Grocery shopping in San Juan del Sur takes a bit of time and effort. One stop shopping is unheard of. It’s not always easy to find everything you want or need.
If you’re new to town the task of grocery shopping can actually be a bit overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Shop with ease in San Juan del Sur with this comprehensive list of where to shop for what.
400 meters east of the UNO gas station on the way out of town ~ Open Monday to Saturday 8 am – 8 pm & Sunday 8 am – 6:30 pm ~ Credit cards accepted
The Pali (owned by Walmart) is the largest grocery store in San Juan del Sur. Here you’ll find the basics and essentials; mostly what locals shop for. For example: Pali sells white rice, but not brown rice. They sell lactose free milk, but not almond milk.
The Pali is a good place to go if you need to stock up staples and sundries. They have a small housewares section with a few miscellaneous items like plastic containers, brooms, mops, clothes hangers, etc.
TIP: The aisles at the Pali are narrow. The store is often crowded. Lines at the check can be long. For a better shopping experience at the Pali go with a relaxed attitude and plenty of patience.
MISCELÁNIA SÁNCHEZ STORES
See below for locations & hours ~ Credit cards accepted
The Miscelánea Sánchez stores are our go to shops for any imported food items we want to buy.
Items like sesame seeds, coconut oil, brown rice, quinoa and extra virgin olive oil can be purchased here. Planters peanut butter, Heinz ketchup and Kraft mac & cheese are part of the regular inventory. If you want imported cheeses like cheddar, feta, gorgonzola and parmesan this is the place to go.
Miscelánea Sánchez also carries a good selection of spices.
Pricing of imported items here is similar to the large grocery store chains in Granada or Managua. Regular items like bread, milk, butter, etc. are priced pretty much the same as they are at the Pali.
The Miscelánea Sánchez stores are individually owned and operated by the “Sanchez sisters” – Gloria and Silvia.
Gloria’s store is located next door to the municipal market. She is open Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 7:30 pm and from 9 am to 6:30 pm on Sunday.
Silvia’s store is situated 1/2 block south of Barrio Café. She is open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 10 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 8 am to 11 pm.
TIP: If you don’t see a particular item you’re looking for at either store speak to Gloria or Silvia. If they don’t already have it on the shelves they may be able to source the item(s) you’re looking for.
FRUIT & VEGETABLE MARKET
1 block North of central park ~ Open Monday to Saturday 8 am – 5:30 pm & Sunday 8 am – 2 pm ~ Cash only
There are a handful of fruit and vegetable markets around San Juan. The largest – and our go – is the municipal market in the center of town.
Doña Lola is our preferred vendor. In addition to fruits and vegetables she sells chia, fresh cocoa and flax seed. She also sell various household items such as dishes, glassware, plastic containers, garbage cans, etc.
TIPS: Potatoes and onions are purchased by weight. Most all other produce at the market is purchased per piece. When buying items like pineapples and avocado market vendors will ask if you want your produce para hoy (for today) or para manaña (for tomorrow). Produce tends to go bad more quickly here than it does in Canada or the US. To avoid waste buy only what you plan to eat within the next couple of days.
CARNES SAN MARTIN
50 meters west of the Uno gas station ~ Open Monday to Saturday 8 am – 5 pm & Sunday 8 am – 12 pm ~ Cash only
We prefer to buy our meat at Carnes San Martin. Since most of the product is stored at the back of the shop be prepared to know what to ask for when shopping here.
TIPS: When buying ground beef we recommend the “super” blend. Chicken breasts are sold as a double breasts. Beef and pork tenderloin can both be purchased as filets that are usually between 2 and 5 pounds. If you’re someone who enjoys quality deli meats unfortunately you won’t find them here … or anywhere else in San Juan del Sur … you’ll have to go to Granada or Managua.
South end of town on the beach road next to the marina ~ Open every day 7 am – 5 pm ~ Cash only
For fresh fish and seafood the fish market (acopio) is the place to go. Our preferred vendor is Acopio San Juan. Each vendor has a white board in front of their shop with a list of fish and seafood they have available from that morning’s catch.
You can also buy delicious fresh made ceviche here. It is sold in single serving sizes and also by the pound.
TIP: For the best selection of fish and seafood visit the fish market in the morning.
Two doors North of the municipal market ~ Open Monday to Saturday 8 am – 5 pm ~ Closed on Sundays ~ Cash only
There are a handful of bakeries around town but for fresh bakery bread we like Panadería Alemana. Compared to other locally owned bakeries the bread and pastries at Panadería Alemana costs a bit more but the product quality is better – and in our opinion – worth the extra cost.
TIP: Try the pretzel buns. They are delicious!
DISTRIBUIADORA SAN JUAN
50 meters East of El Timón Restaurant; next door to Dale Pues ~ Open Monday to Saturday 8:30 am – 6 pm & Sunday 8:30 am – 2 pm ~ Free in town delivery ~ WhatsApp or Text +505 8814 5595 ~ Cash only
For the best deal on beer and soda you’ll want to head to one of the distributors in town. Our go to is Distribuidora San Juan. Buying bottled beer at the distributor saves 30%. Buying Coca Cola in glass bottles also saves a bunch.
TIP: The 5 gallon bottles of water (bidones) are sold here. They also sell the stand the bottles sit in.
Every Saturday morning at Big Wave Daves you will find vendors selling various items such as smoked meat, organic greens, baked goods, ready to eat take away food, hand made jewelry and more.
