Yes, I’m in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua on a Sunday. And no, I’m not going to attend “Sunday Funday”. What’s not to love, and why am I not going? Happy to share. But first…
WHAT IS SUNDAY FUNDAY?
San Juan Del Sur’s “Sunday Funday” is a full day of binge drinking, splashing about in hostel pools with other backpackers in various states of undress, drunken dancing to DJs, and forgotten walks home. Sort of a Central American answer to Thai “Full Moon Parties”.
I’ve been told it’s a very fraternity party-like celebration largely populated with a party crowd in their early twenties.
It takes place on SUNDAYS. Surprise.
SOUNDS GREAT! WHY DON’T YOU WANT TO GO?
Yeah, it sounds fun, but it’s too expensive and too time consuming versus the other unique opportunities for great activities I’m provided in not only southeastern Nicaragua, but the rest of Central America.
Remember: smart budget travel is about allocating your available money and time effectively for the greatest enjoyment and value, and the ability to understand what’s worth it and what’s not – in other words, critical comparative reasoning in regards to activities, lodging, transport, everything. When I consider the costs and time allowances required to go play at Sunday Funday, it fails the test, at least to me.
#1. THE PRICE OF ADMISSION TO SUNDAY FUNDAY IS FAR TOO HIGH FOR BUDGET TRAVELERS TO JUSTIFY.
The promoters of this event seem awfully greedy to me. Admission to Sunday Funday, which is a 3-hostel “pool crawl”, is $30 US, which includes:
- Admission to three San Juan Del Sur hostels that have pools, and transport between them
- A total of zero included/free drinks
- Extremely ugly, but free tank top (call it a “vest” or a “singlet” as you like)
Note: your ticket price is halved to $15 US if you choose to stay at one of the participating “Sunday Funday” hostels in San Juan Del Sur (Pelican Eyes, Naked Tiger, PachaMama), but that means staying at a party hostel on it’s biggest party day of the week! Not worth it to me. Also – if you plan to take advantage of this savings, book your hostel bed at least a few days prior – PachaMama, for example, reached capacity prior to Sunday when I was in San Juan.
$30 US admission for a pool party is an incongruously high cost that’s out of sync with nearly every other activity I’ve done in over five months in Central America.
Amazing activities in Central America are largely inexpensive by comparison. For example:
- $15 US: transport and surfboard rental for a full day of surfing on Playa Maderas, near San Juan Del Sur.
- $23-30 US: Sea turtle tour in San Juan Del Sur. People were seeing THOUSANDS of sea turtles on the beach at the time I was in SJDS.
- $25-30 US: Motorbike rental ($20-25 for rental, $5 for fuel) for a full day of zipping around the dual volcanoes of Isla Ometepe, Nicaragua.
- $25-30 US: Volcano boarding Volcán Cerro Negro in León, Nicaragua.
- $45 US: Canopy tour (ziplining) in Monteverde, in Costa Rica.
- $50-60 US: two-tank scuba dive in the Corn Islands, Nicaragua or in Utila, Honduras (meaning $25-30 each tank).
Super-low budget: I also climbed a Guatemalan volcano for $0.50 US through independent means!
Again, drinks are NOT included in Sunday Funday admission – it’s a safe bet that during a 12-hour day of drinking that you’ll put away at least 12 drinks, and buy a number of beers for friends as well – so let’s just call that an estimated $30 additional.
So… your estimated total for a day of drinking is now $60 US (or $45 if you stay at a participating hostel). Do you still feel like you’re in Central America at that price? I don’t.
#2. SUNDAY FUNDAY IS A POOR USE OF MY REMAINING BUDGETED TRAVEL DAYS.
Drinking and partying at Sunday Funday means a full day of boozing on Sunday, and likely a full day of crippling hangover the next day (a 1.5 to two-day time commitment with the way my hangovers go). This would all be fine and well if San Juan Del Sur was located in a boring, ugly area, but it’s not – it’s on Nicaragua’s gorgeous Pacific Coast where there’s much to do and much to see. I can do a lot with two days here!
A time-budgeting exercise: let’s say you’re on a relatively short, three week trip in Nicaragua: attending Sunday Funday probably means you’ve just used up almost a tenth of your trip on an expensive pool party.
On the flip side, let’s say you’re traveling for a full year: Yeah, you could allocate the days, but can you allocate the cash? Most one-year-plus travelers that I know are budgeted for $30-50 US per day – so that doesn’t fit either, especially once you consider additional food and lodging costs for the day.
