FAQs | Surf & Lifestyle

A lot of our first-time guests are concerned about this!

To give you an idea, about 80% of our guests are between 25 and 55 years old, with the most significant concentration being in their 30's and 40's. This is, on average, each trip is a bit different.

We are firm believers that age is just a number! If you are under 25 or over 55, you are certainly welcome in our retreats. What is important to our organization is to be transparent in the type of experience we deliver. Our guests come to focus on their surfing progression and to have a great time. Some of them enjoy a beer or a cocktail at sunset and might go out once or twice during the retreat, but if you are looking for a place to party all week, this is not the right experience for you.
About 30% of our travellers have never touched a surfboard. We are here to help beginners learn how to surf and help intermediate surfers progress faster.

Unless you don't know how to swim or if you wouldn't be comfortable swimming at least 40 meters without a floating device, you can join our coaching retreats in Costa Rica, Nicaragua or Bali. For the Mentawais and the Maldives, only intermediate level surfers will be able to enjoy those experiences.
We only open during what we believe are the best months for both waves and temperature in each of our destinations. These decisions are made according to statistical averages of swells and the type of spots in each destination.

Predicting surfing conditions is a bit like predicting the weather, we can only have a good idea of what the waves will be like a few days before a retreat. Therefore we can not guarantee you that waves will be a certain size or shape on any specific week, months in advance. This being said, your chances of getting quality surf are very high as each surf season is specifically chosen according to average surfing conditions. Since we opened in 2012, we have not had one "flat day"!

We avoid opening during the rainiest months and choose the best surf spots around, according to your level. For example, if the waves are big, we will take you to a bay or a sheltered break, where the waves are smaller and conditions are safer.
If you are joining one of the "main retreats" (Costa Rica, Nicaragua, or Bali), your surfing equipment is included. If you are a novice surfer, you don't have to bring surfboards.

If you are an intermediate surfer:

For Bali and Costa Rica: there are plenty of quality surfboards on-site, and they are included in your package. Whether you want a longboard, funboard, fish or a hybrid surfboard, there is plenty of choices. Small, performance shortboards are harder to find, but usually, those are for advanced surfers. If you have "the magic surfboard" or if you are very precise in what you are looking for (example looking for 34.5 litres board with medium rocker), you might consider bringing your own boards.

Nicaragua: Surfboards are also included here. This is the most remote location of our "main retreats." We do have a good selection of surfboards, but the selection is not as large as in Bali or Costa Rica for performance, fibre-glass fishes and hybrid boards. You might consider bringing your own boards if performance, fibre-glass fishes or hybrids are what you want to surf and you want a precise shape and volume. If a NSP type of funboard or fish is something that you would like to surf, we do have those types of boards available.

Don't hesitate to contact us if you are an intermediate surfer and want to check if we have the board you are looking for before booking your trip.

In the Maldives and in the Mentawais, we recommend bringing the type of surfboards that you are used to ride and that you feel comfortable with (minimum 2, preferably 3). Bring at least one board on which you feel you have plenty of paddle power and length. Too often, we see intermediate surfers on the latest 5'6" "Hypto Krypto" because that is what the marketing says they should be on, and they only get onto a couple of waves each session. That's no good for enjoyment. Or improvement. In the Maldives, there's the possibility to rent with Awayco, contact us for details.
This depends on the destination you will travel to, and on personal preferences & souvenirs.

In our "main retreats" (Costa Rica, Nicaragua & Bali), you could bring, for example, $200 - $300 USD with you and your bank cards if you need to withdraw in the ATMs on destination. For the intermediate retreats, these are remote locations with no ATMs. You will need to refer to your travel guide for more information (provided when you book your spot).

