The beaches in the San Juan del Sur area are by far the most popular in all of Nicaragua. Blessed with natural beauty and an abundance of coves and half-moon bays its no wonder that San Juan del Sur and its surrounding beaches are the fastest growing tourist attractions in the country.
San Juan del Sur was founded in the 1800’s when Nicaragua was still part of the Central American Republic, a region that stretched from Costa Rica to Belize. The importance of San Juan del Sur was paralleled by its twin port in the north called San Juan del Norte. Both ports were extremely important for commerce. San Juan del Norte (meaning north) was a Spanish beacon allowing commerce to communicate with the Atlantic via Lake Nicaragua and Rio San Juan. San Juan del Sur was strategically important because of its proximity from Lake Nicaragua. Located only 1 kms from Lake Nicaragua this port town was situated on the largest bay in all of Nicaragua. Spanning well over 3kms the bay was a natural aquatic beachhead allowing businesses to thrive.
With the gold rush boom of the 1840’s San Juan del Sur grew in importance as goods, gold and people moved to and from the town. In the last decades of the 1800’s San Juan del Sur’s main industries moved into new markets like fishing, agriculture and beef. This time period lasted for over 100 hundred years. Today these commercial activities remain strong and you can still see cows, crops and fishing boats everywhere you go. Only recently has tourism surpassed these industries as the most important source of income for the towns people.
With the growth of tourism the town has awoken to a more vibrant and welcoming spirit. This can be felt all along the streets and in the restaurants and bars along the beach. The food in the town of San Juan is known as the best Nicaragua has to offer and the bars are known for their lively and festive vibe.
Tourist friendly activities have bloomed throughout the city. Today everything from snorkeling, scuba-diving, sport fishing, surfing, motorbikes and even a forest canopy tour can be found in the town of San Juan del Sur.
Other than being known as a tourist friendly town with wonderful cuisine and great people, San Juan del Sur is also know for its great beaches.
Beaches North of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Going farthest north along the Chocalata (Chocolate) road you will find Bahia Majagual. This beach is completely accessible all year round. It takes probably about 25 minutes in car and its highly recommended that a 4 x 4 be used to get here. The access is to the beach is a little tricky because the entrance is hidden between a wall and a path of trees.
Majagual is a great beach for an afternoon swim. Since the beach faces west the sunsets are spectacular. You will be amazed as the soft hues of pink, green and blue fill your sight while the sun slides into an ocean surrounded by lush green rock outcroppings.
Majagual was once home of an Australian owned budget hotel that catered to mainly foreign back-packers. Many guidebooks will mention the hotels restaurant and it is important to note that this place no longer exists. If you’re coming to Majagual make sure to bring a cooler and a good array of picnic snacks.
Los Playones Beach
Playa Playones is located just south of Majagual. Driving to this beach is roughly the same distance since both their public access points are next to each other. The beach at Playones is not as gently sloping as Majagual so the surf is a little rougher. There are several reefs surrounding the outer parts of this beach so it is not uncommon to find people snorkeling or using harpoons to catch fresh fish. This beach has a magnificent landscape on its north side that naturally creates a wonderful shade on the beach in the afternoons.
Playones is home to Balcones de Majagual www.balconesdemajagual.com, the eco-sustainable home project being built by the creators of Morgans Rock www.morgansrock.com. There is both a private and public access to this beach. The private access is through Balcones de Majagual and leads to a small food and beverage palapa called Pitaya Baya that serves cold beer and fresh sandwiches. There you will find a couple of hammocks and nice size picnic table where you can linger for hours all under the shade of dried palm leaves.
Maderas is probably the most popular beach in the San Juan del Sur area. It’s located about 20 minutes away and is accessible only by 4 x 4. This beach is a surfer’s paradise, hosting one of the most consistent surf breaks in the country. There is small surf shack right on the beach that serves decent meals and cold beers all day long. There is also some very rustic lodging available for pennies on the dollar. This beach attracts everyone from pro-surfers to beginners to people just looking for a place to relax.
For surfing, the beach is almost always crowded in the afternoon. If your dreaming of owning your own wave at Maderas than your going to have to wake up before the sunrise. People from all over the world visit Maderas making it a great place to meet well traveled people.
All three beaches Maderas, Playones, and Majagual are connected and can be accessed by foot.
Marsella is only 10 minutes from San Juan del Sur. During the dry season it can be accessed without a 4 X 4 vehicle. This beach is probably one of the most private beaches in the area. It is only about a km long making it one of the smallest coasts in San Juan del Sur. Marsella is characterized for a large rock formation that is located on its south end. Offering a gentle slope towards the ocean, Marsella is a safe and attractive spot for swimming.
Marsella is home to Bosques del Mar residential project. This development features modestly priced homes made of a combination of stone, brick and local hardwoods. Bosques has a private access point to Marsella through 1 ½ acres of beachfront land reserved for the project. On this land owner’s enjoy a common area with its own bathrooms, two social areas and barbeque pits.
… to be continue.