Guide to Grocery Shopping: San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Grocery shopping in San Juan del Sur takes a bit of effort. One stop shopping is unheard of. In this article we’ll attempt to make your San Juan del Sur shopping experience better by telling you where to buy what and how much you can expect to to pay for things.

Although Pali (owned by Walmart) is the largest grocery store in San Juan del Sur it’s my least favorite place to shop. The aisles are narrow and the selection is limited.  Pali stocks the basics and essentials, but not a whole lot more.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Produce section at Pali

Items like sesame seeds, peanut oil, rice wine vinegar, wasabi paste and extra virgin olive oil can be purchased at Miscelania Sanchez. Nutella, Kraft salad dressing and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce are part of the regular inventory. They also carry instant cake mixes, confectioners sugar, baking soda and brown sugar.   If you want cheese this is the place to go.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Guide to Grocery Shopping:  San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– A sampling of some specialty items found at Miscelania Sanchez

I’ve been told by other expats if you don’t see a particular item you’re looking for at Sanchez just speak to the owner Gloria. She’ll do her best to find the item(s) you’re looking for and and bring them in for you.

Feta Cheese (171 g) – $4.65
Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (680 ml) – $5.27
Nutella (350 g) – $7.59
Peter Pan Peanut Butter (426 g) – $5.99
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese $1.35

On a side note many spices have been difficult to find here in San Juan del Sur (or any other place in Nicaragua – including Managua – for that matter). If you have favorites that you absolutely cannot live without you should bring them with you.

For your shopping convenience there are two Sanchez locations in town – one next to the market (shown above) and the other kitty corner to Barrio Cafe (shown below).

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Aside from fruit and vegetable trucks that drive through our neighborhood, the market is the best place to stock up on produce.  

1 Pitaya (Dragon-fruit) – $1.06
1 Watermelon – $1.27
1/2 dozen bananas – $0.21
1 Large avocado – $1.27
1 Pineapple – $0.85
30 eggs – $3.38

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

The market has the best selection, but if you can find what you need on the truck there are deals to be had. 

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Fruit & vegetable trucks drive through our neighborhood daily

Being so close to the ocean has it’s advantages.  We know of four fish markets in town, but our favorite (shown in the photo below) is located just beyond the marina.  To ensure you get what you want plan to make this your first stop, early in the day. 

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– Here you can get mahi-mahi, mackerel, tuna, lobster, shrimp and more!

Lobster – $6.34 per lb
Shrimp – $4.65 per lb
Mahi-mahi – $2.96 per lb

For the best deal on beverages we go directly to the distributor in town.  It is located on the main road as you’re coming into San Juan del Sur.  It’s on the right hand side, just down past Pan de Vida Bakery, about two blocks from the beach.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

24 – 350 ml bottles of Tona – $13.87
12 cans of Coca-Cola -$5.07
5 gallons of water – $1.78

Even though we have to drive thirty minutes to Rivas to get to the nearest Maxi Pali it’s my favorite place to shop. Maxi Pali is as close as you’ll get to a North American supermarket. The store is bright and clean and the air conditioning is chilly. 

Rivas, Nicaragua

– Maxi Pali accepts payment by credit card

Maxi Pali offers a bit more variety when it comes to certain items.  Here we can get green, red and yellow peppers. They also carry grapes, kiwi and strawberries. We prefer to buy our meat at Maxi Pali.

Filet Mignon – $3.38/lb
Ground Beef – $2.05/lb
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast – $2.55/lb

Like other Maxi Pali stores in Nicaragua the one in Rivas has a pharmacy and  a small clothing section.  They also carry housewares and a few electronics. They even have a “dollar” section.

And last, but certainly not least is on my list of places to shop in San Juan del Sur  is Pan de Vida.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

– This is a place to get excited about!

Pan de Vida is located 100 meters West of the Uno.  It is here is where you’ll find tasty bread and other delicious baked goods you won’t be able to find anywhere else in Nicaragua.  Everything is baked in the brick oven.

To date I’ve only tried the foccacia bread, the cinnamon buns and the banana bread, but I can’t wait to sample more of their daily offerings.

Banana Bread $4.64
Foccacia Bread $1.48
Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread $5.70
Round Multigrain Loaf $5.06

Items at Pan de Vida are a bit on the pricey side for an expat on a budget in Nicaragua, but if having good bread means giving up a few Tonas per month – I’m in.  These delicious baked goods are worth every penny! 

When we add everything up we usually spend between $250 and $300 on groceries each month. We don’t eat filet mignon and lobster every night, but we aren’t eating gallo pinto every night either. We also eat our fair share of meals out.

Hands down we eat more healthy then we did in Canada. We are eating a lot more fruits and vegetables.  And it’s rare for a week to go by that hasn’t included a nice thick tenderloin steak grilled on hard wood coals. Now that we have more time meal planning and prep is something we both really enjoy.

Life and food in Nica is A-OK!

About In Nica Now

We're Gordon and Elisha. A Canadian couple living a relaxed life in the colorful beach town of San Juan del Sur. If you're looking for information on life & travel in Nicaragua you've come to the right place!

Posted on November 20, 2012, in Cost of Living, Daily Life, Food & Drink and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. I agree with your assessment of Pan de Vida…any time someone is heading that way I ask that they bring me back a loaf of the multigrain bread…hear they are opening a branch in Managua soon.

  2. Money you quoted is that Canadian funds or Nica money?

  3. Coffee ? Coffee ? Coffee ?

  4. Great post E!! Made me crave some ceviche and try that bread place. When we come visit you guys we’ll have to get some 🙂 miss you xo

  5. I’ll have to pull out my grocery list and see what we pay here…..I don’t even know?? I best get that figured out if I’m going to retire soon 😉 Sounds like my kind of menu.

  6. Great post. We were just in San Juan de Sur in December – we are looking for property for investment and to retire in Nica.

    We visited Sanchez market and agree it had a nice variety and we will definitely visit the bakery the next time we are there.

    Thanks for a very informative blog!

  7. This is a great breakdown. Very straight forward and super helpful. Does Pali sell whole wheat bread?
    Thanks guys!

  8. Good prices on Ground beef, Shrimp, Filet Mignon. Bad price on avocado. Avocado 69cents each and lower in Kansas City, MO. Numbeo.com is a great comparison site, all the data from persons. Thank you for posting these!

  9. Gord – Elisha,

    Does Nicaragua have large grocery stores? Supermarkets? If they do, what are they called? I have only seen the Pali stores, and they are very small.

    • Yes, Nicaragua has large grocery stores – La Union, La Colonia and Maxi Pali.

      La Colonia tends to have the best selection and is quite comparable to a grocery store in North America. They carry a lot of imported items such as Philadelphia cream cheese, Heinz ketchup, Lays potato chips, fresh mushrooms, etc. And they generally have a good selection of wine. They also carry a few household items such as blenders, towels, etc. Unfortunately La Colonia (as far as I know) can only be found in Managua and Granada.

      Although Maxi Pali stores are large in size the variety and selection of items they carry is not. Maxi Pali is very similar to Pali, except they carry clothing and housewares.

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