Local History

History of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

San Juan del Sur existed as a sleepy little fishing village until 1851, when the California Gold Rush transformed her to become part of a transit route established to facilitate the trip between the east and west coasts of the United States. Passengers leaving from the east coast would travel to the Caribbean side of Nicaragua, navigate up the Rio San Juan, then through Lake Nicaragua, to “La Virgen”, where they would disembark and load up on horse-driven buggies to cross the 10-mile stretch of land between Lake Nicaragua and San Juan del Sur. Once in San Juan del Sur, passengers would board ships and head for California. The fishing still went on, and remained as the key industry for San Juan del Sur.

From the 1940’s until the late 1990’s, San Juan del Sur acted as one of Nicaragua’s largest shipping ports, where wood, cattle, and other agricultural products were exported, and goods ranging from automobiles to farm equipment were imported. The fishing still went on.

Since the late 1990’s, tourism and foreign investment in real estate have become the largest industries in San Juan del Sur. Tax revenues from tourism and real estate development have enabled the mayor of San Juan del Sur to make improvements to public areas, including the park, sports center, and beach front. In October of 2002, the port of San Juan del Sur celebrated its 150th anniversary as a city.