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“GFS is the BEST!”
Review of Giant's Foot Surf

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Giant's Foot Surf
Reviewed 4 December 2013

This was seriously one of the best trips I've ever had. I came down for a week over Thanksgiving and had a blast thanks to Bryce and the entire crew at GFS. They really are like a family there and they welcomed us with open arms. Within a day we felt like we were integrated into the local community. Those guys worked their butts off to make sure we had a good trip.

Bryce the owner/proprietor of the lodge is phenomenal. He really was the perfect host. It was like we came down to stay at our best friend's beach house. He really went out of his way to take care of us. Every request we had was met. When my friend and I got bitten by jellyfish he went to the nearest "big" town (45 minutes away) and bought us panty hose to protect our legs. He knows everyone in town and introduced us to lots of people. We had a really nice Thanksgiving dinner with the local expat community and went to a party with the richest man in Nicaragua. He baked us fresh cookies and desserts. Bryce is an intellectual, a great conversationalist, and just a super cool guy!

Surf guides: Conrad and Kai were excellent. We took the beginner surf package and these guys really did a great job teaching us and looking after us. They were up before dawn, making coffee for us and making sure we were up so we didn't miss good surf. They spent all day in the water with us. These guys are truly dedicated and love what they do. I improved more in a week than I have in the past 10 years thanks to them! Plus they were super fun to hang out with!

The Lodge: Located right on the beach with a great view of the ocean. I really loved lounging in the hammocks between surf sessions. Rooms are pretty basic but clean. Having the A/C is super nice and really helped me sleep well at night. Keep in mind this is rural Nicaragua. There are cows on the beach and the power and internet tend to come and go. Internet is slow here so don't expect to be doing much more than checking basic email online. Most people here live in little tiny shacks. Everyone in town (including Bryce) has to pump water from wells and fill tanks. No one in town has hot water or good water pressure for this reason so keep this in mind, city-dwellers! There is a hostel next door which is actually a really cool place to hang out and get a drink. There is sometimes some noise/music from there at night but it didn't really bother me with ear plugs.

Food: The food was quite good. It was home-cooked and delicious! Supply of some things is limited as the nearest "big" town in 45 minutes away over a bumpy dirt road but we were very well fed. 4 meals a day plus fresh baked desserts at night. So decadent!

Staff at Lodge: Also fantastic. Lucre (the housemother) made us delicious meals that were so perfect when we got back from surfing. Becca (the night chef) made us some really memorable, tasty meals. Maria (the housekeeper) is wonderful. The masseuse (Frances) is incredible and cheap ($25 for an hour massage) and she comes right to the GFS lodge. The yoga instructor (India) is also great and also came to the lodge to do yoga on the beach with us.

The town of Gigante: Very small, rustic, sleepy fishing village. It's perfect for getting away and off the grid. I loved watching the local fisherman haul in their colorful boats at sunset. The natural beauty of this place is unparalleled. There are miles of beautiful beaches and we took some really nice long walks. The locals are really nice and laid back. They have some world class surfers here among them. I did not expect such a vibrant expat community and I had a great time hanging out with them!

Nature: The sun is incredibly strong here. Bring lots of sun protection and very good sunscreen. The mosquitoes are tiny and vicious. Though not entirely necessary, I brought a mosquito net and it gave me peace of mind while sleeping. The jellyfish and "pica pica" (sea lice) were brutal on day 1 but not as bad afterwards. Wearing a rash guard and pantyhose while surfing actually did help (and was quite a fashion statement).

By the way, I gave "fitness center" and "swimming pool" 5 stars because what could be better than having the ocean at your front door?

  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled with friends
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2  Thank Lcholo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 3 December 2013 via mobile

I came down for a week long surf trip and Giant's Foot far exceeded my expectations. Bryce, the owner, was phenomenal- he played the perfect role of guide, host, and friend- introducing us to everyone in town, taking us to locals-only parties, chatting at night, playing board games...it was like reliving the first week of college. The surfing was great. Kai and Conrad were excellent instructors and I improved dramatically in a week. The food was good, and Giants Foot was able to accommodate for dietary restrictions.

