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San Juan del Sur Nicaragua – 3 nights and more…

Ok, so my Father in Law Gene and Sister in Law Kelly came down last Thursday. They wanted to know what all this fuss was about with and the Hart Family’s new Spanish study abroad division. They are familiar with our college spring break travel division already.

We went and picked them up in Managua and then brought them to Leon. We had dinner out at Manhattan sushi across the street from the incredible La Perla Hotel (only 5 star in Leon). The sushi here is like $2.50 USD for a California roll!

Then, we went to the La Perla casino which Julie absolutely hated. They have slots, karaoke (LOL!!) roulette, 5 card stud poker, and blackjack. We didn’t play just tucked out head in.

We then when to La Terraza for this special Flor de Cana rum party they had.  This party sucked. It was hot, and they had 4 pre made drinks you had to dick around and buy “tickets” for instead of just paying at the bar. Guys – don’t reinvent the wheel. You want a drink at a bar – order it. Then pay for it. Don’t run people around. We ended up leaving.

The next morning we arose early at like 6 a.m. to a fresh poolside breakfast Erlon our driver’s sister had made us. At 7:30 a.m. we left to go volcano boarding, or what in Australia they call sand boarding. This consists of more or less driving one hour to Cerro Negro volcano on these crappy roads in a 4×4. (you don’t really need a 4×4 and compared to Costa Rica, these roads are good). Once there you pay the local association of people of Las Pilas about $2 USD each to enter. Once in, you drive to the base of Cerro Negro Volcano (called as such as it’s dark black and the most active volcano in central America).

volcano boarding in nicaragua  or sand boarding in nicaragua or sandboarding in nicaragua

volcano boarding in nicaragua or sand boarding in nicaragua or sandboarding in nicaragua

You see, I was smart. We hired a Green Pathways guide from the Big Foot Hostel here in Leon run by this cool dude from Barbados, Phillip Southan (highly recommend HIM and his operation). Instead of just a “guide” – I hired two college aged dudes that work for him to porter our 4 boards up the face of Cerro Negro (about a 45 minute hike up in blazing heat – the hike is easy, the heat isn’t). Most other volcano boarding companies make you carry your own volcano board up yourself.

A volcano board is no more than a wooden toboggan or wooden sled you use to sit on and slide down the face of the volcano attaining speeds of up to 55 mph. Don’t worry – the lava rock is very forgiving, and the view at the top is amazing. Anyway, hire these porters! Totally worth it!

Once up on top, you can see smoldering sulfer gas /smoke as like I told you – it’s active. Then, you put on these overalls or jumpsuits and they give you a 5 minute instruction on how not to “crash.” It takes all of 2 minutes to get down to the bottom.

If you do go volcano boarding I recommend bringing with you:

  • Water
  • Wet Wipes (leave in transfer vehicle)
  • Clean socks & shoes
  • Toilet paper (if you have to shit before or after the little rangers station has none)

Yes, you can get by without it. But, if you do take my advice, (get porters, bring the supplies I told you) trust me – you will be so, so much happier with this excursion.

When we were done, we made the mistake of deciding to have lunch before we went to San Juan del Sur. The thing about Nicaragua is, when you ask”how far” something is, it’s a trivial (at best) answer. I heard it was anywhere from 2-3 hours from Leon to San Juan del Sur. Well, er..yeah…as long as it does not rain that is.

It took us 5 full hours. Traffic in Managua. Bathroom break. Fuel stop. Rain from Managua all the way there. It got dark. Shit man. Yuck.

San Juan del Sur is about as “touristy” as Nicaragua gets by the way. Feels like Costa Rica. Lots of gringos. Lots of kids backpacking. Locals hawking crap on the beach. Don’t be expecting Cancun by the way hahaha!

It’s a town of like 10,000 on a bay of the pacific ocean about 45 minutes from the Costa Rican border. We booked the Pelican Eyes Hotel as I had been there in 2007. It now sucks. Rather than get into it, ready my  Tripadvisor review or the copy I posted of it on this blog.

Instead of boring you about how crappy the service was at this hotel, I will move on to what we did there for activities.

surfing at Remanso Beach by San Juan del Sur

surfing at Remanso Beach by San Juan del Sur

1.)    We did a zip line or canopy tour in the hills overlooking San Juan del Sur with da Flying Frog canopy tour. It was $30 USD. See videos of this at


zip lining in san juan del sur nicaragua with da flying frog canopy tour

zip lining in san juan del sur nicaragua with da flying frog canopy tour

2.)    We took surfing lessons from Mope’s surf shop and went to Remanso Beach, my absolute favorite beach to surf at anywhere in the world. It was $30 with the board, rash guard, and “instruction’ (instruction sort of sucked but the waves were so perfect you really didn’t need to know how to surf to get up)

3.)    We went swimming and relaxed and did some light shopping. I don’t recommend shopping there, it’s spotty, expensive, and well…

When the weekend was done, we dropped the folks off at the Sandino Augusto International Airport  ( Managua International Airport) – these people are all tits over tea kettles  about Sandino Augusto whom from what I can see wasn’t all that brilliant if you read his Wikipedia post, but as the Sandinistas are in power, and they use his name, they think he was some bad ass.

I’m going to go off on a tangent here. The US military has been kicking some people’s asses for about 100 years. This has now changed, as we now cannot kill “civilians” although those same “civilians’ kill and terrorize our troops. This is completely idiotic. In the early 1900’s, the US military just rolled down here with a brigade of marines and ran the country. We put into power whom we wanted to. Then, we got all soft. So you have it.

So, we now have all these loud ass dictators that know that we can’t really “declare war” so we just send in some “peacekeepers” that eventually get shot at, sporadically killed, and then leave as a.) these forces accomplish nothing and are expensive to keep and b.) our “ideas” of “democracy” only work with Western civilizations. The fact is, Nicaragua has flourished under Manuel Ortega and this means the US government won’t “do business’ with them. They don’t really give two shits by the way. They probably see our men with shaved arms discussing their “filet mignons” and new Cadillacs – (remember the French? Yeah, real warriors they were – King Louis got beheaded he was a pansy). Anyway…I mean how hard is it to worry?

My tangent hence cease….