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Witch's Rock Surf Camp
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed September 29, 2012

I've been to WRSC 3 times over the last several years, so I'm obviously a fan of the place. There are a lot of really good things about it - inexpensive, located right on the beach, clean rooms (while basic, the pillows aren't as bad as HawaiianStyle808 would have you believe), friendly staff, decent food, and while I didn't learn to surf there, everyone that I've met who did had a good experience.

Where I think they could dial it in more is with the surfing programs. They're definitely moving in the right direction with the recent addition of the intermediate group (it used to be just surf lessons and advanced tours). But I think there's room for a level in between intermediate and advanced. I don't want to generalize, but most of the people in the advanced level that I've met are experienced surfers in their 30's, 40's and 50's who want to get out there twice a day, but don't really want to charge the heavy, overhead stuff (and my guess is the guys who really want to go big probably aren't coming to WRSC). But currently, the advanced level seems to go for the biggest waves available, leaving a lot of us sitting on the shoulder of the wave, on the beach, or in the boat. So I think they should add a high advanced and a low advanced - they were running two boats for advanced when I was there anyway. I think they (Ok, you, since I know you guys at WRSC are reading this) would find that there's a lot of clients who'd really go for it. And for me, it would take the place from really good to really great.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank kevkevsf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WRSC, General Manager at Witch's Rock Surf Camp, responded to this reviewResponded October 11, 2012

Thanks for the insights. We are always trying to dial in our surf programs, and you make a very valid point about the distinction between "advanced surfer but not looking for huge waves" or "take me to the biggest waves you can find". We agree with your general assessment that most of our advanced tour guests tend to be seasoned surfers with a lot of experience and skill, not necessarily rubbery fearless youth willing to charge anything (though we do get those too). We'll be brainstorming ways we can better implement what you are suggesting. It's a good idea. Give us a call this week if you want, we'd love to talk to you more about it.

Yana Farrally-Plourde
Chief Operating Officer
Witch's Rock Industries

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423 - 429 of 634 reviews

Reviewed September 17, 2012

My wife and I recently celebrated her birthday, as well as our 10th anniversary in the Tamarindo, Costa Rica area. While we didn't actually stay at WRSC (rented a condo in Playa Langosta), most of what we did was through them. Our primary activity was surfing lessons (both beginners), and I highly recommend Witch's Rock! Andres is an excellent instructor, and Josimar is great too! Even though we weren't staying on the property, the girls working the office were EXTREMELY helpful. They probably answered half a million questions for me, and never seemed put out...(thanks, Elizabeth, Shawna & Rachel). Also, for activities outside of Witch's Rock, Sofia was great, she booked our sport fishing trip for us and we had a great time. In addition to the surfing program and surf shop, you of course have Eat At Joe's on site for food. We ate a lot of our meals there, from the custom brews, to sushi (gotta try the Caribbean roll!) we enjoyed ourselves, the service and the food! Keep in mind, if you've never lived in the Caribbean or someplace similar, the service will be slower than what you're probably accustomed to in the states, but like I said, if you've ever lived in a similar region (we lived in St Croix, USVI for a year), it's pretty on par. I'd personally like to thank everyone at Witch's Rock for an awesome experience, by far the best vacation my wife and I have ever had, and we'll be back with family and friends!

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Careyn175
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 8, 2012

WRSC has a great surf program - especially if you are a beginner or intermediate surfer.
Be advised - This property is a very busy place it is very loud and always buzzing with action.
If you are looking for a quiet vacation, look elsewhere.

The food served here is good clean "surf food" and the service in the Bar/Restaurant is amazing. If you are a value minded traveler you will appreciate the low cost of staying here. The rooms are large and clean, however my wife would say this place is BYOP (bring your own Pillow) as the pillows in our room had seen better days.

  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank HawaiianStyle808
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 4, 2012

I took 2 weeks of surf lessons here in August 2012. After the 2 weeks spending several hours a day and living 1 week at WRSC I believe to have a very good understanding of how the WRSC works. I feel very strongly that you should NOT stay at the WRSC. Many of the other guests I spent time with agreed with my assessment and mentioned that they would never stay at the WRSC again. And if you wonder why there are that many positive reviews… I personally don’t understand it and don’t find they reflect the actual situation at the WRCS. Below some more details.

>> Surf Camp/ Classes
They have several instructors of which only a few are really worth taking classes with. Andres is by far the best and if you choose to take classes here make sure that you have Andres. He has a genuine interest in helping you to improve. Another good instructor is Pako. Jorge Luis is also ok. The student-instructor groups are made usually a day in advance and the list is at the reception. Make sure you check the list before leaving WRSC for the day (assuming that you follow my suggestion of not staying at WRCS). And if you have anything you want to be changed talk to Sophia. She is really nice, but might at times try to convince you to take another instructor as after a few days everyone has their favorite . There is another girl, Kailani, that is supposed to be the lead instructor, but she rarely shows up. I frankly have not seen her do much, besides scolding the instructors for minor or meaningless things. And she does it in a way that it even makes guests feel uncomfortable.

