If you're in the 18-25 year old age bracket and even remotely interested in Central American tourism, you'll have heard of the infamous Sunday Funday Pool Crawl in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. If you want a little preview just search #sundayfundaypoolcrawl on Instagram and be prepared for picstitches and videos of pools packed with people overlooking beaches with brilliant sunsets, babes in bikinis with arms and chests coated in glitter, and DJ turntables on platforms above throngs of sunkissed kids swaying to the bass. When I was researching trip itineraries and saw that LBW's Best of Central tour included a Sunday Funday in SJDS, I was sold. It's been on my Bucket List for a few years, ever since I started to hear all the hype through the backpacker grapevine about the most epic party in Nica.
On Sunday morning the crew woke up early to go for our first group breakfast and hike up to the Jesus statue in SJDS. After delicious sandwiches and breakfast burritos stuffed with beans and guac washed down with fresh juices with shots of rum and steaming cups of coffee, we did the 30-40 minute hike up a steep hill to the statue of Jesus, right arm extended outwards, poised on a hill overlooking the main playa in SJDS. Most of us had only just arrived in Nicaragua so were definitely not yet acclimatized to the high temperatures and intense humidity. We all stopped apologizing for the sheer volume of sweat running down our faces when we realized everybody was in the exact same (sweaty) boat. Luckily, the hike was worth the soaked clothing; the panoramic view from the top was breathtaking.
After showers and getting ready back at the Pink Palace, Desmond our tour guide distributed our Sunday Funday tank tops and we headed out for the first bar around 2 o'clock in the afternoon. We walked into Pacha Mama and the first thing to greet us was a girl standing on a stool with a giant shaker full of red glitter that she proceeded to dump on our heads and chests as we walked by. I'm STILL finding flecks of glitter in my hair a week and a half later. We bee-lined it over to a dude holding up a beer bong and each took our turn kicking off the afternoon with a Tona downed in 3 big gulps. A few games of a beer pong later, and it was time to head to the next pool. We stumbled our way to Anamar, the second beach bar on the crawl, and this time were greeted not by a bottle of glitter but by a bottle of some delicious fruity alcoholic concoction that was poured into our eager upturned mouths. Within 10 minutes the place was absolutely packed and the DJ started spinning some of the best dance music I've heard in a long time. It was only a matter of time before people were cannon-bombing into the pool, splashing around with giant pool floaties and getting everyone in the near vicinity completely soaked. Our group was directed up onto the VIP terrace (LBW has all the hookups) where we got to dance and drink overlooking the pool and the packed dance floor.
Next stop was the well-known Naked Tiger hostel, ten minutes outside the main town center, up a bumpy pot-holed dirt road lined by lush green fields. As the shuttle climbed the hill and the expanse of the beach began to reveal itself in the valley below, I knew we were in for an incredible sunset. Naked Tiger has some insane real estate, with white terraces lobby surrounding a pool perched on top of the hill overlooking San Juan del Sur. After nature's light show that bathed the sky and water in pastel shades of coral and magenta as the sun dipped below the horizon, Naked Tiger put on its own light show with strings of twinkling ferry lights strung from the vine-draped lattices and ceilings, and multiple disco balls spinning above the pool-deck-turned-dance-floor. The perfect place to say goodnight to the sun and prepare for the wild night ahead.
Before the last bar of the pub crawl, the group headed back to the Pink Palace for a little more pre-gaming (or post-gaming?...) and some snacks. We definitely brought the party back to Nomadlife, and immediately powered up a speaker to turn on some tunes and hopped in the pool. One of our tour guides Jorge, who was born and raised in SJDS, promised us some tasty food and came back 20 minutes later with steaming plates of pork skewers, fried rice and beans, plantain chips and cabbage salad. Needless to say we were starved after expending 1000's of calories and shedding buckets of sweat on the three previous dance floors. We ate with our hands because YOLO and before we knew it the table was covered with rice, a hilarious reminder the next morning of the previous night's frenzied feast.
The last beach-front bar, Arribas, was the perfect end to the most incredible day. If I'm honest, I wasn't sure if the actual event would live up to the crazy hype. Having experienced the party of Sunday Funday and the magic of San Juan del Sur, I can't believe I ever doubted it for a second.
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