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Guide to Grocery Shopping in San Juan del Sur

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.

PALI

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

grocery shopping

~ Pali: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

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

Guide to Grocery Shopping: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

~ Miscelánea Sánchez: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

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

grocery shopping

~ Doña Lola: Municipal Market, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua


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

Grocery Shopping in San Juan del Sur

~ Carnes San Martin: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

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.

FISH MARKET

South end of town on the beach road next to the marina ~ Open every day 7 am – 5 pm ~ Cash only

Grocery Shopping

~ Fish Market: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

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.

grocery shopping

~ Acopio San Juan: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

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.

PANADERÍA ALEMANA

Two doors North of the municipal market ~ Open Monday to Saturday 8 am – 5 pm ~ Closed on Sundays ~ Cash only

Guide to Grocery Shopping: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

~ Panaderia Alemana: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

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

Guide to Grocery Shopping: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

~ Distribuidora San Juan: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

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.

FARMER‘S MARKET

Guide to Grocery Shopping: San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

~ Farmer’s Market: Big Wave Daves, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

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 primaevo505@gmail.com or WhatsApp +505 8256 4877

grocery shopping

~ Fresh Greens from Hidroponía Nicaragua Primaevo: Tola, Nicaragua (Photo courtesy of Hidroponía Nicaragua Primaevo)

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.

PRICESMART

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.

On average we spend between $300 to $350 USD per month on groceries. For a look at what this gets us you can check out this day-to-day spending report that is part of our 2017 Cost of Living Report.

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.

Socializing, Dancing & Piñata Smashing with the Elders

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Quarterly Meeting of the Elders (Mother’s Day Edition): San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, May 2016

Just Another Day in Paradise

When Emilie from Nica Sail and Surf called us out of the blue to ask if we wanted to help with the Quarterly San Juan del Sur Elder’s Luncheon Elisha and I had no idea what to expect. I envisioned a quiet stuffy environment with a few people leading the group.  Maybe a few speeches followed by a solemn lunch.

Once again Nicaragua had a surprise in store for us.

Mother’s Day with the Elders

Once every 3 months over 200 of San Juan’s finest gather for the elders meeting and luncheon. Mother’s Day is more like a week long event in Nicaragua. Accordingly, the gathering that coincides with this holiday is highly anticipated and well attended.

A special Mother’s Day mass at the church proceeded the elders meeting so the well treed church courtyard made for the perfect location. After mass and before lunch there are gifts passed out to each of the mothers.
Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Sponsors

These events are free for the elders, but they take some cash, planning and lots of hands working together to pull off every quarter. Consequently many of the local businesses and prominent families help with funding.  Payita Solis, Hermanas Sanchez, Sunday Funday Pool Crawl, Eduardo and Angelita Holman, Arenas Pizzeria, Pizzeria San Juan, Frida Fajardo, Iskra Travel, Casa Oro, Madera Futura y más all pitch in.

The Sanchez sisters – who own clothing, grocery and tourist shops in town – not only help fund the event but run point on organizing logistics.

Nas Naked Mama Productions

Volunteers

Pacha Mama and Naked Tiger hostels round up most of the volunteers/dance partners for the elders. Nas (sporting her Sunday Funday tank top above) the General Manager for Naked Tiger brought the idea of volunteering for this event to her team over a year ago. They have been a fun part of these meetings ever since.

Our Experience

This was just an all out party with constant dancing and laughing culminated by some piñata smashing. One man tried to sit with the women pictured below and they sent him packing. Elisha overheard them saying they were busy gossiping so he needed to go sit with the men.

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– The real gossip girls.

The elders were not shy about grabbing up the cute young men and women volunteers and dragging them up on the dance floor. The elders not inclined to dance didn’t let that slow them down from flirting. One fellow Elisha chatted up gave me the stink eye and made a gun pointing gesture (all in good fun) at me when he heard I was the competition.

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Don’t be fooled because these guys are players.

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Two of our favorite Sanchez sisters getting in the mix.

Once lunch arrived we served it up as quickly as possible because this group wanted to get back to dancing. Some of them were already eyeing up the piñata.

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

You know what’s better than watching kids smashing a piñata? Seniors smashing a piñata.

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Candida (one of our all time favorite grandmas in SJDS) cheering her friend on as she is trying to cheat.

After some serious hits on the heart shaped piñata candy finally started to rain down.

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Once the candies hit the floor those elders dove on the ground and scrummed like it was a rugby match. I’m still blown away there were no injuries.

After three hours of dancing, a big meal and a candy scrum the elders of  San Juan were ready to head home.

Elisha and I stayed long enough to pack up the chairs and tables and help clean up the courtyard. We were ready to go home for our afternoon nap after all the excitement.

Piñata Smashing: Meeting of the Elders, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– The volunteers fueling up after a long day of dancing.

We felt privileged for the invitation to help out at this event and grateful to have the time to give back to our community. Thank you Sunday Funday for inviting us and special thanks to the elders of San Juan for allowing us to be a part of your special day!

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