Frequently Asked Questions
- Why Nicaragua?
- Why CHICABRAVA?
- Is Nicaragua Safe?
- What if I am traveling alone?
- What if I want to a single room?
- Where do I fly into? What airline should I use?
- Do you provide transportation to and from the airport?
- How do I book a reservation and pay my deposit?
- Why am I being charged 3% on my PayPal invoice?
- When can I expect the final PayPal invoice to be sent to me?
- What if I have to cancel or change my reservation?
- What level of surfing experience should I list when registering?
- What’s a typical day look like?
- What’s the surf schedule like? How much water-time will I be able to get?
- Where do we surf? Do we get to surf a variety of beaches?
- Will there be time for other activities besides surfing?
- How are the waves and what are the best months to visit surf-wise?
- When is the “rainy season” and what are the best months to visit weather-wise?
- Will I need a wetsuit? How cold does the water get?
- Can I bring my own board?
- Is there Wi-Fi?
- Will I have cell phone coverage?
- Can I use US Dollars?
- Do I need to bring an electricity convertor/adaptor?
- Do I need to take Malaria antiviral medications or other precautions before coming?
- Is it safe to drink the water?
- Are there laundry facilities?
- Is there an in-room safe to store cash, passport, or other valuable?
- Is there an emergency contact phone number?
Southern Nicaragua benefits from offshore winds almost year round creating ideal surf conditions and perfectly groomed waves. It is quickly becoming recognized as one of the best places to visit in Central America for a surf trip, and it’s still un-crowded compared to most any other surf destination in the world. Adding to the appeal, is Nicaragua’s beauty and heavily undeveloped coastline. Nicaragua has a rich local culture, which predominates over the recent increase in tourism. San Juan del Sur itself is a tranquil fishing village set around a beautifully picturesque horseshoe-shaped bay. The town has lots of energy and unique culture. There is a plethora of amazing restaurants and sizzling nightlife. The people here are as warm and friendly as the weather.
We have been in Nicaragua since 2003 and are the country’s very first and best surf retreat for women. In addition to our unparalleled program, we have a team of instructors with years of surfing experience and coaching backgrounds. Upon arrival we determine each guest’s goals for the week and, with mid-week check-ins, we are successful at helping you reach those goals. We film your sessions and offer daily video analysis to help you improve. In addition, we follow a daily curriculum of surf theory lessons, created by CHICARBAVA founder, 6-time Nicaraguan National surf champ, Ashley Blaylock. Whatever your surfing goals, you’ll achieve them at CHICABRAVA!
Unlike everywhere else in the world (including central and northern Nicaragua) the southern Pacific coast of Nicaragua benefits from off-shore winds 300+ days a year, which basically means you can surf all day long, only having to take the tides into consideration. Since we are located in San Juan del Sur, we have the best of both worlds – a teeming city of fun-loving locals and close access to virtually empty beaches.
Yes. Nicaragua has the lowest reported crime rate in Central America. Managua has been named the safest capital in the region, and Nicaragua as the safest country in Central America. It is considered among the safest countries in the world with a low crime rate (lower than Germany, France or the USA). Most of the unsettling discussion and travel advisories directed at Nicaragua concern the current perceived political situation. Understanding a bit about Nicaragua’s past may help to put things into perspective. Please see the “Nicaragua Safety” and “Political History” sections on our website under the Location/Travel Info tab for more information.
The town where we are located, San Juan del Sur, is tiny. The anonymity relied upon by most criminals in large cities does not exist here, making crimes difficult get away with, hence the extremely low incidence of crime. As a good rule of thumb, you should always plan to exercise a responsible amount of caution while traveling abroad. At CHICABRAVA, we start by meeting you at the airport before your plane even lands and then transporting you directly to our retreat location.
4. What if I am traveling alone?
GREAT! As it turns out, the majority of our guests are solo travelers. Join a group of other adventurous women and experience Nicaragua with new friends! Many women are reluctant to travel alone. At CHICABRAVA we provide a safe, supportive environment where you can comfortably feel inspired and empowered, conquer fears, and push yourself to the next level or just come and relax and experience a foreign country in a safe and enjoyable atmosphere! Unless you otherwise request, we will put you in a shared room with one of the other guests. (Read More…)
We recommend sharing to enhance the surf trip experience but we understand the value of privacy. Single rooms are available at an additional cost. Please see the pricing section on our website.
Nicaragua’s international airport is Managua International Airport, located in the capital city of Managua. The airport code is MGA. Direct flights from major cities in the United States are available from United, American, Delta, Sprit, and TACA. Be sure to check fares against travel search engines like Kayak.com.
Yes, we provide a free shuttle from the airport to San Juan del Sur at 12:30PM on the Saturday of arrival and from San Juan del Sur to the airport at 7:30AM on the Saturday of departure. San Juan del Sur is 2.5 hours from MGA Airport. If you are unable to make use of our free shuttle, we can help you arrange alternate transportation with the reputable in-town shuttle company ISKRA Travel.
