San Juan del Sur endeared itself to me in 2001 when I consulted a pictorial map in Rivas and saw the symbols for food and lodging where a road ended at the Pacific coast. The sleepy little town town’s picturesque front street was a mix between classic Pacific post card and Colonial American architecture. I liked it instantly.
Walking one street back from the harbor, I felt as if I had stepped onto the set of a Hollywood ghost town! The streets were swept clean, and the empty buildings were basic and unpainted, yet dripped with character.
“I wish I had enough money to buy the entire town!” I exclaimed to my friends when I returned to Costa Rica.
The rest of the world quickly discovered the little gem of SJDS.
When I returned several years later, the little ghost town that Vanderbilt built had blossomed into a bustling tourist town! SJDS is one of the few places I have visited that has kept its original freshness while merging with popular tourism and obtaining worldwide fame.