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“Overall good experience, just a few glitches”

Manuel Antonio Surf School
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Surfing - Live It! Learn It! Love It!
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Activities for young children, Food available for purchase
Reviewed February 6, 2014

We booked our surfing experience well in advance. We booked 4 private instructors as we have kids aged 8 and 10 and wanted a person dedicated to their safety as none of us had surfed before. Overall this was an awesome experience with just a few glitches.

We were picked up at our hotel on time by a taxi driver. We were a bit disconcerted when he headed away from the beach where we had been told we were surfing. He drove us back in to town to the main office, even though our hotel is 3 minutes from the beach. When we got to the office a lady jumped into the back of the taxi (the hatchback) and we took off again. She spoke English (unlike the driver) so we were able to determine that she was a photographer and we were being taken to a different beach as the one close to us we completely filled with people. This was true and we had wondered how that would work, so that was a bit of a relief. We drove for a bit, crossed on a tiny ferry-on foot, walked a bit through a little village and were met by a jeep that raced careening across a deserted beach to avoid getting stuck. Here we had a few more people climb onto the sides of the jeep!! When we reached our surfing spot it was amazing! Deserted beach - no kidding just us!! and a grass lean to for shade. They had rash guards for us which was great as I had forgotten mine at the hotel! At this point the one English speaking guide told gave us our orientation to the boards and had up practice "popping up" At this point I noticed that there were only 3 instructors when we had paid for 4. I asked the photographer but she was not sure why. I decided it was too late to change that, given our location and just went with it. My children each had an instructor and my husband and I shared one. The kid's instructors were great and never left the children's side for a moment. My daughter's instructor was so sweet, gentle and kind with her that I could have cried. She is only 8 and spunky but very tiny and not a super swimmer. She had a fantastic time and great success! My son is 10 and caught on right away. He was up every time and the best surfer of us all. My husband and I had the more fluent guide but he was not friendly. He was sarcastic and complained under his breath. I am 42 and my husband is 47 and this was our first surfing experience. I am fit and fairly capable but surfing is hard and getting pounded on by the waves was challenging. I was reasonable successful but the instructor seemed frustrated that I wasn't getting it fast enough. We had paid for a one on one lesson but didn't get it. We each had to take turns surfing as the instructor rotated between us. I wanted to keep surfing for the whole time and he seemed to be tired of trying and went to the beach. The photographer sent him back in when I decided to go it on my own if he wasn't coming... That said, the experience was unique. The company handled themselves well and the other instructors were awesome. They gave us pineapple and fresh coconuts to drink which was refreshing after all the salt water. A man came by leading a 10 month old foal and we got to pet her and that was amazing. The photographer was lovely, friendly and really made the whole trip great. She took wonderful photos and dropped them all on a disk for us and left it at our hotel that night.

At the end of the trip another man came to drive the crazy jeep ride home and I asked him about the lack of instructors. He said, "to tell you the truth one of the instructors phoned in sick" I hope it didn't' ruin your experience of the office will be furious" I said it didn't and that I was a bit concerned about the fact that I had paid for 4 private lessons... he gave us $20 off the price... not sure that was that best deal but the day was amazing, the beach gorgeous and we all had fun. I would definitely recommend MASS for your surfing experience and suggest requesting Isla Damas as your surfing location as it is soooooooo much more of an experience than the public beach would have been. The children's instructors were exceptional, and safety was not an issue at all. Loved that we can check off surfing on our bucket list!

1  Thank Sarah B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
JessicaTMASS, Owner at Manuel Antonio Surf School, responded to this reviewResponded February 10, 2014

Hi Sarah,
I am so glad to hear that you enjoyed Isla Damas. This is truly a special spot for us and we love to share this unique experience with our customers.

I am also happy to hear that your day was amazing and that the instructors were very good with your children.

Thank you for pointing out your experience with your instructor. That is behavior that we certainly do not tolerate at MASS and I appreciate this being brought to my attention.

I also apologize for the lack of instructors, especially as you did book ahead of time. You are correct - one instructor called in sick at the last minute and due to the busy time of year we were unable to find a replacement. We would like to compensate you for this by offering you 15% off the next time that you surf with MASS.

Thank you again for your feedback. We like to hear that you enjoyed your experience and also appreciate constructive feedback so that we can continue to provide the best experience possible.

Don't forget to check us out on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (Manuel Antonio Surf School) as well as Instagram (masurfschool).

