First of all I have to say that surf camp is just as much fun as it sounds! While backpacking on my first trip to Nicaragua in 2014, my friends and I decided that we really wanted to not only try surfing, but also stay at an actual surf camp. I had tried surfing once before, in Costa Rica, and was excited to try it again. Due to time constraints my friends and I could only stay for 4 days rather than a full week, as most people do, but a few days better than nothing!
Rise Up Surf Camp has two locations along the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, and we chose the northern one as it was closer to Leon and fit better with our backpacking route. The camp is situated in the country side, surrounded by little fishing villages and westerners vacation homes.
We arrived in the late morning after being picked up by a driver from the camp and, though we missed the mornings surf session, we jumped right into the camp activities and joined a yoga class in an open air structure over looking the beach. The camp was located at the top of a steep cliff face right on the ocean. There was a stair case leading down to the beach for easy access, though we never surfed here (no waves).
The camp had one main building with the bedrooms and another private building that was the kitchen and office. My friends and I shared one large room with its own en suite bathroom. To our delight, the rooms also came equipped with A/C which was pure luxury for us as it’s not easy to come by when traveling around Nicaragua on a budget (it also happened to be the hottest time of the year).
At the front of the building was a large open patio with a huge, high, palmed roof. A large communal table dominated this area but there was also room for a few sofas and coffee table for relaxing. Hammocks were strung up everywhere, perfect for chillin in after a surf session or during the heat of the afternoon. Surf boards were stored at the far end of the covered patio near the yoga studio.
A little kitchen with a fridge and sink occupied the space beside the front door and we were free to help ourselves to drinks and snacks at any time. Just off the kitchen the large patio continued, leading to the pool which was surrounded by beach loungers. The pool wrapped around the corner of the main building and at the end was another covered patio with hammocks.
Every morning tide conditions, departure time for the surf session and the daily activities were posted on a chalk board in the kitchen. We’d start the day with a quick, basic breakfast of coffee, fruit, yogurt and granola, just enough so we’d have something in our stomachs. Then we’d load up the truck with surf boards and drive down to varying beaches, depending on the tides and were the best waves were that day. We’d spend a few hours surfing with the instructors, taking breaks as needed.
Upon returning to the camp, we’d have a proper hot breakfast prepared by the kitchen staff. This was usually followed by some down time then a noon hour yoga class. Lunch followed and the afternoon was spent lying in the hammocks as this was the hottest part of the day.
Late afternoon there would be an activity that changed daily. One day we went horseback riding, another day we went out on a booze cruise through the wetlands. Back at camp we’d fest on a delicious dinner, again prepared by the wonderful kitchen staff. Evenings were for playing cards, socializing or watching a movie and then the next day we’d do it all over again.
The staff were absolutely wonderful and followed pretty much the same itinerary as the rest of us. One early afternoon we all fell asleep in hammocks, including our yoga instructor, and so yoga was simply postponed that day.
Surfing was amazing and I definitely learned a lot and improved my technique with the help of the wonderful instructors. They even took some excellent action shots of each of surfing that we could later purchase as a souvenir.
Since this particular camp was located in the country side, there wasn’t really anything to see or do outside the camp but this was fine. My few days spent there had felt like I was staying at a friends cottage. You helped yourself to drinks and snacks from the communal kitchen whenever you wanted, hung out with new found friends, took dips in the pool, lazed around in a hammock or went for walks on the beach. It was definitely a vacation!
Everything about this place was chilled, laid back and relaxing. If you didn’t want to participate in a particular activity, no problem! If you want help with your surfing technique, someone was there to give advice. After traveling for a few weeks it was nice to simply stop and slow down.
I absolutely loved my time at Rise Up and hope to return again one day with K. I’m currently getting ready to explore Indonesia and of course, I’ve booked myself into another surf camp (in Bali!) as my first experience was so amazing!
Have you ever been to a surf camp? If so, where?