Nicaragua is the largest country in Central America and has an enormous wealth of natural resources. It boasts the largest lake in Central America (Cocibolca) the largest biosphere in the hemisphere aside from the Amazon. It sits on the ring of fire therefore a wealth of geothermal energy lies below. Various microclimates exist within the country allowing a diversity of plants and animals to exist.
San Juan del Sur in particular was originally discovered while searching for the legendary transoceanic passage between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It was recently re-discovered by developers seeking cheap land and huge profits. A Canadian film about the land rush was released showing the negative side of the boom. As the Nicaraguan government became aware of this they created stricter environmental laws. As the local community became aware of the damage and potential loss they spoke out. Some developers have led the way in creating environmentally friendly and sustainable communities.
Today environmental awareness is a prominent issue in San Juan del Sur. The organization Community Connect has done a great job creating a recycling program. The surf community has always been environmentally sensitive and responsible. They profoundly understand their connection to the environment and have led the way in protecting it. Various groups have organized beach and town clean ups. Reforestation is becomming a common practice and organic growing techniques are taking hold. There is more to be done to protect this beautiful place but positive steps are under way.
Turtles, Monkeys and Whales
South of San Juan del Sur Playa la Flor serves as a protected breeding ground for the hawksbill Loggerhead and Green Sea turtles among others. July thru December you can see turtles laying eggs and later the hachlings making their way toward the ocean. La Flor is also visited by an average of 3,000 Paslama Turtles as well as several Parrot Turtles, the largest and most threatened of all marine turtles. This is one of the few places in the world where this happens and it is an amazing experience especially for kids. The local practice of eating turtle eggs has become a hot issue in the area and progress toward ending this practice has been made. Environmental groups have done an admirable job educating the public about the fragile turtle community.
All through San Juan del Sur, indeed Central America, There exists a Howler monkey corridor. These beautiful creature live in the tree canopy, travel in troops and are the loudest land animals in the Americas. They are delightful to watch and can be seen often throughout the area, just look up at the tree canopy. In the mornings and afternoons you might hear their loud gutteral howls as they mark their boundries. Crossing bridges have been created for safe passage in some areas and awarness of these amazing monkeys has risen. Their number one threat is loss of habitat. Some groups are trying to organize safe spaces for them throughout the Central American monkey corridor.
The pacific ocean borders San Juan del Sur and gives us seafood, surf and beauty. Fishermen, sailers and surfers have become more aware of the need to protect and preserve it. The nicaraguan environmental agency MARENA has aggresively promoted sustainable fishing practices, surfers have organized beach clean ups and other groups have raised awareness of our need to cherish and protect this vital resource.
From January thru March geourgeous humback whales can be seen off the coast of San Juan del Sur. They migrate thru here yearly and can be glimpsed from the shore or even better in a boat. Mothers and calves have been spotted jumping in unison creating a spectacular ballet. This is one of the most amazing sites one can experience. Whaling is prohibited in Nicaragua therefore these wonderful creatures have safe passage through the countries waters.