Planning a Trip
By Taxi/Shuttle -- The safest, fastest and most convenient way to get to San Juan del Sur is via a shuttle service that picks you up at your hotel. Adelante Express (tel. 505/850-6070; www.sanjuanvan.com) arranges taxis or vans to Managua, with rates that run from C760 to C570 ($30-$40/£15-£20) depending on group size. Mundo Tel, 1 1/2 blocks from San Juan market (tel. 505/568-2573), also arranges taxi transfers to and from Managua and Granada.
By Bus -- Buses leave from Mercado R Huembes in Managua at 10:30am, 4pm, and 5:30pm (3 hr.; C58 ($3/£1.50) but it's a long, bumpy ride, with lots of stops. The 4pm is the "Expresso" in name only. Buses going to Managua directly leave from the San Juan del Sur market (at calles Central and Market) at 5am and 6am daily. There are buses to Rivas every 45 minutes (1 hr.; $1/50p) between 5am and 5:30pm, where you then catch a connection to Managua and elsewhere. Central Line S.A, half a block west of the market (tel. 505/568-2573), has direct buses to Managua at 10am, going to the Antiguo Cine Cabrera, on Avenida 27 Mayo.
Orientation & Getting Around
San Juan del Sur is small and easy to explore by foot. Beaches farther north and south can be accessed by boat, taxi, or shuttle bus. Rana Tours (tel. 505/0877-9255) operates a daily water taxi to Maderas beach at 11am, returning at 5pm. They have a beach kiosk in front of the Hotel Estrella from which the boat departs. A round-trip costs C190 ($10/£5).
Hostel Casa Oro, 1 block west of the plaza (tel. 505/458-2415), organizes beach shuttles three times a day to Majagual and Maderas beach at 10am, 12:30pm, and 4pm. The cost is C361 ($5/£2.50) round-trip.
Taxis are easy to catch on any street corner, but always negotiate the price before jumping in.
Alamo (tel. 505/277-1117) has an office in front of the restaurant El Velero in the Hotel Colonial. Bike & Quad Rentals, beside the Mercado Municipal (tel. 505/568-2439), does exactly what they say on the sign. Elizabeth's Guesthouse, 75m (246 ft.) east of Mercado Municipal (tel. 505/822-7075), rents bicycles for C95 ($5/£2.50) per day, as well as rooms.
Plans are afoot to open a tourism office in San Juan del Sur, but for the moment the hostel Casa Oro, 1 block west of the plaza (tel. 505/458-2415; www.casaeloro.com), does a very good job of keeping people up-to-date with what is going on, what excursions are available, and the ever-changing bus timetable. The website www.sanjuandelsur.org.ni gives limited listings; www.vianica.com is a more comprehensive site, with information such as hotel addresses and telephone numbers.
You can exchange money or withdraw cash at Bancentro, half a block east of El Timon restaurant (tel. 505/568-2449), or at Procredit, 1 block west of the market (tel. 505/853-3433). Traveler's checks can be changed at Casa Oro, 1 block west of the plaza (tel. 505/458-2415).
Dial tel. 118 for police, tel. 115 for fire, and tel. 128 for an ambulance. The closest hospital is in Rivas, though there is a clinic known as Centro de Salud that will take care of minor ailments. It is 20m (1,312 ft.) southwest of the Texaco station and is open from 7am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 8am to noon on Sunday.