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“Poor leadership, and general neglect for the property and equipment prevented my experience at Giant's Foot from being what it s”
Review of Giant's Foot Surf

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Giant's Foot Surf
Reviewed September 17, 2013

I am writing this on the train home so all of the good, the bad, and the ugly is still fresh in my mind. I just spent a week at The Foot with a group of great friends from a variety of backgrounds, personalities and interests whose common love for surfing brought us together.

I have travelled extensively throught Central and South America. I am used to the lack of creature comforts that are often a part of the adventure down south. I also lived in a tent in Bosnia for nine months while I was in the Army. On the flip side, I own a small retail and service business and I can be very demanding when I am paying good money. 800 USD for a week in Nicaragua is a lot of money!

Now that you have a bit of background, please read this review because if will be extensive and detailed.

The physical space: shower heads lay broken on the floor, the sink in the common bathroom is broken, chairs have not been changed in years, broken glass left in the common eating area for more than 24 hours (we are barefoot surfers for heaven's sake), the rooms have no sound proofing and I was wearing earplugs to boot, one of the two vehicles was not fully functional.
Above all, I think that the attitude of the owner, Bryce, has lead to the deterioration of the physical space. Instead of attempting to addess any of these issues, Bryce spent much of his free time playing video games.
I overheard him telling his employees that as long as something wasn't completely broken, they shouldn't even worry about trying to fix it or even make it better!
Surf Guides and trips: We all had a great time surfing. It would be hard not to. Conrad, was solid and concerned about getting us up and out at first light. We all appreciated his efforts. Jeremy was late one morning and he costs us about an hour of epic surf at Manzanillo for which I will never forgive him. The second morning he was on time, but wreaked of booze. And he probably only pushed himself to come in on time because I spoke with him the night before about how important it was to us.
The food: excellent all the time! Justin is a great chef and surfer. He seemed to care about our group and he is a generally motivated individual. My only concern for him is that under Bryce's poor leadership he will be ruined.

It is obvious that Bryce has not reinvested any capital since he took over a few years ago. The have been no capital improvements and little to no concern in maintaining his existing assets. Bryce did not introduce his staff to us upon arrival. He did not seem to think of us as guests, but rather as some dudes crashing at his house. He had his parents there during the day to relax and vacation, but they ended up cleaning up because they were obviously embarrassed by the slovenly appearance of the space. I felt bad for his parents and almost got down and started cleaning myself, but then I saw Bryce inside playing video games, and realized that I was paying this guy over a hundred dollars a night. And I am not cheap, I gave the decent guide and the chef a hundred each as a well deserved tip.

The one time I asked Bryce to take us to the springs he tried to blow me off. I persisted and we did go. We had a time and I thank him for that. But that should be standard operating procedure, not something a guest should have to forcefully demand. He has to quit playing so many video games, and give the place a fresh coat of paint....I know he has plenty of blue paint hiding somewhere.

I wrote this on my phone on the train without proof reading. Please forgive typos.

I did have great time with my friends, the surf was fun, climbing Giants Foot Peak and meeting a beer bearing barefoot princess on top was awesome, the food was amazing, and Conrad let me use a his great Mack Truck surfboard. Some of the staff should figure out how to revive Giants Foot, or figure out how to do it better somewhere else. I will keep the faith and hope to be back to Playa Gigantes in the future to surf some sweet waves in that wonderful setting.

  • Stayed: September 2013
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1  Thank telemarkersurfer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Management response:Responded September 24, 2013

This review seems to have been written as a personal attack on the owner and there are things written in it that are untrue, embellished, or fabricated.

Unfortunately a dishonest review like this meant to personally attack Bryce the owner affects all of us employees and their families. The hard working Nicaraguan staff, their families, and the guides, not just the owner. If you have read this review, please read what I have to say about it below.

A rating of one star was given to the rooms. All rooms are double occupancy with A/C and fan, they can be seen in photos on our website or the surf camp video on YouTube. They are simple rooms but are always clean and well maintained. Guests generally give a 3 or 4 star rating, if somebody is used to very fancy accommodations they may rate them lower.

