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“Fun week, great potential, didn't add up, felt overpriced”

Costa Rica Surf Camp
Ranked #1 of 19 Tours in Dominical
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: We offer surf lessons and guides surf tours. We have the best selection of surfboard and bodyboard rentals in Dominical. Our surf shop has everything you need for surfing and enjoying the beach.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children, Activities for older children, Lockers / storage, Wheelchair access
Reviewed May 5, 2013

I had a fun week in Dominical but I left with mixed views of this business. I feel a little bad even writing in with this because I think my experience was atypical, but I picked this place based on a strong review from the Lonely Planet guidebook and I don't think my experience matched up. I booked this as a complete package with airport pickup, hotel lodging, surf lessons, and board rental, and that part worked well, even customized to my needs. But I don't feel like I got a good value for my money. I had one instructor for the full week. He was a nice guy but he was fairly absent for the "lessons." The promised 2:1 ratio of students to instructors is great in concept but didn't do much in practice. I got some simple instructions in the first day, some attention in the water on the first day, some modest feedback on the second day, then I hardly saw him on some of the other days. I spent much of my time in shallower areas on the beach breaks and he encouraged me to go to deeper areas, and when I didn't want to go there he went without me and I only saw him when it was time for a snack break or time to leave. I don't think I really got five lessons, more like two lessons and three rides to some beaches, and on the one day when a second instructor came along for a group of three, he spent a few minutes with me and I got a lot out of that. I suspect other instructors are great, too. I did get to surf at multiple beaches. As for the lodging, I'd asked for alternate options to save money and they did offer shared dorm housing a 10-minute walk from the regular hotel for a small savings one but I ultimately picked the main place because I wasn't looking for a big shared room with random people. It was far fancier and pricier than I needed as a solo traveler looking to stretch my budget, in a little town where beds start at $10-20/night, so I felt oversold: the "large" pool is cute, not big enough to swim laps, the pool and pool bar are closed in the evenings, and the place was nearly deserted. Incidentally, I met Dylan Park, the head of Sunset Surf, the other well-reputed surf camp in town, and he seemed like a very thoughtful, committed teacher, and generally a good guy. Lonely Planet also speaks very highly of that camp, at a similar price, so for anyone hoping to head to this cute surf town on a package or piecemeal, I might steer them that direction instead even without having been there. I realize plenty of other people have had good experiences with Costa Rica Surf Camp and a lot of my view rests on an absent instructor and overvalued lodging but I felt compelled to write to let folks know that your experience with these folks may not be quite as stellar. To their credit, I also emailed the CRSC folks afterward and they took my comments seriously. I think things will change for the better. The package cost is mostly the hotel and the transportation and when I got to Dominical I realized that I didn't need to buy the package to do lessons with these folks, which wasn't so clear from the website.

2  Thank Isaac B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CRSCtraveler, Owner at Costa Rica Surf Camp, responded to this reviewResponded May 6, 2013

We are so sorry to hear that you were not satisfied with your stay. We strive to provide excellent customer service, and this is the very first time we have ever received such discontent and are taking it extremely serious. As the owner I was out of the country during your stay and I deeply regret that I was not there to make sure you have a wonderful time.

Our surf lessons are structured to give our clients the the attention they deserve which is why we keep them small. We are sorry to hear that you felt that our instructor was so absent, and we have addressed this complaint with him and we know that we will not have any future students leaving our surf lessons feeling the same way.

Since there was one other person in your lesson, our instructors cannot leave one person out in the ocean alone while sitting on the beach with the other student. When someone wishes to take a break or wants to stop surfing, we make sure that they are okay and comfortable while they rest, but then we must make sure that the people in the water are still safe. Our instructor checked in with you, and when you said you were fine, resting and not ready to go back out, he returned to the water to assist the other student (who was still surfing). We would not want to put you in a dangerous situation by insisting you continue to surf when you needed to rest.

