This region is one of the least developed regions of Nicaragua but in the last years the government has invested in some infrastructure, like the new Malecon and Custom & Immigration office building in San Carlos. A new highway that connects to the rest of the country is finished, as well as the new bridge across the San Juan River that will open in December 2014, making it possible to cross the border by vehicle. The new customs and Immigration at Las Tablillas is already finished, just waiting for Costa Rica to build their offices.
Rio San Juan is a new undiscovered eco-tourism destination, it is the largest rain forest north of the Amazon, featuring the national reserve Indio-Maiz and a few private wildlife refuge such as Montecristo Private Reserve between the town of Boca de Sabalos and the historic El Castillo.
The San Juan River is also a Tarpon sport fishing destination. They are now they are enforcing catch and release regulations.
The private sectors have also invested in more hotels. There are a few local tour operators and other infrastructures like an ATM. Disco bars and restaurants are making San Carlos the center of activity and logistics for your trip down river.
A new highway, bus station, and international river port (border crossing by boat between Costa Rica and Nicaragua), a well keep airstrip and the new bridge over the San Juan River (border crossing by land between Costa Rica and Nicaragua) are making it easier for backpackers and general tourism to travel. Crime is very low, but you must always be careful and used common sense.
Boat from Granada to San Carlos. Leaves Granada Monday & Thursday at 2 pm. (16 h over night, stops in Altagracia, Ometepe. San Carlos to Granada: (Tuesday and Friday at 2:00 Pm) C$ 180.00
Boat from Los Chiles, Costa Rica To San Carlos Nicaragua at 1:00 Pm and at 3 Pm, $10.00 US plus 500 Colones for Alcaldia. San Carlos to Los Chiles Monday to Saturday at 10:30 am, 1:30 pm, and 4:00 pm Sunday 11:00 am and 1:30 pm
La Costeña’s planes now depart only 2 days per week,Thursday and Sunday flights from Managua to San Carlos (120 US $ Round-Trip). La Costeña’s phone in San Carlos is (505) 2583-037. For reservation Managua: 505-2263-2142
The new highway San Carlos – Managua a 300 KM journey by private car is 4 hours drive and by bus about 7 hours. There is a dirt road that takes you into Boca de Sabalo, about 45 Km it could be done in 1 hour.
Most of the traveling is done by public boat with a schedule route up and down the San Juan River, a few in the morning and a few in the afternoon. Is possible to hire a private boat for charter trips or for fishing expeditions, ask around La Porturia if going down river to Montecristo, Boca de Sabalos or El Castillo.
If you are traveling to the Solentiname Islands, you must go next door to the Custom & Immigration office in the Malecon area of San Carlos, now they have a daily boat that leaves in the afternoon and return early morning.
Reserva Silvestre Privada Montecristo (Boca de Sabalos), In front of sombrero de Cuero island (2 Km down river from Boca de Sabalos), ☎ 505 86499012, . 7 am to 4 pm. 200+ acres of primary rain forest is a wildlife refuge, privated owned and managed sustainable, it has an full service eco lodge on site. They offer horseback riding, hiking trails, canoes, kayak, and sport fishing.20.00. edit
A kayak or canoe trip up the Sabalos river, from 1 hour to 3 or 4 hours depending how far or deep you want to get, you can combine the trip with a visit to a cacao plantation, and then come back down stream in the Rio San Juan. You could also arrange for a longer trip all the way down stream to El Castillo is about another 2 hours. For the most adventurer there is the possibility to canoe or kayak all the way to San Juan del Norte, a 4 or 5 day trip, about 160 km down river, you must bring your camping gear, guide trip are expensive, but if you have experience and are in good shape, this could be the adventure of a life time.
If you like fishing, go give it a try to capture a giant Tarpon, weighing an average of 140 plus pounds, for this you must rent a boat, or pang.
Canoe & Kayak Trip in Sabalos River, Boca de Sabalos, . 1 to 4. A kayak or canoe trip up Sabalos river, they take you by boat to rio Sabalos and there you can explore the river at your pace, you can spend the whole afternoon if you want, then you drift back down the San Juan River to Montecristo. Does not include price of getting to Montecristo.
Kayak and canoe tour – rental
Trip to Rio Sabalos $20.00 per person, minimum of 2 person per trip
Trip to El Castillo $25.00 per person, minimum of 2 person per trip
Trip to San Juan del Norte a 5 days, 4 night trip, camping with guide $350.00 per person, minimum 2 person per trip.
Sport fishing tour, Montecristo River Lodge (Boca de Sabalos), ☎ 505 86499012, . 6 AM to 4pm. One full day of fishing for tarpon, include boat, guide, gear and fuel to fish the local waters around Boca de Sabalos.300.00. edit
Horseback riding tour, Boca de Sabalos, 2 Km down river (Reserva silvestre privada Montecristo), ☎ 505 86499012, . 10:00 til 4:00. Horseback riding tour in the rain forest of Reserva Montecristo, includes lunch and refreshment. i a good half day tour for people staying in Boca de sabalos or el Castillo. is best if you make reservation.$15.00. edit
Restaurante Hotel Victoria, El Castillo. Riverfront restaurant, well managed, good food in El Castilloedit
Restaurante Hotel Montecristo, 2 Km down river from Boca de Sabalos, ☎ 505 86499012. 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM. They do BBQ´S, (parrilladas), fish filet, the food has a American-Nicaraguan style . need reservation if not a guest of the lodge.$12.00. (11.024208,-84.457054)edit
Restaurante Hotel Sabalos, Boca de Sabalos. Most people go for lunchedit
Restaurante Kaoma, Frente al malecon second floor. 10:00 Am to 01 :00 Am. View to lake and rivers, popular with tourist, good food, whole fish or filet are the speciality.$12. edit
Malecon donde El Chele Matamoros, first little diner overlooking the malecon and the river, San Carlos. 6:00 AM til 12:== PM. Favorite for backpakers and locals, a varaitey of good food at very good prices.Chicken filet with rice and beans, plantain, salad and fruit drink$4.50. edit