Just thought I'd post a quick review of our week in SJDS. We took the once a week flight from the UK to Liberia in the north of Costa Rica and went to SJDS for a week and then a week back in Costa Rica. This is a bit daunting as you need to get a transfer across the border and I see there are quite a few posts about how to do this - and from our experience, unless you speak Spanish or know what you're doing, you're in for a long drawn out experience.
We researched and got loads of quotes for the transfers before leaving home and went with Edwin from Macua tours. They met us at the airport, took us to the border, dealt with the CR exit formalities, handed us over to another driver on the Nicaraguan side, and Edwin's excellent border contacts ensured we were fast tracked through with no aggravation.
In SJDS we stayed at Pelican Eyes which was great but hilly with loads of steps and we ate out at a number of local restaurants on the beach - El Timon we think gave us food poisoning, and we really liked Bambu Beach Club.
Walking around the town, we never once felt unsafe and despite speaking nothing more than about a dozen words of Spanish, we managed just fine.
The beach is pretty nice - wide and long and not at all crowded.
We did a few trips - firstly to Masaya volcano for sunset followed by going to the bat cave in total darkness with flashlights and hard hats followed by a walk into the lava caves then back up to the top to see the glow of the lava. On the way we stopped or ceviche in a town square (the best we've ever had) and went to a volcano crater filled with water. This was with Edwin from Macua Tours.
We also went on the Pelican Eyes sailing boat trip which was great with drinks, snacks, fishing and sorkelling.
We also rented a car and went exploring and while it's not that easy, we found the amazing Playa Hermosa and Playa El Coco which were almost deserted and beautiful.
This town feels unspoiled by tourism just now - no chain hotels, no McDonalds/Starbucks or any other chain restaurant, and we liked it for that. We just hope it stays that way!