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.
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.
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).
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
The market has the best selection, but if you can find what you need on the truck there are deals to be had.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Fishing isn’t an activity that I would normally spend a day doing, but Elisha’s Dad Willard is an avid fisherman so we couldn’t bare to watch the fishing boats leave the dock in San Juan del Sur without jumping on one.
While in San Juan we stayed at Gran Oceano hotel for $52 per night. The rooms were small and basic, but very clean.
Hotel Gran Oceano has huge outdoor garden and pool that was perfect for relaxing while being entertained by Reuben the Yellow Naped Amazon parrot. He could say “hola” and laugh – which he especially liked to do after biting you. He could also cry like a baby.
Gran Oceano offers fishing charters at a cost $300 for 5 hours for a boat that can take up to 6 people. The trip typically ncludes a meal, snacks, beer and soft drinks but since the Gran Oceano boat was already out, the owner set us up with a friend of his at a discounted price of $200. We had to supply our own beer and food, but felt $200 was a real steal. We were in Playas del Coco, Costa Rica just the day before and the same package was $800.
Sailfish are currently in season. With the Gran Oceano boat bringing in 4 sailfish and releasing 2 marlin the day before we went out we had high hopes. Our day started out slow but once the fish started biting the Captain could barely get one fish filleted before we hooked another.
Willard and I pulled in 4 yummy tuna and Elisha brought in a nice dorado. She did very well considering this was her first time ever deep sea fishing, she had only one eye and Willard, the Captain and I were all yelling instructions at her in two different languages. Unfortunately we weren’t lucky enough to catch any sailfish on this trip, but we sure had a great day out on the ocean!