17 Exciting Things To Do in San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua with Kids

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Are you planning a family trip to Nicaragua? If so, you absolutely MUST plan on spending some time in San Juan Del Sur with kids. It’s one of the most family friendly towns in all of Nicaragua. Whether your children are thrill seekers looking for adventure or nature buffs eager to explore, there is something in this vibrant coastal town that will excite them!

Our recent family trip to Nicaragua gave us 5 weeks in San Juan Del Sur with kids and there was no shortage of fun things to do. If we had wanted to, we could have filled every single day to the brim with fun activities (though we tried to slow down and relax).

In this article, we’ll share the best things to do with your kids in San Juan del Sur – from outdoor activities like zip lining and horseback riding to amazing food to enjoy all along the way. If you have kids and love exploring, you’ll love San Juan Del Sur with kids.

Safety Concerns in San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua with Kids

Before we traveled to Nicaragua on our 3-month trip, we had so many people express concern for our safety. We read in forums to not be out at night, to watch out on trails, and to keep our kids close at hand.

Guess what? Nicaragua is one of the safest countries that we’ve ever visited (and we’ve been to over 40). The people are helpful, the scenery is beautiful, and it’s got a slow and relaxed pace of life – all of which are PERFECT for family travel.

San Juan Del Sur felt like one of the safest places in Nicaragua. There are plenty of expats and tourists there so it’s possible to get by with very little Spanish (unlike some other areas in Nicaragua with almost no English), so it’s a comfortable place to be. When we were there it felt safe enough to send our kids to the store for a quick errand and there was absolutely NO TIME that we felt in danger or in an uncomfortable situation. We are careful of our surroundings, but still love to explore off the beaten path, and with kids, we’re usually in for the night by 8pm.

If you love the beach and sunshine, I can’t think of a better destination for families than San Juan Del Sur.

Where to Stay in San Juan Del Sur with Kids

There are SO MANY great places to stay in San Juan Del Sur, but our top recommendation is to get a bit out of town. Right in town is louder and can be hard with kids when the bars start pumping music late at night. We think that part of the magic of San Juan del Sur comes when you stay near the beach or in the jungle – and there’s plenty of both. This does mean that you’ll need a car, but we think you want one here anyway. Another thing to consider is that it can get HOT. Make sure that you either have quick beach access or a pool where you’re staying.

  • Tree Casa Resort – It’s right in the jungle and is our favorite San Juan Del Sur Resort for families! The facilities are amazing, and it’s super family friendly. We spent part of our time there and it was AMAZING, and the food is always incredible.
  • This beautiful 4-bedroom house is right near Play Remanzo which is one of the best beaches for kids to learn to surf at, but isn’t too far from town. The entire place is STUNNING!
  • The outdoor area at this Paradise Bay house is so fantastic. You’ll love watching the sunset from the balcony and the pool will be incredible for the kids.
  • Surf Ranch Hotel – This is a pretty basic hotel, but the kids will love the waterslide and the pool area!

Also Read: Best Places to Stay in San Juan del Sur

Do I Need A Car in San Juan del Sur?

ABSOLUTELY, YES! If you’re visiting San Juan del Sur with kids, you’ll both want and need a car. We debated this for a long time and in the end, I’m so grateful that we opted for a place a little farther out of town and that we rented a car for our whole stay. In so many blogs, you’ll read about all of the beach shuttles and easy transport that’s available around San Juan Del Sur, but it’s just not kid friendly. Most of the beach shuttles are in the back of an open pick up which really just isn’t safe with kids, or even for adults. It’s easy to find parking when you get to the beach and into town, so just plan on getting a car.

The paved roads in Nicaragua are surprisingly good and the drivers are really courteous. The dirt road are rough and you’ll want a 4×4 car on most of them. To give you easy beach access and the ability to explore, you should get a 4×4 car for your Nicaragua family trip.

