Guide to the Beaches: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Nicaragua is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches and surfing in the world. Many of which you’ll find in the San Juan del Sur area. 



With year round waves Playa Maderas  is one of San Juan del Sur’s most popular surf beaches. Three restaurants (Tacos Locos, Los Tres Hermanos and Mi Rancho) offer frosty cervezas and local fare at reasonable prices. Dorm beds, as well as private rooms are available for rent at Los Tres HermanosSurf board rentals and lessons are also available here.  A 4 x 4 vehicle is recommended for travel to Playa Maderas, especially in the rainy season. 

Maderas Beach: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Playa Maderas: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua


For an afternoon of swimming and sunbathing Playa Majagual is ideal. Grab a cold beverage or some typical Nicaraguan fare at Matilda’s Snack Bar. Basic lodging and camping is also available at Matilda’s. Playa Majagual is just a 5 minute walk North of Playa Maderas, but can also be reached by car from San Juan del Sur in approximately 25 minutes. 

Playa Majagual: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Playa Majagual: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua


Playa Marsella is less well known than her sister bay of Playa Maderas and is the quieter beach. With a long, white sandy beach stretching from one end of the bay to the other, Marsella is strikingly beautiful.  At the mouth of the estuary you’ll find Restaurante Rancho Marsella where you can get cold beer and enjoy fresh and delicious seafood. Depending on the time of day you may catch a glimpse of resident crocodile Paco. At the other end of the beach you’ll find the slightly more upscale restaurant El Secreto. Playa Marsella Beachfront Hotel has rustic cabins and rooms for rent. Stand up paddle boards and kayaks are also available for rent here.

Marsella Beach: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Playa Marsella: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua


Playa Remanso is a small beautiful bay just 15 minutes south of the center of San Juan. On a clear day at Playa Remanso you can see the mountains of Costa Rica which are less than fifteen miles away. Here you’ll find two small beach bar restaurants. Both offer ample seating in the shade, fresh fruit smoothies, cold beers and simple food like fish tacos and chicken nachos, but our favorite is Slaudy Brother’s Surf Bar. Playa Remanso is a great beach for beginner surfers.

Playa Remanso: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Playa Remanso, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua


Playa Hermosa offers plenty of amenities – washrooms, fresh water showers, a restaurant and bar, sand volleyball court, hammocks galore, quaint thatch roof huts on the sand with tables and chairs for lounging, massage services and horseback riding. Here they even have a turtle release program. At Playa Hermosa there is an entrance fee of $3 USD per person and outside beverages are not allowed.  Lodging is available at Playa Hermosa Beach Hotel.

Playa Hermosa: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Playa Hermosa: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua


This long beautiful secluded sandy beach is favorited by local surfers. With no amenities and little shade here you’ll want to bring some snacks and plenty of water. Although not absolutely necessary for travel to Playa Yankee a vehicle with higher clearance is recommended. The drive from San Juan del Sur takes approximately 30 minutes. Entrance fee is C$100 ($3.75 USD) per vehicle.

- Playa Yankee: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Playa Yankee: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.


A jewel of a beach, spanning nearly a mile long Playa el Coco is great for relaxing, swimming and sunset watching. Restaurante Puesto del Solthe one and only restaurant in the area offers hammocks and beach chairs. It also has a nice pool. Unfortunately the food and service quality don’t quite warrant the higher menu prices. From San Juan del Sur it takes approximately 30 minutes by car to reach Playa el Coco.

Playa el Coco: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Playa el Coco: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua


This wide and imposing beach is one of the least visited in the San Juan area, perhaps because of its remoteness, which makes it a tranquil and lonely spot, but if you’re looking to get off the beaten path and go on a little adventure Playa Ostional is worth the trip. Manta Raya Hospedaje is a great place to sit and enjoy the view and a cold Toña or two. 

- Playa Ostional: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Playa Ostional: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Posted on May 5, 2015, in Sights & Activities and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Miss you both. Can’t wait to see you this summer 🙂

  2. Excellent guide! There are so many great beaches near SJDS. I can’t believe so many people only see Maderas!

    We spent 2 months in SJDS and loved our time. If anyone is interested we just published a guide for San Juan Del Sur:

  3. HI! Is the water really cold there? Also wondering which beach you would recommend for families with little children. Great blog! Thanks!

    • Cold is a relative term, so I guess it depends on what you’re used to, but we will say that the water is coolest during the months of December and January, which is windy season. I wouldn’t particularly say it’s cold though.

      Playa Maderas and Playa Remanso are great for kids as long as you aren’t there at high tide. (For tide reports check out Magic Seaweed).

      Playa el Coco is also a good beach for kids but it takes 30 minutes over a bumpy road to get there from San Juan del Sur.

      The bay of San Juan would be good also … at any time of the tide cycle.

      Elisha & Gordon

  4. Hi there,
    Thanks for all the information. Is there a beach you would recommend for younger children – ages 6 & 8? We’d like something calmer (concerned about rip tides, big waves), so would like more swimming. That said, some smaller waves for boogie boarding would be great. Not sure if I’m asking too much on this front??
    Many thanks.

    • Hi Georgina,

      If/when possible plan your trips to the beach when it’s low tide. The waves won’t be as big and there will be more beach for the kids to play on. For the tide schedule go

      I don’t like big waves either and so one of our favorite beaches to go to is Playa Remanso. Playa Maderas at low tide is also nice as there are often tide pools, which would be great for the kids to play in.

      The bay of San Juan del Sur – although not the prettiest – is also a great beach for kids.


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