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“Trip of a lifetime!”

Barefoot Surf Travel
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Get immersed into surfing and its lifestyle. We offer a full week surf camp in San Juan del Sur. Our travellers sleep in a private villa in the safe and quiet neighborhood of La Talanguera. It's a perfect location, less than 10 minute walk from town, 1 minute walk from the beach. Away from the noise but still walking distance from beach bars and restaurants. Our surf camp is ideal for beginner surfers, or intermediates who want to develop their surfing skills. We have a team of surf guides from across the globe, mixed with top Nicaraguayan surf coaches from the Nicaragua National Surf Team. Our packages include airport pick-up, breakfast, accommodation in private villa, surf equipment, surf lessons, surf pictures and technique analysis.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Food available for purchase, Lockers / storage
Reviewed May 18, 2018

I can't recommend Barefoot enough!
This was my first time surfing and the instructors were amazing. Very patient, funny and caring and a high teacher to student ratio. The beaches are beautiful! It was a perfect mix between surf time and chill time.
The villa was awesome, very clean, great food, lovely pool and awesome vibes.
The staff at barefoot were the absolute best and did everything they could to make us feel welcome and were a blast! As the camp was ending there was some political unrest in Nicaragua and Gab, Francois, Naomi and Chris went out of their way to make us feel safe and help us out.
This was the perfect place to learn how to surf, we are already hoping to come back!!
Thanks Barefoot!!!!! :)

1  Thank MeganL1684
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"perfect mix"
in 2 reviews
"villa pool"
in 2 reviews
"bali trip"
in 2 reviews
"family style"
in 2 reviews
"other camps"
in 2 reviews
"local culture"
in 4 reviews
"learning how"
in 4 reviews
"no stress"
in 2 reviews
"a great week"
in 2 reviews
"good vibes"
in 3 reviews
"highly recommend this trip"
in 3 reviews
"san juan"
in 8 reviews
"laid back"
in 4 reviews
in 2 reviews
in 9 reviews
in 7 reviews
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9 - 13 of 180 reviews

Reviewed May 16, 2018 via mobile

This week wasn’t my first at barefoot. I first tried them out 3 years ago & have gone back a few times. The camp is amazing! Naomi, Frank, Gab & all the surf coaches/chefs/staff go above & beyond to make your week one of the best. The camp is a perfect mix of planned activities and chill time. From the surf perspective, the ratio of teacher to students for our week was 1:3 or 1:2. This is pretty much unheard of at any other camps. It’s obvious that the owners & team of the camp genuinely care about you & your stay. As our camp was ending, there was some political issues happening in Nica. Gab let us stay an extra night in the villa or as many as we needed and bent over backwards to make us feel safe and looked after. If you love to surf or want to learn, this is the perfect way to do it!

Thank Leah W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed May 13, 2018

I can't recommend Barefoot surf travel enough. From the minute I arrived in SJDS the trip was perfect. The villa was amazing and Francois, Naomi, and Gab were fantastic hosts spending a lot of time showing us around the city and taking us to some awesome cliff top bars. You could tell that they all really cared about making the week a great experience for all of us. Throughout the week I was really impressed with the level of detail in the surf instruction. As someone who had surfed some before the trip but was relatively new I found the surf classes and photo/video analysis super helpful. I felt like I learned a lot over the week and definitely progressed my surfing. Overall a great experience!

Thank Gregg W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed April 19, 2018 via mobile

I have been traveling to various surf camps/trips for the last 2 years. This trip was beyond incredible, everything from start to finish was top notch and focused on improving my surfing while having a wonderful cultural experience.

The surf instructors and Barefoot team were incredible in finding the best spots for all different skill levels to surf, whether it was people riding there first waves or like myself who had been rabidly surfing for 2 years. All the instructors were incredibly insightful in and out of the water. The whole group bonded so well! We would surf all day and get together for dinner at the Villa or the various amazing restaurants in San Juan all together. I loved my trip so much that I am coming back for another 2 weeks in June. Can’t wait ! I would recommended Barefoot Surf Travel to anyone!!

1  Thank Misha F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed April 2, 2018

+1 to Emily's previous comment where she says that there were great highlights (mostly in everything involving (local) surf instructors and local life), but organization and expertise from the staff can be improved.

When dealing with big groups like 14 people, it's important to have great organization, leaders, precise communication and solutions against group inertia.

I'd add to Emily's point that Barefoot can still do even more in bringing the local culture and experience to the trip, in bringing even more local people or showing stronger collaboration with them. Don't get me wrong, they already do it, but I'm sure they could still improve it and/or show it more.

That'll make the difference with any other "know-it-all" foreign business like we can find in LatAm.
I'd encourage them to insist on the fact that they respect the country, the culture, the people, the local knowledge and expertise and that they want to share it with the travelers. Nicaragua is an amazing country and there are hundreds of things that could be highlighted :)

That'll also confirm that they want to build a sustainable partnership and learn from their local partners.