Best Things To Do With Kids in San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua

Like I mentioned before, we spent 5 weeks in San Juan Del Sur. It’s amazing, beautiful, and the people are SO KIND! We hope you’ll love visiting here as much as we did!

Teach Kids To Surf in San Juan del Sur

Hands down the best thing to do with kids in San Juan Del Sur is the learn how to surf. There are SO MANY fantastic beaches in San Juan del Sur and surf lessons are easy to come by. We were pretty invested in helping our kids learn how to surf, as this was one of the main reasons that we took this family trip to Nicaragua.

We quickly learned that not all surf lessons are created equal. Some people charge big prices for mediocre lessons, and other higher priced surf lessons are fantastic. Equally, while some of the guys on the beach were great for teaching the kids to surf, others were not.

In our experience, it all came down to how good the instructors could explain things and how good their English was. We started out by just taking some lessons from a guy on the beach. We had seen him in the water, and he was a great surfer so we assumed he would be a great instructor. Unfortunately, his English was so bad, because of that our kids hardly learned anything. While basic hand motions and a a few words are fine for your first surf lesson in Nicaragua, if you really want to learn to surf, you need someone who can explain details and that you can ask questions to.

In our experience, the best surf instructor was Juan Carlos from Rebalde Surf School. His English is good and he did a great job getting our kids from the beginner stage to becoming more intermediate surfers.

The other instructor that we found who was pretty good was Orlando at Playa Maderas. He lives at the beach and everyone there knows him, so just ask around.

Lessons with both Juan Carlos and Orlando were $35/lesson and guys on the beach charged around $30.

Surfboard rentals are $10/day and are available at most beaches, but surfboards are included with lessons.

Tip: A cold current comes into the San Juan Del Sur area from January-April making the water pretty cold. We felt the change when the water temperature literally dropped 15 degrees over the weekend. For kids to want to spend much time in the water, you’ll want to bring a wetsuit for them. While some of the surf shops rent wetsuits, there were hardly any kids wetsuits for rent, so consider bringing your own.

Schedules are not a high priority for most locals, so if you want to book surf lessons in advance, try going here.

Hang Out and Make Friends at Tree Casa in San Juan Del Sur

Our favorite place to hang out in all of San Juan Del Sur is Tree Casa Resort. It’s packed full of beautiful places to explore and is so kid friendly. Tree Casa always has tons of activities geared towards the community and it’s an easy place to hang out. On their instagram page, you can find announcements for upcoming activities. We loved taking their free salsa dancing classes, and the kids yoga classes are a great way to spend the afternoon.

The best deal at Tree Casa is to go on a Wednesday when there is no cost for a day pass. That means you can explore the grounds, hang out in the giant treehouse, and of course spend lots of time by the pool. The crowds get bigger throughout the day, and it’s packed full of kids after about 3:00. We found that it’s the best place to meet other families with kids so plan on being friendly!

If you want to visit Tree Casa without the crowds, you can purchase a day pass and most of your day pass purchase goes towards food and drinks you can purchase. The food is actually really good, so this is a great option to have the place to yourself and RELAX!

We loved Tree Casa that my husband took a couple of our kids there for an overnight stay. It was heavenly. The food was incredible, they loved having more time to explore all over the massive property and the staff all treated them with so much kindness. This is the perfect place to stay in San Juan Del Sur with Kids.

Visit The Nicaragua Skate Park at Surf Ranch

The first skate park in Nicaragua was created at Surf Ranch San Juan Del Sur and it’s a fun place to hand out if your kids love to skate. It has ramps, rails and other obstacles to keep your kids busy all day. The skate park is open daily from 9am-6pm and admission is free. They even have a few loaner skateboards, but they’re not amazing.

While you’re at Surf Ranch, stay and get a day pass to the pool. The kids will love the waterslide and hanging out with other kids and the food is pretty decent here too.