Pura Vida!

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93 - 97 of 143 reviews

Reviewed December 11, 2013

Jonny is my favorite big thank you to him!!!! I have snowboarding experience so it was maybe easier for me than others, but he understood and challenged me. honestly "if I can do it so can you". That's the slogan and it's true he can teach anyone, and you'll have fun doing it. I will surf every time I see ocean now cause it's awesome all thanks to Jonny.

Thank cbooner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 6, 2013

This review is long overdue and I have been meaning to write it for a while! MASS was my best choice for both my first time in Costa Rica and my first time surfing. I grew up snowboarding in the Northeast U.S. and have always wanted to surf. My hotel recommended MASS while I was in Manuel Antonio and I couldn't have asked for a more friendly, fun and exciting surf experience!

Anthony and James picked me up in the AM and took me down to Manuel Antonio beach in the national forest area. I was very much aware of James and Anthony's expertise as they explained their history w/ surfing and the fact that they had even been surfing together since Anthony was a kid!

They also made me aware of how important safety was by pointing out a group of newbie surfers (maybe 14 in total) who were all clustered together w/ pointed fiberglass boards an only one instructor! Very dangerous and I felt lucky to have Anthony's one on one instruction. Both Anthony and James were really cool guys who made learning to surf easier than I could have anticipated. We had some good laughs and I enjoyed hearing about some of their surfing stories.

The fresh chopped pineapple during our break was the perfect fuel to take in before jumping back in the water. I couldn't have asked for a better experience and set of instructors who were just genuinely up beat and enthusiastic about getting me to stand up...the true essence of what Pura Vida meant to me!

Thanks again Anthony and James, I hope to plan another trip to Manuel Antonio again!

Thank JohnnyGetIt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CostaRicaAventuras, Public Relations Manager at Manuel Antonio Surf School, responded to this reviewResponded November 7, 2013

Johnny, thank you for your incredible review. It may be long overdue as you mentioned but wow, it was worth the wait! We are so glad we came highly recommended and we met your expectations. Your experience was filled with so many positives and that you really bonded with the instructors during your lesson (and yes, they really do know each other that long). We are also glad you got to see & write about some bad examples of what NOT to do, as demonstrated by other "surf schools" on the beach - such as having 1 instructor for 14 people! This is a clear violation of ISA standards. You are correct, this is intensely unsafe especially for beginners. For us, it's always a pleasure to have such enthusiastic learners and we really hope you do come back to Manuel Antonio and surf with MASS again! Pura Vida to you!

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Reviewed September 4, 2013

My sons (ages 16, 13, and 11) and I took surfing lessons. This is where you wished you had spent more time in the gym prior to surfing. While it is a workout, the instructors are patient and really cater to beginners. We had a blast and can't wait to go back to tackle the waves. Check with the locals to see best times for the right waves. You'll be glad to did this.

Thank Dan L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CostaRicaAventuras, Public Relations Manager at Manuel Antonio Surf School, responded to this reviewResponded November 7, 2013

Thank you, Dan, for your review! We love when parents share the surfing experience with their kids and it was a pleasure to take you and your sons into the waves. We like to think of the ocean as our gym... you did GREAT! Apologies if you were sore the next day, but the experience is worth it. Looks like you are hooked and we hope you keep on surfing with your boys wherever you are - hopefully, you will return here and learn some more tips, techniques and tricks with MASS. PURA VIDA and many happy, safe travels!

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Reviewed August 20, 2013

Our family, with two kids ages 7 and 9 had an absolutely awesome experience with these guys. I had read about them and booked when we arrived at our hotel in Manuel Antonio. The beach is beautiful, clean and perfect for beginner surfers. Even better, the instructors were long on patience and personality and seemed to be enjoying getting beaten up by the surf for our sake. This mom could not be more please, both with myself for standing up on that board, and for MASS, as they are known. Pura Vida!

Thank GlobalStaci
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CostaRicaAventuras, Public Relations Manager at Manuel Antonio Surf School, responded to this reviewResponded August 23, 2013

Staci, thank you for taking the time to leave your kind words about your family's experience with MASS! We loved teaching your kids and you and we are very proud of the beach we get to teach on. It is an ideal, safe learning environment for Beginners. We don't mind getting beaten up by the surf especially when you are given back an awesome experience and many memories. Patience is a must, especially with Beginners. We believe in you and you got up and surfed! Many happy, safe travels to you and your family and PURA VIDA!

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