If you are a beginner the boards will do, but be advised that they are VERY OLD. Some of the boards are almost 10 years old, broke and where fixed up again. If you are intermediate and want to make use of their day trips do NOT use their boards. There is a surf shop/ rental right across the street (Kelly’s Surf Shop) and for $15 a day you can use any of their boards they have for rental. They are newer and some have only been used a few times. The day trips are a great way to explore other breaks. But know that they don’t carry any first aid or safety kit in their buses, so just try not to get hurt .

When considering to book classes in advanced just book the lesson itself, don’t bother with the surf camp deal. They don’t advertise the rates for classes only on their webpage but if you ask they will send you the details. For one the boards that you can use whenever you want as part of the deal are old and the few that are acceptable will not be available as everyone wants them. Some people even took them into their room, making it impossible to get the good boards. The seminars can be useful but if you make sure you have one of the good instructors you will learn what you need to know during your daily classes. And you can always buy the full package for a day or two at the beginning to get access to the seminars. Also the Robert August seminars might or might not happen. I was here two weeks and did not have any seminar with Robert August. In the 2nd week they put it on the board and he actually came but the WRSC canceled on him. Makes you wonder what the management actually does all day… The only two seminars that are useful are for beginners about safety and how waves work. And if you really want you can always book the surf camp but stay somewhere else.

>> WRSC Hotel
The rooms are old and run down. The beds are very old and not something you want to sleep on unless you have too. The place is also not particularly clean. The wifi was also not working. The excuse given was that a lightning had destroyed the router, which seemed to be true but it happened before I arrived and in 2 weeks they were not capable of getting it to work. When I complained the first answer was that it was a “hit or miss” and that sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. During my entire stay at WRSC it worked only during the last 2 days. Most rooms are also very noisy as the WRSC is right at the main street and the doors of the rooms, thin wooden doors, face the street. And if it is not the street than the noise from the restaurant/music will wake you up.

>> WRSC Restaurant
The restaurant is expensive for what they serve and I did not find the food to be particularly fresh or good. Breakfast was included and so it was the only thing I ate, after realizing that there are other great and cheaper places to eat in Tamarindo. Breakfast was ok, but if I would have to pay I would never eat here. Also, stay away from scrambled eggs. The service is also not something you will write home about. I always went up to the bar to order as at times they would not come by to ask me if I wanted to drink something despite me siting at a table for 15min obviously waiting. The other day I saw someone prepare a banana split and he chose to use his finger to scrub the ice cream from the spoon – yikes!

>>WRSC Owners & Management
WRSC is owned by Americans who moved here years ago. And I am sure back in the day the WRSC was a good place to stay and work at. But I guess they are now just interested in taking the profits without investing into the infrastructure. If they ever decide to bring the WRSC back to what it used to be they would most likely have to close for a month and essentially re-build the place as it is really old and run down. There is also no area to hang out besides the restaurant tables, no beach chairs, no beach towels or any amenities that would allow you to hang out in between surf sessions. There is also not a real camp feeling to it because of that. The staff is actually quite nice and if someone of the management would take the time and teach them in a constructive way how to improve the service I am sure they would do great. But the team of course feels the atmosphere of not investing into the customer experience and I am sure they get to feel it quite a bit.

>>Suggestions on where to stay in Tamarindo
There are many smaller and one bigger hotel in Tamarindo. Look on AirBNB or Tripadvisor for better places. Do your research. It will pay off. Tamarindo is a great place to start learning how to surf and there is a lot do and see around the area. My favorites where La Baula for pizza (only open for dinner), Bonapetito for Sandwiches-Salads & Pizza, Bamboo Sushi Club, Seasons and Copacabana.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with friends
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14  Thank MABC82
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
WRSC, General Manager at Witch's Rock Surf Camp, responded to this reviewResponded September 6, 2012

It's never fun to get bad reviews, but they can provide useful feedback to help us to improve. Based on the sheer length and depth of complaints, and the 50+ e-mails sent back and forth with this guest over 4 months prior to booking, it may simply be the case that the experience at the surf camp would never make this customer happy. We don't often come to that conclusion, but we do know that despite all the positive reviews we get, we aren't the right choice for everybody.

If you want a five star resort experience, there are other places we frequently recommend in the area, and we are happy to book your reservation at another hotel and set you up with just our surf packages, or even recommend another experience entirely if what you are looking for is not what we have to offer. Our rooms are beachfront, clean, simple, and inexpensive. They have AC but no TVs. For the majority of people coming to enjoy surf camp, they are comfortable and convenient and they hardly spend any time in them anyway.

