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“Living up to expectations” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Surf Simply

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Surf Simply
Playa Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica   |  
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Ranked #1 of 20 Specialty Lodging in Nosara
Tucson, Arizona
1 review
“Living up to expectations”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 18, 2014

We stayed a week at Surf Simply in Nov. 2011, and this year we talked my cousin's family of 5 into joining us for a week in April 2014. I could not recommend spending that much on a trip without extreme confidence in the crew at Surf Simply. We started the trip with high expectations, and Surf Simply lived up to them. It was great to see so many of the same faces from 2011, and the improvements in the resort and the details of our stay.

The surf coaches are excellent:
Jessie helped me read and catch unbroken waves.
Francela helped my wife build skills in the whitewater and gain confidence going out the back. Ross and Prado did a great job with my cousin's family.
The coaches are a team, and they easily fill in if one is missing, but I knew we would have a good week the moment Sarah walked into the kitchen to cook our first delicious meal.

Surf Simply does a great job with the all inclusive package. My wallet stayed in the safe all week, and I enjoyed sharing a great week with family without needing to think about the finances. The pictures and videos capture wonderful memories.

Stayed April 2014, traveled with friends
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297 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (32)
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Dallas, Texas
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 9, 2014

5 star, 5 star, 5 star… can the reviews be true? Yes.

For me, the way Surf Simply handles the details is what earns that extra star. Easy pick-up at the Liberia airport—no waiting for other guests' flights to arrive, just us in the taxi. As we neared Nosara, the driver called ahead and Dani was at the gate to greet us. Nice. She and Alice kept everything running smoothly, booking massages and horseback rides (both highly recommended), arranging taxis, anything you need. The refrigerator is always open and fully stocked with beer, wine, soft drinks and juices. When we'd return from surfing there might be fresh mango smoothies on the table, or Lulu’s warm-from-the-oven banana chocolate chip muffins. Sarah's meals were consistently healthy, fresh and delicious—Thai soup with sea bass, tuna carpaccio, seared tuna, chicken chili. If I could hire her as my personal chef, life would be complete. On the nights we went in town for dinner, a different coach joined us each time. It was nice to get to know them out of the water and hear how they landed in Costa Rica and Surf Simply.

I worked with Harry, who was great. Very patient when you make the same mistake over and over, and very encouraging when you finally get it right. I had surfed all through high school in Corpus Christi, Texas, but hadn’t touched a board for 40 years. Harry was big on basics and nuance and the small details (there’s that word again) to make my reentry go smoothly. I didn’t always feel like I was surfing as well as I wanted, but when I saw the photos at the end of the week, I realized I'd had done better than I thought. Physically, it was even tougher than I imagined. I was sore and bruised from day one (to roll over in bed was an effort the first few nights). And paddling out at the end of the week when the waves were overhead took everything you had. I'd stepped up workouts and added swimming and yoga the last two months before the trip. The swimming was critical. Don't go without spending some time doing laps and sprints.

Guests my week ranged in age from the teens to the sixties, from never surfed to very experienced. The camaraderie was fantastic. I have a feeling I’ll see a lot of them again—and not just on Facebook and Instagram. One other call-out: Laura deserves huge props for the videos, the fact that she edits them in just a few days is amazing. Not to mention the hundreds of stills she shoots. You're guaranteed to get a surf pic you will love.

If you have any interest in going to a surf camp, this is it. You won’t regret it.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 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.
Nashville, Tennessee
1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2014

OK, here is the short review: Yes, the other reviews are correct, it really is that good - go ahead and make your reservation now.

Slightly longer version:
Location - Nosara, actually Playa Guiones, is a quiet little beach town, nothing over two stories, surrounded by tropical forest. It is mostly vacation houses with a couple little strips of shops and restaurants. The beach is beautiful and protected from development, so it feels a little like you are on a remote island or natural area. Most importantly the waves are consistent and perfect for learning. They are generally a manageable size, but big enough so the photos will impress your friends at home. They roll in fairly slowly, giving you some time so get yourself situated on the wave, and they break pretty far out, giving those working in the whitewater a long ride to get their pop-ups and turns down. Since there is no development right on the beach, the resort is located about a 10 minute walk from the beach, though a cute customized vehicle will shuttle you there and back for your surf sessions. The main shopping strip is also about a 10 minute walk away, down a pretty “jungle path”.