A rating of one star was given for cleanliness. The house is built in the sand on the beach, it is a full time job keeping the sand and saltwater out of the living room and the guests rooms. This is why we have a cleaning lady 6 days a week and another one for Sundays. All guest rooms and living areas are cleaned daily. Some glass was broken Saturday night when the guests were drinking and was not cleaned early Sunday because the cleaning lady did not show up, we apologize for this, it is not normal for this to happen.

A rating of 2 stars was given for service. I don't think this is fair to say. I looked after these boys 6 days of the 7 they were here. I get up before 4am everyday to clean up and prepare breakfast for them and bring them the boat as soon as there's enough light to paddle out and get it. They were in the water and surfing before sunrise everyday except one day when Jeremy our other surf guide 'slept in'. That morning the boat was still loaded with guests and food and gas as quickly as possible and left camp at 5:45am which is about 25 minutes later then the earliest possible departure time we can provide.

A rating of one star was given for value. $800 for a week of all-inclusive surf tours, airport transfer, unlimited boat trips per day, and beachfront lodging with A/C. I don't even know what to say? Have you seen a better price anywhere else? I run the boat everyday and personally guarantee that we do more sessions everyday and spend more time surfing then any other tour business around. Everybody who has come down here and surfed with me would agree with that statement. Justin the cook at the time was also cooking EPIC meals, unfortunately I go home for dinner and don't get to enjoy them. The guest in his review says the food he cooked was excellent. So maybe a rating of one star for value is a bit far fetched ?

Location 4 stars, we're so close to the beach that if the tide was a foot higher we'd be a house in the ocean.

A couple other things, we did have 2 working vehicles the whole time, our red pickup truck and the toyota land cruiser. I'm not sure why the review said there was only one, we were using both of them all week long. The sink in common bathroom was leaking and had been shut off to conserve water. Bryce and Jeremy were playing lots of video games in their down time that week.

As captain of the boat here I'd also like to say the wind was BLASTING onshore because of Tropical storm Manuel all week long making it dangerous to make trips to surf breaks that are farther away. Which is cool we still got good waves close to home, and tried hard to offer other activities for them when conditions were too rough to surf, I like to show people a lot of different spots when they come. We spare no expense in making long trips by boat for good waves (ask anybody who's been here) but these guys got unlucky with severe weather I couldn't take them to far this week. I feel bad about this, I want all you guys to have the best waves possible when you are here.

Bryce works really hard to keep this place running for us. Somebody spending a week here and most of their time on the boat might not see it that way. He's always gotten me everything I need to show you guys a good time. Tons of gasoline, new fishing poles and reels, fishing lures, fishing and diving and spear fishing gear for guests to use. New engine for the boat, the best hammocks money can buy, and anything else we can think of to make this place better. I'm not sure why this review got so personal, and i'm sorry this guy feels this way about us. I just want you guys to all know that it's not true.

Conrad
Head surf guide at GFS
Captain of Vale La Pena

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24 - 30 of 56 reviews

Reviewed August 30, 2013

That was exactly was I was looking for... Awesome place with a great team.

I just came back from a 10 days vacation at Giant's Foot in August 2013 and I just have good comments for this place. I'm still a beginner and they took great care of me with either Conrad or Jeremy always surfing with me and giving me some more advices. Even Kai (who was injured at that time) took some shots and video that helped... And sure enough, the waves were really good.

The food was just perfect... Justin was making most of it and I was just surprised how he could make such good stuff in such a remote place... even a set of home made pizzas where Justin had to milk the cow himself to come out with the cheese! Anyway that's what he told me ;-)

And Playa Gigante is just a beautiful Nicaraguan Fisherman Village.

Thanks a lot guys and special thanks to Bryce, the camp manager / owner for making this possible.

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled solo
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Thank Maxime D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 30, 2013

First of All, I would like to thank GFS crew for all the hospitality that we received. To be honest with you, if you like to surf, this is the place to be. Don't you expect luxury in this place, but for sure you going to score some good quality waves with the master Mr. Conrad. The food is so good. You have three meals every single day. Rooms are okay. They have A/C and fans. The only thing that you need to bring with you is the OFF for the Mosquitoes. The only thing that I suggest to is the WIFI. Need more range? Other than that, I would like to go back again to the same place. Thanks GSF, see you soon!!!

