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SJDS - Rental Car question

Philadelphia...
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SJDS - Rental Car question
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I'm spending a week in SJDS in early January, 2011. I'll be staying in Pacific Marlin, just north of town, and plan on using a rental car to get to Playa Maderas, Playa Majagual, and town.

My questions are - do I definitely need to rent a car? Are taxis easily available at the beaches to return to town? If I do rent a car, how important is it that I get a 4-wheel drive, since it won't be the wet season? Last, would you recommend renting a car in Managua and driving to SJDS, or waiting until arriving in SJDS to pick up the car?

Thanks so much in advance!

Portsmouth, VA
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1. Re: SJDS - Rental Car question
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I have traveled to SJDS many times. As a matter of fact, I bought property there. I would HIGHLY recommend taking the Adelante Express Shuttle from Mangua to SJDS( $40 one way). A caucasion driving a newer rental vehicle WILL be stopped at least once during the trip by the police for some reason. Then he will basically ask you to discretely give him $20 to avoid having to follow him to town to pay the fine. The time it will take to conduct this 'transaction" is indirectly proportional to your Spanish speaking abilities. This is common and nothing more than an annoyance, however I prefer to sit back on the shuttle and take in the scenery. There are shuttles which run surfers from in town to the beaches and you can get a taxi to take you there, but make sure that the taxi has NICA issued "Taxi"plates and isn't some local. If you are going to rent a car I would suggest a 4x4. You are correct in that Jan. is not the rainy season, but La Chocolata(the road to the beach) is full of pot holes and a small car can bottom out. I hope this helps.

Philadelphia...
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2. Re: SJDS - Rental Car question
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thanks for the advice! sounds like the best thing to do is take the adelante shuttle and then use taxis to get around locally!

Graham, Washington
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3. Re: SJDS - Rental Car question
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Take a shuttle - we were in a rental car and were pulled over by policia who told us our car registration was a copy and this was an 'infraction'. They got $20 from us. As we pulled away, I snapped a photo for the scrapbook- a big no-no. We were pulled over again. The thug took my camera. Luckily he just deleted his photo and gave the camera back. He also threw the $20 back into the car. I don't know if he did this because he thought we might have gotten away with a photo and he was covering his behind, or he had a moment of morality.

Nicaragua
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4. Re: SJDS - Rental Car question
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there´s a rental car in SJDS, very close to iguana bar, next to a hotel that has a BAC atm machine sorry i do not remember the name, and sure you do not need a 4wheel drive but at least a high car will be fine so you don´t have a problem with the hole left by the rain, now with the taxis in the area are pretty beat up and don´t know if they will make it to the beaches area also the price is always high so that´s why i recomend the rental car.

Good trip.

PD: the police problems are 100% sure so take a shutlle service. Paxeos, Adelante express.

Hiawassee, Georgia
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5. Re: SJDS - Rental Car question
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The recommendation about car rental is 100% accurate. Take the shuttle to SJDS. Adelante Express Shuttle is 100% reliable and safe.

Use a local 4x4 rental or rent a 4x4 all terrain vehicle for the week. Taxis are also readily available.

I had the same bad experience with local police on Pan Am Highway. I was stopped 4 times for a bribe. call it the Nica Police Welcoming Committee. The police in SJDS are not that way, or I did not experience it.

Enjoy SJDS it is a pleasure, having been there 4 times now.

Merida, Mexico
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6. Re: SJDS - Rental Car question
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There is a Budget Rent-a-Car outlet at Pelican Eyes Hotel - but you should reserve in advance as the cars some form managua. It;s not 100% chance of getting stopped by the police. I was stopped once last year near Masaya and had to give a $3 "contribution". On my trip earlier this month I drove over 400km from SJDS to Leon and was never stopped by the police

J P
Maryland
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If you plan on going to the beaches north and south of SJDS, I recommend an SUV, not a compact car. We just visited in a compact, and were not able to drive down to Playa Coco because the dirt roads were just to bad to risk. (At one point, there was a low river to cross.) We did make it north to Playa Marsella with no problems.

As far as being stopped by police - we were flagged over at one search point that was set up between SJDS and Granada. It was on our way north from SJDS. They were pulling over lots of people, not just tourists. We don't really speak Spanish. The police officer was very nice, and did not ask for any type of money. He looked in the back of our car, looked at our documents, and let us go.

Tigard, Oregon
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8. Re: SJDS - Rental Car question
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We just got back after spending Christmas in a home in Pacific Marlin.

We rented a 4x4 pickup so that we could be free to check out the beaches and carry our surf boards around. Once you are in Pacific Marlin it is difficult to catch a taxi on the hill. We walked every day to town also. There are southern beaches that do need a 4x4 but if you just go to Playa Maderas it is an easy drive or just take a taxi. There are tons of taxis in town if you walk down the hill then you can catch them. The truck cost us about $1000.00 for 10 days so if you are on a budget I would use the taxis.

New York
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9. Re: SJDS - Rental Car question
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I rented a house in Pacific Marlin for almost a year. You need a car up there. It's the only practical solution. There are very few taxis in SJDS at night, so if you go to a restaurant for dinner, good luck getting home. Taxis do not roam the Pacific Marlin neighborhood in SJDS, so unless you have a list of taxis drivers to call, you're going to have to walk 20-30 minutes to get to a place where there are taxis. The same is true with the beach shuttles. Also, all of the roads to the beaches near San Juan del Sur pretty much require a 4x4.

10. Re: SJDS - Rental Car question

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