Within the main San Juan Del Sur city boundaries, there are four places that are notable. One is the downtown area of San Juan Del Sur, which borders the coast. That would be where you would find most of the commercial spots, restaurants, different types of businesses and different types of houses owned by local Nicaraguans. There you would find a lot of commercial places with a few different neighborhoods in the bordering areas with nicer homes but that would be the busy neighborhood of San Juan Del Sur.
Right to the north, over the river, and still bordering the coast, there is a neighborhood called La Talanguera. There is not a lot of businesses or commercial spaces over there but this is a neighborhood where a lot of wealthier Nicaraguans have their vacations homes. La Talaguera is not gate-guarded so it is open for people to walk around.
On the hill, right to the north of La Talanguera (5 minutes away from downtown San Juan Del Sur by car), is a development known as the Pacific Marlin. This is where a lot of upscale, high end homes are located. Pacific Marlin is a gated community so you have to own a property there or you should at least be renting there in order to get in. It has a hilly topography so you get really nice views of the ocean from the homes in Pacific Marlin. The average lot in Pacific Marlin would be anywhere between 1/3 of an acre and 3/4 of an acre. The homes can be as small as 2,500 square feet and over 6,000 square feet – pretty big homes.
At the back part of San Juan Del Sur, away from the ocean, there is a development called Palermo. This is gate-guarded and is mostly similar to Pacific Marlin. It’s a little further back from town but it’s on a hilly terrain with a good view of San Juan Del Sur and great sunsets.
Generally, these places are very safe but of course I wouldn’t recommend walking in the wee hours of the night just as I wouldn’t recommend for anybody to do that anywhere else in the world. But for the most part, it is pretty safe to walk around these places.
Going north of San Juan Del Sur towards Rivas, there are several beach communities that border San Juan Del Sur such as Hermosa and Maderas which are about 20 minutes away by car. Some of the beaches here are open to the public and some are private.
One public beach you could go to is Majagual. They have several different homes both for vacation and rentals. Maderas and Maderitas are also public beaches where foreigners like to go to during the day to get away from the hustle and bustle of San Juan Del Sur. There are homes and businesses in these areas, too. People come here to explore and to surf. There are patches of beaches where you will find pristine virgin beaches that are not densely populated. You will also find areas where expats have set up their houses.