Naked tigers and topless chicks – San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Missing the beaches of El Salvador and the Caribbean up north, we headed to the Nicaraguan tourist and surf mecca of San Juan Del Sur, unfortunately having missed a Christmas date with a Canadian family we’d befriended who spent the holidays here. This is party town day and night, and being Australia Day on this side of the world we looked forward to parting with fellow countrymen over a few cold cervezas. Searching for a free camp off the streets we failed when everywhere gave an uncomfortable vibe, so we start looking for hostels who’d let us park. Cruising the streets we passed a bloke we’d met in Utila Honduras who was staying at Pacha Mama ,which we eventually found, but lack of any secure parking again put us off.

Naked Tiger Hostel.  San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua.
San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Meeting a Canadian family on the street travelling in their RV, they’d dared to park on a dusty construction area at the far end of the esplanade, with their two young kids, when the area is renown for muggings and theft. Call us boring (or just sentimental about our thousands of dollars of camera equipment) but we took more caution and headed back out of town and up the hill towards an Aussie owned hostel we’d seen a sign for. Winding our way up a steep narrow road, we arrived at Naked Tiger Hostel and found the only space here is in the carpark, though the views from inside and the pool area more than compensate for this.

Sunset beer shotguns at Naked Tiger Hostel, San Juan Del Sur
Daily sunset beer shotguns at Naked Tiger Hostel, San Juan Del Sur

Set further up the hill with captivating vistas, backpackers staying elsewhere often make the pilgrimage from town to appreciate the crisp, awe inspiring sunsets. Though don’t expect the warmest of welcomes from the owner…after being told we could have power she promptly unplugged our hookup saying we couldn’t.

Naked Tiger Hostel.  San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua.
Cracking views from Naked Tiger Hostel, perched above San Juan Del Sur

Knowing previously that craft beer exists in San Juan Del Sur, and craving a proper pint of IPA, the SJDS Cervezeria does not disappoint.  Taking the aptly named ‘EL Boom’ IPA, named after the famous surf break in the area, we sit and chat to the bar staff in the airy space at the bar. There was also a fruity passionfruit beer on tap which you could easily have sipped all sunny afternoon. Alas, we had a party to get too…or so we thought.

Awesome IPA at the San Juan Del Sur Cervezeria
SJDL Cervezeria, worth dropping in for a cold, crisp American style IPA

Thinking that today was going to be Australia Day party time, our hearts sank when we found out it was actually celebrated last night with the live broad cast of Triple J’s hottest 100, a yearly vote by listeners to rank the best alternative music released that year. Oh well.  There were a few people still going for the night before, some like zombies, so we settled in pool side with a couple of cold ones and introduced ourselves to those who could still speak.

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua.
San Juan Del Sur

The place gets pretty messy here, so if girls running around with beers, fags and no tops shouting ‘It’s topless Tuesday!’, blokes stumbling in and out of doorways speaking incomprehensible nonsense and a group beer shotgun by the pool every sunset is not your style, you’d better pick somewhere else.  We won’t mention the fact that when the water was shut off for half a day, they diverted water from the (slightly seedy) swimming pool so you could have a dirty chlorine shower…oops, we just did mention it.

San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua.
San Juan Del Sur

We spent two nights here managing to avoid the worst of them and make some good friends with the best of them. Sarah even managed to get some great shots of a fellow Australian chick holding the carpark security guys massive gun half drunk at around midnight one night. He wasn’t too impressed when she swung it around to make another pose, pointing the barrell straight at us and him in the process.  With a restaurant on site the pizzas (though not cheap) go down a treat when you’ve had more than one too many the night before. It’s a great place to chill until midday when the music starts cranking again for the hardcore young punks who possess far more invigoration than us two combined (we’re not in our heyday anymore!).

Naked Tiger Hostel.  San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua.
Naked Tiger Hostel, San Juan Del Sur

Having not met any other ‘Overlanders’ (quiet a pretentious term for those travelling by road in their own vehicle) since El Zonte in El Salvador, it was nice to have another pair of guys in a Volkswagen van from Uruguay staying at the Naked Tiger, only these two were lucky enough to grab a shaded spot.  Offering up our kitchen to Alfo and Freddie one night due to a lack of one in their van, we struck up another travel relationship that will last.  They even dared to introduce themselves with the tight arse traveller/student go-to of two minute noodles. All class boys!

Alfo and Feddie from Uruguay at the Naked Tiger Hostel.  San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua.
New Uruguayan mates Alfo and Freddie, San Juan Del Sur

Saying goodbyes to new crew we looked forward to again hiking a volcano, and headed back inland to Lake Nicaragua and the enchanted island of Ometepe.



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