Surf camp in Nicaragua + my 26th birthday!

Hola everyone!! I’m back from the most magical 5 days at Rapture Surf Camp in Nicaragua. I somewhat impulsively booked this trip a month ago to take advantage of the long weekend and do something different from my usual birthday rager. I was not sure what I was getting myself into, but the whole experience turned out to be oh-so gratifying and completely surpassed my expectations. What I’m left with is peace and gratefulness entering my 26th year on earth and a newfound passion for surfing, which I think will really change the way I travel moving forward. 🙂

At surf camp, every day was largely structured the same, and so I’ll recap the trip in one long post going through our day-to-day at camp.

We woke up on the early side each day (between 7-8am). Something about our active days made everyone naturally want to be up-and-ready with the sun. I booked the 4-bed dorm which ended up being my absolute favorite “dorm” I’ve ever stayed in. I literally squealed with excitement when I saw the arrangement in person! We slept on a mattress and mosquito net completely out in the open so we got the breeze at night and gorgeous views during the day.

Eased into the morning with a hearty breakfast.

Mornings were usually our down time. Our days revolved around the tide schedules and I just-so-happened to be at camp the week that high tide was in the afternoons. Rapture Camp was situated on a mountain-top and a 20-minutes drive from shore. I so appreciated the contrast of the quiet mountains to the active beaches.

Camp was filled with plenty of places to read, relax, meditate, practice yoga, lounge and chat…all with which our mornings were filled. Coming from a hectic life back home, I quickly adjusted to simple life at Rapture and appreciated these lazy mornings.

Then it was time to get ready for the reason we were all there…to surf! We packed, loaded the boards, and were off!

Some days we had lunch downtown in San Juan Del Sur, a 30-minute drive from camp. San Juan Del Sur is a simple village with a few restaurants/bars and places to buy necessities. The main attraction of the town is definitely surfing, as it’s well-known as a top spot in the surfing community.

After lunch, we went to different beaches every day which was a real treat – letting the camp staff figure out logistics and seeing new places each day. My absolute favorite spot was on the third day – we literally parked in the jungle and hiked with our surf boards to a secluded beach all to ourselves. ❤

Surfing always started with 10-20 minutes of watching the waves. It was important to observe where the waves were breaking and which part of the beach to pursue. I honestly learned just as much from watching the waves (and other experienced surfers) as being in the water myself. I think a big part of surfing is learning how to read the waves and letting them speak to you. ❤

Time to surf!!! I decided to take lessons 3 of the 4 days. I took one surf lesson 2 years ago in Santa Cruz, and let’s just say it went horrifically…I fell over and over and couldn’t even stand up by the end of the lesson! And so, my only goal for this whole surf camp was to stand up by the end.

Somehow on my very first wave…I STOOD UP and rode the entire wave!!! I was ecstatic!! Looking back, the major difference between 2 years ago and now was making yoga a big part of my life. My center of gravity and balance greatly improved as yoga really lends itself to surfing. This gave me major confidence that carried through the entire trip.

After those first few waves, I had this intense feeling of “this is my calling”…I instantly fell in love with surfing. I love its simplicity (in that you only need yourself + the board) and how it allows you to be one with nature. I honestly enjoy it much more than other activities I’ve tried pursuing such as diving and skiing.

From that point, my progression was quite fast. After the 1st day, I caught white-water waves while being pushed by my instructor. 2nd day: I caught my own white-water waves, no pushing. 3rd day: green waves being pushed. 4th day: green waves no pushing!! I honestly am so so happy with how much I took away from this.

Of course, there were several falls along the way 😛

After my lesson, we all went in and out of the waves at our own paces, taking breaks as we felt. Lots of bonding and laughter both out on the waves and on the shore.

One of my best friends made on the trip was Kayla from New Jersey. Our camp was filled with mostly Americans which was a first for me from all my backpacking travels…I never really meet Americans! Of the group, Kayla and I clicked instantly since we have pretty like-minded philosophies on travel and life; we spent lots of time bonding and sharing our life stories. Also we had unintentional matching Baywatch suits 😉

One afternoon, a local next to us was doing hair dreads, and I impulsively (and permanently) got some mini-seashells dreaded into my hair. Something I’ve been wanting for a while 😉

We were all pretty pooped after surfing. The early evenings were filled with various activates every day. One day, we had surf-theory and video analysis of ourselves in the water. Sometimes we’d have a second session of surfing. My favorite evening was throwing a bonfire on the beach, chilling over beers and watching the sunset ❤

Afterwards we would chillax in the awesome infinity pool at camp. The mountain-top views were to die for…I never got sick of it. ❤

Dinner time! Every night we had family style dinner to fuel ourselves after a long day in the sun. As usual, one of the best parts of the trip was the wonderful friends at camp. It was almost all solo travelers which made bonding super easy since we were all willing to meet. We were all pretty like-minded in our love for active travel and level of chilling vs partying. Most people there were pretty experienced surfers and I was hands down the most newbish one, but everyone was so helpful and encouraging!

Then it was party time! We cracked open beers and nica libres (Nicaragua’s version of rum and coke) and hung out over pool tournaments, flip cup (my favorite drinking game, ha), dancing and chatting under the stars…

My favorite night was the second one since it was my birthday!! Funny that I traded my usual birthday rager in SF to do something for myself, and yet I still got a rager in Nicaragua. 😛 I was originally a bit nervous about being lonely on my birthday, but these friends were the perfect company to ring in my 26th. I felt so loved ❤

We may have taken a few birthday shots 😉

And just like that, the day was over and it was time to rinse and repeat!

It’s hard to put in words this glowing, positive feeling I have right now after the trip. For starters, 1) I have intense gratefulness that comes with experiencing a new country and culture. The reason I love to travel is that I can literally feel my heart expanding the moment of I get off the airplane and step foot in someplace new…that feeling is truly priceless. Although, this trip wasn’t as focused on culture as much as my past solo trips.

2) The second reason for my glowing-ness is that I am SO grateful to have surfing introduced into my life. Similar to when I learned to ride a motorbike in the Philippines – I fell in love with seeing places by bike and it completely changed the way I traveled. Surfing is exactly the same. Now I won’t just see sleepy beach towns as just that; surfing opened my eyes to just how alive the ocean really is, and how we have this beautiful opportunity to be a small, but precious part of it. I seriously cannot wait to experience more surf spots in the world, and I will FOR SURE be doing more of these surf camps too! I love how they are structure yet relaxed, and of course the amazing community that comes with it.

I left Nicaragua SO not ready to say goodbye. Usually after my longer solo trips, I’m sad but at peace knowing that the chapter is meant to end, but the morning leaving Nica I felt so incredibly sentimental and like I could easily use another week at Rapture (most surfers were there for 1-2 weeks!). On one hand, I was upset that I had to squeeze this whole trip in 5 short days given my work, but deep down I knew that this was way better than not experiencing it at all. I think I was sad this time because my journey with surfing is just beginning and I couldn’t help but want more!

To be honest, I was feeling pretty lukewarm about this trip beforehand. I tend to have this habit of booking trips impulsively and then doubting whether it was the right decision…all to step off the airplane and feel right at home. It always ends up being SO worth it. I never regret taking a solo trip because the experiences and people met abroad are unlike any other, and I’m always left feeling like anything is possible. To start my 26th year in this way…how lucky am I? ❤


6 thoughts on “Surf camp in Nicaragua + my 26th birthday!

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