Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Mon August 24 2015

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  • A Cruising Couple | August 24, 2015 9:00 PM ET

    Is San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua Worth A Visit?

    Is San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua Worth A Visit?

    The beaches in and around San Juan del Sur are no longer a well-kept secret. They are now a popular tourist destination for backpackers, yogis and honeymooners alike. This strip of coastline on Nicaragua’s southern Pacific coast has a lot to offer its guests, from world-class surfing to pristine beaches to jungle adventures. But as the region has become increasingly touristy, has San Juan del Sur lost its authentic appeal?

    Because we live in Costa Rica, we are a bit spoiled when it comes to great beaches and eco-lodges. However, we found San Juan del Sur to offer a distinctly unique experience — one that is worth visiting whether you’re coming from across the border or the globe. Here are a few reasons to put this shabby-chic beach town on your radar:

    1. The Plethora Of Gorgeous Beaches

    To be honest, the city of San Juan del Sur itself isn’t all that enchanting. But head north or south and you’ll discover plenty of quiet pockets of sand, each with its own unique features. Playa Maderas is known for surfing while Playa Marsella is routinely considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. Alternatively, Playa Hermosa, El Remanso and Tamarindo are idyllic beaches known for their casual bars and simple fish tacos. Keep in mind that you will need a 4x4 if you plan on exploring the region in depth. The roads are bumpy and muddy, but it’s all part of the fun!

    2. The Sailing Expeditions

    Nica Sail and Surf Nicaragua

    What’s better than driving from beach to beach? Hopping on a boat and sailing there, of course! If you want to spend a picture-perfect day out on the water, San Juan del Sur is the place to do it. There are a few different sailing companies to choose from, but we went with Nica Sail and Surf. The experience couldn’t have been lovelier, complete with all you can drink mai-tais, fresh ceviche and relaxed snorkeling. The sunset on the way back to shore was a highlight of our entire trip to Nicaragua.

    3. The Eco-Lodges

    HulaKai Hotel Maderas Nicaragua

    Eco-lodges are rapidly increasing in popularity around the world, and Nicaragua has not been left out of the boom in these environmentally friendly accommodations. Many lodges of this type boast ocean views and serene yoga studios. Hulukai Hotel is a new establishment with a stunning pool and modern “eco-pods” that look out over the water. While there might not be as many eco-options as neighbor Costa Rica, you won’t have any difficulty finding a comfortable stop.

    4. The Bars and Restaurants

    One of the areas in which the city of San Juan del Sur itself truly excels in (as opposed to the region as a whole) is its variety of fantastic bars and restaurants. If you’ve had all the beans and rice you can handle, then the urban center is a great place to indulge in pizza, sandwiches, vegetarian cuisine and other goodies. For those who are after a party, the weekly Sunday bar crawl is a popular way to meet fellow travelers and have a good time.

    5. The Adventure Activities

    Surfing Playa Maderas Nicaragua

    If you love active travel as much as we do, then look no further than San Juan del Sur. In addition to surfing and yoga, you’ll find fantastic opportunities for horseback riding, deep-sea fishing, turtle watching, frisbee golf and sunsets. And if that’s still not enough for you, this guide to 101 things to do in San Juan del Sur is sure to get the inspiration juices flowing!

    San Juan del Sur might be increasingly touristy, but that doesn’t mean this fun beach destination doesn’t charm. Have you been to San Juan del Sur? What was your experience like?

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A Cruising Couple A Cruising Couple's Column

A Cruising Couple Dan and Casey are the two lovebirds, world travelers and adventurers extraordinaire behind the popular travel blog A Cruising Couple - adventure travel with a dash of class. Their stories and photographs feature that special place where experiential and stylish travel meet. Find out how you can spend less money, live more adventurously and travel more luxuriously on their blog,
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