Watch The Sunset from the Bay

The sunsets in San Juan Del Sur are absolutely STUNNING. The beaches in Nicaragua are also INCREDIBLE. If you can’t see the sunset from where you’re staying, head to town and hand out on the beach for the sunset over San Juan del Sur bay. The main beach in town is right by the marina and it’s a great spot to watch the sun go down. Grab an ice cream or a drink and just sit back, relax and take it all in!

Truthfully, you can’t go wrong watching the sunset at any beach near San Juan Del Sur, but there’s something magical about being right on the waters edge at sunset.

Go Ziplining in San Juan del Sur

The ziplining tour in San Juan Del Sur was fanastic and exceeded our expecations in every way. We went ziplining with Parque Aventure las Nubes (locally called a canopy tour) and the whole experience was so great. The guides were super helpful and were especially attentive to the kids. We had done another zipline tour on our trip to Granada with kids and this one was so much better in terms of safety.

I loved that there was always a guide available to help the kids and it helped them be so much more comfortable. Our youngest was VERY nervous and the guides were fantastic at calming him down and making him feel comfortable. As we were on the canopy tour the guides made sure to point out interesting plants, animals and insects. We probably spent about an hour on our canopy tour in San Juan del Sur, and that felt like the perfect amount of time. To top it all of, this canopy tour in Nicaragua was incredibly affordable with kids costing $30USD and adults costing $35 USD.

Hike to the Cristus Statue in San Juan del Sur

Situated high on the hill just north of San Juan del Sur is a large Cristus Statue, and it’s worth a visit. We loved learning about the history of the statue and feeling the reverence of the area. If you’re not religious, it’s worth doing this hike near San Juan del Sur just for the views. Okay, hike is a bit of a stretch, since you’re on roads and paved trails most of the way. It’s steep, steep, steep, so make sure your legs are ready and bring some water with you. The cost of entry is $2. We recommend doing this walk in the morning before the sun gets high and hot. While we don’t have person experience, several people told us that it’s not safe to walk down from here after dark.

Explore Some Nicaragua Tide Pools

Most of the beaches near San Juan del Sur are mostly sand, but if you’re willing to look, you can find some pretty great tide pools for kids to explore. We found some great ones near Playa Maderas and the kids had a blast. The pools were full of crabs, fish, and all sorts of interesting sea life. The pools are best to visit at low tide and are just on the south end of the beach. This is a great low tide activity since the surfing isn’t great at low tide. Another great section for tide pools is just to the north at Playa Majagual. While it looks like you can walk there from Playa Maderas, there’s a little canyon between them that isn’t safe to cross, especially with kids. The tide pools at Playa Majagual were HUGE, but you have to go at low tide. We went out to the end of Punta Majagual, but if we had stayed too long we would have been stuck out there with the rising tide. Only go out there when the tide is completely LOW.

Eat LOTS of Eskimo Ice Cream

We’ve never traveled anywhere that ice cream was so readily available, but our kids LOVED eating lots of ice cream in Nicaragua. Everywhere we went there were guys pushing little carts, ringing a bell, and selling Eskimo Ice Cream. Let me tell you, on a warm day at the beach, there’s almost nothing better. Popsicles were around 20 cordoba and fancy ice cream bars were about 50 cordoba, so they’re super cheap. Plan on having close to exact change, since you usually won’t find anyone who can break a big bill for you.

Hang Out at a Deserted Beach Near San Juan Del Sur with Kids

There are SO MANY beaches near San Juan del Sur and if you’re willing to get off the beaten path, you’ll have lots of options for beaches to explore. The most popular beaches are Playa Hermosa, Playa Remanzo and Playa Maderas. Outside of that, you can find so many other beaches all to yourself. We often went to Playa Marsella and had it to ourselves, but the biggest treat was getting Playa Yankee all to ourselves on a Saturday Morning.

TIP: Most of the further beaches need 4×4 or a high clearance vehicle to access them.