Accommodations - The “surf chalets” are simple yet elegant and amazingly clean. After a hard day of surfing, the comfortable beds and air conditioning were greatly appreciated.

Facilities - The resort is designed perfectly, with chalets surrounding a central “rancho” and pool, along with a yoga room and massage room. The rancho is open air, with a big couch area to hang out on, a dining table that seats all 12 guests, and a refrigerator fully stocked with soft drinks, beer, wine, and coconut water (still in the coconuts).

Food - The restaurants are surprisingly good for a quiet beach town - I think we went out 3 of the 6 nights, plus our “on our own” night. But Sara’s cooking is on an entirely different level. She seems to know exactly what will taste best after a grueling surf session. Her meals are always filling and satisfying but never too heavy. The emphasis is on fresh food and her light sauces are amazing. I really enjoyed breakfast too with homemade bread, bacon and eggs, and fresh tropical fruit.

Coaching - This is what you come for, and as every review says, it is excellent. Every guest says their coach is the best and they are probably right. I have had Alex, Harry, and Oli, and they were all excellent. I made it a point this time to sit in on different coach’s talks and lessons and they are all experts in teaching, communication, and most importantly, encouragement and motivation.


Now for the extremely long and rambling review/observations/advice section:
I wanted to add my two cents to the multitude of deservedly enthusiastic positive reviews for Surf Simply. I have a feeling the average trip advisor reader may be looking at positive review after positive review and thinking “it can’t be THAT good”. Well, Surf Simply really is THAT good! I just returned from my third trip to Surf Simply and the experience, which started at an incredibly high level on my first trip 4 years ago, actually keeps getting even better. I am trying to come up with some unique angles to show what makes Surf Simply so good, and maybe give you a little advice for when you go. So please excuse me if this review is sort of rambling and haphazard.

If you need more evidence, I advise going to Surf SImply’s YouTube channel. Each week Surf Simply produces a video of and for that week’s guests. This combines a little bit of promotion for Surf Simply as well as giving the guests a memorable keepsake with video highlights of their best waves, as well as those of all the new friends they met that week. {Keep in mind though that Surf Simply also takes hundreds of photos during the week, which are then stored on a cloud drive for that week’s guests to access when they return home.} Notice the consistently high production values of each video, and especially notice the smiling happy faces of the guests, their humor and incisiveness, and the excitement and happiness on their faces. Look at week after week after week of videos and you will see these same qualities. I haven’t really seen anything else like this on the internet. Most surf camps might have two or three promotional videos, but they often just give a tour of the facilities then show some students perhaps standing up in the whitewater while the coaches show off some fancy maneuvers. It’s not that hard to do an occasional video here and there, but to pull off outstanding videos like this week after week without fail takes a commitment to quality and consistency that is reflected in everything Surf Simply does. 

Then look at Surf Simply’s instructional videos, also available for free on YouTube. These used to be called “Whiteboard Wednesdays”, but I believe they are in the process of reformulating them, with additional video examples of surfers showing the concepts in action. In any case, these are the best instructional surfing videos I have seen anywhere. Even if for some reason you decide not to go to Surf Simply, you really need to check them out. Now imagine getting this same level of instruction, yet first-hand and personalized to fit your exact surfing level, goals, and mistakes that are preventing you from achieving those goals. Most of the trip advisor reviews touch on the video analysis, but its importance really can’t be overstated. There is simply no substitute for seeing yourself surfing to understand what you could be doing differently or better. And every Surf Simply coach is teaching the same methods, following the same overall philosophy, and using the same terminology, so there is complete consistency throughout the entire coaching staff - you really can’t go wrong.

