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“Awesome people, awesome teachers, awesome trip” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Costa Rica Surf Institute

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Costa Rica Surf Institute
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CRSI Tamarindo Main Road | Across from Hotel Zullymar, Tamarindo 506, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #31 of 36 Tamarindo B&B and Inns
Somerville, Massachusetts
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Awesome people, awesome teachers, awesome trip”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 6, 2014

I had an awesome experience with CRSI - they really went out of their way to make my stay awesome. Here's a few highlights:
-I had a horrific time trying to get to Costa Rica; due to various difficulties with airlines I arrived more than 24 hours after I was originally supposed to get in. Even though I did not get to the hotel until after 2 am, <5 mins after my arrival, Hugh, one of the owners, knocked on my door just to make sure I got in okay and welcome me.
- The staff was super welcoming and friendly. The first day, Hugh showed up to take me around the town and take me to breakfast and talk me through all the things I could possibly want to do in Costa Rica and give me some advice for the best options. After my first surf lesson that afternoon, one of the other staff members took me out for a beer and to chat...
-I had private surf lessons every day. The instructors were always on time, they were friendly and chatty and multilingual - we spoke in a mixture of English and Spanish (their English was great but I also wanted to practice my spanish). They also went out of their way to make sure I got all the surf lessons I had signed up for. Because I showed up 24 hours late due to flight challenges, I technically missed one of the lessons but they rescheduled it for the next day. Also one time I showed up an hour late for my lesson due to a scheduling confusion, and they rescheduled that lesson as well no problem. I did NOT Have the issue at ALL That one of the other reviewers described who had signed up for private lessons and got group lessons - I signed up for private lessons and I got only private lessons.
- Yes, there was some construction and they were in the middle of a move but they were very apologetic about this and made sure that it did not impact the experience.
- Also the school is very safe - even when you come in early to surf on the weekends and none of the office staff is there, a guard is onsite and can come open the gate so you can get a surfboard.
- Overall I had a great experience and would highly recommend the school - the staff really could not be more accommodating and helpful... and fun! Keep up the good work :)

Room Tip: I stayed at the Villas MAcondo which was really great :) Room with a/c and fan and solo bathroom. Q...
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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8 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room Tips
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Virginia Beach, Virginia
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 30, 2014 via mobile

Phillip's review is spot on, I wish we had read it prior to paying our deposit.

CRSI is really a Spanish school that dabbles in surfing and the management struggles to coordinate the whole affair. While we were there the management demonstrated very little concern for our experience or skill in organization.

A few things that happened:
-We arrived on Sunday and the place was closed. No one told us where/how to check in at the hotel so we had to ask strangers on the street until someone had a phone number.

-The oceanography 'class' was a 15 minute slapdash talk held in the hallway.

-The website says 'private lessons' but they tried to throw extra people into our group. To make matters worse those people's schedules would have caused us to surf during low tide (bad at Tamarindo)

-The 'video/photo shoot' was extremely poor. It was video only and they didn't fully charge the battery so we only got a few minutes. Moreover the photographer stood really far away (under a tree) so the images were of poor quality.

A positive note, our instructor Luca was friendly, caring and punctual.

I felt the $450 for 4 days was a very bad value considering what we got. You can rent a board for $10 and lessons for $30. You could splash our for a great trip, some awesome photos and a few beers with the $290 you'd save.

  • Stayed January 2014
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
crsi, Manager at Costa Rica Surf Institute, responded to this review, February 20, 2014
Hi Emerson,

Sorry that you had a poor time, we wish you had mentioned this whilst here so we could have addressed it on the spot. The transition from our old campus to our new location was tougher than we anticipated and we regret that it negatively impact the experience. We were not fully set up in the new location during your stay but we appreciate your feedback and have addressed your concerns.

-We have initiated a welcome orientation every Sunday at 5pm.
-We have finished the CRSI-specific classroom with flat screen TV where oceanograpy classes and video analysis are held
-The text on the website no longer mentions private lessons, we now stick to a 4 to 1 student to instructor ratio. This text was left online in error from a previous camp structure
-The camera operator now always carries a spare battery and the zoom can easily see surfers
-The new flat-screen tv offers a better viewing experience for video analysis

Thank you for your comments and feedback and I am sorry you were disappointed in your experience. We hope you gained some solid surfing experience nonetheless.

-Alex
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Bothell, Washington
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2014

I hesitate to give this place a bad rating simply because the surf lessons themselves are awesome. Carmelo, a local ripper who gets respect in the line up was knowledgeable of his home break and the wave types as it changes with the tide. Luca, an ex-pat, was nice and friendly. Also gave tips on some good breaks to avoid the crowds. Alex, who runs the surfing side of the school was also good at explaining the more advanced techniques.

However, if you stay there..

The cons: There seems to be an overall lack of coordination which resulted in a less than satisfying stay. I've stayed in many hostels in Hawaii/Bali/Mexico so I don't mind toughing it out at all. However, what the website sold as an ultimate surf stay didn't quite deliver. Think of it more as a Spanish school that also happens to offer surf lessons.

1.) I was told there was an activity board from CR Paradise to coordinate extra curricular activities. Thus, I was encouraged to wait until my arrival to RSVP for activities. That was not there and when I coincidentally found CR Paradise across the street, they also expressed frustration that this was no longer happening.
2.) There are yoga classes where you will be staying (right in the main room). Not too big of a deal if told ahead of time as it's hard avoiding the yoga bodies on the floor when you're returning from a surf sesh.
3.) There will be Spanish classes on your balcony during the weekdays. Not too big of a problem if notified before...but we liked having a beer on the balcony after a surf sesh overlooking the beach.
4.) A lot of the surf boards are missing fins.
5.) While I was there the lock on the door broke which literally had us locked inside for a night. They've since installed a new lock.
6.) The shower head did not work. They've since taken off the shower head so at least it's free flowing water now.
7.) Found a sewing needle stuck in my pillow. Didn't say anything about that one.
8.) Surf storage is locked during weekends. If staff isn't on-site, you can't switch out boards on the weekends so make sure you keep all the boards you will want with the changing conditions in your room.