At the time of writing, I had three weeks left in my 6.5 month Central America trip and wanted to use my days as effectively as possible for the greatest level of enjoyment.
#3. I DON’T WANT THE UGLY, POORLY DESIGNED “SUNDAY FUNDAY” TANK TOP.
It’s ugly, ugly, ugly. The tramp stamp of Central American freebie shirts. I don’t want it, and I don’t want to carry it in my already heavy backpack.
I’ll get a picture of said tank top up shortly.
#4. I ADMIT IT, I’M TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT.
I’m 34 years old and binge drinking isn’t new, novel nor cute to me. I also met people of 18 years that felt “too old for this shit” too, though.
Field report: a 41-year-old friend attended Sunday Funday and was faced by a young bro that told him “I love to meet old people travelling, no I really mean it.” How inclusionary!
Ok, the meat of it: I don’t want to sound like an old codger, but the thing is, bouncing around to now-ancient LMFAO and Black Eyed Peas songs (which were never good in the first place) and screaming “woo” (or listening to screams of “woo”) just isn’t a good time to me, and never really has been. I haven’t just recently discovered alcohol and I don’t need to be present when others do.
#5. WANT TO HAVE A DRINK? THERE ARE NO SHORTAGE OF OTHER BARS AND PARTIES IN SAN JUAN DEL SUR.
SJDS is a tourist-oriented party town. Drinks are everywhere, as are surfer babes/dudes with tans and defined abs. You don’t really need to pay admission to access either of the two.
#6. THIS IS “BEING A TOURIST” AT IT’S ABSOLUTE WORST.
Sunday Funday represents trashy drunken backpacker culture to the max. Yes, I like to let loose from time to time, but I don’t relish getting glared at by middle aged Nicaragüense women that have to deal with pukey shouting half-naked backpackers that piss in their gardens every god damn week. It’s embarrassing.
More: I’ve long rolled my eyes at extremes and excess of backpacker party cultures in otherwise poor and/or developing countries, in places like Vang Vieng (Laos) and San Pedro La Laguna (Guatemala) where the party culture stands in stark contrast to the culture/customs of the local community, or worse, has more or less obliterated it. It’s a truly insidious thing.
Given, San Juan Del Sur seems a little more at home with its tourist culture (and will happily take your tourist dollars – it’s one of the most expensive places I’ve been in Nicaragua!), but that doesn’t make it ok to act like your party life exists in a bubble and doesn’t influence local communities and economies.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Central America trying to learn Spanish, learn about the culture, make friends and make a good impression. Why screw that up now?
#7. IT WAS HARD TO GET MY TRAVEL BUDDIES INTERESTED IN SUNDAY FUNDAY FOR THE EXACT SAME REASONS.
Anything can be fun with a good group of friends – and frankly, if good buddies wanted to shell out the cash (and time) for Sunday Funday, I probably would have gone along, because PARTIES ARE OFTEN FUN (wow!). But the vast majority of the people I befriended along the way in Central America just didn’t want to go, primarily due to the cost of the event and the idea of blowing two days of valuable travel time on something that just seemed completely overhyped.
Numerous other travel blogs have referred to Sunday Funday as a “bucket list” (I hate this term) item, which is not only patently incorrect, but poor, hackneyed writing. It’s just an overpriced drunken pool party, people. That’s the way so many of my travel buddies felt, and I do too.
I’m going to surf Nicaragua’s beautiful Pacific Coast for two days instead of getting drunk at Sunday Funday, all for the same cost as I would have spent for Sunday Funday admission alone.
I can get drunk anywhere in the world.
I can’t surf world-class waves anywhere in the world.
Goodbye, I’m going to go surfing now.
IF YOU WERE LOOKING FOR MORE OF A “TRIP REPORT” ON SUNDAY FUNDAY, LINK THROUGH TO THESE BLOGS:
- Global Hobo: San Juan Del Sur: Pool Crawl
- Luke Spartacus: Sunday Funday in San Juan del Sur Nicaragua
- This Boundless World: San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua: What is Sunday Funday?
Note: prices of Sunday Funday admission are already out of date on some of these links as of November 2014, and times/places may be out of date by the time you read this as well.
By the way, I hate saying, typing, and hearing the phrase “Sunday Funday”. It’s a horrible name, just HORRIBLE.