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“Mermaids of San Juan...”

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Chica Brava Surf Retreat
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 13 August 2013

Perhaps I waited too long to write my review (went mid-June), because it's no longer as objective as it would have been. The memories have become even more glazed and sugary as time passes, and the sunsets perhaps even more golden than they actually were. That's the type of trip you want...right? The kind that only gets better when you remember it???

Kudos to Ashley, entrepreneur extraodinaire who has created such a special place for women to expand, explore, and take refuge in others of similair minds! Having travelled alone to different parts of the world, I get really excited to see oases like these that cater to the female, indepedent traveler.

Having taken only a few surfing lessons, I was hoping to get to a point where I could catch a wave, and surf it into shore. I went for a mini-weekend, and got SO much more than I anticipated! The quality of instruction was excellent. From the theory to the execution and practice, I never felt safer, or had more fun exhausting myself! Surf lessons, yoga class, massage, drinks that the local surf bar...dinner in town...the girls are inexhaustible, charismatic, and will make you forget that you (cough) MIGHT be over 40, and have limits to your stamina...:)

Chica Brava is not only safe, conscientious, and fun...they are respected and known in the local community. Local restaurants favor Chica Brava girls with special menus, drink offers, and VIP access to the luxury hotel in town for the pool and drinks. Bouncers at the bars know the surf instructors, and the ladies (they start out as your instructors, and quickly become your friends and soulmates) are recognized and favored in the community. Safety is paramount, and they take their job very seriously.

Noelani, Elsie, Madison...it was unforgettable. Candy - you're a sweetheart. In the interest of space and time, I will say this...I consider myself EXTREMELY fortunate to have family in the country and the opportunity to visit them...so I can run off to the beach on the weekends and see my girlfriends!!!

Safety....Excellent
Service....Incredible
Education on the Board....Superior (I've taken surf lessons in SJ before, these girls have it DOWN)
Bonding...out of this world.

Come alone, or come with a group, you'll always feel at home with this outfit. From the top down, the love shows. Congratulations, Ladies! You stole my heart!

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled solo
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Thank Margarita B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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246 - 252 of 335 reviews

Reviewed 12 August 2013

This review is LONG overdue as I went in May for a week at the CloudFarm..

I booked last minute and was so happy I was able to go. I went alone, right after a breakup and before a new job so was in need of ME time..

In our group of 6, 3 were friends and 3 were solo travelers and it couldn't have been more fun- Noe was an amazing leader.. I miss her just as much as the surfcamp.. one day, she made us homemade masks (from coffee grounds&oatmeal) and we threw a bachelorette/bday party for another of the girls.. besides the amazing bonding we had with the other girls, Noe & Elsi (our instructors) were part of the gang.

Noe(lani) and Elsi were great and patient with us in the water- I had a goal of getting up and I got up! I had never gone surfing before and I felt like I learned a lot in that week. The CloudFarm had amazing food- fresh milk every morning was amazing!!! It's not air-conditioned, but has a great breeze since you're up inthe hills. Also, there can be some crazy bugs.. I am a bit of a bug-a-phobe but I survived.. which means so can you!

Book this trip now, don't hesitate.. not to get too mushy, but I took away so many good life lessons and doing a trip solo with a great group of girls is empowering!

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled solo
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Thank Ceyda S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 August 2013

My friend and I chose to join this all-female surf camp because we wanted to learn how to surf from other women who were passionate about the sport. The program is great because you don't just learn how to surf, you learn about surf history and theory, and how women are really "making history" in this predominantly male sport.

The surf instructors were great. Noelani, the head instructor, was knowledgable, friendly, and fun. She coordinated the extra excursions with no hassle for us. My friend and I were staying another week and she made sure that we had accommodations or information about the best places to stay. The other staff instructors (Lauren, Madison, and Elsi) were knowledgable and encouraging. It was really great to be with women who were passionate about surfing and completely in their element.

If you want to be around inspiring women, the ocean, and get a great workout on the waves... then definitely try this program!

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank 551Phoenix
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 August 2013