Let me give you one small example of the commitment to quality of Surf Simply. Surf Simply has bicycles for the guests to use whenever they want. No big deal right, most resorts have bikes and they are often free. But Surf Simply has 12 bicycles - 12 bicycles for 12 guests. I have no idea what the chances are that all 12 guests want to take out a bike at the same time - it’s never happened the times I’ve been there, - but if they want to, it’s available. This is just how Surf Simply operates. Every contingency is planned for. If you know anything about surfing, you know how undependable it can be - the surf goes flat, boards break, your camera gets full of sand, your instructor doesn’t show. In my experience, Surf Simply does everything humanly possible to mitigate these factors and make sure your surf trip goes off without a hitch. They picked the location with probably the most consistent waves in the world, have a huge assortment of boards, and have picked an incredible staff. Another example of overkill is in the surf chalets. Each one includes a stove, microwave, and huge refrigerator, along with pots and pans, cutlery, and other kitchen utensils. I have no idea what any of this would be for, as pretty much every meal is included. Maybe you want to heat up some leftovers for a midnight snack? Or maybe whip up some kind of lunch or dinner on your “on your own day”? Whatever, if that is what you like to do on vacation, Surf Simply makes every option available. I must admit the corkscrews stocked in each chalet may come in handy and there are two flashlights available for midnight explorations (I was asleep by 9 every night though :) )

Going back to the dedication to organization Surf Simply shows, everything seems custom organized around the 12 guests. I already mentioned the 12 bicycles, but in addition, the main dining table seats 12, the shuttle bus that takes us to local restaurants seats 12 guests plus a surf coach host, the customized vehicle that takes us to the beach for our surf sessions seats 12 - it’s just all put together perfectly.

I admit that a trip to Surf Simply is not really a bargain basement holiday. But please realize that when Surf Simply says it is all inclusive, they really mean it. A Surf Simply driver will meet you as you are walking out the airport gate and Surf SImply will take care of every transportation need until they bring you back to the airport at the end of your trip. Surf Simply supplies everything, way beyond what I would think is commonly expected. This includes sunscreen, bug spray (have never needed it in my 4 trips to Nosara), shampoo, even Ibuprofen. They have an assortment of rash guards, knee pads, wetsuit tops and bottoms for guests to use to deal with sun and abrasions. The refrigerator is fully stocked with soda, beer, wine and coconuts, along with coffee, tea, and spring water. There is always a huge bowl of fresh fruit, cookies, muffins, trail mix, yogurt, ice cream sandwiches, and delicious homemade muffins (thanks LuLu! ). Every meal is provided, apart from Wednesday. But even on Wednesday, they serve you a huge breakfast, and still have all the drinks and snacks available all day. But you will probably want to go out with your new friends (fellow guests) to a local restaurant - it’s your one night away from Surf Simply supervision, so it might be your big chance to go wild! Also, I suggest going to Robin’s on the main strip for some ice cream. It is some of the best ice cream I have had anywhere.

A couple extra tips involving food and expenses. Don’t forget that Costa Rica charges you 29 bucks to leave the country, so make sure you keep that in reserve if you want to make it home. Also, the Liberia airport has what must be the world’s most expensive airport food. You have to get to the airport about 2 hours before your flight because they are very short on ticket counter space so the lines stack up. So I advise bringing some snacks with you from Nosara for while you wait, so you don’t have to buy the airport’s $10 pizza slices or $12 ham sandwiches. Liberia is the most convenient airport to Surf Simply, though it is still a bit of a drive away. The drive is very picturesque, but the roads are narrow, twisty, and bumpy, so bring your camera but also bring your Dramamine too.

Finally, I have to congratulate Surf Simply on their outstanding communication. From the time you book your trip to the time you get home, Surf SImply gives you a stream of useful information, always telling you what the plan is and what to expect, whether it is planning your flight or planning your next day’s surf lesson. One aspect of this is preparing the guests physically for a somewhat demanding holiday. I would pay very close attention to Surf SImply’s excellent advice on this subject. Surfing uses strange muscles that you didn’t even know you had, but by the second or third day you will definitely feel these muscles, painfully feel them, if you have not taken some steps to get ready. If you are even somewhat normal, you will definitely catch the surfing bug and be super stoked to attack each day’s surf sessions. It is always a little disappointing if you can’t give it your all because you are simply too sore or tired. The wonderful massages and yoga helps, but I think there is no substitute for preparing beforehand to maximize the enjoyment of your week(s).

