Guide to Grocery Shopping: San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Grocery shopping in San Juan del Sur takes a bit of effort. One stop shopping is unheard of.

In this article we’ll attempt to make your San Juan del Sur shopping experience better by telling you where to buy what and how much you can expect to pay for things.

Although Pali (owned by Walmart) is the largest grocery store in San Juan del Sur it’s my least favorite place to shop. The aisles are narrow and the selection is limited.  Pali stocks the basics and essentials.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Pali Grocery Store: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua


San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Produce Section Pali Grocery Store: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Items like sesame seeds, peanut oil, rice wine vinegar, wasabi paste and extra virgin olive oil can be purchased at Miscelánea Sánchez. Nutella, Kraft salad dressing and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce are part of the regular inventory. They also carry instant cake mixes, confectioners sugar, baking soda and brown sugar.   If you want imported cheeses like cheddar, feta, gorgonzola and parmesan this is the place to go.



Guide to Grocery Shopping: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Miscelánea Sánchez: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Guide to Grocery Shopping: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– A sampling of some of the speciality items found at Miscelánea Sanchez: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

If you don’t see a particular item you’re looking for at Miscelánea Sánchez just speak to the owner Gloria. She’ll do her best to find the item(s) you’re looking for and bring them in for you.

Feta Cheese (171 g) – $4.65 USD
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (680 ml) – $5.27 USD
Nutella (350 g) – $7.59 USD
Peter Pan Peanut Butter (426 g) – $5.99 USD
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese $1.35 USD

On a side note many spices have been difficult to find here in San Juan del Sur (or any other place in Nicaragua – including Managua – for that matter). If you have favorites that you absolutely cannot live without you should bring them with you.

For your shopping convenience there are two Miscelánea Sánchez locations in town – one next to the market (shown above) and the other just south of Barrio Cafe (shown below).

Miscelanea Sanchez: SJDS, Nicaragua

Aside from fruit and vegetable trucks that drive through our neighborhood, the market is the best place to stock up on produce.  

1 Pitaya (Dragon-fruit) – $1.06 USD
1 Watermelon – $1.27 USD
1/2 dozen bananas – $0.21 USD
1 Large avocado – $1.27 USD
1 Pineapple – $0.85 USD
30 eggs – $3.38 USD

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Fruit & Vegetable Stand: Central Market, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

The market has the best selection, but if you can find what you need on the truck there are deals to be had. 

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Fruit & Vegetable Truck: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Being so close to the ocean has it’s advantages.  We know of four fish markets in town, but our favorite (shown in the photo below) is located just beyond the marina.  

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Fish Market: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Lobster – $6.34 USD per lb
Shrimp – $4.65 USD per lb
Mahi-mahi – $2.96 USD per lb

For the best deal on alcoholic beverages we go directly to the distributor in town.  It is located about two blocks from the beach on the main road as you’re coming into San Juan del Sur.  It’s on the right hand side, just down past Pan de Vida Bakery.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

24 – 350 ml bottles of Toña – $13.87 USD
12 cans of Coca-Cola -$5.07 USD
5 gallons of water – $1.78 USD

Even though we have to drive thirty minutes to Rivas to get to the nearest Maxi Pali it’s my favorite place to grocery shop. Maxi Pali is as close as you’ll get to a North American supermarket. The store is bright and clean and the air conditioning is chilly. 

Rivas, Nicaragua

– Maxi Pali: Rivas, Nicaragua

Maxi Pali offers a bit more variety when it comes to certain items.  Here we can get green, red and yellow peppers. They also carry grapes, kiwi and strawberries. We prefer to buy our meat at Maxi Pali.

Filet Mignon – $3.38 USD per lb
Ground Beef – $2.05 USD per lb
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast – $2.55 USD per lb

Like other Maxi Pali stores in Nicaragua the one in Rivas has a pharmacy and  a small clothing section. They also carry housewares and a few electronics. They even have a “dollar” section. Maxi Pali accepts payment by credit card.

And last, but certainly not least is on my list of places to shop in San Juan del Sur is Pan de Vida.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Pan de Vida Bakery: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Pan de Vida is located 100 meters West of the Uno.  It is here is where you’ll find tasty bread and other delicious baked goods you won’t be able to find anywhere else in Nicaragua.  Everything is baked in the brick oven.

To date I’ve only tried the foccacia bread, the cinnamon buns and the banana bread, but I can’t wait to sample more of their daily offerings.