The rooms were clean but Spartan, although I was out surfing or laying in the hammock for most of the trip. There was no hot water in the showers, but the ambient temperature was plenty warm.

It is with the highest regard that I recommend Giant's Foot.

  • Stayed: November 2013
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1  Thank Kirst-dog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 October 2013

I had a great time at Giants Foot Surf this past summer!!! Everything was taken care of. We were woken up right on time every morning (I say on time because yes they did ask every day what we preferred to do). This was my second trip to GFS, and I was surprised yet again at how easy everything was. Fresh coffee every am, home cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner with as much beer, and rum as we could drink when we weren't in the water! When we wanted, 3-4 sessions a day in a boat, dropped and anchored outside the lineup. Where and when we wanted to surf, we surfed! The house was cleaned every day and my room had my own bathroom with shower. I'll be back!!! Great surf and great times with a great crew!!

  • Stayed: July 2013
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1  Thank Traveller47879
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 October 2013

I had a great time at giants foot! The guys were awesome and really made me feel at home. I traveled solo but had so much fun hanging with the crew. They were very knowledgable about surfing and really helped me improve my skillz. The food was tasty and the hammocks are super comfortable for relaxing with a cold beer after a day of surfing. Gigante is such a cute little town with lots of character and characters. Definitely check it out!

  • Stayed: September 2013
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2  Thank Moewalsh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 September 2013

the owner needs to put away the video game controller and start to maintain his property, the entrance from the road area looked like a junk yard, the walk way from this area to the living quarters was mud and could easily be cleaned up with pavers, sinks hung loosely and faucets didn't work, shower doors wouldn't close and shower water pressure was weak. Depending on what guide you got determined whether you had a good experience or a mediocre one, weak communication skills caused a problem for our trip.

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled with friends
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3  Thank harry k
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
bryak, Owner at Giant's Foot Surf, responded to this reviewResponded 15 October 2013

Thank you for the note on the road side of the house. As you know, we live in the countryside and are constantly trying to come up with new strategies to keep pigs, dogs, and vultures out of the trash. We separate organic and inorganic waste to minimize this, but a new pig in the neighborhood has taken to rooting through our trash cans at night. We have built a new pen off property to try and prevent the trash from being knocked over by wildlife.

I checked the hand sinks and room 5 was loose. Thank you for identifying the problem. I wish you had mentioned it during your stay because it only took a few minutes to fix. The dripping hand sink in the public bathroom has been repaired since your departure; we were waiting on the delivery of a part (In rural Nicaragua things that seem simple sometimes can prove deceptively difficult to come by).

We use low flow water equipment wherever possible because water conservation is important here in Gigante. In fact, we modified all of our shower heads to put out more water than the original design due to a guest request. All of our water has to be trucked to the house from the public well by hand since we are beachfront and a well is not possible. As a result, the water pressure is lower than many North Americans are used to. This also probably explains why someone removed the shower head and put it on the floor, as was mentioned in the review by another member of your group. It has since been reinstalled.

We do major renovations at Giant's Foot Surf every low season and have plans to make improvements in the guest rooms (like replacing those public school ceiling tiles). We are going to be taking a closer look at the guest rooms and will be using your input regarding the shower doors in these changes. Thank you.

I am sorry that these problems earned us a 'terrible' rating and wish that we could have come to some sort of amicable solution to improve your vacation while your group was here. Had any member of your group approached me saying our services were unacceptable, I would have offered a refund and assistance finding another place to stay. Over the course of the week, no one in the group did. The feedback we received while you were our guests was that the food was amazing and the group was having fun on the surfing trips despite the inclement weather.

Trips to the hot springs (incl. admission) and juice available in the fridge at all times are not normally part of the all-inclusive boat tour package (7days/6 nights, AC room with private bath, all meals, unlimited soda, rum, beer, and boat trips) but were provided upon request at no additional charge. I am proud of the way my staff went over-the-top with non-surfing related entertainment that isn't normally a part of what we do here at GFS.

-Bryce Kuklok
Owner/Operator
Giant's Foot Surf

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 September 2013

I am writing this on the train home so all of the good, the bad, and the ugly is still fresh in my mind. I just spent a week at The Foot with a group of great friends from a variety of backgrounds, personalities and interests whose common love for surfing brought us together.