Anyway, that is about all, hopefully I have given you a little flavor of what to expect. It amazes me that with all these outstanding reviews, many guests come with super high expectations, yet these inflated expectations are still met, and exceeded. Not sure how Surf Simply does it, but I advise to join the fun while it lasts!

  • Stayed March 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 21, 2014

I throughly enjoyed my first visit to Surf Simply a year ago but during the week you are given so much information and so many tips that it is hard to digest it all. My second time around all the information started to really sink in. My coach Ollie was so clear in explaining the angled take off - why, when and how to do it - it made perfect sense. He did not give up on me although I was often struggling to keep up with my group. The entire staff is incredibly supportive and fun to be around. The evenings at nearby restaurants hosted by one of the coaches are very enjoyable but the best food is prepared by Laura the in-house chef.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ulverton, Canada
2 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2014

We've been at Surf Simply in 2011 and 2012 and it was great experiences.
We decided to come back this year and we had a great time.
The coaches are outstanding ! Ross worked hard all week with us and helped us to achieve our goals. When you go there, you know that you will improve your surfing. The feedback with videos is the best way to learn and the theory classes are amazing. The place is nice and super clean and Sarah's food is unbelievable ! Each time we went there, we've made friends and meet extraordinary people!

Two thumbs up ...Five stars… for all Ru's team

Cath and Marc

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Alexandria, Virginia
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 12, 2014

There is a very clear reason why Surf Simply repeatedly receives positive reviews… they provide a surf experience like no other. Ru, the owner of Surf Simply, has established a formula to not only teach surfing (to all level of surfers), but provide the right balance of relaxation, fun, adventure, and social aspects to make a week there truly be an ultimate surf vacation. Having just completed my second trip to Surf Simply, and I can honestly say, I am already planning to go back again.

Prior to my first trip to Surf Simply, just over a year ago, I had never surfed a day in my life. After my second trip, I now consider myself an intermediate level (2 working on 3) surfer. There are 3 factors that I attribute to my surfing “success”, all of which I have achieved at Surf Simply:

1) Location: The waves (and warm water) at Playa Guiones make learning to surf (or gaining new surfing skills) much easier than in other places where the break might not be ideal (or consistent). Playa Guiones consistently has good waves, for both the beginner up the advanced intermediate surfer (e.g., level 3+). One of the best things, from a beginner’s point of view, is that the beach (and surf) is not packed with people, so trying to catch waves is made much less stressful. Ru’s attention to detail is apparent with his pick of Playa Guiones for Surf Simply.


2) Methodology: The instruction techniques used at Surf Simply provide a more than telling the student which wave that should try to catch and giving a push into it, the instructors ensure you have the right foundation of both information and technique BEFORE jumping into an unbroken wave. The Surf Simply instructors take the time to not only demonstrate basics, like a proper functional stance, but they also explain WHY its so important to master the basics, and how it will affect the board and your surfing. In addition to teaching the necessary techniques, the instructors also film your surfing sessions and provide constructive analysis of your surf session. This small detail has proved invaluable to understanding what you think you are doing and what you are actually doing on the wave, and ways to work on correcting it.


3) People: Ru has done a phenomenal job of selecting the right people for instructors. My first trip I worked with Kerianne, who along with Jessie was not only patient with us “newbies” but provided specific feedback on how to improve (we missed you this year Kerianne). This year I had the pleasure of working with 2 instructors (the ratio is typically 1 instructor per 3 students), Oli and Francela. I couldn’t have asked for a better tag team of instructors. With a combination of one instructor in the water with the other filming in the AM, and both in the water providing real time feedback and advice in the PM, I was able to improve on the foundation I started last year to working on cutting / carving turns on green waves.


