Laidback Living and Golden Sands on Nicaragua's Pacific

It may well be the best little beach town in the world... With 22 beaches for you to enjoy and a surge in foreign residents and travelers, San Juan del Sur, on Nicaragua's southern Pacific coast, is perfect for any lover of ocean views, warm waters, and fun in the sun.

After eight years of living here full-time, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. Even if I'm away for only a few days, I find myself missing it. Many people come here to visit and end up staying or going home to plan their permanent return.

The hot, sultry weather sets the stage. Around 85 F every day, with a shimmering, blue sea tossing and turning into great surf breaks over golden sand. Above, pelicans swoop down to catch their dinner from the shoals of fish that swarm beneath the water's surface. In the background, majestic cliffs stand guard over the bay.

San Juan del Sur is growing fast, and while no longer a frontier town for expats, it's still developing. Today you'll get WiFi and TV connections in your home. Fancy cheeses can be found, multi-grain bread, wines, and kosher dill pickles... But internet can still be a little patchy.

San Juan del Sur, on Nicaragua’s southern Pacific coast, may well be the best little beach town in the world.
San Juan del Sur, on Nicaragua’s southern Pacific coast, may well be the best little beach town in the world.

As far as costs go, a couple can manage on $1,200 to $1,500 a month, a single person on $1,000. That budget includes a furnished apartment, food, water, electricity, WiFi, and cable TV, with enough money left over to experience all the extras that San Juan del Sur offers. Basic healthcare is available in the public clinic free of charge. Live here in a furnished apartment near the beach for $400, or live here like a king for as much as you want.

Eat dinner out for $10 a person. Nighttime dining options include restaurants whose proprietors hail from around the world. Dine on lasagna, tapas, sushi, Canadian poutine, Argentine sandwiches... Of course, don't forget the fabulous Nicaraguan seafood, meat platters, and gallo pinto (red beans and rice) at the municipal market for $3. Enjoy smoothies of all types, hamburgers that would rival the best in the U.S., and coffee shops like Barrio Café, with Nicaraguan coffee so good for $2 that you may want to sit there all day and people watch.

And don't worry about things to do. Nurse a beer for $1.50 or a rum and coke for the same price while you listen to great music almost every night. Rock 'n' roll, reggae, jazz, blues, Latin, English rock, Nicaraguan folkloric music, and more. Rent a four-wheeler or dune buggy to explore the 22 beaches in the area. Zip-lining at Da Flyin' Frog, mountain climbing, and other extreme sports are just making their way into town. Go surfing, swimming, paddle or boogie boarding any day of the week.

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