Oh, Sunday Funday. How I both love and hate you. I recently experienced my first Sunday Funday in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and have many thoughts (and tips!) to share on the subject.
If you’re on the backpacker circuit, you will undoubtedly hear of the infamous Sunday Funday the closer you get to Nicaragua. In the US, we also often refer to “Sunday Funday” when we’re having a boozy brunch or day drinking to extend the weekend and forget all about work the next day. I’m sure other countries refer to Sunday Funday commonly as well, but Nicaragua is the first country in Latin America where I’ve seen an official event sooooo close to a day pool party in Vegas that I just had to go. My cousin flew down to visit me and said it’s like everyone is constantly on Spring Break!
I first heard of Sunday Funday at a hostel in Colombia when other backpackers were sharing their epic stories. (We got so drunk! They were basically having sex in the pool next to us! I lost my pants! Etc.) If this sounds like your cup of tea, or if you want to just experience the debauchery for yourself, read on, dear readers. Read on. And if I can handle it / survive the day at the ripe old backpacker age of 33, chances are, so can you.
What exactly is Sunday Funday? It’s a pool and bar crawl in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua mainly comprised of backpackers from all around the world. Canadians dominate the circuit, followed closely by Australians. I met one group from Chicago, but my cousin and I were basically the odd ones out from the United States. At each stop there are cheap drinks (50-60 cordobas / $2 US each) and DJs playing decent music. Some people go in the pool, usually because they are either thrown in or want some makeout time, but most of us just stayed around the edge, swaying to the beat.
If you’ve ever been to a Sunday day party in Vegas, there are some striking similarities. Pool. Cocktails. Hot chicks. DJs. Debauchery. The biggest difference is that everyone is equal here in Nica. There is no bottle service, no attitude, and no flashing your money to get preferred service.
You can find the official Sunday Funday Pool Crawl Facebook event here.
Tickets are $30 and go on sale at 10am Sundays at Pachamama Hostel. (They are only $15 if you’re staying at Pachamama.) Your purchase includes a Sunday Funday tank top, transportation between the parties, and a DJ at each event. It does not include alcohol. Not even a drop. While that may seem pricey the average backpacker (aka me!) this is a hard event to skip if you find yourself in San Juan del Sur over the weekend. It’s all anyone talks about.
I recommend arriving at Pachamama sometime between 930-11am to buy your ticket before the official pre-party starts at 12pm. That way you can avoid lines and the chaos. Hundreds of people are in attendance, but I’m not sure it ever sells out. The pre-party is essentially stop #1 and everyone was already hitting it HARD by the time we arrived around 2pm. One guy would only speak to me through hand gestures and then started speaking to me in Hebrew. (I do not speak Hebrew.) I just smiled and continued to grip onto my vodka soda for dear life. I’m so glad I had a cocktail beforehand! (Ironically, we became friends with the same guy the next day and went to a Chabad together. Anything can happen here, people!)
The schedule changes from week to week, but here is what I experienced in Feb 2017.
10am Tickets on sale at Pachamama
12pm Pre-party at Pachamama (Again, an intense “pre-party!”)
3pm Walk to Hotel Anamar (It’s right on the beach!)
5pm Transportation to Naked Tiger (This hostel located just outside of downtown has the perfect view of sunset.)
8pm Transportation to Arribas (Return downtown for the final stop. There’s no pool here!)
Sooooo how does on survive this day of party, party, party? First, bathe yourself in glitter. And then…
My Top 5 Tips:
1. Bring snacks! There is nothing that will ruin day drinking faster than an empty stomach. I had a breakfast bagel pre-event and brought crackers and Larabars for during. I only wish I had more! The 5pm stop will serve burgers for 150 cordobas if you’re into meat. No other stops were serving food as far as I could tell, so plan accordingly. (You can also go hard on an empty stomach but please do not puke on your friends.)
2. Hydrate! Don’t pass out! Drink vodka sodas and sprinkle in bottled waters at each stop. Drinks are less than $2 each so a bottled water is worth the investment. I heard that you can bring in sealed non-alcoholic beverages at each stop, but I also saw people chugging and dumping water before entering a bar. (They do a full bag search at each stop. Tip 2a: Don’t smuggle drugs.)
3. Buy tickets, then do brunch. There’s no need to be the first one in line to buy your ticket and then wait around for 2 hours for the official pre-party to start. Pachamama gets hot with the crowds and you will have all day to drink. After receiving your wristband and tank, go update your outfit or put your shirt back in your hostel, and then grab a sandwich at El Gato Negro down the street. You’ll thank me later.
4. Wear minimal clothing. It’s so hot in San Juan del Sur! You will be outside exposed to the elements all day, constantly sweating, so wear a bikini, swim trunks, etc. I wore a bikini top and jean shorts. I found the Sunday Funday tank top to be too hot for me since it’s made with a heavy cotton. Some girls wore it as a dress. Others completely ignored this advice and dressed in costume, so that’s another way to go.
5. Pace yourself. There is nothing like starting too hard at 9am (pre-partying before the pre-party so to speak) and then passing out face down at the first bar. I saw that guy. Don’t be that guy. The last event starts at 8pm. If you want to hang with your friends, take it easy and then ramp it up as the day goes on. (Don’t forget tip #2: hydration!)
So there you have it my friends. Everything you need to know about Sunday Funday in Nicaragua. Will I try this event again? I think once was enough for me, but I’m still glad I went to see it for myself! It actually wasn’t quite as crazy as I thought it would be. It was mostly just a bunch of 20-somethings looking to let it all go and have a good time. (And some miming.)
Would you try Sunday Funday?