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San Juan del Sur to Popoyo Shuttle

How to Travel Between San Juan del Sur to Popoyo: A Comprehensive Guide

San Juan del Sur and Popoyo are two of Nicaragua's most beloved coastal destinations, offering stunning beaches, vibrant surf scenes, and plenty of opportunities for relaxation and adventure. If you’re looking to travel between these two spots, there are several options to consider, each varying in convenience, cost, and experience. Here’s a detailed guide to help you navigate your way from San Juan del Sur to Popoyo.

1. By Taxi

Travel Time: Approximately 1.5 to 2 hours
Cost: $90 - $120 (depending on negotiation and season)

Route: The most direct and convenient way to get from San Juan del Sur to Popoyo is by private car or taxi. This option provides flexibility in terms of departure time and the ability to stop along the way to enjoy the scenery or grab a bite to eat.

Organizing a Taxi: If you’re in San Juan del Sur looking to get to Popoyo, head to the main intersections in town where taxis are usually waiting. Negotiate with a few drivers to get the best price.

2. The Ocean Fly San Juan del Sur - Popoyo Shuttle

Travel Time: Approximately 1.5 to 2.25 hours
Cost: $30 per person

Our San Juan del Sur - Popoyo Shuttle runs regularly on Tuesdays and Fridays, leaving San Juan del Sur in the morning and returning in the afternoon. If you can coordinate your travel plans to catch our shuttle, it is cheapest convenient option available for individuals or small groups. For just $30 per person, we offer pickup and dropoff directly at your accommodation in or around Popoyo (from Playa Gigante to Asterillo).

You can book a spot on the Ocean Fly San Juan del Sur - Popoyo Shuttle online or in our shop. During the booking process, we’ll gather all the necessary information and contact details to ensure a smooth pickup and dropoff.

Departure from San Juan del Sur: Tuesdays and Fridays mornings (between 7:00 and 9:00 am)
Departure from Popoyo Area: Tuesdays and Fridays afternoons (between 1:00 and 3:30 pm)

3. By Private Shuttle

Travel Time: Approximately 1.5 to 2 hours
Cost: About $120 for a shuttle. If you have a large group, this can be quite economical.

There are no regular shuttles between San Juan del Sur and Popoyo, but you can organize a private shuttle. This is a great option because the shuttle picks you up and drops you off exactly where you want to go. If you’re traveling in a group, this can be a cost-effective option. Several companies offer this service, with Pacific Tours being our personal favorite.

4. By Public Transportation

Travel Time: Approximately 3 to 4 hours
Cost: $5 - $20

Traveling by public bus, often referred to as "chicken buses," is the most economical way to reach Popoyo, though it requires more time and transfers. Additionally, since Popoyo is spread out, arranging the final leg to your accommodation can be difficult and add to the expense.


  • You might end up paying extra if you're carrying a surfboard. Some bus companies use this as an excuse to overcharge you.
  • Travel light, as public buses can get crowded.
  • Keep small change handy for bus fares.
  • Verify bus schedules in advance, as they can vary.


Bus to Rivas: Take a local bus from San Juan del Sur to Rivas. Buses run frequently and the journey takes about 1 hour.
Transfer in Rivas: At the Rivas bus terminal, catch a bus heading towards Tola. The trip from Rivas to Tola takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Final Leg: From Tola, take a taxi or a local bus to Popoyo. This last leg can be the most challenging as the buses are less frequent, and you may need to wait or share a taxi with other travelers.

5. By Rental Car or Motorbike

Travel Time: Approximately 1.5 to 2 hours
Cost: $40 - $80 per day (plus fuel)

Renting a car provides the freedom to explore at your own pace and can be cost-effective if traveling in a group. It is a great way to go if you can afford it.


Rental: Rent a car from one of the agencies in San Juan del Sur or Rivas. Our personal favorite in San Juan del Sur is Rent A Nica.


  • Opt for a 4x4 vehicle if possible, as the roads near Popoyo can be challenging.
  • Check the rental agreement for mileage limits and insurance coverage.
  • Motorbike accidents are common. There are a lot of dogs roaming the streets and also unlicensed drivers, which can make for unpredictable traffic patterns. Only rent a motorbike if you have some experience, keep your eyes open, and take your time.

Final Thoughts

Traveling from San Juan del Sur to Popoyo can be an adventure in itself, offering various options to suit different preferences and budgets. Whether you opt for the convenience of a taxi, the regularity and convenience of the Ocean Fly Shuttle, the flexibility of a private shuttle, the affordability of public transportation, or the independence of a rental car or motorbike, your journey will be part of the memorable experience of exploring Nicaragua's stunning Pacific coast.

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