Dusty and windy but doable.
- Difficulty: Easy -> Intermediate
- Terrain: Dirt road
- Length: up to 40km out and back
- Flow: Can be busy with traffic – cars, motos and horse carts
- Scenery: Quiet little neighbourhoods
- Safety Issues: Can be busy with traffic – cars, motos and horse carts
- Bathrooms: No
- Drinking water: No
- Transit Access: n/a
- Parking: Free street parking available in San Juan del Sur
- Night Access: Not safe
- Special Features: Lots of wind!
- Nearby Attractions:
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua is vibrant beach town in southern Nicaragua. A little bigger than I expected, it somehow maintains its small town vibe, while offering a full range of restaurants and services. We stayed at a friend’s house overlooking Playa Nacascolo just outside of town, on the big hill with the famous Jesus statue. As soon as I arrived I was looking for a running route.
In the end I settled on running from our house up on the hill, down to town and along a road that goes between San Juan del Sur and Rivas. Although it is named Highway 72, it is a dirt road that has several offshoots along the way that provide access to a variety of local beaches. The route starts in San Juan del Sur and heading northeast toward the town of Rivas. It begins passing through neighbourhoods and guesthouses, with gardens and children playing in the large yards, and then the houses become sparser and the scenery is more of fields and trees. As you continue running there are more communities, where the houses are closer together. I ran for 5km out and back, but I drove the road later in the week and saw that it is more than 20km each way between San Juan del Sur and Rivas.
There are a lot of interesting birds to see in these parts. I did manage a photo of one that I hadn’t seen before but can’t identify. I also enjoyed seeing horse and carts loaded with goods passing by; this is obviously a regular form of transportation in around here.
The route is a dirt road and it is generally well graded and in good condition. It is fairly flat overall but there are definitely some rolling hills throughout, some of them are steep but not too long, some are not as steep but longer. There is a little shade from trees that line the route but not a lot. I didn’t find the temperature to be a huge issue (although I was out very early!) because the fierce wind kept me much cooler than I would have been otherwise. Unfortunately the wind also blew up tons of dust and especially when cars or motos went by this was not pleasant at all. My first run was on a Sunday early morning, and the traffic wasn’t too bad, but when I went again on Tuesday morning, it was no fun at all. There was too many vehicles and way too much dust. My friend joked that I should have worn a dust mask and she was right! It almost ruined my run… almost. Also, the wind was so strong that when I had to run against it, it was really hard work… The wind is a serious factor in San Juan del Sur and should not be underestimated!
So, overall I found San Juan del Sur to be an ok place to run but not great. The scenery wasn’t spectacular and the wind, while refreshing, makes for too much work and way too much dust! However, it is doable. It’s a nice town and if you are here anyways, you can run.
I did look around online for maps of other runners in the area and found that my route up the San Juan del Sur Rivas Road was the one used by people running any kind of distance. I did see that some people also managed to run just under 5km as a out and back on the beach in San Juan del Sur. When I first got to San Juan del Sur the beach was suggested to me as a running route. Even though I don’t love running on beaches in the tropics, generally cause its always super hot and in full sun, I did scope it out. This beach has a gentle slope, and at low tide I did see runners padding along the damp sand. A follower runner mentioned that she did a short run on the beach, but the huge winds blew sand at her and it wasn’t that pleasant, so she gave up. Still I mention it as an option. People, definitely run here, and it’s quite pretty with the town and surrounding hills as a backdrop on one side and the ocean on the other. You could definitely get a short run in here. It might even be nice if you went early to beat the heat and were lucky enough to catch a day without too much wind! Several locals told me the beach isn’t safe at night so I would definitely not recommend a night beach run.