As far as the lodging goes, we understand that it can be difficult for the solo traveler. I am slightly confused though, because you wanted to share your room with a (stranger) traveler to help bring the price down, but you mentioned in your review that you didn't want to share a room with a stranger. You insisted on the accommodations you received, and the most affordable rooms at that accommodations were all booked up, so we had to put you in a room that is meant for more than one person. Rooms that go for $10 a night are shared rooms and rooms that are $20 (I'm not sure there are private rooms at $20 during high season, when you visited) have been highly unpopular because they are smelly, worn down, hot and uncomfortable. We try and to do everything we can to make sure your stay is affordable and fits your type of desired accommodations.

As we mentioned before, if you ever want to return to Dominical, we have extended to you complimentary surf lessons and will make sure that your experience is more enjoyable and worthwhile.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"surf camp"
in 61 reviews
"pura vida"
in 28 reviews
"spent a week"
in 12 reviews
"costa rica"
in 50 reviews
"improved significantly"
in 3 reviews
"taking lessons"
in 9 reviews
"these guys"
in 16 reviews
"booked lessons"
in 3 reviews
"booked days"
in 3 reviews
"catching waves"
in 10 reviews
"great teachers"
in 8 reviews
"great waves"
in 6 reviews
"white water"
in 10 reviews
"group lesson"
in 3 reviews
"individual attention"
in 3 reviews
"super chill"
in 3 reviews
"great tips"
in 4 reviews

230 - 234 of 296 reviews

Reviewed March 23, 2013

The reason we had such a fabulous holiday in Costa Rica was because we started it with Cesar at Dominical. We picked the Costa Rica Surf Camp based on a review in Lonely Plant. It was the first place we visited after landing in San Jose and we were very lucky. Dominical is a very safe small town with a beautiful beach. It is a community of friendly business where everyone knows each other and has the feeling of a resort. If you want decent surf that's not too big or just a family friendly place to swim and relax with good food this is it. Unlike other surf schools Cesar and his brother and friends give each person one to one supervision. We were just past beginner stage when we went to Costa Rica but after five days with Cesar we were catching quite decent green waves.
While that is a good start to your holiday, Costa Rica Surf Camp and owner Cesar will make sure of the rest. Other than being great surf instructors who will transport you to different beaches to surf, Cesar is a friendly, fun loving guy who is honest and will help you find what you want. He knows Dominical and its people inside out (including accommodation -finding us a great place to stay for the budget we wanted). Cesar also took us to waterfalls (one of them so remote it was tourist free) and basically helped us plan the rest of our holiday including arranging for us to head south to his friend's jungle cabins in Osa and the stunning Corcovada Rain Forest. It's a journey that we never would have done if he hadnt told us to (6 hours driving mainly on dirt track) but was simply awesome.
Can't recommend this surf camp enough.

Thank Andreas C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 11, 2013

I loved the time I spend with the costa rica surf camp. Cesar (the owner) is a nice and open person who really makes you feel welcome in Dominical. I always had so much fun with my surflessons, and my surfinstructor Ezequiel always tryed to understand me. When I was a little scared, he allways gives me a save feeling when I was surfing. What really good is about this surfschool is that the only take 2 persons on 1 instructor. So you can get everything you need to learn surfing :D Thanks everybody for everything!
Now the last surflessons i tryed to turn more and more, I WANT MORE :)

Thank IreneVeltkamp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 28, 2013

I made the surfcamp and I adored the experience. The village (playa dominical) was really beautiful and the member of the team are really sweet. I recommend surfcamp Costa Rica for everybody of any level.

Review collected in partnership with this attraction
Thank Marilou B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 23, 2013

These guys were awesome! My 8 yr old son and I took lessons. The guys were so patient and we both got up. We each had our own instructor and it was very safe. They let us borrow their umbrella for the day and boogie boards. I highly recommend them for anyone looking to surf particularly if you have a child who is interested

Thank 29emmitt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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