There were other issues but this is getting long. Overall, I'd say take the lessons but don't stay here. At present, I can't say this can be considered a Surf Institute and doesn't lend itself to the backpacking traveling surfer type that enjoys the freedom to surf whenever and have a post session beer whenever in his/her own place.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
crsi, Manager at Costa Rica Surf Institute, responded to this review, February 20, 2014
Hi Philip,

I am sorry you had a poor time in the accommodations. We're currently addressing all the issues you mentioned as we remodel the on-campus residences. You can check out the progress on our Facebook page. No surf students will stay in the accommodations until they are fully ready. In retrospect, we should have closed the accommodations while we transitioned into our new location, as they were not up to par during your stay.

Now that construction on the new building is further along, the surf school has its own room to store all the boards and equipment. It also include a flat screen TV for surf lectures and video analysis, indo boards and other training aids. Thank you for your feedback and we appreciate your business.

Best,

Alex
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
La Fortuna
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 22, 2013

Learning to surf had been on my bucket list for many years, so when I was offered the opportunity to try a one-day surf lesson with Costa Rica Surf Institute (CRSI), I figured it was time to finally cross it off the list!

Playa Tamarindo on Costa Rica's golden Pacific Coast is the quintessential surf beach -- It's possible there are more surf shops and surfer dudes offering surf lessons here than anywhere else on Earth!

The friendly staff at CRSI just off the main drag of downtown Playa Tamarindo made me feel at home - they have changing rooms and lockers on site - it's best to leave everything behind and just lather up in sunblock before you go to the beach. You can also buy one of their lycra surf shirts - great souvenir and very handy in the water!

I was then introduced to the man who would later become my surfing guru: Kurt -- an expat from Huntington Beach, California who I'm sure was already winning surf competitions in his native California even before I was born!

Kurt gave me a thorough safety discussion back at the headquarters of CRSI and then we walked just a few minutes to the best part of the Tamarindo beach for learning to surf.

And wouldn't you know it, but Kurt had me up on the board in no time at all and I was pretty much "Hanging 10" with all the other surfers in Tamarindo!

The professionalism of CRSI impressed me. Their staff of instructors are professional and well-trained in understanding all aspects of teaching novices like me to surf. It was always safety first, but with lots of fun mixed in!

What I liked most was that CRSI takes a different approach and films you while you're practicing in the waves and later gives you a full critique after your lesson on how to improve your surfing style. CRSI gives you the video at the end as proof of your successes!

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with CRS I and would highly recommend not only their one-day surf lessons, but would encourage people to do their one-week or two-week surf camps.

In addition, they teach Spanish on site and combining Spanish lessons with surf lessons seems the ideal way to pass your time in Costa Rica on the beach in Tamarindo.

I also think the CRSI set-up is perfect for independent travelers, as well as families coming to Costa Rica since they can include adventures along with experiential learning activities and lodging during your stay. Thumbs up for CRSI!

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York, NY
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2012

We've travelled all over the world, and this vacation was our all time favorite. While kids took Spanish, my wife and I surfed. After Spanish class, the instructors took the kids surfing. The instruction is supportive yet demanding. The kids said they liked Spanish class better than their "regular" school. Just fantastic. Every single thing was great.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 21, 2011

I came to CRSI after hearing that Tamarindo was a great place for surfing and looking for a place to learn spanish and surf. It turned out to be the perfect spot. The lodging is perfect, you stay in apartments that provide everything you need. There are kitchenette's in each apartment which allow for doing your own cooking if you prefer rather than eating every meal out with can be expensive in Tamarindo. They also have living areas so we ended up mainly staying in the apartments in the evenings having friends come hang out, making food and being able to watch TV or use the internet there. Everything is very clean, safe, and comfortable. It's a much more fun way to stay somewhere and meet other people while traveling that enjoy the same things. The surfing program was great, being a beginner it was a great place for learning but there were definitely enough waves for advanced surfers, there were many really good surfers at the school. Would definitely recommend to anyone interested in a surfing or spanish vacation!

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2011 via mobile

Tamarindo is the perfect place to learn how to surf! The waves are very consistent, its a big beach break with very few rocks to worry about, the wave itself is not very heavy. Once your surfing skills start excelerating you can always walk to playa grande to test you ablity on some bigger waves. The surf instructors are very knowledgeable and enthusiatic about teaching you how to have fun and be safe in the water! I spent two summers in costa rica and did the surf intitute for two weeks. Now I am a surfer for life! Costa Rica is an awesome place and so is the program!

  • Stayed June 2010
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
crsi, Director of Sales at Costa Rica Surf Institute, responded to this review, February 20, 2014
Thanks for the positive feedback Chris. We look forward to seeing you next time you are in Tama! Pura vida.

-Chris
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Costa Rica Surf Institute

Address: CRSI Tamarindo Main Road | Across from Hotel Zullymar, Tamarindo 506, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Tamarindo
Amenities:
Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #31 of 36 B&Bs / Inns in Tamarindo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Costa Rica Surf Institute offers surf camps, family surf camps, advanced surf tours, yoga, and surfing and Spanish programs in Playa Tamarindo and Playa Grande Costa Rica.We'd love to host you, teach you to surf, and share the Pura Vida. ... more   less 

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