The second aspect of Surf Simply that is necessary to note is the pure vacation aspect. What I truly appreciate about a good vacation is also the relaxation piece. I have gone on too many “vacations” where I come back and need a vacation. This is one of those vacations that when I returned, I carried that feeling with me for weeks afterwards (still have it now). Dani and Alice run Surf Simply like a true resort, yet you are treated as not just another guest, but part of the Surf Simply family. The Surf Simply experience is not just about learning to surf, but they have thought about the little details to make the stay, next to perfect… from the AM yoga (thank you Paula!), to the freshly prepared meals (another highlight for the trip from Sarah), to the very much needed massage from Crystal, to the professional photos and video taken and developed by Laura. All of these details are already thought of and completed with the highest quality (and professionalism). As was noted as part of success of the surf instruction, the people at Surf Simply are the key to an unforgettable ultimate surf vacation.

I highly recommend Surf Simply as destination for surfing and relaxation.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
    • 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Summerville, South Carolina
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 11, 2014

I am totally stoked with my recent Surf Simply experience.
First and foremost the surf coaching is outstanding.
I have been surfing on and off for over 40 years, and had come to a stagnant phase in my surfing.
I wanted to be able to surf more vertical and perform floaters to get over instead of around crashing sections in front of me. After several hours of on-line coaching I happened on to Ru’s podcasts. I was impressed with his goal oriented, concise and supportive style of instruction. So I signed up as a level 3 surfer with the expectation to start really making some carving turns and bashing or floating over the lip of the wave.
The first surf session was a free surf session. My coach Harry watched from the beach and took videos of everyone in my group(3). Latter we all convened in the video review room and watched ourselves perform. Harry took me back to the basics. He immediately noticed I needed to work on my stance, compress in my turns, and aim my head and shoulders toward my target where I wanted to perform my maneuver. At first it was frustrating working on level 1 things and not being able to do them so easily; bad habits are hard to break. With coach Harry’s assistance in the end I was not only able to start hitting my target, but take away knowledge to help me practice and grow my skills long after leaving Surf Simply. I got exactly what I was looking for and more!
The accommodations were peaceful and beautiful. After a 2hour surf session it is nice to crash in a quiet restful environment. Or There is a great lounge area where you can hang out with the other (~12) surfers of various levels. The lounge and pool area is open all day and night to guests.
I cannot say enough good things about the staff. They are truly amazing. Ru, Alice, Dani all did a fantastic job of keeping everything running smoothly. There is no worries of transfers to and from the airport and hotel. Activities were well planned with a daily schedule posted on a chalk surfboard for all to see what the day was to bring. Oli, Harry, Jessie, Ross, Francela and Prado were all hard working coaches giving us their full professional attention. These people are all so pleasant to be around. The yoga instructor Paula was very patient and helpful introducing me to my first yoga class. Crystal’s message with her magical fingers can bring one to a state of total bliss. Sarah cooked the perfect combination of meals that satisfied both the gourmet and the starving surfer in each of us. And Lulu baked protein bars and muffins that really hit the spot with a nice cup of Costa Rican coffee. Laura worked quietly and steadily in the background documenting, editing and packaging all the surf videos and pictures for each of us to take home and show off to our friends, family and coworkers.
I am definitely looking forward to going back.

  • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Surf Simply

Address: Playa Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Nosara
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 20 Specialty Lodging in Nosara
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 4
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Surf Simply has broken the surf camp mold by providing coaching of a standard one would usually expect to receive in more mainstream sports. The makes of the Surf Simply podcast (available on iTunes) offer all inclusive package from their beautiful boutique surf coaching resort in Nosara, Costa Rica. You stay incorporates not only - video analysis, theory sessions on everything from board design to surf forecasting, pool training and in water coaching during your two fun surf session each day; but also transfers, accommodation, yoga classes, massage, fresh home cooked food and a variety of destinations in the evening from beach BBQs to stunning cliff top restaurants. ... more   less 
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