San Juan del Sur ’s crescent-shaped beach washed with the gentle, warm waves of the protected harbor have been attracting travelers for a long time. In the 1850s, this quiet fishing village experienced its first brief boom as a transport hub for gold rush pioneers crossing the peninsula on Cornelius Vanderbilt’s passenger route.
Here, North American travelers boarded the sailing ships to take them up the Pacific coastline to California and onward. This was also where many of William Walker’s glory-seeking soldiers disembarked to join his ill-fated adventure.
After the gold rush, the town sank into obscurity and tropical lethargy where it remained for a century-and-a-half.
At the turn of the 21st century, San Juan del Sur again grew in international popularity to the steady drumbeat of high-profile international press coverage declaring the area a real estate hot spot. The area attracted a frenzy of property pimps, land sharks, and a flock of checkbook-toting prospectors scouring the coastline for a piece of the pie.
Some of the investment led to progress, new establishments, and healthy relationships between foreign investors determined to make money and a positive impact for their Nicaraguan colleagues and beneficiaries. But the economic growth was not without scuffles.
Meanwhile, sunsets continue to paint the silhouettes of fishing vessels in crimson, and the mood on the southwestern coast is low-key and fun. The noon sun is scorching, so life is languorous and measured, spent swinging in breezy hammocks, enjoying fresh fish and cold beer at seaside, or splashing about in the surf.