I have travelled extensively throught Central and South America. I am used to the lack of creature comforts that are often a part of the adventure down south. I also lived in a tent in Bosnia for nine months while I was in the Army. On the flip side, I own a small retail and service business and I can be very demanding when I am paying good money. 800 USD for a week in Nicaragua is a lot of money!

Now that you have a bit of background, please read this review because if will be extensive and detailed.

The physical space: shower heads lay broken on the floor, the sink in the common bathroom is broken, chairs have not been changed in years, broken glass left in the common eating area for more than 24 hours (we are barefoot surfers for heaven's sake), the rooms have no sound proofing and I was wearing earplugs to boot, one of the two vehicles was not fully functional.
Above all, I think that the attitude of the owner, Bryce, has lead to the deterioration of the physical space. Instead of attempting to addess any of these issues, Bryce spent much of his free time playing video games.
I overheard him telling his employees that as long as something wasn't completely broken, they shouldn't even worry about trying to fix it or even make it better!
Surf Guides and trips: We all had a great time surfing. It would be hard not to. Conrad, was solid and concerned about getting us up and out at first light. We all appreciated his efforts. Jeremy was late one morning and he costs us about an hour of epic surf at Manzanillo for which I will never forgive him. The second morning he was on time, but wreaked of booze. And he probably only pushed himself to come in on time because I spoke with him the night before about how important it was to us.
The food: excellent all the time! Justin is a great chef and surfer. He seemed to care about our group and he is a generally motivated individual. My only concern for him is that under Bryce's poor leadership he will be ruined.

It is obvious that Bryce has not reinvested any capital since he took over a few years ago. The have been no capital improvements and little to no concern in maintaining his existing assets. Bryce did not introduce his staff to us upon arrival. He did not seem to think of us as guests, but rather as some dudes crashing at his house. He had his parents there during the day to relax and vacation, but they ended up cleaning up because they were obviously embarrassed by the slovenly appearance of the space. I felt bad for his parents and almost got down and started cleaning myself, but then I saw Bryce inside playing video games, and realized that I was paying this guy over a hundred dollars a night. And I am not cheap, I gave the decent guide and the chef a hundred each as a well deserved tip.

The one time I asked Bryce to take us to the springs he tried to blow me off. I persisted and we did go. We had a time and I thank him for that. But that should be standard operating procedure, not something a guest should have to forcefully demand. He has to quit playing so many video games, and give the place a fresh coat of paint....I know he has plenty of blue paint hiding somewhere.

I wrote this on my phone on the train without proof reading. Please forgive typos.

I did have great time with my friends, the surf was fun, climbing Giants Foot Peak and meeting a beer bearing barefoot princess on top was awesome, the food was amazing, and Conrad let me use a his great Mack Truck surfboard. Some of the staff should figure out how to revive Giants Foot, or figure out how to do it better somewhere else. I will keep the faith and hope to be back to Playa Gigantes in the future to surf some sweet waves in that wonderful setting.

  • Stayed: September 2013
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1  Thank telemarkersurfer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 24 September 2013

This review seems to have been written as a personal attack on the owner and there are things written in it that are untrue, embellished, or fabricated.

Unfortunately a dishonest review like this meant to personally attack Bryce the owner affects all of us employees and their families. The hard working Nicaraguan staff, their families, and the guides, not just the owner. If you have read this review, please read what I have to say about it below.

A rating of one star was given to the rooms. All rooms are double occupancy with A/C and fan, they can be seen in photos on our website or the surf camp video on YouTube. They are simple rooms but are always clean and well maintained. Guests generally give a 3 or 4 star rating, if somebody is used to very fancy accommodations they may rate them lower.

A rating of one star was given for cleanliness. The house is built in the sand on the beach, it is a full time job keeping the sand and saltwater out of the living room and the guests rooms. This is why we have a cleaning lady 6 days a week and another one for Sundays. All guest rooms and living areas are cleaned daily. Some glass was broken Saturday night when the guests were drinking and was not cleaned early Sunday because the cleaning lady did not show up, we apologize for this, it is not normal for this to happen.