Almost everything will be covered: accommodation, surf lessons, surf equipment (except for Maldives & Mentawais retreats), airport shuttles, your surfing footage, transportation, some activities, breakfast each morning and more. Here are some things you might need cash money for:

Apart from welcome meals, lunches and dinners are not included in our "Main Retreats (Costa Rica, Nicaragua & Bali)" because we believe it is part of the travel experience to try different meals and restaurants. Meal prices will vary significantly according to your preferences. In both Central America and Asia, you can still eat great local food for 5 - 8 USD per meal, and you can also spend 15+ USD on food in international restaurants.

For the intermediate retreats (Mentawais & Maldives), all meals are included because those are offered in remote locations that have very little or no other meal options.

Also, bring cash money if you bring back souvenirs for friends and family. Sometimes, freelance photographers could take in-water surf shots of you if you are lucky, you might want to purchase those!

Tips are not mandatory and are to the discretion of each traveller. If you want to tip, you can either give tips directly to your surf coach, cleaning or cooking staff.
Yes, it is possible in most cases, but not two weeks straight. We usually have 2 to 4 days separating weekly groups. You would then need to travel for 16 to 18 days and plan 2 to 4 free days between your two surf weeks.

Intermediate retreats in the Maldives & Mentawais are usually closer together, with 0, 1 or 2 days between trips.
For the "main retreats" in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Bali, both beginner and intermediate surfers are welcome (levels 1.1 to 2.2).

For the "intermediate only" trips in the Mentawais and the Maldives, only intermediate level surfers can join (level 2.1 and 2.2) You must be able to:
-catch unbroken waves by yourself
-angle your take off to go either left or right
-draw your line on a “green wave” with a minimum of control
-feel comfortable in shoulder-to-head-high waves

For more information on "what is your surfing level", click here.
For the main retreats (Costa Rica, Nicaragua & Bali): If your retreat dates on our website are, for example, from January 4th – 11th, this includes both the arrival day (4th) and the departure day (11th). There is no surfing or activities planned for those days.

This means that during the day on the 4th, nothing is planned other than your transportation to our villa or hotel. There is often a welcome group dinner, usually between 6:30pm - 8:00pm on the night of the first day. If you fly in later at night, you might miss it. On the last day of the retreat (January 11th in this example), only breakfast is organized plus transportation back to the airport.

For the intermediate only retreats (Maldives & Mentawais): The first and last days of a trip are also travel days (no surfing planned). For example, if a retreat goes from October 11th – 20th, there is nothing planned other than transportation and a welcome dinner on the 11th, and breakfast plus transportation back to the airport on the 20th. Please wait for us to send details of the itinerary before booking your international flights. Your flight schedule will need to work with the private fast boats in the Mentawais, or domestic flights in the Maldives.
Unfortunately, this is not possible. Our team of surf coaches are dedicated to providing the full surfing progression experience, they are not available for extra lessons. Since we have 6 coaches for 12 students maximum, if you come for just 2 or 3 days, for example, this will still take one of the 12 spots available.

FAQs | Travel

To benefit from the free shuttles included in our packages, you must arrive and leave on the same dates planned in our camps. For example, if you have booked a surf trip from January 4th to 11th, you must land on the 4th and leave on the 11th to catch our free shuttles. Outside of these dates, transportation from the airport is not included. We do offer a refund of the average cost of a shared airport shuttle if you do not need this service, please let us know by email.

If you arrive in advance to one of our destinations, the hotel or villa we collaborate with can sometimes accommodate you if there is availability (additional fees). We can also advise you on places to stay before your trip with us. Just write to us if you are interested.

*You can land at any time on our retreat dates, and we will send an airport shuttle for you. For the intermediate only retreats (Mentawais & Maldives), you will need to catch either a speed boat or a domestic flight after landing from your international flight (those are included in your package). Therefore you need to wait for us to send you those details by email once you have secured your spot before booking your international flights.
The answers below apply to North Americans, most of Europe and Australia. Please verify online to be 100% certain about your personal situation. More details will be available in the travel guide you will receive after booking your trip.

Nicaragua: No. Just a $10 USD fee to pay at the Managua airport.