Traveling solo to surf (for the first time) I was a bit nervous and apprehensive. Upon arriving in Managua I was expected to be greeted by the Chicabrava pick-up with the hour. Slowly and hour past and then more, I begin to get nervous that I had missed my ride as I checked my phone and had no email or text from Chicabrava. I saw another lone female traveler waiting around and asked her if she was also waiting for the Chicabrava pick-up, she was indeed! I begin to tell myself that I was in a country where anything could happen and that perhaps our driver was delayed or stuck in traffic. It was 1.5 hours after the pick-up time and still no show, no word. Finally a nice driver from a local hotel in Managua asked who I was waiting for… he happened to know the driver for Chicabrava and called him for us. He was on his way… ah…a sigh of relief. There was another chica arriving on a later flight so the driver waited to pick us all up at once. I have to say, being alone traveling and expecting a pick-up at a specific time, it would have been nice had someone at Chicabrava contacted me and let me the time had changed.
The second I arrived in San Juan Del Sur everything changed. As soon as I meet my instructors Noelani and Elise I knew I was going to have an AMAZING vacation. Both were anything but the average surf instructor… they were the BOMB. They were constantly in the water with everyone working on pop-ups, form, making sure we caught as many waves as we possibly could. I felt that they were 100% dedicated to making sure I got the amount of surf time I wanted, and they paid close attention to me in telling me ways that I could improve my skills. Not only were they the BEST surf instructors, but they were also A+++++ hostesses. The knowledge of Elise growing up in the area and Noelani vivacious spunky personality made the two an amazing pair. I feel like Noelani went over and beyond her duties to make everyone felt at ease, had fun, and enjoyed themselves as much as humanly possible. Cloud Farm was an amazing treat, a little oasis nestled up in the hills overlooking San Juan Del Sur. The casa was extremely clean, and the infinity pool was a relaxing spot each night with a tona (local beer) or mojito. I would recommend staying at Cloud Farm if you are looking for a more chillaxing experience. The staff were very pleasant, laundry was offered twice during our week, and the food was delicious.. fresh fruit juices with each meal!! I really can’t wait to get back down there for more surfing with these chicas at Chicabrava!

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled solo
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Thank suzhip
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 August 2013

My friends and I knew that we wanted to go surfing in Central America and this place came highly regarded. I had such a wonderful time. I went with two girlfriends for my bachelorette/birthday and the experience went far and above what I could have ever expected. We stayed at the Cloud Farm and it was so serene and calm. The house staff was super accommodating and made us fresh juice every day. I really liked just being taken care of. I recommend the Cloud Farm over the Surf Lodge for anyone who is more new to surfing (like me) and wants to relax and chill by the pool, and enjoy the breathtaking view during down time.

Our surf instructors were great at adjusting to our needs in the water and surfing abilities. They were also just nice to be around. Noelani, our head surf instructor, went above and beyond just teaching us to surf in our day to day. She added facials, played the uke and even made me a lay for my birthday!! It was like having a guide who makes you feel at home. There were 6 ladies in our group and we all bonded well.

The only thing I would mention is that the bugs (beatles in our case) were kinda of crazy the last night we were there. This was due to the rainy season beginning.

But I would def do it again! I love surfing because of this magical place!!

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank Alexisdavis246
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 August 2013

A friend and I checked out the Cloud Camp in early April and we had an amazing time. The accomodations were beautiful and Noelani and crew were amazing hosts/surf instructors. The student to instruction ratio was 3:1 which gave us all plenty of one on one time to go over technique and catch some waves. There was one day where the schedule called for two shorter (1.5hr) surf sessions which I preferred to the days where we'd go out for 3hrs in a row. It was nice to have a break in between and 3hrs of surfing can be a little frustrating if you're having a rough day. My suggestion would be that chicabrava look into scheduling in shorter but multiple sessions on a few more days. Food was pretty good - lunches were a bit on the light side at first but they fed us more once we complained! There are some awesome little taco shops and ceviche in san juan del sur town too that everyone should try. All in all, it was a fantastic experience and I would definitely recommend the camp to anyone who's interested in surfing.

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank Joegina00
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 August 2013

I went to ChicaBrava with two girlfriends to celebrate my friend's birthday and bachelorette. We had an amazing week. We were all amateur surfers at best when we arrived, but were doing pop ups and riding small waves into the beach on our first day out with our instructors. Our instructors, particularly Noelani, were the best. They went far beyond surf instruction, even baking banana bread one night, preparing a therapeutic ginger tea for sniffly campers and other home remedies, such as putting garlic in your ears to cure an ear infection and face masks made from coffee grinds. Our instructors even helped plan a bachelorette party with a pinata, cake and cocktails! The Cloud Farm had a beautiful view, a lovely infinity pool and felt more like a house -- which is what it was. There was a staff of three housekeepers/cooks who cleaned our rooms daily and prepared the most delicious, healthy meals for us. When we were there, the rainy season was just beginning, and so on our last night, the bugs were really intense. This is not a vacation for the feint of heart. Since the Cloud Farm is on an organic farm, be prepared to see adult and baby howler monkeys in the trees outside your window during the day (which is really cool) and to fight with the bugs at night (which wasn't as cool.) Still, I would go back in a heartbeat!

Room Tip: Definitely stay in the Cloud Farm. The Surf House is more like a hostel for backpackers. Budget-frie...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled with friends
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Thank Darrling
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Chica Brava Surf Retreat

Address: | 1 1/2 block north of El Timon Street facing the sea, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Region: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > San Juan del Sur
Amenities:
Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 73 Speciality Lodging in San Juan del Sur
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Chica Brava empowers women through the process of surfing and the genuine camaraderie that comes through sharing a lifestyle, a sisterhood, and a passion for the most rewarding sport on the planet. It’s about a pack of women together in the line up, united by what they love. This is your chance to let go, invest in yourself, and feel confident, invincible, and powerful regardless of your size, strength, or stature. At Chica Brava, the past doesn’t matter. It’s about the right here, right now, boundless opportunities that embrace you in the water. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Chicabrava Surf Camp Hotel San Juan Del Sur

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