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Less than a week until I'm in SJDS! A couple questions...

houston
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Less than a week until I'm in SJDS! A couple questions...

I already have horseback riding booked with Rancho Chilamate, want to do a catamaran trip with Nica Sail and Surf, and plan on eating at El Colibri! I cannot wait for this trip!

Has anyone been to Playa Maderas? Are there surfing lessons or board rental available there? If not, is it still worth going to for 4 hours? I'm staying at Pelican Eyes and the shuttle will take us there and pick us up in 4hrs. It's included with the hotel package we booked. Just trying to figure out if I should even go to Playa Maderas because I know I definitely want to go to Playa Hermosa.

Any recommendations for a good place to take surfing lessons from at Playa Hermosa? I have never surfed before but I really want to try it! I'm preeetty sure I'm going to be horrible at though, LOL!

Also, any particular dish at a restaurant that is a must-try to order in SJDS? What about other musts to see and do while there?

Still trying to figure out what day trip to go on too. Is the cloud forest worth going to? Masaya combo tour with Granada? Or...?

Thanks for any and all info!

san jose, california
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1. Re: Less than a week until I'm in SJDS! A couple questions...

Wow how fun. You must be so excited. We just went a few months ago, and I can provide suggestions, however, always take into account what your own comfort level is and what you feel comfortable in doing.

Granada is a city you shouldn't miss. Arrive early in the city so you can see the town, and then go to Isletas de Granada where you will take a boat to see hundreds of islands. A good option to see the town is to take a horse/buggy ride from one of the riders outside Hotel Plaza Colon. In fact, I would walk into the hotel and ask which one driver they recommend. He will take you around town and even take you to a cigar shop to roll you own cigars (M-F) and you can then purchase some if you like.

For Playa Maderas, my recommendation is to cancel the Playa Maderas trip via Pelican Eyes. Instead, to immerse yourself in the Nicaragua people, save money and and get out of the seclusion of Pelican Bay, I would recommend use Mope's Surf Shop, right on the main street in front of the water in SJDS. Girardo will rent you the right surfboard and take you to Playa Maderas and offer some surf lessons. He is fun, trustworthy and you will have a fun time. He will stay as long as you want, because he likes to surf too. I can't remember the surf rental fee, but transportation was $5/pp. Substantially less than Pelican charges. There was a fun American couple who also went along with us and only did a few surf runs, they really just wanted to have a few cold beers and watch the surf. If you get tired, there are some hammocks you can use. There are other similar surf shops who take folks, we just enjoyed Girardo at Mope's.he was all about fun.

If you do need a NorteAmericano fix, stop in for breakfast at El Gato Negro. Its a better price than Pelican Eyes, and you will strike up interesting conversations with expats, young folk traveling through and enjoy its relaxed vibe, organic food, awesome coffee and great pancakes.

Suggestion to buy souvenirs here or on the waterfront. Be aware, that some of these folks have traveled 40+ miles to get to SJDS to sell their souvenirs and they had to get there early. When you look in their eyes, they work hard. Right outside El Gato Negro, we bought honey from a traveling sales person. here are folks who sell Honey in the Rum bottles, Litre size for only $8!! We bought two, wrapped them in our dirty clothes and got them home safe.

Another suggestion is there is a Canopy/ZipLine Tour right outside SJDS. Its called Flying Frog or something similar. I would recommend it highly.

We also visited the Volcano that you can drive up to. That was pretty cool to look right into the hole. They also have nighttime tours, so you can see the fire at night and walk into the lava tubes. If we could do it again, we would do the evening tour of the volcano instead of the day tour.

Playa de Coco is also very nice, but a long bumpy ride so depending on how much time you have. On our next trip, we will stay down in Playa de Coco area. Is too far back and forth to SJDS, the roads are rough.

Another suggestion, please bring old shoes, (or new ones) and give them to someone you see in town who looks like they need them. Even flip flops are a big deal to a kid. Most kids and adults have only clothes they are wearing. We passed out 6 used baseball caps to guys in an auto mechanic shop and they were surprised and very happy. Clothes go a LONG way here so bring and leave behind what you can. Bring an extra suitcase with donations, and bring it home full of souvenirs!!

Enjoy your time!

Edited: 2:22 am, March 15, 2012
Montezuma, Costa...
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2. Re: Less than a week until I'm in SJDS! A couple questions...

My only update to the above is when in Granada if you take a horse/buggy tour - check out the state of the horses - pick ones who look well fed & healthy.

Also from Granada you can take a day-trip to the Laguna de Apoyo - a volcanic lake which is amazing to swim in.

Definitely clothes & shoes will be appreciated especially among the many young homeless orphans. Also buy the cashew nuts they sell ( however cook them before eating them).

The kids also sell souvenirs - they are trained in the orphanage to make paper or wood knick knacks and once they learn, they are turned out, as young as 6 or 7 years, so buying from them makes good presents for you to give and really makes their day

El Colibri is a fantastic restaurant - when you are there ask Mary on her recommendation for the evening, she won't steer you wrong

Seattle, Washington
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3. Re: Less than a week until I'm in SJDS! A couple questions...

We didnt have a bad meal while in nicaragua. Make sure to look at restaurants on tripadvisor. I posted updates in January

houston
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4. Re: Less than a week until I'm in SJDS! A couple questions...

Oh wow! Thanks for all the info catalinamarin! Especially about the donationsI Honestly, it hadn't even crossed my mind! My friend and I were originally planning to go to Belize. I forget that while I am packing the same items for this trip as I would for Belize, that the destinations are very, very different. I'm still super excited though!

And yellabrickcr, I will definitely look out for healthy horses if we decide to do an activity involving them and purchase some souvenirs from the children! I have so many souvenir requests from stamps to jewelry that I will definitely be doing a lot of local shopping!

Montezuma, Costa...
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5. Re: Less than a week until I'm in SJDS! A couple questions...

El Coquito is also a great reastaurant/bar - live music/ good simple food/ great owners

Kitchener, Canada
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6. Re: Less than a week until I'm in SJDS! A couple questions...

Just got back from SJDS. We went to Playa Medaras via the Casa Oro bus ($5 return trip). Board rentals were $10 and lesson was another $10. There's lockers available there but not sure how much. There's also some tasty fish tacos at the restaurant there.

Fort Collins...
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7. Re: Less than a week until I'm in SJDS! A couple questions...

We were there last week, and LOVED Hermosa over Madera. Sounds like your transportation is covered at Pelican Eyes, but we found a GREAT driver. He took us all over for very reasonable price. Transporte Gaby - Richard Morales. richardsjds@hotmail.com

His cars were clean and in good working order, he showed up on time or even ten minutes early, was extremely honest, and gave us great tips on other destinations to visit!

We enjoyed Zen Yoga, Mauricio's Italian Rest. and Lobos! AND definately do the Canopy Tour. AMAZING!

Have fun!

Edited: 11:09 pm, March 20, 2012
Lincoln, Nebraska
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8. Re: Less than a week until I'm in SJDS! A couple questions...

Playa Hermosa was great w/ good surfing. Look for a guy in town with a blue jeep, Martin, who will take you anywhere and wait for you. Cool guy, speaks no English but with a few Spanish words figures it out.

Lincoln, Nebraska
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9. Re: Less than a week until I'm in SJDS! A couple questions...

Playa Hermosa was great w/ good surfing. Look for a guy in town with a blue jeep, Martin, who will take you anywhere and wait for you. Cool guy, speaks no English but with a few Spanish words figures it out.

10. Re: Less than a week until I'm in SJDS! A couple questions...

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