Go Boogieboarding in the Pacific Ocean

Not into surfing? Maybe want to change things up? Try boogieboarding. The surf waves can be strong at times, but they’re usually perfect for boogieboarding and our kids had a blast. You can rent boards in town for $5-10 per board. It is easy for kids to get really confident fast on a boogieboard, so make sure to teach them about rip currents, since several of the local beaches have strong rip currents at certain tides.

Since we knew that our kids would be using a boogie board almost every day of our 3 month trip to Nicaragua, we packed an inflatable boogie board with us. This thing is INCREDIBLE and felt virtually unpoppable! It packed up small for travel and stays solid and rigid. It worked great for everyone from my 5-year-old to my husband. It was probably the best purchase that we made before coming to Nicaragua.

Go on a 4×4 Adventure in the Nicaragua Hills

Nicaragua and specifically the areas around San Juan Del Sur are packed with rugged terrain and lots of hills. The best way to really get out and explore it is on a 4×4 tour. There are a variety of tours but most will include waterfalls, canyons, incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, and even to deserted beaches. It was an incredible experience that took us away from all the other tourists and showed us the beauty of Nicaragua’s coast. Truthfully, there were several moments where I was holding on with white knuckles, but the kids literally couldn’t stop laughing and cheering. We opted for a side by side tour, which felt safer and more family friendly.

Consider this San Juan Del Sur 4×4 Adventure

Ride Horses on the Beach

If you’ve really got a big horse lover, sign up for a horseback ride on the beach. While it would be dreamy if all of your riding was on the beach, a lot of the ride goes down jungle roads. Still a fun option, but just know what you’re signing up for. It will be a nice slow pace and they’ll give you instructions, so don’t worry if you’ve never done it before. There are varying lengths of horseback rides, but typically the tours are from 2-4 hours long for this horseback ride.

For the best overall experience, head south of town to Big Sky Ranch. They do require that kids be at least 10 years old, but they have the best equestrian experience in San Juan Del Sur for horseback riding.

Take Yoga Classes

If your kids are looking for a great afternoon activitiy, they’ll probably love doing yoga at Tree Casa. Free To Learn has afternoon classes for kids and their yoga classes are some of the most popular. Go here to learn more about Free to Learn San Juan del Sur and all the offerings they have for kids.

Watch a Turtle Hatching at Playa la Flor

If you’re in San Juan Del Sur from October-December, head to Playa La Flor to watch a mass turtle hatching. The beach will work with several guide shops in town to tell them when the turtles are going to hatch and they come out by the thousands. In fact, it’s one of the largest turtle hatchings worldwide. If you’re intrested in going, walk around town and the shops will have signs out for when they’re offering turtle trips. I truly wish it was more organized, but if you want more information or have a specific time to go, ask at Casa Del Oro and they can point you in the right direction.

Go Whale Watching near San Juan del Sur

Another incredible wildlife encounter in San Juan del sur for kids si whale watching. Each year from December-March humpback whales come to birth and raise their calves near the Bay of San Juan del Sur. It’s absolutely incredible to see these giant whales out in the wild. There are several companies in town that offer whale watching, but don’t plan on anything fancy. You’ll get loaded up into a panga fishing boat and you’ll drive around the bay looking for whales. Before you go, ask the guides when they last saw whales there and how many. Sometimes the whales don’t come until later in January (like when we visited) and other times they’re there as early as October, so do some on the ground research with that one.

Take a Painting Class

If you’re looking for a fun art activity, stop by The Art Warehouse. They always have some sort of fun class on the schedule and the instructor is fantastic. You can take a guided class, we love the painting classes, or you can just enjoy the open studio time. This is the best creative class in San Juan del Sur for kids.

About Jessica Averett

Hi, I’m Jessica, a mom of 5 kids and married to my favorite adventure partner. I love to bike, ski, camp and hike. We've visited over 40 countries with our kids, but are equally happy on the road as we are exploring our home state of Utah.

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