Our restaurant is one of the busiest in town because we have good food at good prices with great beer that we brew ourselves--all at an awesome beachfront location. We're proud of our restaurant, and we have some really tasty dishes, but again...nobody is going to call it gourmet dining. It's easy to tell from the photos on our website that it is "Surf Shacky". There's nothing sophisticated about the decor. We have thatched rancho tables, faded stickers on every column that guests have put up over the years, and an atmosphere where half the people at any time are in surf trunks and bikinis and still dripping and sandy from the beach.

Several of the other restaurants mentioned in this review are indeed gourmet fare, and some of our favorite places for special dinners as well. We are always happy to recommend other places in Tamarindo, and it's part of the experience that makes living, working, and visiting here so much fun; there's a lot to do, eat, and see. The range of options in Tamarindo is a big part of why we get so many repeat guests who come over and over again, sometimes two or three times a year...although they don't always stay with us at the camp. A lot of times, repeat guests will stay at the camp when they come with surf buddies, and then stay at a condo or luxury hotel when they come with their familes, especially when they come with a mixed group (surfers and non-surfers, kids and older folks).

On the rare occasions when people just aren't happy here, as this guest clearly wasn't, it is almost always because of a mismatch of expectations. For the vast majority of people, Witch's Rock Surf Camp meets and exceeds what they were expecting. We try to be very straightforward about the character of the camp on our website, during the booking process, in all of our communications. It is still very much a surf camp. We've grown a lot over the years, and we've continued to expand...but always in a casual, surfy way. We are well aware that we aren't perfect, and there's always stuff to fix and upgrade and improve around here, we work hard at it every single day. We do sometimes screw things up (you can see examples here on Trip Advisor) and we always do our best to sort them out and make everyone happy.

But sometimes a guest just doesn't like anything about our place. In those cases, it just wasn't a good match. It is clear from this review that this guest spent a fair amount of time complaining to other guests about how much he wasn't enjoying WRSC, and how he didn't understand all the positive reviews we have gotten. We're glad he found other places in Tamarindo he did enjoy, there are a lot of good options here.

- Yana Farrally-Plourde
Chief Operating Officer of Witch's Rock Industries

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 28, 2012

This is probably the nicest surf resort in Tamarindo. The entire resort is geared towards surfing and they hold surf camps for guests for an entire week. The owner, Joe, and his family are totally cool and they have some of the best instructors in town. The only drawback is that it is much pricier than other places in town. The lessons are at a premium price but you can easily make side deals with the instructors. They have a huge selection of boards to choose from, a pretty awesome bar, and a great little pool to watch the sunset in after a long day of surfing. They also have the most trips to other surf spots as well as the famous Witch's Rock for which it's named. I would definitely check it out, whether to just chat up some surfers and talk about waves, or take a lesson and go on a trip with them!

  • Stayed: September 2011, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Clammy42
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 28, 2012

Had a truly fantastic time! The staff is beyond friendly – it’s the only vacation spot I ever witnessed all the guests hugging the staff members goodbye. They’re genuinely interested in meeting and befriends the guests and it shows.

As for surf instruction, pretty much every teacher was amazing: they took extra time to work with students and were patient, supportive and all-around fun folks to hang out with. (Tip: request a lesson with Flash!) There are some fancier places to stay in the area -- like say, the Tamarindo Diria -- but they’re pretty boring in comparison. Witch’s Rock is the sort of place where everyone meets one another, makes new friends … If you’re looking to get to know interesting people and learn how to surf in the process, I highly recommend Witch’s Rock. (I'm already planning a trip back!)

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled solo
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1  Thank RinNY08
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 23, 2012

If you want to learn to surf this is the place. I took three days of lessons in San Diego last year and it did not compare. I am an older dude (45) You can get a small hostel type room here or you can get a suite with a balcony, modestly priced. As far as the surfing goes, it was stellar. Paco my instructor was awesome!!!!!!, He got me up out of the whitewater and out in the line up and I was consistently catching waves. He was patient, insightful and had a serious interest in having you learn. He judges what you can do and takes it from there. There were no surf nazi's here. Even those in the line up were patient and cool with having newb gringos out there. I cant recommend this place and Paco enough!!!!!!

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank Tom G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Witch's Rock Surf Camp

Address: Enfrente de Economy Rental Car | Playa Tamarindo, Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Tamarindo
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 81 Specialty Lodging in Tamarindo
Price Range: $125 - $166 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 18
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Witch's Rock Surf Camp is a small beach front hotel in Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica. We have 18-rooms on the beach directly in front of the best surfing waves in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. We are located 45 minutes away from Liberia (LIR) Airport. We cater to surfers and anyone that wants to learn how to surf in Costa Rica. Come and join us for the surfing vacation of your life. Call Now! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Witch`s Rock Surf Camp Hotel Tamarindo
Witchs Rock Surf Camp Tamarindo
Witchs Rock Surf Camp Hotel

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