Situated on a hilltop overlooking the crescent bay of San Juan del Sur is a towering statue of Jesus Christ. It is the second largest statue of Jesus in the world. The largest statue being Christ the Redeemer located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That statue rises 130 feet tall overlooking the city and it is important symbol of Catholicism. The statue serves the same purpose in San Juan del Sur.
We visited San Juan del Sur in June of 2009 and the statue was barely two months old. It was completed sometime in April set to debut for Easter. The statue is so new that most travel sites and books do not even mention it. I noticed it while I was lying on the beach, and it appeared to be a statue of Jesus, but I wasn’t sure. I asked the owner of the Hotel Casablanca, where we were staying, how you get up there. His directions were not the best, but we somehow figured it out anyway.
The main street in San Juan del Sur dead ends into a small estuary feeding into the ocean. In order to get up to the statue, you must head back into town as if you were driving back to the Pan-American Highway. Just as you pass the Pali grocery store, there will be a road on the left. This road will take you through a small neighborhood and eventually the road takes you up the steep hill to the top.
Located up the hill is the exclusive Pacific Marlin community. Homes here can reach into the million dollar range and some of Nicaragua’s most important figures own homes here. There are also a couple of resorts that are located within this community. Pacific Marlin has 24 hour security and is a gated community. The road leading to the top of the hill takes you through this gated community. Just tell the security officer that you are heading to the statue and he will open up the gate.
At the top of the hill, there will be a small area where you can pull over and park. From there, you must walk up a set of steep steps to the top. The day I went, the statue was not open, but I noticed a sign charging an admission of $1. There is a gate halfway up the stairs and although it was locked, you can still walk around the statue. As I walked around the cliff, I saw some of the best views of San Juan del Sur. The statue literally towers over the city watching over the surfers and fisherman in the water below. From this position, it offers beautiful views of the crescent shaped bay and provides a great place to watch the sun rise and set.
Any information that can be found on the statue advises using a four wheel drive vehicle. Although, a four wheel drive vehicle would be great, it is not a necessity. However, it should be noted that the drive to the top contains steep grades. Our rental vehicle, a Suzuki Alto, which was a manual 4-cylinder, seemed at times to barely make the climb. It eventually overheated and I had to nurse it back to the hotel so I could call the car rental agency to bring me a new vehicle. For all of the trouble that the drive gave me, it was well worth the trip.