Note for late-night arrivals: The roads are poorly lit and bordered by farms on both sides, making for frequent animal crossings and thus hazardous conditions for nighttime travel. If you are only able to find flights arriving MGA at night (or departing MGA early morning), we recommend coming in a day early (or leaving a day late) and staying overnight in Managua for travel to the camp (or airport) the next morning. We pick up and drop off at the two hotels near the airport in Managua: the Best Western and the Camino Real.
We require a 50% deposit to book a reservation and all retreat participants are required to fill out our registration form and read/sign our camp waiver form. The deposit is payable via PayPal (even if you don’t have a PayPal account) or by wire transfer to our U.S. bank account.
There is a 3% transaction fee charged by PayPal for all transactions which is added to your amount due. For wire transfers, you will be charged a $10 transaction fee per transfer in addition to any fee your bank may charge. Most guests find PayPal to be the most convenient and least costly payment method.
The balance is due one week prior to your arrival. We send out an invoice 7-10 days prior to the due date.
Please see our full bookings and cancellations policies.
At CHICABRAVA, we have the resources and expertise to accommodate all surfing levels during the same week, from first-time beginners to advanced surfers. Before your arrival, we like to have a good idea of your experience so we can plan accordingly. You might find it helpful to review the following list of descriptions to ascertain your category:
– A “beginner” has yet to successfully paddle out alone and catch/ride a wave clearly to its logical finish. This includes someone with zero experience as well as someone who is able to stand up and surf in the white water, while being pushed in or paddling into the whitewash yourself.
– An “advanced beginner” is able to paddle to the outside “line up” in small conditions by using the adequate techniques (turtle rolling and/or pushing yourself up/over/through breaking waves), catch waves and ride them straight to the beach or at an angle.
– An “intermediate” surfer can successfully paddle out alone at a familiar location and catch and ride waves to a logical finish frontside or backside, trim along the wave face at an angle, and either confidently use or attempt to use the three basic surfing turns – bottom turn, top turn and cutback. An intermediate surfer is able to read the waves and determine whether to ride them right or left.
– An “advanced intermediate” is able to paddle out in up to 4-6 ft. conditions on an unknown break and catch and ride waves, being able to perform all of the above.
– An “advanced” surfer can paddle out alone to a surf spot she has never ridden, assess the lineup, and catch and ride waves to her choice of finish, confidently using a full range of turns and maneuvers. The advanced surfer has full knowledge about surf etiquette, types of breaks, conditions, and what board is best to ride in which conditions.
When you arrive at CHICABRAVA, we have a thorough orientation, welcoming you to the retreat and presenting the week’s schedule, among other things. Below is an excerpt from a schedule to give you an idea of what a couple of days look like during a typical week:
Monday, May 7
(LT0.7- 9:19am /HT8.8- 3:31pm)
6:00am Coffee’s On
8:00am Theory Lesson – Perfecting the pop-up and paddling
8:30am Local Breakfast made daily with fresh fruit and juice
10:00am Surfs Up at Playa Remanso
5:30pm Sunset/Candle-lite restorative Yoga at Zen Yoga Studio
7:00pm Sunset Dinner option: El Timon “Lunes de Relax” – enjoy live music and local dishes while taking in the beautiful sunset.
Surf Video option: Roxy Shimmer
Tuesday, May 8
(LT0.7- 10:10am/HT8.7- 4:22pm)
6:00am Coffee’s On
7:00am Local Breakfast made daily with fresh fruit and juice
7:30am Video/Photo feedback session and goals check.
8:00am Theory lesson – Paddling to the outside / Line-up
9:00am Canopy tour option – The Flying Frog Canopy tour will lead you through the amazing cloud forest in the jungle! You can count on seeing many different types of animals as you are flying thru the air, including howler monkeys and sloths!
11:30pm Surfs up at Playa Hermosa
6:00pm Soothing deep tissue massage with our incredible US-licensed Massage Therapist!
7:30pm Dinner option: The Chicken Lady – enjoy some of the best local food in town!
At CHICABRAVA, we have the unique ability to surf all day because in our area we have offshore winds all day long, over 300+ days/year. Unlike most places around the world, including even central and northern Nicaragua, we are not limited by onshore winds to surfing only morning and evening sessions. Instead, our strategy includes choosing the best time to go, as determined by the tides, and spending as much time as desired at the beach. When the tide permits, we are able to go to two different beaches in the same day. The average group spends an average of about 4-5 hours daily at the beach. Many guests anticipate wanting and being able to spend more time in the water, but, realistically find that they are physically unable to once they’re. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and we have some groups or individuals within the group who surf more or less depending on their desires and skill-set. Whatever your personal abilities, be prepared to get “surfed-out”
In addition to daily in-water instruction and coaching, we follow a daily curriculum of surf theory lessons, video/photo feedback sessions, and a mid-week goals check to ensure you progress and meet (or surpass) your goals while with CHICABRAVA.
We’re located in San Juan del Sur and our Surf House sits directly on the beach! Although you can just grab a board and walk across the street to surf the bay in front of the Surf House, we generally do not do so because we want you to take advantage of the variety of amazing breaks and diversity the southern coast of Nicaragua has to offer. If also gives you a chance to see the countryside as we travel to the different spots. This is a surf trip after all and we want to make sure you get the best experience possible!