Dave Grace, the owner often brings in bean sprouts, sweet potatoes and greens beans – which is great – considering these veggies are rarely available elsewhere in San Juan. When in season you can also buy fresh strawberries here.
TIP: Plan to arrive early. During high season some vendors sell out quickly.
For more information on the market visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Farmersmarketsanjuandelsur/
HIDROPONÍA NICARAGUA PRIMAEVO
Deliveries to San Juan every Monday & Thursday ~ Place your order via email firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp +505 8256 4877
Twice weekly Hidroponía Nicaragua Primaevo delivers fresh hydroponically grown greens to our door. Offerings include kale, Swiss chard, bok choy, mustard greens, arugula. Mixed gourmet lettuces, amaranto, basil and Italian cilantro are also available.
Other organic produce and healthy snacks and goodies can also be purchased for delivery. For details on what’s available visit Primaevo Clean Veggies & Healthy Goodies.
Open Monday to Friday 10 am – 8:30 pm & Saturday from 9:30 am – 8:30 pm & Sunday 9:30 am – 8 pm ~ Cash and American Express only
Many people living in San Juan del Sur also shop at PriceSmart in Managua. Here you can buy a lot of the same products that Costco carries.
TIP: Dave Grace of Big Wave Daves does weekly shopping trips to PriceSmart (and another North American style grocery store La Colonia). For $10 USD or 10% of your bill – whichever is more – Dave will grocery shop for you. Hidroponía Nicaragua Primaevo also offers this service for PriceSmart only. Their service fee is 15% of your purchase. They require a minimum order of $60 USD. For complete details visit Primaevo Price Smart Purchase & Delivery Service.
A BIT ABOUT OUR GROCERY SHOPPING HABITS
Our grocery shopping habits in Nicaragua are much different than they were in Canada. Instead of buying a week’s worth of groceries at one time we tend to pick up a few things every other day. We mainly buy food as we plan to eat it. And as a result have zero waste.
In years past we used to buy almost all our groceries at the Pali; except produce and imported items. Now we buy most everything there. We prefer to shop at these locally owned shops. Prices are the same and we like to support the small business owners in our community.
Hopefully the information and tips we’ve provided in this article help make your San Juan del Sur grocery shopping experience a more enjoyable one. Happy shopping!
Do you also live in San Juan del Sur? Share your grocery shopping tips in the comment section below.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 20, 2012. It has since been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness and republished on November 8, 2017.
Each day International Living uncovers some of the most desirable–and cheapest–retirement havens on earth, including Nicaragua. In International Living’s free daily postcards, you can learn about retirement, property, travel and lifestyle opportunities from around the world.
An article of mine was recently published as an International Living postcard and I’m pleased to able to share it with you!
Life in This Beach Town Keeps Getting Better…
By Elisha MacKay
With our toes in the sand and mojitos in hand, my husband Gordon and I clink our glasses to another spectacular San Juan del Sur sunset. The sky is a brilliant hue of orange, yellow and red. Our four-month-old miniature schnauzer puppy lies at our feet, spent from her romp on the beach. Sixteen months have passed since we left our home, our jobs and friends and family in Alberta to start a new life in Nicaragua.
Our Nicaraguan adventure began in Poneloya where we rented a lovely little house on the beach. From there we moved to a guest house in Leon. Three months later we were living large in a luxury apartment in Granada. Opportunity knocked and we found ourselves living with three dogs, two cats and a goat in a beautiful six-bedroom lodge in Laguna de Apoyo.
And finally here we are in San Juan del Sur.
Not long after establishing roots in San Juan we knew we had found the place where we wanted to settle down.
San Juan can be touristy at times, but maintains a great mix of locals and expats. Within a month of living in San Juan we had formed a large network of friends. And it’s easy to get by here with little Spanish.
A budget of $1,400 per month allows us to live very well.
Affordable rental homes are fairly easy to find—$500 covers our rent for a very nice three-bedroom, two-bathroom home; cable TV and Internet are included. Electricity is extra, with monthly bills averaging around $50.
Our monthly grocery bill averages between $250 and $350. We eat very well. In addition to the fruit and vegetables that are delivered to our neighborhood daily via a farmer’s truck, we enjoy fresh fish from local fisherman and grass-fed filet mignon.
We have a vehicle, but could certainly get by without one. Living in town allows us to walk almost everywhere we need (and want) to go. We spend an average of $60 per month on fuel.
Neither one of us surfs, but San Juan has plenty to keep us entertained.
Tuesday evenings are reserved for Trivia Night at our favorite expat bar, Republika.
The Saturday morning Farmer’s Market at Big Wave Dave’s is a great place to catch up with friends. It’s here where we pick up delicious baked bread, smoked ham, cinnamon buns and other tasty treats that we have difficulty finding elsewhere.
If we’re in the mood on Sunday evenings we can catch a flick under the stars at the newest, coolest place in town—Howler Bar. It’s also become our favorite place to go for live music.
When we want to cool off we visit one of many nearby beaches. Sometimes we head south to Playa Hermosa.
Other times we go north to Playa Maderas. Both are within 20 minutes from our home and have beach bars that serve some of the tastiest fish tacos around.
The “Palm Island Pool” and swim-up bar (literally a bar you swim up to) at the Surf Ranch resort is our preferred place to catch some rays while sipping cheap, frosty Tonas (the local beer).
Gordon and I have really grown to love the laid-back coastal lifestyle San Juan del Sur offers. And as each sunshiny day passes, life in Nicaragua just keeps getting better and better.
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