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank papote c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 29, 2013

I consider myself a weekend warrior, I work a normal 9-5 job and have to plan my vacations in advanced. So with this in mind I looked around for the best deal possible that met my three key personal requests... 1-reasonable price, 2-had to be an ocean front property and 3- must offer unlimited boat access to surf..... this place has all three. This place is very simple with no luxuries located in a really cool laid back little town, so if you are looking for luxury go elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is WIFI and the rooms are very clean (serviced daily) with A/C, however, no hot water (you dont really need it, but just so you know in case it matters to you). This place is for people who want to surf, surf and surf and they'll make sure of that. They will wake you up really early (pre-dawn) and have you in the water in no time. There are tons of spots around and they have the place wired just make sure you talk to Conrad the night before he'll know where to go and at the best time (he is the man). They will take you out 3 times a day if you are up for it. Other places will take you out on the boat only once daily and then stuck surfing the same spot every afternoon, not here they will show you different breaks at times 3 different spots in a day.The food is really good, from the pre-dawn coffe and cereal to the three main daily meals, all these with endless beer, rum, coke, and frescas. One note, If you like juice with your breakfast you have to get it in the pulperia for cheap since they didnt offer any (they'll keep it cold for you though) and make sure you take mosquito repelant you will thank me later. The staff is full with really cool humble people, they will take care of you. We left the place feeling like we now have really cool new friends for life.

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with friends
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5  Thank Felix-d-Fish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 20, 2013

I traveled here with a friend to surf our brains out. We were not disappointed. We met Bryce and Nathan in Managua at the airport and they drove us back to Playa Gigante. Be prepared for a 2.5-3 hour drive there. On the way, Bryce made sure we stopped for some snacks, BEER and other refreshments. Once we got to GFS, we quickly unpacked our surf bags and waxed up to join the group for their 3rd session of the day.

The hotel itself isn't that big, so you will get to know the other people very well. This can be a good or bad thing depending on how you guys get along, skill level, etc. Be aware that you WILL be with these people day and night. So if you don't want to get to know others, bring some friends. Luckily, my friend and I got along well with the other guests as well as the surf guides.

The room we stayed in had AC and was clean. Be prepared for mosquitoes!! I forgot to bring repellant and got eaten alive both while hanging out and sleeping. The food was good and unlimited beer could not be beaten. Toña and Victoria beer all day and night. If you don't drink beer, there are sodas and water too.

A typical day for us was as follows. Breakfast at 4-5 AM, . Head out on the boat for Dawn Patrol right after. After surfing for a few hours, paddle back to the boat for some water and beer and go back to camp for a hot breakfast #2. Take a nap on the hammocks or whatever you want to do. We then go back out for session 2 for a few hours. Come back to camp for lunch and a break. Third session is the last one for the day before the sun goes down. Head back to camp for dinner. After dinner, the guests and guides would hang out drinking beer or watch some movies. White trash Wednesdays at the hostel next door and happy hour on Saturdays can get a little loud, but I didn't mind. It was fun to meet the people in town (guests and locals) and listen to some music.

I really liked that you could surf as much as you want. By day 5 session 2, I had to take a break because my muscles could not take it anymore. Paddling muscles were getting weak and I was kooking it on a lot of waves. The cool thing is that if you need a break, you can get one. I ended up going out with Conrad and some of the other guests to go fish instead. There are some cool things you can do if you need a break from surfing. But don't take too many of them. I am missing the offshore winds already and am sad to go. The swell wasn't too powerful when we went, so Conrad and the other guides knew exactly what spot would be fun. He would ask us what we wanted to surf. We had a lot of choices of places to surf and sometimes we would choose the uncrowded spots to surf with just our group. Sometimes we would choose a faster, more crowded break the next time. You can really have your choice here at GFS. They won't tell you where you NEED to go, but they will give you good suggestions on where you CAN go. I would listen to them since they know the tides, the swell, and the crowds.