A rating of 2 stars was given for service. I don't think this is fair to say. I looked after these boys 6 days of the 7 they were here. I get up before 4am everyday to clean up and prepare breakfast for them and bring them the boat as soon as there's enough light to paddle out and get it. They were in the water and surfing before sunrise everyday except one day when Jeremy our other surf guide 'slept in'. That morning the boat was still loaded with guests and food and gas as quickly as possible and left camp at 5:45am which is about 25 minutes later then the earliest possible departure time we can provide.

A rating of one star was given for value. $800 for a week of all-inclusive surf tours, airport transfer, unlimited boat trips per day, and beachfront lodging with A/C. I don't even know what to say? Have you seen a better price anywhere else? I run the boat everyday and personally guarantee that we do more sessions everyday and spend more time surfing then any other tour business around. Everybody who has come down here and surfed with me would agree with that statement. Justin the cook at the time was also cooking EPIC meals, unfortunately I go home for dinner and don't get to enjoy them. The guest in his review says the food he cooked was excellent. So maybe a rating of one star for value is a bit far fetched ?

Location 4 stars, we're so close to the beach that if the tide was a foot higher we'd be a house in the ocean.

A couple other things, we did have 2 working vehicles the whole time, our red pickup truck and the toyota land cruiser. I'm not sure why the review said there was only one, we were using both of them all week long. The sink in common bathroom was leaking and had been shut off to conserve water. Bryce and Jeremy were playing lots of video games in their down time that week.

As captain of the boat here I'd also like to say the wind was BLASTING onshore because of Tropical storm Manuel all week long making it dangerous to make trips to surf breaks that are farther away. Which is cool we still got good waves close to home, and tried hard to offer other activities for them when conditions were too rough to surf, I like to show people a lot of different spots when they come. We spare no expense in making long trips by boat for good waves (ask anybody who's been here) but these guys got unlucky with severe weather I couldn't take them to far this week. I feel bad about this, I want all you guys to have the best waves possible when you are here.

Bryce works really hard to keep this place running for us. Somebody spending a week here and most of their time on the boat might not see it that way. He's always gotten me everything I need to show you guys a good time. Tons of gasoline, new fishing poles and reels, fishing lures, fishing and diving and spear fishing gear for guests to use. New engine for the boat, the best hammocks money can buy, and anything else we can think of to make this place better. I'm not sure why this review got so personal, and i'm sorry this guy feels this way about us. I just want you guys to all know that it's not true.

Conrad
Head surf guide at GFS
Captain of Vale La Pena

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Reviewed 30 August 2013

That was exactly was I was looking for... Awesome place with a great team.

I just came back from a 10 days vacation at Giant's Foot in August 2013 and I just have good comments for this place. I'm still a beginner and they took great care of me with either Conrad or Jeremy always surfing with me and giving me some more advices. Even Kai (who was injured at that time) took some shots and video that helped... And sure enough, the waves were really good.

The food was just perfect... Justin was making most of it and I was just surprised how he could make such good stuff in such a remote place... even a set of home made pizzas where Justin had to milk the cow himself to come out with the cheese! Anyway that's what he told me ;-)

And Playa Gigante is just a beautiful Nicaraguan Fisherman Village.

Thanks a lot guys and special thanks to Bryce, the camp manager / owner for making this possible.

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled solo
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Thank Maxime D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Giant's Foot Surf

Address: Tercera Casa del Estero Sur, Playa Gigante, Nicaragua
Region: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > Playa Gigante
Amenities:
Beach Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 6 B&Bs / Inns in Playa Gigante
Price Range: £303 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Giant's Foot Surf is a cozy surf lodge nestled on the beach in Playa Gigante. We have 3 guest rooms with private bathrooms, a living room with lots of books, movies galore, and a flatscreen TV, and an outdoor dining area. Our sandy backyard is strewn with hammocks to relax in after your surf sessions. Our boat, Vale, waits in the bay to take you to the nearby breaks. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Giant`s Foot Surf Hotel Playa Gigante
Giant's Foot Surf Nicaragua/Playa Gigante

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