My happy place: San Juan del Sur

Tatiana Gogolova and Abby Tegnelia

Having lunch with Tatiana at my favorite SJdS spot, El Timon.

One of the best parts about living in Guanacaste (one of the northern provinces of Costa Rica) is that we were very close to the border of Nicaragua, which quickly became a favorite getaway (and necessity for visa runs). My local friends told me before my first trip that I’d love it, describing it as “Costa Rica 15 years ago.” My first time to San Juan del Sur, we happened to meet a lot of children, and on the next trip, I got out of the main area and into the surf beaches and perfect slices of heaven that are right outside of town. And we drank a LOT of rum. (For a good time, head to Iguana…) This time? Four of us girls rented a gorgeous condo on the beach and ate our weight in good food every day. Like on all of these trips, I was the only American in a group of Canadians — as they reminded me more than a few times… When we weren’t laughing hysterically and leaving each other messages on Voxer. It was a great trip!

Our condo was on the northern-most coast of the main bay and had a pool that was almost too good to be true.

San Juan del Sur

This was the first time I got to stay right on the beach. It was so peaceful! We could sit outside on our balcony and listen to the waves, my very favorite sound.

San Juan del Sur beach

Going into town meant a nice stroll on the beach… Most Nicaraguans hit the beach in jeans, but we opted for bright sundresses — and bought more while we were in town.

Cheryl Grant Melissa Christensen Tatiana Gogolova

On our first day, we headed straight to El Timon, our favorite lunch spot. The first time I came to SJdS, we sat at this beachfront little paradise from ten am until after sunset, people watching and drinking Tonas.

Cheryl Grant Melissa Christensen

Best friends Cheryl and Melissa.


At El Timon, three gorgeous, fresh lobster tails, two yummy sides, and a beer will set you back less than $20. My kind of place!



There’s just something about that bay that I find so peaceful…

San Juan del Sur sand

San Juan del Sur sunset


Dusk is such a magical time to be outside, enjoying the view and the beach.

San Juan del Sur dusk


Please be careful about walking around at night! We ran a quick errand one evening and got to walk on the hanging bridge.



Bridges are so symbolic, don’t you think?


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I'm a life-long travel junkie journalist who works hard to find adventure in everyday life after two years of travel and expat living.

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  1. Abby, I am seriously thinking of visiting Costa Rica next year and this has definitely put me in the mood to do more research. I will have to bend your ear to get more tips when the time comes.

  2. I have to get all the info about where to learn to surf & dive when I go to Costa Rica next year!

  3. I would love to help you ladies with Costa Rica!!

  4. SJDS is one of my favorite places in the world!!! LOVE this post and I LOVE your new blog! Yay!

  5. Thank you, Andi!! It is coming along!

  6. I love these ‘slice of life’ posts and images. I think you’ve captured what it’s like to visit San Juan del Sur very nicely.

  7. Thank you, Claudia! At least one more coming. I love it there!

  8. So, so gorgeous! 🙂 I feel happier just seeing your photos – I can only imagine how inspiring and restorative it is to see all this in person. Wonderful. 🙂

  9. Very nice place…which I haven’t visited yet!

  10. Ohh you should go! A nice resting spot and gateway to some really amazing places in Nicaragua.

  11. Did we just miss each other in Nic? I just left Leon a few days ago…not sure when you were there but your photo’s are lovely! I want to be in that pool!! (seriously…like right now! It’s been in the 90’s every day here in El Salvador).

  12. No, I am just really behind in my blogging lol. I was down there in May! Vegas is HOT right now, so I feel your pain!

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