GFS is a small group of great people and the business is run like a family. This is what I was hoping for when we booked the trip here. We didn't know anyone who had gone there before and just tried it out based on some reviews on TA and surfermag forums. We were not disappointed and would definitely go again. I will send all my friends who want to surf Nicaragua here.

I gave the swimming pool rating average since they don't have one. But I guess you can count the ocean if you want. They didn't really have a fitness center either, but I considered surfing my fitness center and it was definitely excellent.

Room Tip: There aren't many rooms to choose from, but try to get one of the rooms inside the main building...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank yipperzz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 14, 2013

Just wanted to Thank everyone again at GFS for the time of my life! Bryce, Conrad, Coley, Drew, Kai and the rest of the staff exceeded my expectations for this trip. If your looking to surf your brains out 3 times a day; than this is place! Conrad (head captain) had us scoring at least 2 out of 3 sessions everyday. There are a handful of other surf boats in the area; none have a boat captain like Conrad who makes sure your scoring the best spot each time of day. We came to jokingly call the other boat of surfers in the area "Team Never On It" as they showed up 1.5 - 2 hours later then we did at every break, after we scored the right tide of course. Food and fun was just as great; Lucre (house mother) had prepared some of the best food i have eaten out of the country, alongside Coley (an awesome chef from TX) who added his flair to each meal (and no; its not just rice and beans for lunch and dinner). There was no downtime unless you wanted it. I was there to surf and in a 7 day trip had managed to chalk up 21 surf sessions and 40+ hours in the water. There was no hesitating when we wanted to surf. "You ready?... Nos Vamos!"
The outlook for the rest of the summer looks great for the Gigante Region, that includes breaks likes Colorado's, Panga Drops, Rancho Santana, Lance's Left and Popoyo. I highly suggest this place if your looking to do absolutely nothing but surf. They will make sure you are worry free when it comes to scoring waves.
And if your looking to simply come down for a vacation with your significant other who may not surf; there is plenty to do in the little town of Gigante; massages, kayaks, surf lessons, snorkeling, fishing... you name it they can make it happen.
After my experience with these guys i am currently trying to figure out how to get back there before summer ends and quite possibly move there; as my experience with this Surf Hostel changed my life forever. Hope to see you all down there soon!
And Bryce and Conrad; I thank you both again and again for your service. I saw no way that i could have done a better trip or squeezed anymore fun into my week! You guys are awesome! See you in a few more weeks...Estoy Viviendo!

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled solo
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Thank Rick E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 14, 2012

The thing that really stands out about Giant's foot is the extra care they take in everything they do. In all categories the people at Giant's foot choose comfort and quality over the cheapest solution. It really does feel like you are part of a family or close group of friends.
I think what makes this difference is that everybody that works there also lives there, including the owner. For example, the included meals, served every day? It is good food because the owner doesn't buy the cheap stuff, and the chefs, who eat with you, fix the most delicious healthy meals.
At the end of the day, you can sit down and watch a movie, or chill in the hammock watching the sun set. What’s not to love?
For a laid back get away and a chance to recharge the batteries, it honestly doesn't get better than this, even if you don't surf.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled solo
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1  Thank JesseHoward
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Giant's Foot Surf

Address: Tercera Casa del Estero Sur, Playa Gigante, Nicaragua
Location: Nicaragua > Rivas Department > Playa Gigante
Amenities:
Beach Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 6 B&Bs / Inns in Playa Gigante
Price Range: $400 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Giant's Foot Surf is a cozy surf lodge nestled on the beach in Playa Gigante. We have 3 guest rooms with private bathrooms, a living room with lots of books, movies galore, and a flatscreen TV, and an outdoor dining area. Our sandy backyard is strewn with hammocks to relax in after your surf sessions. Our boat, Vale, waits in the bay to take you to the nearby breaks. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Giant`s Foot Surf Hotel Playa Gigante
Giant's Foot Surf Nicaragua/Playa Gigante

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