Planning Your Surf Trip: Chica Brava Prep Guide

Anytime you travel internationally, it’s wise to expect the unexpected! Below is a pack list and helpful tips to consider while planning for your Central-American surf adventure.

Recommended Packing List:
  • Two or three super tight-fitting bathing suits
  • Long sleeved Rash-guard (for sale at Chica Brava)
  • Longer length Board-shorts or Tight-fitting leggings (to protect against jellyfish and wax rashes)
  • Spring wetsuit (if attending Nov – April; for sale at Chica Brava; see details below)
  • Beach towel (Turkish-T towels for sale at Chica Brava, see details below)
  • Bathroom/Shower Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste/toothbursh, aloe)
  • Sunscreen (waterproof, SPF 50+, zinc-based, and “kids” or “baby” so it won’t sting eyes).
  • Bug spray
  • Sundresses, Shorts, Tank tops, flip flops
  • Tennis shoes if you plan to go hiking/horseback riding
  • Jeans if you plan to go horseback riding
  • Earplugs and white noise app to drown-out noise (for Surf House mainly)
  • Eye mask for light sensitivity
  • Personal First-Aid kit/supplies (Global Odyssi surfer kits available online starting at $26.99)
  • Epi-pen or Benadryl if you are allergic to bee stings and/or jelly fish.
  • High-protein snacks and energy bars (hard to find in San Juan del Sur!!!)
  • Extra cash and ATM card for additional activities and tipping (see details below).

*Wetsuits (spring suits or full suits): You are likely to need a “spring suit” wetsuit if you are attending the retreat anytime from November through 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 (note: wetsuit sizing is NOT like dress sizing so please be sure to carefully review sizing chart information). We have a selection of RipCurl suits for sale at the Chica Brava Surf Shop. Please check with us for availability. For hygienic reasons, we do not rent wetsuits. 

**Beach towels: Please bring (or be prepared to purchase) at least one beach towel for the beach. Bath towels are provided at the camp, but are ONLY intended to be used in-house. At our Surf Shop, we carry amazing Turkish-T beach towels that are lightweight and sand-friendly like a sarong, but are also absorbent like a towel. In addition to being useful during your stay, they make great gifts and souvenirs! We have a variety of colors as shown online and the price is the same $29!

***Extra cash and ATM card: While most places in town now accept major credit cards, there are many things you will want cash for, including the items listed below. We recommend you bring USD $200-300 max and your ATM card if/when you need more. You can use U.S. currency most everywhere in Nicaragua but smaller bills ($5s and $10s) are easier to use locally. You can change larger bills into local currency (the Nicaraguan Córdoba) with your passport at any of the banks in town. Currency rate can be checked before arrival using a currency converter such as http://www.xe.com/ucc/. Things you’ll want extra cash and your ATM card for:

  • $10 entrance fee in U.S. currency at immigration upon entering Nicaragua 
  • $20-30/day for any extra meals not included in your package and for drinks out and happy hours. There are numerous discounts and specials available exclusively for guests of Chica Brava throughout town!
  • $80 if you think you’ll want to take advantage of the opportunity to purchase a USB of beautiful professionally shot surfing photos and videos from our local partner.
  • $50-$150 if you think you’ll want to do any of the various add-on activities offered by our local partners like catamaran tour, horseback riding tour, canopy tour or extra yoga, massage, etc.
  • $100-$150 for tipping: It is completely optional but customary to tip surf instructors and the house staff at the end of the week. To give you an idea of how much to bring for tipping, please see the averages most guests leave below.  Of course if you feel that someone’s service was exceptional you can tip more. Tipping is always up to you.
    • House Staff: $25-30 total 
    • Retreat Concierge/Host: $10-15 total
    • Surf Instructors: $20 per instructor (usually 3-4 per retreat)
Prepare Physically and Mentally for Surfing!

“Challenging” is one of the words that best defines learning how to surf. “Empowering” is the other! It is one of the hardest sports to learn, but also one of the most rewarding. It is important to keep in mind that with this sport, what you put in is what you get out. Only time in the water will bring results. Please be prepared to surf the majority of each day as our goal and main focus is to have fun and progress your surfing no matter what your level. If you are determined to get the most out of your week at Chica Brava surf retreat there are several ways that you can prepare for surfing.

Please visit our Learn to Surf page where you’ll find our Pop-ups & Conditioning Guide and our Learn to Surf series on Youtube to help prepare physically and mentally for your week. 

Some Additional Things to Consider:

Study a little Spanish. It’s smart to learn more phrases so you can ease your way into the culture. It’s also respectful to try to speak a country’s native language and can be an enlightening experience to communicate in another language even if you can only say a few broken words.

Surfboards and other equipment are provided for your use. We expect that you treat these items with care as if they were your own. Surfboards are fragile and can easily be dented, scratched, or the fins broken. If you damage a board or other Chica Brava property, please understand that you will be held financially responsible for their repair and or replacement.

Safety in and out of the water is our number one priority. When you come to the retreat we will have an ocean and board safety lesson to protect all of our guests before we enter the sea. To keep you safe both in and out of the water, we implement the buddy system. It is important to not stray from the group. Always make sure the instructors are aware of your whereabouts. For safety, security, and privacy at the retreat, we do not allow any non-retreat guests to enter the facilities or vehicles. Always keep track of your buddy, the instructors, and try to stay with the group!

Get Prepared to Have the Time of your Life!