Banana Bread $4.64 USD
Foccacia Bread $1.48 USD
Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread $5.70 USD
Round Multigrain Loaf $5.06 USD

Items at Pan de Vida are a bit on the pricey side for an expat on a budget in Nicaragua, but if having good bread means giving up a few Toñas per month I’m in.  These delicious baked goods are worth every penny! 

On an average month we usually spend between $250 – $300 USD on groceries each month. We don’t eat filet mignon and lobster every night, but we aren’t eating gallo pinto every night either. We also eat our fair share of meals out.

Hands down we eat more healthy in Nicaragua than we did in Canada. We are eating a lot more fruits and vegetables. And it’s rare for a week to go by that hasn’t included a nice thick tenderloin steak grilled on hard wood coals. Now that we have more time meal planning and prep is something we both really enjoy.

Posted on November 20, 2012, in Food & Drink and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. I agree with your assessment of Pan de Vida…any time someone is heading that way I ask that they bring me back a loaf of the multigrain bread…hear they are opening a branch in Managua soon.

  2. Money you quoted is that Canadian funds or Nica money?

  3. Coffee ? Coffee ? Coffee ?

  4. Great post E!! Made me crave some ceviche and try that bread place. When we come visit you guys we’ll have to get some 🙂 miss you xo

  5. I’ll have to pull out my grocery list and see what we pay here…..I don’t even know?? I best get that figured out if I’m going to retire soon 😉 Sounds like my kind of menu.

  6. Great post. We were just in San Juan de Sur in December – we are looking for property for investment and to retire in Nica.

    We visited Sanchez market and agree it had a nice variety and we will definitely visit the bakery the next time we are there.

    Thanks for a very informative blog!

  7. This is a great breakdown. Very straight forward and super helpful. Does Pali sell whole wheat bread?
    Thanks guys!

  8. Good prices on Ground beef, Shrimp, Filet Mignon. Bad price on avocado. Avocado 69cents each and lower in Kansas City, MO. is a great comparison site, all the data from persons. Thank you for posting these!

  9. Gord – Elisha,

    Does Nicaragua have large grocery stores? Supermarkets? If they do, what are they called? I have only seen the Pali stores, and they are very small.

    • Yes, Nicaragua has large grocery stores – La Union, La Colonia and Maxi Pali.

      La Colonia tends to have the best selection and is quite comparable to a grocery store in North America. They carry a lot of imported items such as Philadelphia cream cheese, Heinz ketchup, Lays potato chips, fresh mushrooms, etc. And they generally have a good selection of wine. They also carry a few household items such as blenders, towels, etc. Unfortunately La Colonia (as far as I know) can only be found in Managua and Granada.

      Although Maxi Pali stores are large in size the variety and selection of items they carry is not. Maxi Pali is very similar to Pali, except they carry clothing and housewares.

  10. Don’t forget you can also make a trip to Managua and got a lot of items at PriceMart. We make one trip per visit to Nicaragua to load the house with items we used to bring in luggage.

  11. Hi Elisha and Gordon,

    Can you give some suggestions on where to buy wine? You noted La Colonia has a good selection, is there a good place to get wine on the way from Managua to SJDS? Is wine reasonably priced? Where is the best wine store in SJDS?

    We have visited Costa Rica for the last couple years and decided to try SJDS Nica. We have rented a house in Pacific Marlin with another couple and are looking forward to the experience!

    Thanks in advance,


    • Hi Mike,

      You can purchase wine at Miscelania Sanchez or Coco’s. At either store you will find a decent selection. We’ve been enjoying an Argentinian Shiraz Malbec. The brand is Character and it costs C$168 ($6.46 USD).

      You may want to check the selection at the Duty Free shop in the airport. Alternately you could stop at a La Colonia grocery store in Managua or Granada on your way to San Juan.


  12. Hi,
    Thinking about retiring to Nica. Can someone give me the price of liquor. Vodka, Rum, etc. For an example here in Mississippi a 1.75 liter of decent vodka is $12.99. Bourbon & Rum are all over the place price wise.

  13. Yeah only our second day here in SJDS we checked out the Pali we walked there easily from our place in town near the church. On the way home we had a $1 drink at a bar on the beach watching the sun go down, pretty choice.

  14. I prefer prepared frozen food. What are the selections and prices? Thanks.

    • Hi Jim,

      Prepared frozen food can be purchased in the larger grocery stores in Granada and Managua, but there is not a huge selection here in San Juan del Sur. We purchase 95% of our produce fresh from the local markets and fruit vendors. Sorry, but we are not familiar with pricing of the frozen stuff.


Leave a Reply


Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox:

%d bloggers like this: