Then the boards are loaded up and we head out to one of several beaches located around San Juan del Sur

Surf, Sun and Fun at Chicabrava

A week at Chicabrava, the first all women’s learn to surf camp in Nicaragua, is bound to be on any female adventurers bucket list. Created by American Ashley Blaylock in 2008, an all time Nicaraguan surf champion, Chicabrava’s mission is all about empowering women, one wave at a time, and I can attest it is true.

At the end of February, when the weather was cold and gray in Minnesota I packed my bags and headed south to San Juan del Sur, a tiny fishing and surfing town located near some of the most beautiful, pristine beaches in all of Nicaragua. Fifteen years ago when Ashley first came to San Juan del Sur, there wasn’t even a hotel there but over time the town has grown to become one of the hottest destinations for surfing in the country due to their fabulous year round surf. Today San Juan del Sur hosts an array of good restaurants, nightlife, hotels and shops to keep you entertained after a day in the surf and sun.

After a three hour drive from Managua, I arrived at our casa for the week just in time for sunset.  As the sun dipped below the horizon, the clouds danced in rays of pink, orange and red light. I sipped my wine and pinched myself that I was in such a beautiful place. Our casa  was located about a ten minute drive from town up in the foothills overlooking the bay. The house accommodates six guests, and has a living room, kitchen and dining area where each day we were pampered with home cooked delightful meals of fried plantains, fresh ceviche, and pan-fried fish topped with lime by our lovely cook Katerina. The meals were to die for and the infinity pool at sunset with a drink in hand was heavenly.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

First sunset with wine at our casa in the hills above San Juan del Sur

If you’d rather stay close to the action, you can stay in town at Chicabrava’s Surf House which is located in the heart of San Juan del Sur or if you really want to experience country living and get away from it all you can stay up at one of the luxurious casas in the Cloud Forest.  At the Surf House, lodging is casual with communal living in rooms with bunk beds. Also, the meals are not included. At the Cloud Farm, you stay in a beautiful house with anywhere from 3-5 bedrooms with double occupancy. All meals are home cooked by the hired chef, and the accommodations are high-end. Either choice, you can’t go wrong. It all depends on the kind of trip you want to experience. 

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Chicabrava Surf Camp San Juan del Sur Nicaragua

Chicabrava: Empowering young girls through learning to surf

To be a girl in the developing world is an additional hurdle to overcome. Not only will you likely be poor, you will also likely be married young, uneducated, physically and sexually abused and lack the potential to follow your dreams of having a better life.

What if we could change this vicious path and instead give young women an opportunity to thrive, to be inspired and to follow their dreams? 

This is the inspiration behind Chicabrava’s Camp Bella and Chicas Adelante. To break the mold of gender equality by offering young women and girls hope. Hope to dream. Hope to change their destiny and hope for a better future.

Chicabrava Surf Camp San Juan del Sur Nicaragua

The women of Chicabrava Photo credit: Chicabrava

Houston-native Ashley Blaylock moved to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua in 2003 when it was an undiscovered fishing village. She had fallen in love with the country and wanted to follow her dreams of starting up the very first all-women’s surf camp in Nicaragua. At the time, no women surfed yet Ashley persevered. Over time she developed strong ties and acceptance within the local machismo community and opened the doors to Chicabrava in 2008. By working with the community, Ashley helped transform the cultural belief that surfing was only for men and party goers. On the contrary, Chicabrava broke gender roles by demonstrating that surfing is a serious sport that women can enjoy and feel empowered. 

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San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Chicabrava: Empowering women one wave at a time

You are built not to shrink down to less, but to blossom into more. To be more splendid. To be more extraordinary. To use every moment to fill yourself up.”

– Oprah Winfrey

A few months ago, I got an email that set in course an experience that would teach me a powerful lesson on overcoming my fears. It was an invitation to attend a press trip to experience and review Chicabrava, an all women’s learn to surf camp in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. I read the email with both the usual excitement I feel when learning about a new opportunity to travel as well as slight apprehension about what I would actually be doing on the trip: Learning to surf.

I consider myself a very adventurous person who has traveled to over 40 countries, many of these trips solo, and has pushed my body and soul to the limit by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, trekking the Himalayas, tandem hang-gliding in New Zealand and diving in the Great Barrier Reef. But surfing? Now that is something I had never tried and quite honestly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to.

What I would come to learn about this entire experience was that traveling alone to Nicaragua and actually getting up on my surfboard to catch a wave was no problem at all. The real challenge I had to overcome was my immense fear and anxiety over the ocean. It terrified me.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

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