138km (85 miles) S of Managua; 96km (60 miles) S of Granada; 215km (133 miles) S of Léon
San Juan del Sur used to be a sleepy little Pacific coast hamlet, until it was discovered by backpackers and surfers as the perfect spot to hang a hammock and enjoy a rum-colored sunset. It is now Nicaragua's top Pacific coast destination for foreign visitors and its pioneering blond-haired wave riders have gradually given way to silver-haired property seekers. Retirement homes are beginning to dot the surrounding hillsides and upscale hotels are appearing along the coast. There is now even the occasional cruise liner idling in the bay.
Fortunately, development here is happening at a not-too-fast pace and San Juan has not lost the laid-back charm that attracted travelers here in the first place. The area is perfect for beach wandering, leisure sailing, deep-sea fishing, and scuba diving. And the town still comes alive for holidays, particularly for its delightful religious flotilla on July 16. The lunar cycles between September and April see a beach party of a different kind -- the mass hatching of turtles and their spectacular but treacherous rush to the sea. This takes place just south of the town and has to be one of Nicaragua's most amazing sights.