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Corky Carroll's Surf School
Ranked #5 of 25 Specialty Lodging in Nosara
Certificate of Excellence
Albuquerque, New Mexico
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Keep Coming Back”
Reviewed January 19, 2014

My first trip was Nov. 2011 and I was hooked. Now twice a year(sometimes for two weeks), and it's not enough. Feels like a second home in Costa Rica. Great staff and a friendly laid back atmosphere. Food is outstanding and the beer is cold. The instruction is excellent and all of the crew are patient. Always have a great time.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled solo
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1 Thank Jb F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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85 reviews from our community

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English first
Beaverton, Oregon
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed January 17, 2014

I am one of the "regulars" that goes to Corky's. I'm an avid surfer, having started only 5 years ago, and randomly I picked Corky's as the second surf camp ever I went to. I have since been back >10 times in those 5 years. I've been to a scattering of other surf camps in Costa Rica and Mexico in those 5 years (I'm usually a solo traveler) and had good sessions elsewhere, but for the most consistently fun experience Corky's rates significantly above all the other places. The experience there hasn't deviated much in those 5 years... here's what you can specifically expect:

First, the place is relatively small with 6 cabinas (rooms with high ceilings, private bathrooms, and a nice little porch area) around a pool area. There's a large common area/bar that people hang out in and socialize at all hours. There's wi-fi in the common area that doesn't extend to the cabinas. Plenty of space and privacy if you want it. If people are "partying", they're doing it in the common area, which is far enough away from the cabinas to let you sleep. They even do your laundry for you on Wednesday so you don't have to pack as many clothes!

Food and drink: It's "all-inclusive" in that all food, beer, water, and fruit juices are provided. No coca cola. The food is excellent, definitely a draw of the place, and the owner and cooks take a lot of pride in the quality. Lunch and dinner are buffet style and breakfast is a mix of continental with an onsite cook for custom dishes (think omelets, breakfast burrito's, etc). Dinner is preceded by bocas (appetizers) that are always great. The beer (usually Costa Rican Imperial and Pilsen) is in an open fridge that is perpetually stocked.

Experience: The team that works there is experienced, tight-knit, and focused on maintaining an air of friendly incorporation. Every trip I go, I get to know all the other people at the camp very well and have amassed a large set of friends over my many trips. It's unusually congenial and friendly... this is a point where Corky's separates itself. At the other camps I've been to, making a large cohesive group of "co-adventurers" is rare. This always happens at Corky's and is probably my favorite part. As a solo 40+ aged traveler (a little on the shy side in most situations), I've made great friendships with large families with kids, aggro teenagers, old dudes reliving their youth, and every other stereotype.

Surfing: The surfing is done at Playa Guiones, which is about 5 minute walk from the camp. Pllaya Guiones is on a protected coastal area, so there are no buildings/hotels on the beach (nice!). Playa Guiones has an excellent swell exposure, so the size is typically 1-2 feet larger than Surfline's prediction for Northern Costa Rica. It's a (very) long beach-break with a very diverse mix of beginners and advanced surfers. The inside is very beginner friendly and the outside has a very congenial atmosphere. The locals are very accepting of the tourist nature of the break. It can get reasonably crowded during high season (Spring Break) and starting around late April-May the surf gets larger (consistently overhead). I've never been skunked for waves... the exposure is too good. The camp has an hour lesson for each camper each morning... for beginners this is a true lesson and for more advanced surfers this is more like a session with a good surfer giving tips and providing blocks when needed (if you're good enough, you know what I'm talking about). The camp has a good selection of boards (mostly long and fun boards) they provide for all campers. I've been there enough (and consistently return) that I now leave a couple my personal boards there.

