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One of the first things you’ll see when you get to San Juan del Sur is the giant statue of Jesus. You can see it from most places in town. This is the Cristo De La Misericordia, or the Christ of Mercy Statue, or the Jesus Statue as a lot of people will call it. Walking up to the Christ of Mercy Statue is one of the best budget activities in San Juan del Sur. It’s cheap to enter and you get awesome views of the area from the top.
I ended up spending way more time in SJDS than I thought I would. It basically became my hub when I was in Nicaragua. How much was I there? Leon, SJDS, Ometepe, SJDS, Managua, Corn islands, SJDS, Costa Rica. It was pretty much every other place I went. I couldn’t not go up to the statue while I was there, so on my first trip (when I didn’t know I would be back more than once) I found someone from my hostel and we headed up one afternoon.
So off we went. We headed down the beach, across the bridge, and onto the street. We took a wrong turn, or missed our first turn, and ended up at a gated neighborhood, so we had to do a little backtracking. No worry. It wasn’t far and didn’t add much time. We keep climbing up this ridiculously steep hill, eventually being able to admire views off to the north (not the SJDS side of the road) which was nice and before we knew it, we were at the top.
It was really windy at the top, but we still spent a while up there admiring the views and taking pictures. There is a little chapel underneath the statue. We didn’t go in. There isn’t much to do at the top other than admire the views and see the chapel, but it was cool seeing one of the 10 tallest Jesus Statues in the world. This one is 77.8 feet tall. We eventually headed back down and wandered around on the beach a bit.
How much, where is it, and when is it open?
It will cost $2.50 USD to enter.
It’s to the right of the main beach, way up on top of the hill. You can’t miss it.
It’s open from 8 AM to 5 PM.
How to get to the Christ of Mercy Statue
When you’re in town, go out to the main beach. The statue is off to the right and hard to miss. Head down the beach to the right and if the suspension bridge is back up, cross that. I was there in February 2015 and at the end of March 2015, the bridge collapsed. I know there were plans to rebuild, but I don’t know if they have yet. If you can confirm if it is fixed yet, let me know and I’ll update this. If the bridge is not there, there are probably kids with boats to help you get across. This should cost about 5 Cordoba.
Once you’re across, go out to the main road from the only path leading off the beach. Take the first left you come to, then the first right from there. There should be signs for the Cristo De La Misericordia, just follow those. You’ll sort of be going through a neighborhood to get there. When we went we missed a turn or took a wrong turn and came to a gate, so we had to backtrack a bit, but it’s still pretty easy to find. There are stairs along the side of the road that you can use or just stay on the road. This road will take you all the way up.
Tips for visiting the Christ of Mercy Statue:
- If you don’t want to walk, a taxi will cost about $15. If you find a few people to go with you can split it so it’s less.
- I believe there are also ATV tours that can take you up there.
- And if you’re renting a car during your stay, you can always just drive yourself up.
- You don’t really need special shoes for this since it’s pretty much along the beach or road the whole way. Chaco type sandals might be better than flip-flops, but if you’re comfortable walking a bit in flip-flops, you should be ok. The hill is just really steep, so keep that in mind.
- This is easy to see in a couple of hours. Plan for two, but give yourself three if you’re a slow walker or like taking pictures a lot.
- This would be a great place to go for sunset, but it’s still great during the day, too.
- It can get pretty windy up at the top, so if you get cold easily, maybe bring a light jacket.
How to get to San Juan del Sur
From Leon – 3 hours to 7.5 hours depending on method of transport
I was staying at Bigfoot Hostel in Leon and took the shuttle they offer to get to SJDS. It was easy. I don’t remember the exact cost, probably $30-$40, but it’s going to be more than local buses. It’s quick(ish), easy, and as comfy as a minibus can be.
If you prefer local transportation, take a bus from Leon to Managua Mercado Israel Lewites, then from there to SJDS. This will be between $15-$25.
You can also take a taxi if you really want. I took one from Managua to SJDS when I got back from the Corn Islands because I had food poisoning and didn’t want to be on a hot bus or crowded minibus. It was $60 and totally worth it.
From Granada – 1.5 hours – 5 hours depending on method of transport
To get from Granada to SJDS, you can take a local bus down to Rivas then another local bus to SJDS. A lot of buses pass through Rivas. This is also how you get to Ometepe. There is another bus option that goes up to Managua then down to SJDS, but that’s a lot of extra time so I wouldn’t do that if I were you. This should be $5 or less.
You can also take a taxi if you’d like. That should be $19-$25.
You should be able to find shuttle buses as well. Your hostel would be a good place to check for this. It will most likely be around $35.
Other things to do in San Juan del Sur
I mean, have you been to San Juan del Sur if you don’t do Sunday Funday? Yes. You have. But this was still a fun thing to do. Would I do it again? Nah, but I am glad I did it once. So what is Sunday Funday? It’s an afternoon/night of drinking and pool hopping. You sign up at Hostel Pachamama or Naked Tiger Hostel and get a shirt then Sunday comes around and you go around from pool/bar/hostel to pool/bar/hostel. It’s a night of pricey debauchery. It’ll run you I think $30+ and the cost of drinks. And one word of advice, if you plan on getting in the pools at all, do it first thing when you get to a new one.
Rancho Chilamate is a great option to go horseback riding in San Juan del Sur. Spend a day playing cowgirl (or cowboy!) and ride through the hills and beaches surrounding SJDS. This will be $69-$79 depending on when you go, so it’s a little pricier, but if you like horses, it’s worth it.
This is one of the beaches not too far from SJDS. Some hostels in town will have shuttles that can take you there, I know Casa Oro, where I stayed, offered this. It’s about a half hour drive south of SJDS. This is where some of Survivor: Nicaragua was filmed, too, in case you’re a fan.
This is another beach near San Juan del Sur, about 20 minutes north. This is the other beach Casa Oro offered a shuttle to and the one I always went to. I would recommend this or Hermosa over the beach in SJDS. They’re a lot nicer and you may be robbed on the main beach. You can just walk along the beach or you can try surfing here.
Well, you just heard that. One of the more popular things to do in San Juan del Sur is to surf, or learn to surf if you don’t already know how. I did not try surfing and you will probably never find me trying to surf. But I know a lot of people tried it and loved it here. There are plenty of places on Playa Maderas that will teach you how to surf. Playa Maderas, Playa Yankee, Playa Colorado, and Panga Drops are all great places for surfing in the area.
Go on a catamaran cruise
This is another expensive activity in San Juan del Sur coming in around $75, but it sounds totally worth it. I didn’t know about these when I went, but if I went back, I’d probably want to do this. There are a few companies that offer catamaran rides that will take you to private beaches and fill you with fresh ceviche and drinks.
Have you been to the Christ of Mercy statue? What did you think of it? Would you like to go?