Should you visit San Juan del Sur or Puerto Viejo?
Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the prices of travel for San Juan del Sur and Puerto Viejo. We’ll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget. So, let's dig into it.
San Juan del Sur
San Juan del Sur is a popular port destination on the Pacific coast of southwest Nicaragua. The town was once a quaint fishing village but has grown into a tourist town with activities for visitors that include surfing, fishing, and, of course, partying. The town has a population of just over 15,000, most of whom are either fishermen or involved in the tourism industry. There is also a large expat community from the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Puerto Viejo de Talamanca is a small coastal town in Caribbean Costa Rica in the province of Limon. There are two gorgeous National Parks nearby - Cahuita and Manzanillo, and it rains more than on the Pacific side, which is why it is so lush and green with the rainforest coming down to the sea. Clear water, coconut palms, great surf and a laid-back Caribbean atmosphere make Puerto Viejo a favorite among travelers. Located on about an hour south of Limon, Puerto Viejo is the center of activity between the smaller villages of Cahuita and Manzanillo. The relaxed, seaside town is framed by jungle, turquoise seas, banana plantations and scenic rivers. It's known for the Salsa Brava surf break and beaches like black-sand Playa Negra, but this burgeoning party town is no longer a destination only for intrepid surfers; it's bustling with tourist activity. Stylish eateries serve global fusion, and intentionally rustic bamboo bars pump dancehall and reggaeton. With its blend of Afro-Caribbean descendants, expat Europeans and indigenous Costa Ricans, Puerto Viejo charms visitors with a unique mix of people and cultures. Rastafari culture has a firm foothold in the town, and many Rastas sell handmade jewelry and other wares along the town's vibrant roadside. Nearby you'll find rainforest fruit and cacao farms and wide-open beaches. If you're looking to chill a little, party a little and eat a little, you've come to the right place.
Which city is cheaper, Puerto Viejo or San Juan del Sur?
These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.
The average daily cost (per person) in San Juan del Sur is $43, while the average daily cost in Puerto Viejo is $80. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each city. Below is a breakdown of travel costs for San Juan del Sur and Puerto Viejo in more detail.
Accommodation prices vary by location and style, but travelers pay on average about $34 for a double occupancy room in San Juan del Sur.
Double occupancy rooms typically run around $82 in Puerto Viejo For nicer amenities and a premiere location, you can expect to pay a bit more.
The average price of local transportation around San Juan del Sur is $14 per person, per day. As this average includes both taxis and public transport, keep in mind that the prices of private drivers and taxis are significantly more expensive than public transportation.
Puerto Viejo's transportation costs can vary by the type of transport chosen by visitors. Naturally, taxis and private drivers cost much more than public transportation options. On average, visitors spend $26 per person, per day on transportation in Puerto Viejo.
Hired Cars and Shuttles in San Juan del Sur
Some specific examples of transportation prices in San Juan del Sur:
One-Way Private Transfer from San Juan del Sur to Managua:
Is it cheaper to fly into San Juan del Sur or Puerto Viejo?
Prices for flights to both Puerto Viejo and San Juan del Sur change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.
The average traveler spends about $15 per day in San Juan del Sur for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.
The average traveler spends about $19 per day in Puerto Viejo for food, but obviously this is dependent on the type of restaurant and the amount of food ordered. To save money you can grab a lighter lunch or dinner, or you can try fast food or street food.
Meals for one day
San Juan del Sur $15
Puerto Viejo $19
Food Tours and Cooking Classes in San Juan del Sur
Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in San Juan del Sur.
Food Tour - Nicaragua Gastronomy:
San Juan del Sur's costs for entertainment, tickets, attractions, and tours will often cost around $12 per person, per day. This cost can vary widely by the type of activity, however, as this includes admission tickets, day tours, museums, and other things to do.
Sightseeing, admission tickets, things to do, and other entertainment expenses in Puerto Viejo can vary widely by price. On average, visitors spend around $22 per person, per day on entertainment and sightseeing here.
Tours and Activities in San Juan del Sur
Here are a few actual costs in San Juan del Sur for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:
Mombacho Volcano Hike and Ziplining Adventure from San Juan del Sur:
SJDS PORT EXCURSION: Zipline and Adventure Park:
San Juan del Sur Shore Excursion: Private Masaya Volcano and Catarina Tour:
Tours and Activities in Puerto Viejo
For Puerto Viejo, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:
Tamarindo: ATV Quad Bike Adventure Tour:
While the amount that someone spends on alcohol while visiting San Juan del Sur may vary from person to person, on average a person spends $11 per day on alcoholic beverages.
Typically, people visiting Puerto Viejo spend on average $8.22 on alcoholic beverages per person, per day.
When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between San Juan del Sur and Puerto Viejo, we can see that Puerto Viejo is more expensive. And not only is San Juan del Sur much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to San Juan del Sur would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in San Juan del Sur and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Puerto Viejo would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Puerto Viejo than you might in San Juan del Sur.
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