¿Que tal amigos?
We last left you in Liberia, Costa Rica on our way into San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua. If you’ve been reading our blog from the start you may remember our first post about Air Canada requiring us to have “proof of onward travel” before letting us board the plane. If you haven’t read it, you can check out that post here.
Anyways, we were now about to use that “proof of onward travel.” Caribe Tours offers shuttles all over Central America. The price is pretty reasonable (although much MUCH higher than public transportation). But if you want someone to basically hold your hand through a border crossing these are the guys to do it! And we loved it.
Day 1 – The Costa Rican/Nicaraguan border
We packed into the Caribe shuttle at around 9AM and began our trek to Penas Blancos (the border). Make sure you have some American money with you as you have to pay the piper before you go. Your first step is to leave Costa Rica. You will need to pay the $7 exit tax at this odd shack-like building. You get back in your shuttle and head to another building where you fill out (I think) your customs forms. Back in the shuttle. You actually go through a pretty awful looking refugee camp where there are a ton of people living in tents. Read more about the crisis here. You eventually arrive at an unmarked building where you will leave your original driver, grab your bags and walk towards said unmarked building, There you give a really nice guy $2 USD for something. THEN you finally get to Nicaraguan customs. You will need $12 to get into Nicaragua. A new bus should be on the other side to get you directly to your hotel. They also have a guy who points out which buildings you need to get into. You get back into your shuttle and you’re on your way… sort of. Keep those passports handy, we were stopped two more times and had to pull them out.
Caribe Shuttles brings you right to your door. We were staying at Moke Huhu Guesthouse right on the main drag of San Juan Del Sur. The AC is incredible – almost too good. It’s clean, the staff are helpful and the location is great. The price is pretty steep for Nicaragua ($44 per night) though and the wifi is mediocre.
Day 2 & 3 – San Juan del Sur
San Juan is exactly what you think it’s going to be – brightly painted houses, live music every night and a massive
party scene. You could go on a pub crawl every night of the week if you wanted to. We checked out some great live music at El Timon and La Carretera (a ton of expats here), and of course had to check out the local Canadian bar the Loose Moose. The beach here is mediocre, mostly because the high tides.
You don’t really need the beach to keep you occupied here though; you could fill your week up with fishing, surfing, sailing, etc. We were pretty low-key and settled for Pina Coladas and getting lost in the rain, HAHAHA. But seriously, one night as we were walking home it started down pouring. Clair stepped in a puddle and it was up to her knees!
A must-do is the hike up to the Christo de la Misercordia. You will need $2 USD to get up to the statue. Also, it’s not a long trek, but it’s incredible steep so if you’re not up for it, get a cab or shuttle.
Day 4 – Casa Maderas
After 3 days in town we took a shuttle ($3 one-way or $5 round trip) arranged by Casa Oro (seems like a really good hostel if you don’t mind earplugs!) to Playa Maderas one of the northern beaches. The shuttle is basically a truck with a trailer that has a bench in it so if that’s not for you, you may want to pay more than $3. We got dropped off at our beautiful ecolodge Casa Maderas. For just over $50 per night you get your own little casita with a bathroom. The pool area is really nice which worked well because the beach here isn’t great for sunbathing. It’s seems to serve the purpose of it being the “it” spot for surfing. As a bonus, Casa Maderas offers free shuttles to and from the beach as well as daily yoga for $10 USD. It felt pretty weird to be holding a tree pose with Howler Monkeys in the background but the scene was majestic.
We’ve really enjoyed our stay in San Juan Del Sur. The area is really clean and feels safe (obviously using common sense). We have arranged with our hosts from Moke Huhu to drive us to the port town San Jorge where we will get on a boat or Ferry to head out to Isla Ometepe for a week. Wish us luck!