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“A 'must do' in San Diego” 5 of 5 stars
Review of San Diego Sand Castles

San Diego Sand Castles
4306 Ocean Boulevard, San Diego, CA
+1 619-200-0565
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Ranked #1 of 237 Attractions in San Diego
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Owner description: San Diego Sand Castles isn't a gallery, competition, or "thing to see" for public viewing (please don't come to our address expecting to see sand castles!) In fact, we're a far more interactive reservations-required beachside "thing to do" where your group gets to be the artists! San Diego Sand Castles specializes in sand castle lessons for people of all ages all year-round! Run by JT Estrela, San Diego's resident sand sculptor, our sand castle lessons are a lot of fun, are educational, and a great way to spend time on the beach in San Diego. Each lesson is personalized and special with a focus on having fun with the process in a unique change of pace from theme parks or even just typical beach sunbathing. BOOK EARLY! RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED AND GO VERY FAST! When JT and his partners aren't happily teaching sand castle lessons, they are often working on professional masterpiece commissioned sculptures or you can often find them creating their own unique ideas!
Worcester
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“A 'must do' in San Diego”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 5, 2014

Got the idea for the sandcastle lesson having seen everyone's reviews on TripAdvisor and thought it would be a great experience for the kids - and us - and can honestly say it was one of the highlights of our trip.

Whilst there was a mix up about the meeting point (make sure you check this with before you set out) they were quick to sort this out and very apologetic.

tip ~ book the 10am session: parked without any problem right next to the beach and for free.

Kristine was absolutely brilliant with our children (aged 12 and 6) keeping them interested and involved throughout the whole lesson. It is amazing what you can achieve with a few tools, some sand and water. Kristine was with us for just over 3 hours but left us with some tools, to finish our creation, whilst she started with the next family further down the beach. All in all we probably spent about 4 hours building and sculpturing the sandcastle, great fun and worth every penny.

We truly loved the experience - the children are still telling everyone about it - and we would highly recommend booking a lesson to anyone wanting a fun morning, or afternoon, on the beach in fantastic San Diego. You won't be disappointed.

A trip to the beach with a bucket and spade will NEVER be the same again.

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Austin, Texas
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“Don't schedule the 1hr "Quickie Lesson"”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 5, 2014

I thought it would be fun to make sand castles for my birthday since I was visiting San Diego. I went online and booked the quickie lesson thinking it would be appropriate since it would just be one person participating. Here is my experience. I will put some tips below so you don't end up like me.

There is a lot of technical stuff you have to do when beginning a sand castle. It takes up about 1/3 of the lesson just doing the set up. My instructor, Andrew (i think), was really nice and very helpful. The time went by so quickly and I was pretty bummed when Andrew had to leave. He was only able to show me a few tricks before he left. He did leave me with the equipment to finish building my castle but I found myself stuck several times with no help. He came back to check on me but what I really needed was more time with him.

I have never made a sand castle before and I don't really consider myself to be an artsy type of person. I wish I would have booked the 3hr lesson so I would have more time to work with the instructor. In the end I wasn't able to make my sand castle and by that time I was pretty upset and ready to leave the beach. It kind of ruined my beach day.

Tips so you don't end up like me:

#1 Book the 3hr class whether you are alone or with other people. Just do it!
#2 If you were planning on spending the day at the beach go before hand so get some chill time in there because once the sand castle person gets there they will put you to work!
#3 Don't expect to have the perfect castle. You aren't an expert!
#4 Be prepared for intoxicated nosey beach people approach you every so often and ask you what you are doing lol. (no rude people but just be prepared)
#5 Bring a towel to blot your sweat! (this one I actually did)

Overall it was an OK experience. It wasn't great but it wasn't terrible. I personally feel like I wasted my time and money. I didn’t have enough information about the experience beforehand , so I only blame myself. Hopefully you will make a better choice than me! Learn from my mistakes!

Visited May 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
JT-Estrela, Owner at San Diego Sand Castles, responded to this review, August 23, 2014
We are really bummed that you didn't have a top notch five star sand castle experience. We definitely agree that having information beforehand helps with expectations which is why we have detailed explanations on our website. We highly encourage everyone to check it out before they book! Perhaps we could have done more to make sure you were approaching sand castles from a perspective of fun and playful discovery just like kids do, and not one where it's even possible to "get stuck" making a castle. We should have done more to emphasize the joy in the process and not the result lest those types of frustration creep in. We like to take the approach of kids just playing and having fun in the sand, but to a little higher level! Nobody should ever ruin their day because of their sand castle!! We tend to agree with you though, if you are an adult looking to learn some serious carving technique then you should absolutely book a full lesson. As stated on our website "our one hour quickie lesson is made mostly for someone with a very young child, is by his or herself and doesn't want a lot of help, or is just looking for a quick tutorial and a stack to carve. It's a short format so there isn't much side by side instruction or lots of tips and tricks, but it's great for someone looking for a quick how-to." We want every experience to be a five star experience or else we're not doing our job right. Please contact us the next time you are in town because we'd like to make it up to you!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, PA
Top Contributor
60 reviews 60 reviews
21 attraction reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
“Fun in the Sand!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 31, 2014

JT was a great instructor. Our time flew by quickly-3 hours. He taught us a lot of different techniques that my family and I can't wait to use. He even taught us techniques that you don't need much or any equipment for. We would highly recommend doing this, it was a ton a fun!

I usually like to read a book while my husband and daughter play in the sand but not anymore! Make sure you book in advance as they book up quickly.

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dubuque, Iowa
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“A fun family day”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2014

We had a great time at the beach building sand castles. It is amazing how much work goes into it. There were people watching us all afternoon and were impressed with our work. Kristine was a great teacher and good with our kids ages 7 and 11. It was handy with the moving to Coronado Beach as we stayed at the del Coronado, which was a short walk away.

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
nj
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
17 helpful votes 17 helpful votes
“A truly unique experience!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 22, 2014

We booked a lesson with JT after reading all of the reviews on TripAdvisor and thought it would be a fun and unique way to experience San Diego for our first-time visit. It definitely was! We did have a hiccup or two with a change in beach locations the night before and JT running a bit late on the morning of our lesson, but since it was our first stop on our trip, we didn't mind. Once we were off and running, it was just so much fun--we had 2 adults and 2 kids (teen and tween)--and all of us had a great time and learned so much while having fun and building something that we never would have thought possible (and we couldn't believe how fast the time flew by!). JT was really generous with his time and materials as well and we ended up spending about 4 hours on the beach; he even left his supplies with us so we could finish up the job after he left us for his next lesson. We highly recommend this unique and fun experience!

Visited July 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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