board costs $7 to rent and the lessons were $25 each including transportation to Playa de Madera. The morning drive to the beach was approximately 45 minutes on a muddy dirt filled road. We arrived to Tres Hermanos Hostel which resides on the small isolated beach. The beach itself was rather dirty, lined with piles of drift wood, seaweed and washed up trash. Unfortunately, it makes the beach much less welcoming even though it is so remote.
The waves break in three stages, providing all sorts of options for surfers of differing skills. As beginners, we stayed close to the shore, in whitewater waves only. Initially, Aracely and I both thought surfing was going to be extremely challenging. I figured it to be similar to snowboarding, which is very difficult to learn. Luckily, surfing is not that challenging. More specifically, its not as challenging to get up on the board and balance yourself. It will become much more challenging as we venture out into bigger waves, but Aracely and I aren’t anywhere near that stage yet.
Fredo, our surf instructor spent 2-3 hours with Aracely, Miguel and I. The first hour was on the beach, learning where to lie on the board and finding out if we stood regular or goofy. I always look goofy, but in regards to surfing, I am regular and Aracely is goofy. Once we got into the water, in only 15 minutes Aracely was up on the board, surfing her way to shore. She even impressed the teacher. After we all got the hang of things, we each attempted to surf on our own for the remainder of the day. At 4:00pm our ride back to San Juan del Sur arrived and we all jumped back in the Land Rover.
After returning to our hostel, Aracely and I realized our ribs hurt and our knees burned. Seems as if I rubbed the hairs off my knees a bit getting in the standing position. It was a still a great time, and we can now officially say, “We surf!”
There are several beaches you can visit near San Juan del Sur for surfing. If you are looking for something else, try renting a quad or bike on the beach, charter a fishing boat or go searching for turtles. We booked a canopy tour on zip-lines with Da’ Flying Frog Tours the next day. We had amazing views of the forest canopy and the coastline all for $30 a person, a fraction of what you will pay in Costa Rica.
San Juan del Sur Nightlife
Each evening we hung out at Barrio Cafe and continued to watch the World Series baseball games. Other places we enjoyed a drink or some food were Big Wave Dave’s, Iguana’s Beach Club and El Gato Negro Bookstore Cafe.