Best hotels and hostels in The Río San Juan & Islas Solentiname

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Río San Juan

    Basecamp Bartola

    Run by the tiny community of Bartola, 6km up the Río Bartola, this groundbreaking project run as a cooperative by 26 local families is the future of sustainable tourism in the region. Visitors sleep in tents (complete with mattresses and towels folded into swans) on wooden platforms overlooking the thick canopy of the Indio-Maíz across the river. With a guide and chef assigned to you throughout your stay, things are surprisingly comfortable and accessible despite the remote location. Activities include horseback riding, night hikes, boat trips and fantastic guided treks through nearby virgin forest full of monkeys. Prices vary depending on number of visitors, and non-Spanish speakers may struggle here, as none of the guides or staff speak English.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Río San Juan

    Sábalos Lodge

    These rustic stilted bungalows set on the riverside a short distance from town are surrounded by flowering trees and thick jungle. Each one has an indoor-outdoor living room with hammocks, a bed swathed in mosquito netting, and an outdoor shower. The best part: each bungalow has its own view of the river, which is alive with birds at sunset. The best deal is the family cabaña, which can fit up to six guests. Meals in the restaurant run US$9 to US$12.

  • Top ChoiceLodging in Río San Juan

    Hostal Familiar

    A fantastic choice offering two big, breezy wooden rooms right on the river and a couple of cheaper options upstairs. The attached restaurant serves outstanding fresh seafood (imagine shrimp and snook steaks braised in coconut-tomato sauce).

  • Lodging in Islas Solentiname

    Familia Aurellano

    The Aurellano homestead functions as a homestay and is the only accommodations option on the island.

  • Lodging in Río San Juan

    Grand River Lodge

    On a hill overlooking the Río San Juan you'll find Grand River Lodge, one of the few backpacker-orientated places on the river and a great place to experience Nicaraguan rural life. It is run by affable local and veteran cruise-ship employee, Marvin, who has converted his family farm into a rural lodge with 11 simple thatched-roof huts with private bathrooms. Prices include free use of kayaks and canoes and the friendly staff organize plenty of activities to keep clients occupied, including treks to see resident monkeys, horseback riding and artisanal cheese-making workshops. It also runs a cacao tour (US$5) beginning in the plantation beside the lodge and a massive swimming pool is in the works. Tasty and filling meals (including a beverage US$4.50 to US$6.50) are served in the rustic bar-restaurant. It also offers cheap secure parking for those heading down river by boat. The lodge is 2km from the village and can be reached by boat or bus; just let the driver know where to drop you off.

  • Lodging in Río San Juan

    Refugio Bartola

    Set at the confluence of Ríos San Juan and Bartola, opposite the ranger post, this rustic wooden lodge and private reserve is the superlative option in the region for true nature lovers. Accommodations are in simple, breezy wooden rooms with high ceilings set around a lovely garden overlooking the river where agoutis rummage around oblivious to your presence. The large tract of virgin forest is identical to the vegetation inside the reserve and the animals don't know the location of the boundaries; the only difference is here you are free to walk deep into the jungle along a network of trails. Kayaks are also available to explore the Río Bartola at your own pace.

  • Lodging in Río San Juan

    Río Indio Lodge

    This enormous, and at times deserted, sportfishing lodge has an epic perch on the Río Indio, surrounded by rainforest with views of Vanderbilt’s dredge ruins. It offers opulence in the middle of the jungle with fine wooden rooms linked by elevated walkways through the jungle. Prices include some local tours. Don’t expect to drop in; you’ll need to reserve well in advance.

  • Lodging in Río San Juan

    Hotel Sábalos

    Perched on stilts over the water at the mouth of the Río Sábalos, this charming hotel has comfortable wooden rooms with hot water, and rocking chairs on the wide veranda, which is a gorgeous place to sit. It also has the only real restaurant in Sábalos. Staff will pick you up from the dock in their boat if you call them.

  • Lodging in Río San Juan

    Montecristo River Eco Lodge

    This riverside reserve attracts tarpon fishing expeditions but the 120- manzana (block) property also boasts 60 manzanas of primary forest with 300-plus cathedral ceiba and almond trees, hiking trails, free kayaks, a coffee plantation and a cacao grove. The rooms are rather run-down and the place feels a bit neglected, sadly, but if you're here for fishing it's a top choice. A full-day boat hire for snook and tarpon expeditions or touring the region cost around US$300 per day. Non-fishing guests should note that the location is remote and on the far side of the Río San Juan, so any trip into town requires a boat shuttle.

  • Lodging in Río San Juan

    Tarpon River Lodge

    A decent choice a little upstream from the dock on the quieter side of the Río Sabalos, Tarpon River is housed in a cute wooden house with spacious polished rooms and sparkling tile floors. The best reason to stay here is the onsite thermal water, which you can enjoy in your bathroom or in the Jacuzzi out the back. There is a breezy riverside restaurant area across the street too.

  • Lodging in Río San Juan

    Hospedaje Kateana

    The best of the cheapies, Kateana is far from luxurious but is a decent choice in town with small but clean wooden rooms, a nice porch overlooking the main street and, absolutely essential for vegetarians in Sábalos, kitchen access. They'll also lend you the washing machine to clean that bag of stinking clothes you've been hauling through the jungle.

  • Lodging in Río San Juan

    Hoteas itlito Evo

    Located a few blocks back from the river, this friendly hotel is cheap, clean and secure but the small rooms are fairly plain and don't get much breeze. The owners also arrange tours in the area.

  • Lodging in Islas Solentiname

    Estación Biológica

    This biological research station offers basic lodging in its wooden cabin. Call Fundación del Río in San Carlos in advance to arrange your stay. Meals cost US$6.

  • Lodging in Río San Juan

    Hospedaje y Comedor Clarissa

    Rooms in this wooden home are basic but clean. Pay the extra for the better rooms upstairs with private bathrooms. Its beef, chicken and pork plate lunches (US$2 to US$2.50), served out back in a wide patio, are beloved locally.