Within 15-25 minutes of San Juan del Sur, are 4-5 distinct breaks. The breaks are all within 5-7 miles of San Juan but we drive slowly over the dirt roads to respect the local community and to give you a chance to enjoy the beautiful landscape. For beginners and intermediate surfers, there are 3 distinct and ideal breaks with sloping rolling waves over a soft sand bottom. For more experienced surfers, the close-by breaks are mainly beach breaks with some EPIC ones including a surfable Newport-style left wedge, a super bowly and amazingly fun empty beach, and two points that work when the conditions are right. Within 1-1.5 hours from San Juan we have access to 5+ breaks along the Tola coast, heavier barreling beach breaks and long perfect reefs. Where we surf when you are here will depend on size, swell direction, tides and your personal preference and experience level.
While surfing is the main focus, we do make available optional activities including a first-day visit to the colonial city of Granada, zip-lining through the clouds, horseback riding on pristine beaches, spa treatments such as Thai massage and body scrubs, yoga classes through Zen Yoga studio, pool-side lounging at Pelican Eyes, volunteer work, engaging in the local community, and more! You can discuss these non-inclusive options with our Concierge Coordinator when you arrive. She will gladly schedule any additional activities that interest you.
The waves in Southern Nicaragua are amazing because of the 24/7 “offshore” winds we have here exclusively in our area! At CHICABRAVA, we are located with access to a variety of waves for every skill level. Anytime of year, except during the peak of rainy season in October, is a great time to visit.
For beginners and intermediates, all year-round offers good surfing. Even when the waves are bigger, we are able to stay south where the coast is shielded and get you riding the “green” part of the wave in smaller waist-high conditions. For more experienced surfers, we recommend planning trips to Central America during the months of March – November and stick with the spots that can pick up the bigger swell.
Like most of Central America, Nicaragua is a “south swell spot”, meaning we rely on swells generated by winter storms in the southern hemisphere (March-Nov) to send good waves our way. Both in terms of weather and waves, these are our key months for more consistent waves. Wave heights from March-November generally range from 4-7ft (chest to head high+) and from December-February they are considerably smaller and stay around 2-4ft (waist to chest). Note: The water gets colder and the winds get very strong during January, February, and sometimes early March.
Nicaragua has two distinct seasons: the green (or “rainy”) season and the dry season. (Read More…)
Yes, you will need a “spring suit” wetsuit if you are attending CHICABRAVA anytime from late November-early April, when a combination of coastal currents and wind chill can make the water wetsuit worthy (as low as 65 degrees F). While there is a chance you might not need your spring suit the whole time, it is always best to be prepared. Visit the Wetsuit Warehouse to see examples of affordable spring suits and to purchase online. We do have a limited selection for sale at the CHICABRAVA Surf Shop. Please check with us for availability. For hygienic reasons, we do not rent wetsuits.
*Note: wetsuit sizing is NOT like dress sizing so please be sure to carefully review sizing chart information.
We have a huge quiver of surfboards for guests to choose from ranging in size from 5’11” to 9’6″ as well as soft-top longboards for beginners. If you would like to bring your own board that is perfectly fine, just be sure to first check with your airline as most charge a handling fee.
We have Wi-Fi at both the Cloud Farm and Surf House. The connections at the Cloud Farm tends to be somewhat slower and may disconnect during rainy season or when it gets very windy. If you want to use the Internet, you will need to bring your laptop or Smartphone.
This depends on your carrier, so please check with your provider before arrival. There is a Vonage phone at the Cloud Farm that you are welcome to use to make calls to the U.S. The Internet connection at the Surf House is strong enough for Skype calls.
You can use U.S. currency everywhere in Nicaragua. It’s good to have smaller bills ($5s, $10s, and $20s) as getting change for larger bills must be done at the bank. Note: local businesses will not accept U.S. currency with markings or rips; these must be changed at the bank. If you don’t have US dollars and/or want to convert into local currency (the Nicaraguan Córdoba), you can easily do so with your passport at one of the banks in town. There are ATM’s here as well. The current currency conversion can be viewed by trying a currency converter such as http://www.xe.com/ucc/ and plugging in “NIO Nicaraguan Cordoba”. Currently it’s around 23 Córdobas per $1.
Nicaragua has the same electrical outlets as the U.S. and Canada. If joining us from Europe, bring the same converter you would bring for travel to the US.
Malaria is not an issue in our area. We recommend that your routine immunizations are up to date.
At the Cloud Farm, the water is safe, natural well water. All of our guests enjoy it. Each guest is provided with a complimentary souvenir water bottle that can be refilled with purified water from any of our dispensers at the Cloud Farm and Surf House. For all other areas, we recommend bottled water only.
At the Cloud Farm location, we provide laundry services two days during your stay. If you are staying at the Surf House, we can help you arrange to have your laundry cleaned by one of the local laundry services for about $5/load.
We do not have a safe at either location. With reasonable care this is not an issue.
You can call/text (713)252-5545. You will be provided with additional emergency details one week prior to arrival. Your loved ones can also use this U.S.-based phone number to get emergency messages to you immediately during your stay.