The line of trucks stretch for kilometers down the highway. Row upon row of transport trucks stacked end to end, some idling in the oppressive tropical heat, others switched off with their drivers lazily swaying in hammocks beneath the trailer.

I pass through border check after border check; stamp here, $10 dollars there. Slowly making my way into Nicaragua from Costa Rica. Past the rows of riot police, standing guard against who knows what, past more idling trucks and finally through a blast of cold air-conditioning into the tropical heat and the maul of taxi drivers, money exchangers, and the odd trinket seller.

So close, I tell myself, so close.

After two days of traveling, a plane that was leaking water, a February snowstorm and a night stuck in New York City (but lets be real, you are never ‘stuck’ in NYC), I am a short cab ride from my final destination; the west coast of Nicaragua, the town of San Juan del Sur and its world famous sprawling beaches and pounding surf.

A Photo Guide to San Juan del Sur

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua
San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

The harsh shadows and bright colours of San Juan del Sur.

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

One of the many adventure mobiles you come across wandering the beaches and side streets.

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

Sunset volleyball on Playa San Juan del Sur.

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

Sunset volleyball on Playa San Juan del Sur. The beach in San Juan del Sur is beautiful, shallow and decently clean. No second thoughts on going for a swim, just be careful at night, the beach is known to be a place best avoided.

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

One of the epic sunsets that San Juan del Sur is famous for. Almost anywhere you are in town you can watch as the sun dips below the Pacific.

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

Motorbikes are a popular mode of transportation in San Juan del Sur with multiple rental shops in town.

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua
San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua
San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

The central market of San Juan del Sur. Well worth a wander through, the market is packed and bustling most days with a cheap, delicious meal easy to find among the shaded stalls.

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua
San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua
San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua
San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

The Cristo de la Misericordia, or The Christ of the Mercy, is a popular spot in San Juan del Sur to watch the sunset from and get a birds-eye view of the city, the beach and the surrounding countryside. A bit of a hike, but the view is worth it.

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

Sunset volleyball on Playa San Juan del Sur. With Cristo de la Misericordia, or The Christ of the Mercy, on the hilltop overlooking the city.

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

A security guard sits on a property wall at sunset with the Christ statue illuminated in the background.

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

Booze, billiards, bikes and board shorts. The San Juan del Sur nightlife is pretty fantastic. Lots of options for food, drinks, and dancing.

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

The perfect crescent beach of San Juan del Sur and the blue of the Pacific on the flight back to North America.

Alvarez Surfboards & Alex’s Surf Shop

San Juan del Sur is one of the best known Central American surf locations; and one of the best, most relaxed, patient, and down to earth surf schools and surf shops are these guys: Alvarez Surfboards & Alex’s Surf Shop.

Located right downtown in San Juan del Sur, we picked them at absolute random. But with no prior experience, and very little in the way of surfing coordination on my behalf, they had all four of us standing up and riding waves by the end of our session.

Along with the surf shop and lessons, they make and shape boards. I missed Alex himself shaping by a day, but they are one of the few local board makers making a go at it, and from what I have heard and read they make some quality boards if you’re in the market.

If you are looking for a lesson, some gear, or a board, give these guys a shout. It will be well worth it. 

San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua Alvarez Surfboards Alex's Surf Shop
San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua Alvarez Surfboards Alex's Surf Shop
San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua Alvarez Surfboards Alex's Surf Shop
San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua Alvarez Surfboards Alex's Surf Shop

Nicaragua’s San Juan Del Sur photos by James MacDonald