Jodi and her partner Ben Hall are on a surf trip of a lifetime driving from San Diego through Central America to Costa Rica. This time they’re in Nicaragua.
Living wild, feral and free out of the back of a standard sized family SUV, is one of the most liberating experiences, especially in the tropical climates that we’ve become accustomed to. Evolving into opportunistic shower hunters and relishing the chance to make use of a proper toilet has become a funny mind set of being on the road for so long and even the smallest creature comforts are never taken for granted.
Having mostly roughed it for the past couple of months, it was time to park up our truck ‘The Chief’ for a few days and check into – Rise Up – a unique surf camp, with a holistic edge. Located by one of North Nicaragua’s premier waves – The Boom, a beach break renowned for its consistent swell and hollow, heavy barrels. As intimidating as this wave sounded, it was also reassuring to know that just up the road, there is a more mellow, but just as hollow wave at a beach called Nahualapa.
Pulling into the gates of Rise Up in our dusty but trusty truck, we were greeted with open arms. A fresh ice cold fruit juice welcomed us and one of the resident surf instructors was frothing to show us the local break, despite it being his day off. We managed to hit the surf just before the afternoon wind kicked in and scored some epic head height waves, before heading back in time for the sunset.After settling into our cosy room, it was time to have an explore and find our bearings as to what was in store for the next few days.
The main reason for the visit here was to improve my surfing. Having been addicted to the sport for four years, but using mainly bigger boards, my quest was to progress to a shortboard. Sitting down for dinner that evening, it became apparent that the week was going to consist of intensive surf coaching, daily yoga and a strong focus on wholesome food and nutrition. After a relaxing night watching the stars over the ocean, The following day, we were introduced to the team of international advanced surf coaches, who all had something different to bring to the table. The guests who were here for this week were a mixture of people from all walks of life with different levels of surfing experience, from complete beginner through to more advanced.
Pre surfing theory session was held in the swimming pool, which was a great opportunity to observe in a controlled environment, how best to perfect duck diving and paddling techniques, which was really useful for me, given that i’m trying to make the step up from a big floaty 6’8” to a tiny 5’10”. Heading to Nahualapa, the group was split into different ability groups, with a ratio of one surf instructor to every three people. The waves were waist to shoulder height and glassy, perfect conditions to show my current skill levels to the onlooking surf instructors and videographers on the beach and in the sea.
After a delicious and nutritious lunch, it was time for the video analysis. Seeing yourself pop up, turn and position yourself can be a real eye opener. Small adjustments in stance and feet positioning can make a huge difference. The coaches gave encouraging and useful advice on how to refine and perfect my technique, through slow motion action replay. The following day I decided to put this advice to the test and brought out my little short board to conquer The Boom. Getting my first ever barrel I was totally amped and in my excitement, I paddled out for yet another. As quickly as my confidence arrived, it was swept away from me when the next set came, the powerful wave sucked the board from under me, and I landed awkwardly, snapping the fin right out of the board with my inner thigh.. Ouchhh.. This however was a small price to pay for tucking into my first barrel.
Sitting down with the founder of Rise Up, Phil and his partner Carina, it was interesting to find out what drove them to invest in such a journey and create this dream. It became apparent that it was mainly through the love of surf, community and a passion towards healthy living, with their most recent inspiration being their new born baby, Kaya.
One of Rise Up’s missions is to encourage well being. Yoga is a big part of the experience and they have one of the most spectacular studios with all the props, surrounded by majestic Banyan trees. Daily classes left me feeling limber and energised for the surf. The on site chef compliments the whole lifestyle through tailoring a nourishing menu, full of local organic ingredients which helped my body thrive.
After such an enlightening time at Rise Up, with some new found knowledge and a full tank of stoke, it was time to jump aboard The Chief in search of the next best waves. With a few weeks of adventure still ahead of us and no idea what to expect, the hunt for waves, good times and feral times continues…
For more information about Rise Up and to check out availability go to: https://www.riseupsurf.com/