Indonesia (Bali & Mentawais): Yes. You can get your visa directly at the airport in Denpasar, Bali. Since 2015, it is free for Canadian and American citizens, and for citizens of most European countries. If you plan to travel for more than 30 days, we recommend you to apply for a visa online. Depending on where you are from, you might be able to apply for a 60-day visa.

Costa Rica: No.

Maldives: A free 30-day tourist visa is granted on arrival for most nationals, including citizens of USA, Canada, Australia, NZ, UK and many European countries.
You must be 18 years old to book a trip by yourself.
We accept 15, 16 and 17-year-olds when travelling and surfing with a parent.
The US dollar is accepted almost everywhere in all of our destinations. For Bali, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, we recommend you bring between 200 and 300$ and a debit/credit card to be able to withdraw local currency in an ATM if needed.

For intermediate only retreats (Mentawais & Maldives): These are very remote locations. Please refer to your travel guide for more information (given to you after you reserve your spot).
If you are travelling by yourself, you have the choice of sleeping on a single bed in a room/bungalow with other Barefoot Surf guests or pay an extra fee to have a room/bungalow to yourself.

Different accommodation types:
Costa Rica (2021): Bungalows for a maximum of 3 guests (see accommodation)
Nicaragua: Rooms for 2 or 3 guests (see accommodation)
Bali: Rooms for 2 – 4 guests (4 guests only in two-level studios in Canggu, see accommodation)
Mentawai: Rooms for 2 guests. No private room for 1 guest available.
Maldives: Private room for every guest. Couples or friends sharing a room have a slight discount on the package.

We do our best to separate men and women in the shared rooms. This is possible in the majority of our retreats, but not in all of them. If you want to make sure you are in a women-only or men-only shared room, please specify it when you contact us.
In each of our destinations, you will be led by experienced surf guides, who have an in-depth knowledge of the area and the surf spots. We also choose very secure places to accommodate our travellers.

This being said, we leave our travellers the freedom of exploring and experimenting with each destination as they wish, as we believe in the beauty of travelling. We give the necessary security advice for each trip. If these are respected, the risks of any trouble are very low (robbery, accidents, etc.).
We recommend our clients to get quality travel insurance with a well-known company: Blue-Cross, Manulife, Escapade, RBC, TravelGuard, etc. Make sure the insurance company covers surfing as an activity. Click here to buy travel insurance directly online with our partners G1G Insurance.
In the majority of cases, our travellers find better prices for plane tickets online than they would through a travel agency. Since we can’t offer better prices than the ones on the Internet, we highly suggest the following websites to buy your plane tickets: Kayak.com, Skyscanner.com, or Flighthub.com.
Nicaragua: Managua (MGA) - Or Liberia (LIR)*

Bali: Denpasar (DPS)

Costa Rica: Liberia (LIR)

Mentawais: Padang (PDG)

Maldives: Malé (MLE)

* The Liberia airport in Costa Rica (LIR) is actually geographically closer to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, than Managua is. If you choose to land in Liberia to go to our Nicaragua retreat in San Juan del Sur, you will need to cross the land border which is 1 hour North of the Liberia airport. This process can be a bit complicated and take some time if there are line-ups. It will cost around $10-$20 USD of taxes and entrance fees. When adding the time at the customs, landing in Managua is quicker and more simple, but sometimes our guests find much better flights for Liberia, which could make this worth it.

Unless you are an experienced traveller with Spanish basics, we strongly recommend booking a shuttle with a transportation company that has drivers and vehicles in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua. This way they will pick you up in Liberia, drive you to the border, help you cross the border (which can get complicated the 1st time), and then have another driver waiting for you on the Nicaragua side to take you to our villa in San Juan del Sur. We use this company and have always had good comments.
About half of our travellers are “lone travellers”, so you will most probably not be the only lone traveller in your group. Whether you are travelling with other groups of friends, couples or lone travellers, you can expect to meet new friends with who you will have a great time!

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