On top of that, it'll give the feeling to the travelers that they really get to know the country they're visiting and that the villa isn't keeping them away from the Nicaraguan way of life, culture and reality.

5  Thank clemd1711
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BarefootST, Owner at Barefoot Surf Travel, responded to this reviewResponded April 18, 2018

Hi there Clementine,
Thank you for your feedback.
Since your comment concerns our relationship and collaboration with local people in San Juan del Sur, we would like to take this opportunity to clarify some things publicly. We will also take the opportunity to give more public information about the organization of our services.
Collaboration with local people from San Juan del Sur:

As you have mentioned, we do have a great relationship with the local people of San Juan del Sur and we do create many work opportunities. 
First, we want to mention that creating job opportunities for locals is not "one of the many purposes" of our organization. It's an integral part of the core, the “raison d'être” of our company. Without collaboration with locals, we would simply not be operating because that is the very concept of our business. We would not have the motivation of operating if we did not change the world for the better.
To the eyes of a traveler, our company could be seen as “partially” involved with the local community. Several elements probably do not appear at first glance and we want to share them with you below:
- Apart from our 3 "international" employees, 95% of the people we contract are "locals". 5 drivers for transportation to the airport and activities, 1 cleaning lady, 1 cook for breakfasts, 1 cook for diners, 7 surf instructors, 1 gardener, 2 security guards. We have groups averaging 12 travelers, and we have 7 local surf coaches. The ratio of other surf schools varies from 1 coach for 6 to 8 students. Therefore, we create 3 to 4 times more work opportunities for local surf coaches than the competition.

- In addition, we need to count all the contracted local people for example to repair vehicles, renovations, the rent of our trucks and our surfboards are made every week at a local surf shop, board repairs, fishing trips, etc. The only times we contract people who are not from the country is when there is no other option. 

- Some reasons explain why we have some "international" employees in our team. For example, they are trained in Europe, North America or Australia and are "certified ocean rescuers". Since we travel to surf beaches far from hospitals and that surfing contains risks, it is important for us to have certified lifeguards accompany the group. Having a few "international" employees makes our operations easier because they know how to use high-tech equipment for photos & videos as well as doing technical analysis.

- Work conditions. There are reasons why many of our local employees have been with us for 3 to 5 years. We offer conditions that are simply beyond comparison to other surf camps. We can’t put figures publicly but we invite you to check if you are interested in knowing how the salary for a surf lesson compares to what our competitors offer.
- Our relationship with local surf coaches is much more than just a business-employee relationship. Many of them are longtime friends. We surf with them during our free days. We share our sponsorship budgets of Billabong Canada and Nixon Canada, providing them boardshorts, wetsuits, watches, and more.

- Our company constantly brings financial help in San Juan del Sur. Every year we sponsor a young soccer or baseball team in equipment. This is not a minor investment for the size of our business. During the flood last October, we came to help once again financially, in addition to sharing and promoting fundraisers through our social media to help raise funds.

We could go on and on... The message is that our commitment to locals and the creation of opportunities are at the heart of our concerns. We are always open to your ideas if you see additional engagement opportunities with locals.

Issues with organization:

Usually, organization is perceived as one of the strengths of our business. It’s extremely rare that our core team have not got a 5-star rating. They are usually referred to as “the highlight” of the trip. We are very sorry to hear that you at times felt like our services could have been more organized. Although you haven’t given concrete examples, we think this could concern things like surfing days and coming back to from beach. So here is more information about the organization and communication concerning those elements.
We understand that sometimes guests want to come back home earlier instead of staying at the beach. As a surf travel company, we want to make sure our travelers can enjoy different surf beaches, waves, sunsets, etc. We start every week at the welcome meeting clearly confirming that we spend on average 4 to 5 hours at the beach daily.
If a group of our people want to leave the beach earlier and they speak with anyone in our staff, then our team would bring back those travelers in one of our trucks. We have verified with our team about the situation. Apparently, nobody came to see one of our staff members at the beach to let them know that some people would have liked to go back to the villa. We understand that some travelers might not always feel comfortable expressing their desires. We are going to make sure our staff brings more attention for these situations.

Having 9 staff members, 2 surf trucks, for an average of 12 travelers means we have the flexibility to accommodate groups of people who need to come back to the villa after 2 or 3 hours for example if they need to work on the Wi-Fi or enjoy the swimming pool.

We understand very well that your TripAdvisor message aims to help us get better, and as always we will work to improve our services. What we find unfortunate is that the message gives the wrong impression to the public. In reality, we have never seen a team so dedicated to providing outstanding service quality while doing their utmost to have the most positive impact on the local community of San Juan del Sur. 
All the best, 
The Barefoot Surf Travel Cofounders

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