Typical Day: I LOVE surfing and am probably a little more "hard-core" than average. Basically, wake up (6-8 AM), grab a coffee (lots of coffee!) and some breakfast (I usually make a waffle, some toast, and fresh cut mango and melon). Then grab my board ad head to the beach. Lessons are 1 hour from (usually) 8 to 11. I'm in the water at 8 (or earlier) whether I have a lesson or not. Here's a key: They have a videographer who videotapes the break for all the campers during lesson time. So if you catch a wave during those ~3 hours, it's reasonably likely it's caught on video. I surf for ~3 hours (one hour being a "lesson") and head back to the camp. A lot of people/campers hang out on the beach during the lessons to egt out of the sun, rest, socialize. I catch a quick shower and get to the common area for buffet lunch ~11:30. Great lunch. Then the whole group watches the videos from the morning ( a lot of fun!). About 12:30-1, most people head off to relax (nap, read books, screw around on the internet, walk to main street for shopping and /or ice cream). At 3:30 they make Costa Rican coffee (lots of coffee!), and around 4 I head back to the beach for the evening session. One of the camp guides is out there helping people and providing guidance to those who need it. 2-3 hour session and I stumble back to camp, grab a beer, and take another quick shower. Then I hang out socializing (with beer) until boca's at 6:30 and dinner shortly thereafter. After dinner, a lot of people hang out, some go out (there's usually a bar within walking distance with live music), and some go to bed... whatever floats your boat.

At the end of the week I tip the individual instructors and help (net 10-20% of total trip cost), but this explicitly optional!

I have become very good friends with the owner, his family, and the employees there. Going back (for someone shy like me) is like being amongst family and friends.

It is truly an exceptional experience.

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank Len_and_Rita
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ccsssurfschool, Manager at Corky Carroll's Surf School, responded to this review, January 19, 2014
You could not have described our location and surf school experience any better. Reviews like this keeps us doing what we love to do; share our surfing with our guests (and eat well while doing it)
Thank You!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wayne, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed January 14, 2014

I have been to Corky Carrolls Surf School 6 times and keep going back. Its laid back, relaxing, fun, you meet new people every time you are there and lets not forget the surf is great. The food is excellent and the whole crew makes you feel right at home. I know how to surf so I don't take lessons but I watch with awe as people learn and have such a great time getting some of their first waves and getting hooked on surfing like I have been for 40 plus years.

Room Tip: Don't need room service they make it all for you. Fitness center is the pacific ocean
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  • Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Radphoto79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bergdietikon, Switzerland
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 10, 2014

I have been coming to the surf school semi-regularly since 2007. When I plan a surf trip, it is to Corky Carroll's in Nosara. On my first trip, I had no idea what I was doing. Two days of excellent instruction later, and I was out in the green-water waves, and actually catching some of them. I was hooked. The instruction at the camp is excellent - the instructors are excited to help you catch waves and, most importantly, they are patient.

The rooms at the camp are large, clean, and simple, with a mini-fridge, safe, and ceiling fans. The beds are comfortable. Laundry services are offered on Wednesdays. The food is excellent. On my last trip (Dec. 2013) Wi-Fi had been made available in the main lodge.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank CH_ropegun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Durham, North Carolina
1 review
Reviewed January 4, 2014

About five minutes walking from the beach, the surf school is in the perfect location and complements that fact with amazing, experienced instructors who know the wave and location as well as the technique of surfing. The food is fresh and served by some great people. Everybody working at the surf school tops it off with superb hospitality and service. Simply the best place to stay in Nosara.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Willy8989
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wenatchee, Washington
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 2, 2014

Our family just returned from the surf school and there are just not enough superlatives to accurately describe how wonderful this slice of paradise really is. The hospitality, conviviality and sense of belonging begins the moment you arrive and it keeps getting better every day. The weather was perfect, the surf was consistently good, the instructors are nurturing and always positive and the accommodations are very comfortable. The food? Amazing!! Local, healthy, delicious cuisine that is always fresh and abundant.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Rich R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Roswell, New Mexico
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed December 31, 2013

My family and I have been going to Nosara since 2001 and have absolutely loved staying at the surf school. It is like visiting family - the people are the best. The food is exceptional: healthy, fresh, delicious, varied and abundant. The surf is almost always perfect. The bungalows are comfortable and spacious. We have met great friends at the camp and have had the best times...we just came back and I miss it already.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank CLiakos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Corky Carroll's Surf School

Property: Corky Carroll's Surf School
Address: Playa Guiones, Nosara 53211, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Nosara
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 25 Specialty Lodging in Nosara
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We are the original surfing vacation of the Nosara area. A family owned and operated establishment. We provide comfortable hospitality in our private property, eating meals with other guests creating an interactive environment. All the surf lessons you need are included, cooks are on-site ready for you, beer and juice are included and your transportation once arriving Costa Rica. A family who surfs together sticks together. ... more   less 

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