San Juan del Sur is known as party-central for Nicaragua. Since neither Philip nor I are big partiers, and “Sunday Funday” sounded unappealing, we decided to skip out on the nightlife in San Juan del Sur itself and headed to Playa Maderas instead, a remote beach about 30 minutes from the town.
To get from Granada to Playa Maderas:
- Grab a chicken bus near the market in Granada heading to Rivas (26 córdoba)
- Take a bus from Rivas to San Juan del Sur (36 córdoba). We caught the bus to Rivas in the knick of time then jumped on the bus to San Juan del Sur while it was moving – how cool?!
- #3: Once in San Juan del Sur, walk two blocks from the bus stop to Casa de Oso, a hostel that offers shuttle service to a few different beaches for $5 USD ($10 roundtrip); it takes 30 minutes to get to Playa Maderas.
The shuttle is very bumpy and drops you off outside of Los Tres Hermanos, a party hostel of sorts on the beach. We wanted something a little more “tranquilo” and walked down the beach to a campsite right next to Matilda’s, the unnamed blue and white house. After 15 minutes of walking, and a head-first topple on the slippery rocks (thanks to my heavy backpack), we made it! Beatty, the owner of the hostel, was an absolute doll and extremely helpful. Since we were camping, she let us leave our valuables in her room for extra security. For $5 per night, this place was an absolute catch!
After setting up our tent – Philip’s first! – we headed to our virtually private beach, as it was just us and one other couple. While the water was freezing (very abnormal), it was still lovely and a good way to cool off from the humidity. The Five Foot Traveler's Tip: Use more sunscreen than you’d think, as that sun is STRONG!
We walked the beach, laid in hammocks, and just relaxed. It really was lovely. As it’s a completely secluded area, there isn’t much of a choice for food or drink, so I highly recommend bringing a few liters of water and some food if you don’t want to spend the equivalent of $8 USD per meal. BUT! You must walk 2 minutes to the beach next to Playa Maderas for dinner:
- When facing the unnamed hostel, turn left
- Then make a right next to Matilda’s and after a few feet, make a left onto the road that is so narrow it could be a sidewalk.
- There, you will find a shack, literally, that serves perfectly fresh fish for about $6-7 USD…YUM! While that’s pricey for Nicaragua, it was completely worth it.
We passed out that night to the sound of waves crashing and lightning in the distance.