Vacationing in San Juan del Sur and looking for a day trip to break things up? With so many great adventures waiting in surrounding areas, you’re only a day away! Check out these awesome day trip ideas.
Isla de Ometepe
With a name derived from the Nahuati words “ome” (two) and tepetl (hills), Isla de Ometepe never fails to impress. Often described as a much different feeling than mainland Nicaragua, Ometepe is a must-see island featuring two towering volcanoes arising out of Lake Nicaragua. From waterfalls to incredible wildlife, adventurers and hikers alike will be wowed by this 19-mile long stretch of natural beauty.
Whether you choose to split a taxi all the way to San Jorge (ferry) or go with the local crowd on the “Chicken buses”, you should expect the one-way journey to take approximately 3-4 hours (including ferry).
Whether you love history and Moorish, Andalusian architecture or you want to browse artisan markets and watch street performers, Granada is one city in the area not to be missed. Named after the ancient Spanish city, Granada was the first European city on mainland America and is of huge historical importance.
It’s also easily reached by bus from San Juan del Sur, with a stopover in Rivas. By public transportation, you can expect the total journey to take around 3 hours. Splurge on a taxi or shuttle and you may cut that down to 1.5 hour journey.
Part of the first Nicaraguan National Park, Volcan Masaya is an active volcano of great geological and ecological importance. It was named by Spaniards to be the “La Boca del Inferno” or mouth to hell and a cross was erected to protect and ward off the devil’s evil spirit.
You can explore the observation areas on your own or take evening guided tours to the underground lava and bat caves. Just a short distance past Granada, you can expect the journey to take around 2 hours from San Juan del Sur.
While you’re hopping on the volcano bandwagon, check out Volcan Mombacho, also near Granada. There are several hikes around the four craters, and you may catch a glimpse of wildlife such as white faced monkeys, deer, and endangered reptiles along the way. Take a stroll through the butterfly and orchid gardens, or check out the short trail through an organic coffee farm.
Just 10 km south of Granada, from San Juan del Sur this trip should only take about 1.5 hours driving time.
- Hermosa – Hermosa boasts good surfing on pretty much a daily basis. Even if you’re not a surfer, you’ll enjoy relaxing with a view of Costa Rica in the distance. There’s also a restaurant, showers, horse stables and shaded areas to sit under the palapas.
- Playa El Coco – Just south of Hermosa you’ll find Playa Cocoa, a beauty of a beach with stretches of sparkling white sand and tall framing cliffs. Still relatively unspoiled, this beach is a great stop for some relaxation, fresh seafood, or biking and horseback riding tours.
- Playa la Flor – If you’re coming down the coast this special beach is an absolute must. Known for its famous turtle nesting site, thousands of turtles lay their eggs on this beach each year.
All three of these beaches are within about 21 km of San Juan del Sur and can be reached within a 30-45 minute drive. Shuttles run daily from town, just ask at any of the surf shops and you’ll be happily directed.
San Juan de Oriente & Catarina
San Juan de Oriente and Catarina are two nearby towns rich with art, culture and history. The first thing you’re likely to hear about in San Juan de Oriente is the ceramic pottery. This stems from an ancient Hispanic tradition of making clay dishes used during religious festivals. Catarina, a former Chorotega indigenous village, is a great spot to take in some local fare and a huge selection of fresh fruit. Browse the abundance of ornamental plants for sale, or check out the handmade bamboo products. Just west of Granada, these two towns are only a 1.5 hour drive away.
It’s easy to get into the routine of the local beaches and cafes in San Juan del Sur, but what many people don’t realize is that there’s a diverse, rich abundance of sights and sounds just a day trip away. From the natural beauty of volcanoes in national parks to history and culture in nearby towns, you’re sure to find a unique adventure and still be able to return to the comfort of your accommodation by nightfall.