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Whale and Dolphin Watching

Department: Rivas

Municipality: San Juan del Sur

Type: Boat Tour

Arrecife Cooperative:
David Mora
(505) 8496 8857



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The fresh waters of the beaches located in the municipality of San Juan del Sur not only attract thousands of tourists due to the quality of their waves, but also a large variety of migratory species looking for food and a warmer weather.

Very few people know this, but humpback whales and dolphins can be seen just a few meters from the bay of San Juan del Sur. Between November and March, these mammals visit the area in order to feed and mate. Therefore, it is the perfect opportunity to organize a whale and dolphin watching tour.

Even though the activity is not officially organized, it is possible to arrange one of these tours with a fishermen cooperative that offers this trips since 2010. The local tour guides will take up to 12 passengers on a boat that can be rented for US$150.

The tour starts early in the morning (between 6:00 and 8:00 pm) and leaves from the pier of the city of San Juan del Sur. The boat enters the Pacific Ocean and, if tourists are lucky enough, they will be joined by a group of dolphins that will swim a few meters away from the boat.

The tour guide will take tourists to spots where whales are usually seen. However, it is important to notice that taking a tour does not imply actually finding the whales. If the group sees one, the boat will always remain at a certain distance from the mammal, so both the tourists and the whales are safe.

Watching one of these mammals is an unforgettable experience. Tourists can find them whenever they show their gigantic tale and hit it against the water, or when they blow water through their wholes. Imagine finding two of them together!

It is most likely that after a couple of minutes, the whales dive again and swim to a much further area. The boat will try to follow them, so passengers can see the huge tail, flippers or dorsal fin a couple of times. This search can continue for a while, until there are no whales to be found in the area.

A visit to the beach

After hours looking for whales and dolphins, tour guide take tourists to one of the many beaches of San Juan del Sur, which are known for their warm waters and privacy. Choosing a beach strictly depends on the place where the last whale was seen. Manzanillo, El Roble, Guacalito, Costa Blanca and Mical are some of the places one can go take a refreshing swim, eat a snack or simply rest on the coast.

The tour ends when everyone returns to the pier of San Juan del Sur. It is worth mentioning this tour is also an excellent opportunity to observe the beauty of the coasts, filled with rock formations. There is no doubt that this trip has lots of additional benefits.

Getting There

Getting to: San Juan del Sur Beach

If you are traveling in your own vehicle, you must take the road that leads to Rivas. After passing the city, you must continue until reaching the crossroad "La Virgen" (on the highway that takes you to the border with Costa Rica). From there, turn right and follow the 18 Kms that separates this point and San Juan del Sur.

If you are using public transportation, take a bus to the city of Rivas. Once you get to the municipal market, take another bus that will leave you in San Juan after about 45 minutes. In Managua you can find direct buses to San Juan del Sur in Roberto Huembes Market terminal.

During Holly Week, it is common to find people asking for financial aid at the entrance of the town when traveling in private transportation. This does not happen for buses.