Nestled in a beautiful cove on the Pacific coast near the Costa Rican border is San Juan del Sur, at one time a small fishing village but presently undergoing a transformation into a well- known tourist destination in Nicaragua.
Getting there from Mangua, the capital city of Nicaragua, takes about 3 hours. Most of the travel is along the Pan American highway, a single lane road which connects the Central American countries, from Guatemala in the north all the way to Panama in the south. However, once you turn off the main highway, the last 18 kilometers takes about 45 minutes on a road which looks and feels like an off-road zone for motorcycles.
Thankfully, the national tourism office of Nicaragua has finally realized that to bring in tourism revenues to San Juan del Sur(SJDS), you have to get the people there. So this year, after several bridges were washed out during the rainy season and vehicles had to play ‘chicken’ every time they negotiated the potholes, big improvements are being made in SJDS and surrounding area.
The town of several thousand people is undergoing a huge facelift, especially in the downtown. The streets are being dug up, and replaced with rough asphalt suitable for a hot climate. Certain streets are being paved with flat stones. New tourist-related businesses are opening and the beachfront restaurants are improving their facades. It’s been a noticeable change in the past year, ever since the new Daniel Ortega government decided that San Juan del Sur would become part of the long term investment plan for Nicaraguan tourism. It may be no coincidence also, that SJDS is a safe seat for Ortega’s Sandanista government.